Memories of First World War soldiers commemorated on the Hatfield War Memorial in South Yorkshire.
The soldiers’ lives and families were researched by the Hatfield family history groups based at Hatfield Community Library. An emotional journey.
FAMILY ROCKED BY TRAGEDY
Wealthy magistrate Frederick Leather of Middleton Hall, Northumberland, lived at Tickhill Friary in the 1870s with his wife Gertrude and their ten children. Following his death in 1890 Gertrude returned to The Friary, living there until her death in 1918.
Their six sons served in the Boer War and subsequently in the Great War. Tragedy hit this prosperous family when Lieutenant Christopher Leather was killed in 1914, Captain Edward Leather in 1915, and Major Ernest Leather in 1916. All died fighting in France. Three sons sacrificed for King and Country.
NAVAL MAN ESCAPES TORPEDO
Private Oswald Shirtliff and Able Seaman Albert Shirtliff were the sons of Arthur and Mary of Westgate, Tickhill. Serving in the Dardanelles, Oswald, aged 21, was shot by a sniper.
Unbeknown to both brothers, Albert landed there on his 17th birthday and was nearby when his brother was fatally wounded. Albert had several narrow escapes, his ships being both torpedoed and involved in collisions. Having survived the war he died of cancer aged only 25.
MINER KILLED BY SHELL, COMRADE SURVIVES
In April 1918 Tickhill men Wilfred Nicholson and George Stubbings came under shellfire crossing a road in France. Wilfred was killed instantly, George miraculously survived.
Wilfred, whose father was a shepherd at Hesley Hall, was a banksman at Rossington Colliery before enlisting. He left behind wife Edie and children Molly and Jack, who lived in Sunderland Street. Heartbreakingly, Wilfred’s death is recorded in the war diary as, ‘an uneventful tour of 24 hours, during which seven other ranks were killed.’
LOCAL HERO SAVES COMMANDING OFFICER
In July 1917 a German shell exploding in a trench near Ypres wounded Horace Brown and his commanding officer Carlile Aylmer Macartney.
Horace carried the officer to safety and was awarded the Military Medal for his bravery. Horace was a miner at Maltby Colliery and Aylmer, a European historian, academic, author, broadcaster and diplomat. Although from very different backgrounds, they maintained a lifelong friendship.