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June 15th 2018
Following a number of requests to distribute their stories down this route I attach the Soldier Stories for the TOWNLEY brothers. Willie, the older of the two died in hospital in France on June 1st 1918. George survived the war and later in his life he wrote an account of his war experiences and what life was like when he returned to Civvy Street in Batley. This is the first time this account has been available outside of his immediately family.
BLUE PLAQUE UNVEILING …..
Through the efforts of Batley History Group a new Blue Plaque will be unveiled at Batley ZION – Central Methodist Chapel – on Wednesday June 20th at 11.00am. All are welcome. This is the second in a series of Blue Plaque initiatives being managed by Peter Connor on behalf of BHG.
Soldier Story — Private Percy BODEN, Northumberland Fusiliers
June 21st marks the 100th anniversary of the death of 18 year old Percy Boden. He was captured with weeks of going to the front and died in hospital in Hamburg following an operation for Appendicitis. His Soldier Story is attached.
June 4th 2018
The latest Editions of the BUGLE Newsletter and the Poppy List are now available on the website and the Exhibitions in Batley and Birstall Libraries have been updated to reflect the situation in June 1918.
During the month there were NINE losses from Batley and Birstall.
——— ********* ——–
Last month in the Newsletter we reported on the death of Private Percy Link of the Manchester Regiment. The article was read by members of his direct family and they kindly sent a photograph of Percy with his wife, Elsie, and their young son Norman. The photograph has been included in the June Newsletter.
On May 27th 1918 Ex-Private Fred Avison of the Durham Light Infantry died at home in Batley. He had been a Reservist for over a year but was discharged from the Army due to poor health. He died eight months after his discharge and so he had civilian status at the time of his death. This being the case he was not included in the Commonwealth War Register but, at his family’s request, his name was added to the Batley War Memorial. It seemed appropriate that his passing should be noted and a Wreath was placed on his grave on the Anniversary date.
Fred Avison’s brother, Private Charles Avison of the East Yorks. Regiment was killed on April 17th 1917 and both soldier’s stories have been added to the BUGLE website.
[For those interested in Batley History the soldiers’ father was Arthur Avison an important brother in the “Nelson of the Nile Lodge” – Lodge 264 – and the family lived in the Masonic Lodge, at the bottom of Park Street, right up to 1898 – the year of Arthur’s death, at forty years old. He died in the year he had been installed as the Worshipful Master.]
This month LATEST RELEASES contains-
Full Soldier Stories for
- Private Charles Avison
- Private Horace Naylor MM
- Private Fred Hill MM
- Sapper Frank Jackson
- Ex Private Frederick Avison
- Private John Bailey Dixon MM, and
Shorter Format for
- Private Willie Townsley (S-F)
- Rifleman Godfrey Moore (S-F)
- Private Israel Hey (S-F)
- Rifleman Clifford Bennett Ineson (S-F)
- Private Alfred Haggerston (S-F)
- Sergeant William Pit Kitson (S-F)
Additionally included in LATEST RELEASES are two other stories.
Brothers Willie and George Townsley both served in France. Older brother Willie died at Etaples on June 1st 1918. Younger, George returned home at the end of the war. Willie’s Soldier Story is included in LATEST RELEASES.
In 1977 George Townsley wrote of his experiences in the war and he told the story of returning to Civvy Street and picking up his life in Batley. He married, had a family and lived well into his eighties. This personal account has never been read outside the Townsley family. But George’s daughter has given us permission to lift the story and add it to the BUGLE records.
If you read Willie’s story, at the end there is a link direct to George’s article. But you can find George’s article directly by looking on the website at the TAB “Soldier’s/Sailor’s Stories” – first file “THOSE WHO CAME BACK”. It is a remarkable insight into life in Batley after The First World War.
May 2nd 2018
The latest Editions of the BUGLE Newsletter and the Poppy List are now available on the website and the Exhibitions in Batley and Birstall Libraries have been updated to reflect the situation in May 1918.
During the month there were SIXTEEN losses from Batley and Birstall.
Sapper Frank JACKSON died on the 15th of the month and he was buried in St Peter’s Church at Birstall. We will be holding a Wreath Ceremony for him on the same date. This will be the first of our Wreath Ceremonies to be held at Birstall Churchyard and I am delighted that we will be hosted by the Church for our event. Usual timings for such an event – 10.30am at the Church with a walk to the graveside for an 11.00am service. We hope many of you will come to support the project in this first Birstall Wreath Ceremony.
On May 27th we lost Private John Bailey DIXON MM – yet another Military Medal winner lost in such a short space of time.
Private John Bailey DIXON MM. K.O.Y.L.I.
John Bailey Dixon was born in March 1882 and lived in Leeds Road, Dewsbury. He was one of four brothers who served in WWI – two of the brothers died. In July 1910 John married Grace Ladyman Bramley and they subsequently had two children – Norman and Laura.
This photograph shows John and Grace with their children – Norman and Laura. Norman was the father of Grahame and Keith Dixon who live in Batley. Project BUGLE is indebted to them for providing and giving permission for us to use the photograph and for giving access to copies of their Grandfather’s letters to his wife.
John Dixon joined the forces in September 1916 and went to the front the following January. He was involved in a great deal of action and sent regular letters home to ‘his Dear Wife’.
A very modest man – he wrote on May 4th 1918 …..
“I have been decorated today with my Military Medal Ribbon. I shall not get the medal ‘til I return to Blighty so I shall have to wait for that. They was very proud today when I had it pinned on me after the parade. They came shaking hands with me and wished me the best of luck. I told them it would be no good to me if it did not bring me luck. Dear Wife it has been hard earned. I will not say what I got it for because I do not want a lot of paper talk. You can tell the Vicar I got the Military Medal for good work on the Somme. I would like the Vicar to know but I do not want my photo to get in the paper. I am satisfied with what I have got without a lot of talk.”
And then on May 20th …
“My Darling wife and children and sister. Times changes and we have to do with the times but not with those we love, for the longer I am away from you and more I long to see your dear faces. …… It makes me think that this terrible war is never going to finish and it makes me more dissatisfied with our life’s journey. I try to keep my trust in God but when we have been so happy together it makes it hard. ….. From your and ever lasting husband. So goodnight and God bless you all”.
This was his last letter. He was reported missing on May 27th. His body was never found and it was over a year and three months before he was officially declared dead and his family could finally receive his pension.
Again thank you to Grahame and Keith for allowing us today to read these family treasures.
It is pleasing to record that both the Dewsbury Reporter and the Batley News devoted a full page in their Thursday April 26th edition to tell the story of the five Military Medal holders who were killed one hundred years ago. We are pleased the soldiers’ stories received such a wider audience.
And, following that publication, we have been contacted by the family of Private Fred Hill MM asking for more information about him. More might follow …..
April 4th 2018
The latest Editions of the BUGLE Newsletter and the Poppy List are now available on the website and the Exhibitions in Batley and Birstall Libraries have been updated to reflect the situation in April 1918.
April 1918 was another terrible month for local casualties with SIXTY men lost from Batley and Birstall – and many many more were injured and took no further part in the war. In the two months of March and April we lost over ten percent of the total loses in the whole war.
The Batley News set out the position that, despite all the losses suffered, perhaps there was room for hope ….
Within the numbers killed in the month were FOUR local men who had been awarded the MILITARY MEDAL on the field of battle …
Private Herman PRESTON MM, aged 28, Northumberland Fusiliers
Lance Corporal Richard EVANS MM, aged 28, Royal Engineers
Private Horace NAYLOR MM, aged 21, West Riding Regiment
Private Fred HILL MM, aged 28, K.O.Y.L.I
This month we release the first soldier story produced by the research undertaken by Stephen Walker on the
Batley Co-operative Society – WWI Roll of Honour
This plaque was situated just inside the main door of the original store just off Commercial Street. The plaque is now kept in the Co-op Archives in Rochdale and we are trying to arrange it to form part of an exhibition later in the year. There is also a montage of the images of the eleven soldiers listed and a copy is shown in the Soldier Story names below.
Purwell Methodist Church – Glass Window
His window took the form of a Roll of Honour for the twenty two men associated with the church who were lost in the war. A photographic image is also shown in the Soldier Story referenced below.
April Soldier Story
April 14th 1918 Private Leonard SMITH
April Soldier Stories (Short Format)
April 13 Gunner James L PRESTON (s-f)
April 14 Lieutenant John Henry KITSON (s-f)
April 14 Private John Walker WILSON (s-f)
April 15 Private Horace NAYLOR MM (s-f)
April 26 Lance Corporal Percy RICHARDSON (s-f)
April 26 Private Fred HILL MM (s-f)
EFFECTS OF THE WAR
And just as if losses of husbands, fathers and sons were not enough for those at home to endure the Government took action to help replenish the counties much diminished cash resources.
A miserable existence just got worse.
But you can help – VOTE for PROHIBITION !!!
We will let you know in due course ……
March 5th 2018
The latest Editions of the BUGLE Newsletter and the Poppy List are now available on the website and the Exhibitions in Batley and Birstall Libraries have been updated to reflect the situation in March 1918.
In February we reported that one soldier from Batley and Birstall had been lost during the month. March 1918 was a totally different month – with FORTY men killed and many others badly wounded.
Through his research Peter Claydon came across a review of the book “FIVE DAYS FROM DEFEAT: How Britain Nearly Lost the First World War”. The headline to the article states “A historian as concluded that the French saved Britain from an almost certain rout 100 years ago”.
The article will change a few perceptions and it sets the scene far better than we could do so we have included it in this month’s Latest News. It is shown in full in the LATEST RELEASES and there is a direct link to the article here
The POPPY LIST this month gives details of those who died – additionally, for the Library Exhibition Ken Fedzin has produced a special page showing photographs of some of those who died. Again this is presented in LATEST RELEASES or you can follow this
SOLDIER STORIES – two full stories this month.
Sergeant George SYKES. King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
In research Ken Fedzin found that this soldier came from Slaithwaite but he had close connections with Batley and he is names on the Batley Memorial. He also found that the soldier was buried in Slaithwaite – so falls into the scope of ‘local’ burials and our BUGLE Wreath Ceremonies. We plan to meet at Slaithwaite Cemetery on Monday March 12th to lay a Wreath at Sergeant Sykes’ grave. (The Cemetery is in the A62 away from Huddersfield and we will meet at the Cemetery Gates at 10.45am.)
Sergeant Sykes Soldier’s Story in presented in the LATEST RELEASE tab.
Lance Corporal Edward BARRON. York and Lancaster Regiment
Lance Corporal Barron is included in the “Drighlington Lads” Roll of Honour that we include in the BUGLE website. (see “Books of Remembrance” tab). This Roll was researched and developed by the late Philip Wheeler who gave all his local research – including his Batley Grammar School book “Batley Lads” – to BUGLE for the website).
We are indebted to Tony Slade, who is related to three of the soldier’s on the Drighlington Memorial, who has agreed to update the Soldier’s Stories and add details and photographs that were not available to Philip Wheeler. Lance Corporal Barron’s story is the first update that Tony has produced. We have added (2018) to the title so both versions can be held in place.
(Philip was keen that any new information should be added to his work but we will of course always keep his original work with the Book of Remembrance)
February 6th 2018
The latest Editions of the BUGLE Newsletter and the Poppy List are now available on the website and the Exhibitions in Batley and Birstall Libraries have been updated to reflect the situation in February 1918. This was a quieter month in the War – with one casualty – but all hell broke loose in March when we lost over forty local men.
The Website has been updated with the short-form Soldier Stories for Gunner Ernest Newsome and Private George Arthur HARGREAVES. More stories will be released mid-month.
Part of the challenge of Project BUGLE is the research behind just the names on the Memorials. And this last month had been particularly interesting.
We reported in January that Able Seaman Farrar Hill had been lost when his submarine crashed and sank in late January. Researching his story – a steam powered submarine in 1917 – was particularly interesting and the research took us to a Museum in Northern Denmark. And a further link with local history was that his father, also Farrar Hill, became Mayor of Batley 194-50.
Gunner Ernest Newsome drowned when his ship sank when it hit a mine as it entered Alexandria Harbour in Egypt. We found relatives in America who knew of him, but nothing about him, and had never seen his photograph. Then it was found that a young Volunteer Nurse had survived the sinking and had written home telling of her ordeal. Contact was made with the granddaughter of the Nurse who lives in Brisbane, Australia and with permission we include that account in this month’s Newsletter.
The full Story of these two men will be released shortly – the release has been consistently delayed by further findings.
The Nurses story is itself quite interesting. She was a volunteer – from a well to do family. The Government were not keen to taking onboard these young women from privileged backgrounds – with no experience working – but the sheer number of shortages of nurses left them with no alternative. The Nurse’s story had a happy ending – she lived to be 105 years old.
NOW – for any who have a particular interest in “NURSING DURING the GREAT WAR” our close neighbours DEWSBURY SACRIFICES is hosting a talk by Tim Lynch at Dewsbury Minster at 7.30pm on February 13th – all are welcome.
January 22nd 2018
We have added three Soldier Stories to the website – and they can also be found in the LATEST RELEASES section.
Private Frank Brook ROEBUCK who died on December 28th 1917 was a former Batley Rugby League Player. His story also appears in the “Rugby Players” Book of Remembrance in the website
Private Horace RHODES died on December 30th 1917 and a Wreath Ceremony was held today at Batley Cemetery.
Rifleman Albert Edward BARBER died on January 22nd 1918 and a Wreath Ceremony was held today at Batley Cemetery.
These stories will remain on the website under the Soldier Stories tab but they will also remain under LATEST RELEASES for 90 days.
January 4th 2018
The Team would like to wish all BUGLE followers a happy, healthy and trouble free 2018. We, we know that the Great War would end in another eleven months – but those living the experience had no reason to feel optimistic.
This month’s Newsletter very vividly tells of the thinking of that time, in January 1918, under the leading article ‘THE UNKNOWN FUTURE’.
It starts ….. “The events and experiences of the past three years have cured most people who indulged in the propensity to prophesy about the end of the war. The beginning of another year finds us in a more resolute mood than in any previous year of the war.”
And ends … “So far as we can see, the year that is before us will involve greater difficulties and heavier burdens than we have hitherto had to bear”.
It is poignant to record that whilst in the life of Project BUGLE – so far – we have remembered over 500 men from Batley and Birstall lost to the conflict – but there will be nearly 350 more men who died from January 1st 1918 through to the end. For many many people the impact of the war had yet to reach them.
For January 2018 – – – we have released the Project BUGLE Newsletter and this month’s Poppy List. The exhibitions in both Batley and Birstall Libraries reflect the happenings of the new month.
Additionally, we have published, and placed on the website (LATEST RELEASES), the shorter version of the Soldier’s Story for ..
- Jan 2 Private. Donald James WATSON
- Jan 9 Naval Engineer John ROBINSON
- Jan 22 Rifleman Albert Edward BARBER
- Jan 31 Able Seaman Farrar HILL
It was regrettable that we couldn’t hold the planned Ceremony for Pte. Rhodes on December 30th. However, earlier this week, we placed the Wreath and the BUGLE Marker on his grave and we will tell his story and complete the Ceremony at the next Wreath Ceremony.
Therefore on Monday January 22nd we will meet at the Chapel in Batley Cemetery at 10.30 for an 11.00am service with Wreath Ceremonies for …..
Private. Horace RHODES of the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry,
Rifleman Albert Edward BARBER of the Royal Irish Rifles
All are welcome and teas and coffees will be available both before and after the proceedings.
For the Project BUGLE TEAM.