Friday 18 February 1916
Soldier dies in accident on way home
Pte James Dunwell
For the second week running the Shipley Times & Express’s coverage of the feats of local soldiers was greatly reduced for some reason, possibly to do with letters home, on which most of the coverage depended, being held up. The main piece to appear was the tragic story of a soldier who was on his way home from France. Pte James Dunwell had been with the Duke of Wellington’s Regt in France since the previous August. He was 29 years old and had recently recovered from gunshot wounds. Now he was on his way to his wife and three children, the youngest just 11 weeks old, at 6 Hargreaves Street, Shipley. Body But on the Saturday morning she was expecting him to arrive, his wife received a message from the Midland Railway authorities asking her to travel to Barrow Hill, near Chesterfield, to identify the body of a soldier who had been found dead on the line there. Pte Dunwell had been travelling on the night mail train from London,
occupying a seat in a corridor compartment. When the train reached Leeds, other soldiers who had been travelling on the same train reported that a soldier had mysteriously disappeared near Chesterfield. A search was put in place and the badly mutilated body was found. Pte Dunwell was identified by a note he was carrying telling his wife when he expected to arrive in Shipley. It appeared that, not being used to corridor compartments, Pte Dunwell had opened a wrong door and fallen out of the train.
The inquest was held on the Monday and recorded an open verdict. Two days later, Pte Dunwell was buried in Windhill Cemetery with full military honours. ‘In spite of the inclement weather a large crowd of people assembled to witness the departure of the cortege. ‘A company of the 3rd-2nd West Riding Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, under Lieut Hollingworth, attended and the coffin was borne on a gun carriage in charge of Sgt Cawood. Floral tributes ‘The band of the brigade played the “Dead March” as the cortege passed along the streets to the cemetery. ‘Two beautiful floral tributes were sent from the neighbours, along with others from the deceased’s wife, Aunt Emma and the employees at Fletcher’s Sauce Works. ‘A firing party in charge of Sgt Rainbow and Cpl Saunders fired the last volley over the grave. The “Last Post” was sounded by the trumpeters and as the officiating minster, Rev W Bowker, pronounced the benediction, the band played “O God our help in ages past.” ’
‘Officers and men of the Legion of Frontiersmen marching through the streets of Bradford on Lord Mayor’s Sunday this year, with Lieut Lanfear leading them. On his left is Capt Robinson, the Commanding Officer of the Legion in Yorkshire.’
In the absence of much current war news, the newspaper turned its attention to Lieut Ernest Lanfear and his colourful career, rising through the ranks after joining the army aged 18. He served initially in India and Ireland and was then involved in the Boer War, including at the battle of Colenso, the relief of Ladysmith and the defeat at Spion Kop. He even survived a ship wreck off the coast of Mauritius. Call Brought up in Idle, where his father was a vet, Lieut Lanfear now lived in Saltaire. After discharge from the army around 1905 ‘the call was always ringing in his ears. ‘To one of his activity, after the long years of adventure and thrill, inaction became nauseating. ‘At this time there occurred opportunely the formation in Bradford of a sub-unit of the Legion of Frontiersmen. Here was scope for his immense energy to express itself. ‘He threw himself whole-heartedly into the enterprise. His great knowledge of military affairs was soon apparent to his colleagues and he has never ceased to rise in the Force until today he is the commanding officer in Bradford of this very excellent body of men.’ Toughest The Legion of Frontiersmen was recognised as an irregular army of His Majesty’s Forces, consisting of ‘hard, trained men, men used to roughing it, to assist the country in times of dire need.’ At first it was only open to men who ‘had dwelt or seen service in the far corners of the world…The toughest fellows in the Empire were thus united - sailors, soldiers, cowboys, ranchers, backwoodsmen, gold diggers, big game hunters.’ When war broke out in 1914, the LOF was about 18,000 strong ‘and the great majority eagerly awaited the
call to serve their king. But trench warfare in France was not suitable for mounted infantry. ‘Cavalry was not what was required and the men were told to enlist in the Regular Army. 13,000 of them did so. ‘Others assisted the Belgians in the great retreat from Liege to the South. Others hung on, waiting for the day when the Frontiersmen would he called out as a body.’ That day came in April 1915 when, in under a month, a Frontiersmen’s battalion was raised for service in German East Africa. In order to
secure the required number, recruiting had to take place amongst men who did not meet the old Frontiersmen conditions. Of these, 220 were recruited in Bradford. Some experienced Frontiersmen, including Lieut Lanfear, were currently training new army recruits who had attested under Lord Derby’s scheme. ‘Himself past his fighting days, the old fire still burns and his love for the country of his nativity compels him to do what lies in his power to assist it in the dark days of a terrible war.’
Old soldier continues to serve his country via Legion of Frontiersmen
‘To one of his activity, after the long years of adventure and thrill, inaction became nauseating.’
A short piece underlined just how much life had changed for young men who had volunteered, telling how three boyhood friends from Eccleshill were now thousands of miles apart, experiencing countries they would probably never have visited in other circumstances. ‘Pte Fred Studd enlisted in the 1st Bradford Pals and after training at Skipton and Ripon has been sent to Egypt. Desert ‘He had the exciting experience of being on board the vessel which sent a French steamer to the bottom by ramming it at dark. They are now encamped in the desert. ‘Pte Jack Phillips entered the motor transport service and has now been doing good service for some months over in France. ‘Pte Percy Leach joined the 1st Bradford Pals but after some month in training was selected for garrison duty in India. ‘In his latest letter home he intimates his safe arrival at our great Eastern possession.’
Eccleshill boyhood chums now thousands of miles apart
As usual, the Volunteer Force notes were as entertaining as they were informative. ‘Those who make route marches in an English February take chances. It is not until the month following that the year says March! ‘Those who are willing to take chances deserve what plums they get and the Shipley Company, having adventured forth in the face of a watery sky and a barometer somewhere in the neighbourhood of “twenty to,” were very properly rewarded with one of the finest spring days possible. ‘The route was that already used several times: To Highfield, over against Ben Rhydding – or as the older folk still call it, Wheatley – by way of Baildon and Reva and Burley Wood Head. ‘After their experiences of the last time they came back across the Moor, the Company were well content on this occasion to return by way of good hard roads. ‘To quote Mrs Malaprop, they stuck to “terra cotta.” Vanguard ‘An endeavour was made to improve on the route marching by introducing a scheme of attack and defence by the way, the vanguard of the advancing force encount- ering and pushing back the rearguard of an enemy retreating before them. ‘The rather meagre turn-up deprived the movements of their full effect although we were not reduced, as some volunteer units have been, to letting twenty yards of window cord with a private at one end and lance corporal at the other, stand for a full platoon of absentees. ‘On the tramp home we had the fortune to overtake the Fourth Battalion in the valley below Hawksworth Mill and so came back into Baildon at the head of presentable column.’
Shipley’s ‘terra cotta’ army on the march despite low turnout
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