Friday 17 March 1916
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Henry Boldy (right) wrote to his parents at 411 Swing Gate Fold, Idle Road, to tell them of his DCM. The brief letter, written on 23 February, said: ‘I am now wearing on my coat the decoration which I have earned. When the ribbon was pinned on all the boys cheered me. You must excuse my short letter as I am very busy.’ Ypres The paper included a summary of Henry’s war so far, clearly indicating why he had been given the medal. ‘He has been stationed at Neuve Chapelle but took no part in the famous engagement at that spot. Later he was transferred to Ypres where his regiment withstood the Germans for six months. ‘In this long contest he has had many narrow escapes. His rifle has been shattered in his hand, trench periscopes he had used for observation purposes have been riddled with shot and he has been
blown off his feet with a trench mortar and his clothes badly torn. ‘On several occasions he has carried wounded men to a place of safety and being in command of a party of bombers has led his men to the attack. ‘He has been in two bayonet charges. In one of them he though his time had come for he came in contact with a German that was head and shoulders bigger than himself. ‘His ability as a fighter and his
resourcefulness as a leader led him to be selected to meet the King during His Majesty’s visit to France. The King warmly shook him by the hand and complimented him on his bravery. Honourable scars ‘He was in the forward movement at Loos and assisted in repulsing the great attack on December 19th. These scraps with the enemy have left him a couple of honourable scars for he received flesh wounds in the left ankle and right thigh and was slightly gassed on December 19th. ‘He received his first stripe last June, his second stripe in January this year and a month later has been awarded the coveted distinction of the DCM. ‘When he was at home on leave after 10 months fighting he told the writer how he discovered a German sniper at dusk by the flash of his rifle. The sniper was up a tree and had been picking off the men in the trenches. His hands, face and uniform were painted green.’
Pals cheered when DCM ribbon pinned on Henry
Veteran soldier Charles Henry Haigh of 21 Dale Street, Shipley, was killed when a shell exploded near him. His brother-in-law, Pte Walter Bancroft, was buried in the same explosion but survived. Sgt-Drummer Haigh left a widow and two children. He had served 16 years in the army, including fighting in the South African war where he won a medal for distinguished service. But even though he was now 40 years of age, he still re-enlisted when war broke out in 1914. Sgt-Major J Coxon wrote to his widow and said: ‘We fought side by side all through the South African
war and during the present campaign we have been closely in touch with each other. ‘I can assure you that we shall feel his loss as he was thought a great deal about all through the Battalion. I and my brother sergeants of the Battalion all join in expressing our deepest sympathy with you in your sad bereavement.’ Volunteered An officer of the deceased’s regiment, Captain S Danby, writes: ‘He died the death of a brave and honourable man fighting for his country. I cannot speak too highly of the conduct of such a man who after long and valuable service,
volunteered and gave his life for his country in its hour of need. ‘He was known and beloved by all ranks and his sad death has caused everyone to feel that they have lost a real comrade and a man they could ill spare.’ Before the war, Sgt Haigh worked at the Charlestown Combing Co. He was also a keen rugby player, vice- captain of the Shipley Victoria club when they won the Bradford and District Competition in 1903-4 season. ‘During that season he scored 73 points. He had a good turn of speed and could play in any back position.’
Boer-war veteran killed in action after re-enlisting
Charles Henry Haigh
Pte Percy Leach of 20 Institute Road, Eccleshill, was delighted to read that single men in England were being called up to the colours. Writing home from India, where he was based with the Garrison Regiment, he said it was tough on men like him who volunteered 18 months before and were poorly paid ‘while those who have been hanging back are earning good wages.’ Rats and snakes He described some of the problems he and his colleagues faced in a strange land: ‘Every Thursday we are allowed leave and as rats are here in abundance, we might be organising a rat hunt. Some of the snakes about here are poisonous so we have to keep a sharp look out. So far we have had no trouble with the natives.’ And he concluded: ‘We have noted that according to one paper the war will end in June of the present year but though this prediction may not come true, we are hoping for an early termination of hostilities.’
It’s only fair that single men are called up
TO THE YOUNG MEN OF ENGLAND Sgt-Major Thorpe, of the East Lancaster Regt, formerly of Shipley, sent a poem from the trenches. Often in my trench I think Of the poor chaps left at home, Of the perils that surround them Wherever they may roam. The train and train collisions, The juggernaut motor bus. Bacilli in the cow’s milk And Zeppelins which are “wuss”. With all those shocking worries, A man’s life must be sad, And to think that I am missing them Makes me exceeding glad. How awful it must be at nights To lie in a feather bed, Or find for breakfast when you rise There’s butter on your bread. Now, out here things are different, And life is fancy free, We have no butter on our bread Nor cow’s milk in our tea. There are no train collisions, Or feather beds at night, And Zepps they rarely trouble us But keep well out of sight. All we have to worry us Are bullets, bombs and shells, Bully beef and biscuits And nasty horrid smells. So to the chaps in England I send my sympathy And ask them – for their safety - To come out here with me.
Pte Percy North is in the Army Service Corps and is in training at Weston- super-Mare. Before joining the army he was in business as a printer, to which trade he served his apprenticeship at the offices of the “Express”. In writing to a friend, Pte North tells a humorous story of a sentry who was on duty in his camp. An orderly officer passed and was challenged in the usual way The officer asked if the sentry knew his duties and the latter replied in the affirmative. The following conversation ensued: Officer: What would you do if you saw two Germans? Sentry: Alarm the guard, sir. Officer: And what if you saw twenty Germans? Sentry: Alarm the guard, sir. Officer: And suppose you saw 200 Germans, what would you do? Sentry: A mile in three minutes, sir!
Discretion being the better part of valour…
Pte Percy North
ANSWERING THE CALL Harry Garnett (above left), son of Mr and Mrs Harry Garnett, of Thackley, has joined the Royal Flying Corps. He is 22 years of age and prior to the war was employed at Bowling Green Mill. He has two brothers serving with the colours. Gunner Tom Hall (above right) of the Royal Field Artillery joined the forces in January of last year and is seventeen years of age. His home is at 3 Field Street, Shipley.
Private James Widdop (right) never got to serve his country in the heat of battle. He had enlisted under the Lord Derby scheme but had died of pneumonia at his training camp. Prior to signing up, Pte Widdop, who lived with his widowed mother at Lidget Terrace, Clayton, had been a warp twister at Oak Mills. He was buried with full military honours. ‘Pte Widdop was attached to the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment and had only been ill a little over a week when his condition underwent a sudden change for the worse. ‘He was twenty-two years of age and had been in the army about six weeks. ‘The funeral took place at a cemetery near to the camp where the regiment is stationed. ‘Mr John Widdop and Miss Elsie Widdop, the deceased’s brother and sister, attended the funeral and some beautiful floral tributes were laid on the coffin in the name of the officers and men of the regiment to which he was attached.’
Denied his chance to serve