Friday 3 March 1916
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Pte W A Dukes, RAMC, (above) has been in France and Flanders since the commencement of the war and took part in the battles of Mons, Donai, Le Cateau, St Quentin, Marne, Aisne, Missy, La Basee, Ypres, Messines and Hill 60. Prior to the war he was employed by C Haley & Co, Ironfounders, Diamond St., Bradford. He is married and lives at 21 Greenfield Lane, Idle.
Battle hardened soldier
The use of aircraft in war was still in its infancy and attracted a great deal of interest at home and at the front where many young men would have seen planes for the first time. Pte George Gordon Naylor of Idle sent a description of an aerial battle from France: ‘I have just been watching an aeroplane fight with a German who dared to come over the British lines,’ he wrote. ‘Our aircraft guns fired behind him and kept him from flying straight back. Then one of our aeroplanes started machine gun fire at him and he began to climb higher. ‘Meanwhile our aeroplanes were coming from all directions until we had five around him. Two or three went over the German lines to keep him from escaping. He had no chance whatever of escape.’ Destroyed village Back home the Pavilion de Luxe in Commercial Street, Shipley, announced it was showing a film called “Fighting the German Army.” ‘It is a magnificent picture, giving a good insight into the means of our Aerial Defence. Our readers will be advised to book seats and see this production as it cannot be seen at any other cinema house in Shipley.’ In his letter, Pte Naylor also described the effect the war was having on the local population: ‘I passed a village the other night and could scarcely recognise it as a place where human being had ever lived except by little things that had been blown out of the houses when the civilians had left them ‘We found a haystack with half a dozen machine guns inside it which had belonged to the Germans. The haystack had been propped up with a number of iron bars. I wonder what tales those bars of iron would tell of the fall of Briton’s sons?’
Air war captures the imagination
Families’ faint hopes that their lost loved ones would return are dashed by official letters
The army appear to have decided that if a man was missing in action for more than a year, it was safe to declare him dead and so two local families had any last hopes their loved one might return dashed by an official letter. ‘Mrs J Barnes of 8 Water Lane, Windhill, last week received official intimation that her husband, Pte John Barnes, of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, has been killed in action. ‘Pte Barnes was a reservist and was called up on the outbreak of war. After taking part in several engagements he was reported missing on the 13 November, 1914 and was never heard of after that date. ‘He served 13 years in the army and was for some time employed on the Bradford City Tramways.’ It was a very similar story for another Tramways employee, Pte B Mark Conboy, a member of the Irish Guards who had lived with his sister Mrs K Betts, of 22 Briggate, Windhill.
‘Pte Conboy was called up as a reservist on the outbreak of hostilities. He has been missing since 6 November 1914. ‘He was the son of the late Mr and Mrs William Conboy and was employed on the Bradford City Tramways. He was only 22 years of age. ‘His brother, Able Seaman Walter R
Conboy, joined the Royal Navy when he was 16 years of age. He was aboard HMS Arethusa when it was sunk some weeks ago. He is now on a short leave and will join another ship in the course of a few days. ‘Another brother, Pte Michael Conboy, is in the West Riding Duke of Wellington’s Regiment and is at Malta. He enlisted on the declaration of war.’
Pte John Barnes
Pte B Mark Conboy
Learning to work in a canvas hospital
Pte Abram Atkinson of 30 Croft Street, Shipley, who was attached to the RAMC in France wrote: ‘I have been transferred to a canvas hospital which is far more comfortable than one might suppose. ‘It has been an interesting change and we are getting an insight into how these kind of hospitals are worked and kept in fit condition for patients. ‘Of course we have some exciting times when a strong wind is blowing (and that is pretty often) but the fun commences when we have to turn out in the pelting rain at two o’clock in the morning to fasten the bell tent down. ‘Each man seems to delight in giving advice as to what is best to do and it is returned with interest.’
‘Shipley Ambulance men have seen service on all parts of the fighting front and have done remarkably creditable work. Two of them have this week been home on furlough.’ Former Shipley Territorial Pte John Kendall of 31 Wycliffe Road, (above) was attached to the 1/8 West Yorkshire Regt He went to the Front on 15 April 1915. Narrow squeak ‘Pte Kendall on one occasion had a very narrow squeak indeed. He was standing chatting with L Cpl David Normington when the latter was killed. ‘There were three of them in a dressing station when a shell came in at the roof, killed L Cpl Normington and wounded another Shipley lad – L Cpl Joe Bateson. ‘During most of the time he has been at the Front, Pte Kendall has been doing duty as a water carrier. The work is worst in winter when the Germans have a habit of shelling the roads. ‘He was once slightly wounded in the arm by a shrapnel bullet. ‘Before the war, he was employed at Mr Thomas Kendall’s, Stone Merchants, Shipley.’ Pte C W Smith of 32 Thompson St., was with the RAMC attached to the Duke of Wellington’s Regt and had been at the Front some ten months. Nervous breakdown ‘Pte Smith has been in the Shipley Territorials five years. Whilst in the trenches he had a nervous breakdown and had to be removed to the Canadian Military Hospital in France. ‘He was afterwards brought to England and for the last five or six weeks has been treated in a hospital in Surrey. He is 23 years of age.’
Ambulance men home on leave after harrowing times
It was clear some members of the Volunteer Force had become disillusioned despite recently being given some important duties in home defence and training recruits who were being conscripted. The writer of their weekly column, himself a Volunteer, wrote: ‘Hope deferred, says the wisdom of our ancestors, maketh the heart sick.’ He added: ‘It can, if deferred long enough do more than that, it can make the heart so sick of waiting that when the hope is at length realised one is past enjoying it fully.’ He quoted the case of Dr Johnson who became frustrated because Lord Chesterfield would not become his patron that when the Earl finally came forward after Johnson’s dictionary had made him famous, snubbed the offer. ‘It is to be hoped, however, that the quarter million or so men, up and down the British Isles, who wear the
grey uniform of the Volunteer Force and have waited through eighteen long months for that recognition which has now at last been extended to them, will be able to show themselves more accommodating than the rugged old doctor.’ Then, with his usual sense of humour he added: ‘There is one drawback in this fruition of our hopes. Englishmen are never so dourly effective at their work as when they have something of a grievance to worry them. ‘It is apparently a peculiarity of our race that something to grumble about is necessary to our complete well- being. And now our favourite grievance is taken from us. ‘We can no longer complain about irrecognition and official apathy towards our claims and “grouse” ourselves to perform a stiff day’s work. Is it possible that we shall have to fall back on such a hackneyed matter as the weather?’
Volunteers fight disillusion
Mrs Ethel Crabtree of 3 Glenhurst Road, Nab Wood, wrote to the editor with an appeal: ‘Sir - Will you kindly allow me through the medium of your paper to make an appeal to your many readers for bags for wounded soldiers in our hospitals? ‘These bags are greatly apprec- iated by our wounded men for putting in their small and oft-times treasured belongings on arrival in England. ‘I am quite aware that the calls upon all of us are great just now but the bags I ask for both in regard to make and materials do not entail a great amount of time or expense. ‘The bags should be made of cretonne or strong washing material, 15 inches deep by 11 inches wide. ‘If those of your readers who are able to do so will send me one or more before the end of March, I should be glad as I am assured they supply a much felt want.’
Bags for the wounded