Friday 9 June 1916
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of seven until he was 15 he was well-known in Shipley as a vendor of the Shipley Express. A more cheerful or energetic news-lad no paper could hope for. ‘As a youth he was above all things thorough and this quality characterised him in the work in the Navy. ‘He was an all-round sporting man, particularly in cricket and football. A powerful swimmer, in 1913 he was the recipient of the Royal Life Saving Society’s certificate and bronze medal for efficiency.’ His mother, who had now lost six relatives to the war, kept the certificate framed on the walls of her home.
In contrast to John Stansfield experience, Hilton Thomas of Greenfield Place, Idle, had only been in the navy since October when he resigned his job as a baker to sign up. He had taken to the life quickly and within two months was sent to join the Black Prince. Boxer rising Lance Corporal Thomas Barsby was about to sign up for another five years to add to the 21 he had already served his country. The brother of Edwin Barsby, landlord of the George and Dragon, Apperley Bridge, L Cpl Barsby had enjoyed a varied career that took him all over the world. ‘He served three and half years on the
Marathon with the East Indies Squadron and then joined the Vengeance in 1900. He was out in China during the Boxer rising and stayed there for three years. India ‘He was a member of the crew of His Majesty’s ship Renown when the King and Queen journeyed by it to India. ‘He served three and a half years on the Grafton and for two years on the Pathfinder, which was mined last year. He was on the Black Prince before the war commenced.’ The same battle claimed HMS Defence and among those killed were Joseph Naylor Pullan of Green Lane, Baildon. He was just 18 years old and had been in the navy a year and a half. He was the second member of his family killed in action, his brother James William Pullan a casualty with the Royal Garrison Artillery the previous July.
Local men among the 857 casualties on board Black Prince
John Robert Stansfield pictured with his baby and his wife of just two years
Lance Cpl James Fanner of Leeds Road, Eccleshill was wounded in the left arm while serving with the 18th West Yorkshire Regt in France. He was sent back to a hospital in Manchester where his wife visited him and found he was ‘progressing satisfactorily. ‘He enlisted in the 2nd Pals in April 1915 and was married at the Eccleshill Parish Church a year last Saturday. ‘He completed his army training at Ripon and was later sent to Egypt to guard the Suez Canal. From there his regiment was sent to France and he received his wound during his second spell in the trenches.’
Wounded in the trenches
Khaki weddings
Sgt Willie Hesling and Miss Ann Davison were married in Idle Parish Church on 3 June, 1916. ‘The bride who was attired in embroidered voile and wore a hat to correspond was given away by her father. The bridesmaids were Miss Cissie Hesling (sister of the bridegroom) and Miss Clara Davison (sister of the bride) who wore dresses of flowered voile and pale pink hats. ‘Trooper Clifford Hesling, Dorsetshire Yeomanry, acted as best man…The newly married couple left for Morcambe. ‘Sgt Hesling entered the army soon after the outbreak of war and so smart a soldier did he prove to be that he was given rapid promotion. ‘He has been at the front for many months and has had some exciting experiences. ‘His brother, Sgt Gordon Hesling is “somewhere in France” at the present time.
Second Lieutenant Francis Blackwell and Miss Elsie Illingworth were married at Shipley Parish Church on 2 June, 1916. ‘The bridegroom came direct from France for the wedding which was witnessed by a number of wounded soldiers and nurses from the Field House Auxiliary Hospital, Bradford, where the bride has been serving as a nurse for some time. ‘Miss Illingworth, who was given away by her father, was attired in a white muslin gown adorned with old lace and roses. She wore a crown of orange blossom. ‘The honeymoon is being spent in Llandudno and tomorrow (Saturday) Lieut Blackwell will return to his military duties.’
“You will be surprised to hear – but not as much as I – that the chap who was recommended for the honour about a month ago and myself have been awarded the Military Medal.” This was how 20-year-old, medical corps private, William Abberton (right), announced his good news to Miss Margaret Whelan, the aunt who had raised him and his two sisters in Windhill. He was awarded the medal along with a colleague named Jarman, for bravery while taking bandages and stretchers to wounded men while under heavy shell fire. Hot stuff “The fact will be announced in the London Gazette in due course,” he continued. “We have not actually received the medal yet but the Commanding Officer has congratulated us and given us a hearty handshake. “It has also been read out in the orders. It will not be long before I get it. “The other chap comes from Silsden and we are both in the same section. We are both from Yorkshire and we are both hot stuff too.”
Medal for Windhill soldier
“It is Sunday as I write this letter and I have been trying to picture the Sunday School in my mind,” Pte A Marshall wrote the secretary of Eccleshill Wesleyan Sunday School. “Whilst so engaged the whole scene seemed to become so real that I fancied I could hear the scholars singing my favourite hymn. Sludge “Just recently when our platoon was going into the trenches, we were fired at by a German machine gun. We were compelled to lie in the sludge for some time with the bullets whizzing all around us. I really thought my time had come but we came through safely. “When one has been out here only a short time, it makes one feel that there is a God and men who never prayed at home don’t forget to do so in the face of deadly peril. “No Sunday passes but that I think of home and during school hours I sing some of the hymns I sung when I was there.”
Signaller Frank Illingworth had just had his first taste of the trenches and wrote to a friend in Eccleshill: “You will be pleased to know that all our lads are going on well. “I’m sorry to say we lost a few of our ‘Pals’ in our section as we were in the thick of the fight. “However it would not do to get into despondent thoughts out here so we have as merry a time as possible while in our billet. White cross “We adopt this plan so as to be able to meet the enemy spirit when we are again called upon to defend the line. “Our fallen lads are given a proper burial in a small cemetery and a white cross is erected to mark the spot. “We were fortunate enough to have fine weather during our stay in the trenches but that seemed to make the feeling of war all the more terrible. “I’m still in the best of health and spirits.”
Sunday School memories give comfort in trenches
Despondent thoughts are no good out here
On 31 May 1916, during the battle of Jutland, the armed cruiser HMS Black Prince was hit by at least 12 heavy shells and several smaller ones. She sank within 15 minutes. All her 857 crew were lost and the Shipley Times & Express revealed that three had local connections. Engine-room Artificer John Robert Stansfield of 17 Westcliffe Road, Shipley had been in the navy for six years and a member of the Black Prince’s crew for two years. News-lad Before joining the navy he worked at J Parkinson & Sons engineering and the newspaper noted: ‘From the age
Musician Bert Fawcett had an interesting tale to tell about how military bands were used to boost recruiting campaigns. Bert, from Eccleshill, had joined the 19th South Wales Borderers just over a year before and during his leave from a camp on the East Coast he explained to a reporter that he had been only the 21st man in the regiment. Recruiting ‘As soon as a band could be formed they went on recruiting marches in the towns and villages of South Wales. ‘All the recruits needed to bring the battalion to full strength were obtained and on completing the necessary training they were conveyed to France. ‘The band accompanied them to the base but had to return to assist in raising the 23rd Battalion which was now ready for the Front.’
Bert also took pride in the performance of the band as soldiers, explaining: ‘The band is trained for stretcher work and the necessary drills are part of the day’s routine. ‘In these days the rifle forms part of their equipment and their training at the rifle range delighted the colonel for they passed 20 per cent better than the ordinary troops. ‘The band is formed of some of the best players in England for they have been recruited from Drury Lane, Queen’s Hall, Beecham’s Orchestra and the Royal Carl Rosa Opera Company. Before joining the army some of these men were earning £4 and £5 per week. ‘During their stay on the East Coast they had had a visit from a Zeppelin for it crossed over the camp both coming and going but fortunately dropped no bombs. ‘The regiment is expecting to go to the front any day.’
Bandsmen show their worth
Idle brothers A J and W F Thomas went to the Dardanelles on 26 April 1916 ‘and to them fell the honour of being the first dispatch riders to do so. On the evacuation of the Peninsular these two brothers were the last of their section to leave. ‘Cpl A J Thomas was mentioned in dispatches some time ago and news has arrived this week that he has been awarded the D.C.M. As the two brothers were invariably working together the honour might just be called a mutual one.. ‘They recently came home on a short furlough and are now once more back in the firing line, this time in Flanders.’
Brothers were first in and last out
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