William Herbert Blakebrough was born on the 28th June 1892 in Bradford and baptised at St Peter Parish Church on the 16th July 1892 the son of Benjamin and Annie Blakebrough. William Blakebrough’s parents were married at St Peter the parish church on the 1st September 1890. Benjamin was 20 years old, a contractor’s engine tenter living at 267 Mount Street. He married his cousin Annie Sharp, 22 years old, a wool drawer of 269 Mount Street. Benjamin and Annie continued to live at Mount Street with her mother for some time.Ben and Annie had three sons, William Herbert born 1892, Frederick born 1893 and Arthur born 1896. By 1901 the family had moved to Thornton living at 64 Hill Top Road and Ben was working as a stone quarry engine tenter. They had, however, moved back to Bowling by 1911 living at 11 Lilac
Street where their daughter Lilian was born in 1904. Ben was still working as an engine tenter and William Herbert was working in a cloth weaving shed.In the summer of 1914 William Herbert married Catherine McGlen who was born in 1892 in West Hartlepool. He then enlisted on the 27th September 1914 as Private 16/369 of the 16th West Yorkshire Regiment and sent to the training camp at Skipton. In the spring of 1915 he contracted pneumonia and died from this illness on the 14th of May. William was 22 years of age. His funeral took place on the 17th May at the Bethel Chapel Burial Ground in Shelf where the acting CO of the 1st Bradford Pals under Major Crossley accorded Military Honours.Researched and written by Jean Britteon, to whom many thanks
The Shipley Times & Express published a lengthy report on the death of William who, along with his boxing brother Fred, was something of a local sporting hero.The sporting world has learned with deep regret of the death of “Will” Blakebrough, one of the best boxers in the North of England.He joined His Majesty’s forces by enlisting in the Bradford Pals and there was no more popular man in the battalion than the lad from Milner’s Arms, Eccleshill.His popularity was partly due to his reputation as a clever boxer but his cheery manner and straightforward dealings contributed quite as much to the respect shown him.A comrade said of him: “I have never seen him do an unkind or mean thing. I have never seen him lose his temper, which is more than some of us can say of ourselves. He is a man and a gentleman, a cheery wit and a good comrade, a credit to society and to our battalion.”During camp life at Skipton several boxing contests were arranged and though Will had to face good men like Pte Dan Demaine, he scored the victory on every occasion.Taken IllHe took part in the recent review at Huddersfield and on the night before he was taken ill was giving a boxing exhibition in camp.He was taken ill on Tuesday evening after supper and died on Friday morning from pneumonia.Telegrams of sympathy were sent by Jerry Delaney, the well-known boxer and Illingworth Mitchell, son of the late Mr Tom Mitchell.Amongst the many letters of
condolence was one from the chaplain of the Force, the Rev J G Thornton, which read as follows: “I feel so much for you in your great sorrow by the death of your son.Sympathy“I saw him for a moment yesterday morning when he was unconscious and prayed that he might recover.“You must be proud to think that your son did all he could for his country in the great war. Please accept my deepest sympathy to yourself and your wife.”The body was conveyed from Skipton to Eccleshill on Saturday.Will Blakebrough’s career as a fighter commenced at the early age of fifteen and though he passes away when only 22 years of age, his number of victories in the ring might be the envy of many an older hand in the art of self-defence.His first notable victory was fought
in Brighouse Town Hall when 17 years of age. On that occasion he met Young Dominic of Leeds for the 7st 10lb championship of Yorkshire and though the contest went the full number of rounds, the verdict was given to Blakebrough on points.The following is only a short list of his many successes:Knocked out Young Dominic, 9 rounds.Knocked out Jack Hickley, 8 rounds.Beat Billy Gill, 10 rounds.Beat Billy Cooper, 10 rounds.Knocked out Frank Hartley, 1 round.Beat Jack Flowers, 15 rounds.Knocked out Miley Malloy, 4 rounds.Drew with Kid Minton, after conceding 3lbs, 10 rounds.Beat Eddie Jones, 6 rounds.Beat Young Graves, 10 rounds.Beat Billy Cowley 20 rounds.Beat Stoker Hagan, 10 rounds.At one period he was the hon instructor at Bradford Gymnastic Club.ParisAnother contest worthy of special note was fought in Paris on April 14th, 1914 between Blakebrough and Clement. This contest followed the Mitchell-Carpentier fight and lasted six rounds of three minutes each. Clement was the ex-champion of France but proved no match for the English lad, who won easily on points.The funeral took place on Monday afternoon and the deceased was according full military honours. The whole of the A Company of the Bradford Pals attended under the command of Major Crossley and Captain Crabtree.
The Rev J G Thornton, chaplain to the Force, conducted the service at the house and Private Rev F Fairfax offered prayer.Union JackThe coffin, draped with the Union Jack, was then placed on a gun carriage and borne to Shelf Primitive Methodist burial ground where the internment took place. Large crowds assembled all along the route.The firing party at the graveside consisted of the members of the late Pte Blakebrough’s Company.The chief mourners were: Mrs Will Blakebrough, widow; Mr and Mrs Ben Blakebrough, parents; Pte Arthur Blakebrough and Mr Fred Blakebrough, brothers; Miss Lilian Blakebrough, sister; Miss Whitehead, Mr and Mrs Wm Henry Sharp, uncle and aunt; Mr Tom Blakebrough, uncle; Miss Edith Blakebrough, aunt; Mr and Mrs S J Dixon, uncle and aunt; Mr and Mrs Holmes, sister and brother-in-law; Mrs Ada Townend, aunt; Mrs Ada Smith, aunt; Mrs Wood, aunt; Mrs Ellen Sharp, great aunt, and family; Mrs and Mrs Herbert Johnson, sister and brother in law.Among the many friends present were Mr Tom Stainthorpe, representing Mitchell Bros; Mr and Mrs Hall; Mr J W Moorhouse, representing the Engineers’ Society; Mr Tom Cullern; Pte Jerry Delaney’ Pte the Rev F Fairfax; Mr and Mrs Blakbrough, Halifax; Mr Albert Hebblethwaite and members of the Manchester Unity Lodge, of which the late Pte Blakebrough was a member.Numerous wreaths were sent by relatives and friends.The late Pte Blakebrough had only been married ten months.