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An article in the Shipley Times & Express on 19 October 1917, brings home vividly how the war could impact a tight group of family, friends, work-mates and neighbours. Patriotism has been proved to be a predominant characteristic of a Shipley family named Patchett, many members of the family and also their best friends, being in the service of the country. Unfortunately, the satisfaction of patriotic service which comes to the relatives has this week been dimmed by the news that one of the number, Pte William Henry Patchett of 8 Smith Street, Shipley, has been reported wounded and missing. The official news was received on Sunday morning and read: “I am directed to inform you that enquiries have been made and it is now reported from the base that Pte W H Patchett was wounded and has been missing since August 16th. “It is regretted that the fact that he was missing was not reported earlier but in the circumstances of the fighting in the field it is not possible for the commanding officers always to know whether a man known to be wounded has been picked up by his own stretcher- bearers. Leaflet “I am to express the sympathy of the Army Council with you in your anxiety and to enclose for your information a leaflet showing the steps taken by the base hospital with a view to obtaining reliable information regarding missing soldiers. “Any further information that may be received will be communicated to the next of kin by the officer in charge of No 1 Infantry Record Office, Lichfield.” The official notification states that “Patchett has been reported wounded and missing since august 16th, 1917.” Patchett was 19 years old and before the war worked for Mr Robert Foster, boat owner, Valley Road, Shipley. Mr Foster has lost his own son in the war. Patchett was called up last January. He was married last Christmas and went to France in May. As a boy he attended the Young Men’s Institute
Windhill. He was a finely-built young man and was held in high respect. An eloquent letter of sympathy has been received from Staff-Captain Mary Booth of the Salvation Army, who wrote: “Dear Mrs Patchett, we have been making enquiries about Pte Patchett and very much regret to say that he has been reported wounded and missing since August 16th. Enquiries shall be instituted but seeing these may take some time to conclude, I am writing to assure you that your case is receiving attention. “May I say how deeply we sympathise with you in the weary suspense of waiting for news. We do not want to raise your hopes too high for out of the numbers who are missing, alas so many are never traced. “Should this be your case, we do pray that you may be amongst the number who sorrow not without hope but who have the assurance that there is coming a great day of re-union when you will meet your loved one again.” We shall be pleased if any of our correspondents at the Front can assist in relieving the anxiety from which the family are suffering and we will gladly forward any communication to Mrs Patchett. Rheumatic fever Pioneer Edward Patchett is the father of Pte W H Patchett and a boatman on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. He went out to France two years ago from September last and was
invalided home in March last, suffering from rheumatic fever, and has been discharged on a pension. He is 45 years of age and is back again at work. His home is at Smith Street, Shipley. Four brothers Mrs Patchett, the mother of Pte W H Patchett, has four brothers, all of whom are serving with the colours. Pte Alfred Wright (39), married, lives at Mountain Street, Windhill. He is a plasterer and before the war was employed by Mr W Green. He enlisted twelve months ago last Christmas and is now in Egypt. Gunner John William Wright (36), whose home is in Piccadilly, Shipley, is Mrs Patchett’s brother. He enlisted three years ago and before the war was a boatman on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. He is now in France. A married man, he has a family of two children. Pte Arthur Wright (29) of 17 Raglan Street, Shipley, is another of Mrs Patchett’s brothers who is serving. Before the war he was employed by Mr Tom Hodgson, metal broker, Shipley. He enlisted twelve months ago last Christmas and is one of the soldiers who have been loaned by the Government to the farmers in Norfolk. Pte Thomas Henry Wright (33), another of the Wright brothers, is a shoeing-smith in the army and is stationed at Grantham. Bereavement He is married with four children and resides at 19 Piccadilly, Shipley. Since he enlisted, 18 months ago, his home has been shadowed by bereavement, two of his children being buried within five weeks. Mr Patchett’s brother, Pte Isaac Patchett, whose home is at 6 Smith Street, is also serving in France. He too was a boatman on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and enlisted nearly three years ago. He is married with three children. Death has also struck his family severely, for since he joined the colours three of his children – two- year-old twins and another child
four years old, died within four months of each other. In addition to members of the family, their best friends are also with the colours. Pte Richard Cowman, 27 Piccadilly, Shipley, has been invalided home from service in France, suffering with rheumatism. Pte Alfred Cockshott, Leeds Road, Windhill, joined the army at the same time as Mr Patchett’s son and was killed in December last. He was a widower and left four sons, two of whom are serving in France, the other two being under military age. Pte George Cowman, 9 Piccadilly, is a married man with one child and enlisted at the same time as Mr Patchett, he is the fourth of the quartet of chums. Pte Frank Foster (21), son of Mr Robert Foster, lives in Valley Road, Shipley and before the war was a boatman on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. He and Pte W H Patchett worked together on the same boat. Pte Willie Gibson, whose home is at 5 Albion Street, Shipley, was a chum of Pte W H Patchett. He is 21 years of age and enlisted early in the war. He is now serving in France. He also was a boatman on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and is married. Albert Golds- borugh (40), single, is a cousin of the Wrights and has been in the army nearly 21 years. He was gymnastic trainer to the Devons in India. He is a Shipley man, is now with the Green Howards in India and is well- known in Shipley.
Wright brothers, L-R: Alfred, John William, Arthur, Thomas Henry
William Henry Patchett
Quartet of Chums - back: Richard Cowman, Edward Patchett; Front: Alfred Cockshott, George  Cowman
Families and friends sharing the woes of war