Rev Richard Whincup, vicar of Windhill, left his comfortable life and his wife and young family to become a chaplain to the 1/6 West Yorkshire Regiment in the First World War.Thanks to extensive coverage in the Shipley Times & Express we have a good record of his experiences and what the men thought of him.The links below will take you to some of those stories.
Richard Whincup was born in Knaresborough in 1875 the son of William and Elizabeth. In the 1881 census they were living in Stockwell House, Back Lane, Knaresborough. William was 74 and described as ‘living on income’ while Elizabeth was 39 and they had four children William (8), Richard (6), Charles (4) and Edith (3). Also present on census day was a visitor and three servants, a cook, a nurse and a housemaid.
Richard was educated at St Peter’s School, York and Queen’s College, Oxford and was ordained in 1900, becoming curate at Skipton Parish Church.On 5 June 1902 he married Catherine Russell Johnstone (left), the daughter of Spofforth surgeon Alfred Johnstone.In 1906 he was took over as vicar of Windhill from Rev Charles Strong.
The 1911 census records that Richard and Catherine had been married nine years, had four children, one of whom had died. The three surviving children were Elizabeth Audrey (7), Mary Daisy Elaine (5) and Barbara Clare (2). The two older girls were born in Skipton, Barbara in Windhill.Also sharing the ten-roomed vicarage on census day were Lyan Guest, a governess; Mary Armstrong, a cook; and Annie Maxsell, a domestic servant.Rev Whincup was already involved with the military before
war broke out. On 21 October 1912, the Yorkshire Post reported that he had preached the sermon at a service for more than 280 members of the Bradford National Reservists at Bradford Parish Church, attended by the Lord Mayor.In September 1914, he visited Strensall to speak to the men who had volunteered to fight in the recently declared war.
The story before 1914
OFF TO WARRev Whincup announces to his congregation that he is leaving them to work at the Front and sets off with no fuss
FIRST IMPRESSIONSSoon after arriving at the Front Rev Whincup reflects on being under fire and the pleasure of meeting up with some lads from home
SHADOW OF THE CROSSRev Whincup reflects on spiritual lessons from a soldier’s story of what happened to him at Neuve Chapelle
FROM THE FRONT 1915Rev Whincup reflects on his experiences of war at the sharp end where the bombs are falling
THE VICAR’S WIFEThe spotlight turns briefly on the role of Catherine Whincup and the work she did in the parish while her husband was in France
IT IS MY SAD DUTYSome of Rev Whincup’s letters written from the Front to the families of men who had been killed in action
THE SOLDERS’ FRIENDA glimpse of how Rev Whincup was seen by the officers and men he served as chaplain
DEATH OF A FRIENDReturning to the trenches following a short leave, Rev Whincup hears of the death of two men he knew well
SOMME: TRENCH FEVERRev Whincup battles against sickness to keep doing his duty
THE FRENCH EXPERIENCERev Whincup on life in French villages and the mixed feeling felt by the local population towards the army
SOMME: BRUSH WITH DEATHReport of how a soldier’s instincts managed to protect Rev Whincup from a trench mortar
SOMME: TRENCH LIFEA vivid description of preparing for another cold, wet winter in the trenches
GAS ATTACKIn his monthly newsletter, Rev Whincup relates the events of December 19th and a massive gas attack by the Germans
SOMME: CHRISTMASAfter the bloodiest battle in British history, Rev Whincup’s Christmas message reflects on warfare
MAKESHIFT SERVICEL Cpl Conder writes home describing on of Rev Whincup’s early services at the Front
MILITARY CROSSIn January 1917, Rev Whincup’s service in some of the most dangerous parts of the Front was recognised with the Military Cross