Dead Mans Penny

The WW1 memorial Plaques were also known as the ‘Dead Mans Penny ‘, the ‘Death Penny ‘, ‘Death Plaque’ or the ‘Widows Penny’. They were issued to the next of kin of all soldiers who died in battle in World War 1.

The original plaque was a 12cm. disc cast in bronze gunmetal which included an image of Britannia and a lion, two dolphins that represented Great Britain’s sea power and the emblem of Imperial Germany’s eagle being torn to pieces by another lion. Britannia is holding an oak spray with leaves and acorns. The small rectangular tablet on the right was where the deceased name was cast into the plaque. No rank was given as it was intended to show equality in their sacrifice. On the outer edge were the words ” He died for Freedom and Honour”. Each of the plaques was posted to the next of kin and was protected by a firm cardboard purpose-made folder which was then placed in a white HMSO envelope. All the plaques were issued with the attached note from the King.

I join with my grateful people in sending you this memorial of a brave life given for others in the Great War.

Production of the plaques, which was supposed to be financed by German reparation money, began in 1919 with approximately1,150,000 issued. They commemorated those who fell between August 4 1914 and January 10 1920 for home Western Europe and Dominions whilst the formal date for other theatres of war was April 30 1920.

The Roll of Honour on the War Memorial in the centre of Netherthong lists 41 names of soldiers who gave their lives. Their next of kin would have received a plaque but in all my research ( see the various chapters on WW1 ) I was unable to trace any evidence of their whereabouts. The general opinion is that after nearly 100 years, most would have ended up in auctions, car boot sales etc. but there might be a few tucked away in bottom drawers.

A very interesting situation occurred in 2021. Whilst renovating a house in the village, the new owners found a memorial plaque tucked away in the eaves. The first owners had bought the house from new in 1975 and it is likely that the purchaser , Bill Longley, had placed the plaque there. Other than the plaque ‘being discovered ‘ in the village ,and thus having a tenuous relationship with a resident who lived here for over 40 years, there is no other connection. However in the absence of ever finding any plaques of the local heroes, this plaque and its background story justify inclusion in this chapter. The name on the plaque is William Levi Longley . The plaque is shown below with my apologies for the poor quality

Keith Bugden and Rob Kirk are very knowledgeable WW1 historians and have been instrumental in identifying the details of the name on the plaque. It’s fairly certain that it was William Levi Longley, Service No. 42741, South Staffordshire Regiment, 4th. Battalion, who died on April 10 1918 ( see details of the War Diary for that day ) and was commemorated at Ploegsteert Memorial Panel 6, Belgium. Like many soldiers his body would not have been found.

The War Diary for 4th. Battalion, South Staffs Regiment. 10 April. 4th. Staffs withdraw to the Catacombs. Enemy attack opened at about 3.30 by heavy shelling of back area with gas shells. At 5.30 opened his barrage on the front and support lines, lasted about an hour, and then lengthened to the reserve on or about the line of grey farm. C Company on the front line wiped out. Withdrawn to watchful post owing to severity of shelling. Ordered to reoccupy position but was unable to do so. Battalion withdrew to the catacombs at 2 pm. Ordered to reoccupy old position and reoccupied at 5pm.Bosche attacked at 7pm. Grey Farm garrison held, remainder of Battalion withdrew to hill 63- position isolated – battalion withdrew to Neuve Eglise.

As usual, when researching the history of Netherthong, I have found that in common with other chapters that it has given rise to more questions than answers and both Keith Bugden and Rob Kirk have been helpful with suggestions for this chapter. One must start by assuming there was a family connection between William Levi Longley and Bill Longley but why would Bill have kept the plaque in the eaves instead of displaying it with honour. The approximate dates that I have for Bill ( born 1927, served in HMS Royal Arthur, Class 293, in 1945 , died in 2017/2018 aged 90 ) make it clear that Levi was not his grandfather or father so perhaps uncle, cousin? The search continues …...

This photograph, supplied by Keith Bugden, is of two brothers. who died on the Somme. Their father, a school headmaster, had them mounted in this frame.

Three generations of Boothroyds – John Edward, William and Haydn

In September 2020, Haydn Boothroyd ” discovered ” this website and contacted me. As a Netherthongian , who had left the village in 1956 to go to University, the site enabled him to travel back in time to his youth. Reading the various chapters acted as a catalyst and he started to pass on many of his memories of the village as well as supplying great photographs. Initially the information was about his grandfather, John Edward, who had been a master baker at the Deanhouse Institution and later on had his own bakery in Outlane.

All the memories and photos he sent I put into the appropriate chapters, but I then decided , as Haydn continued to supply more information, that a separate chapter of the three generations comprising his grandad, his father and himself, would be more appropriate. There will be some duplication as I will include information from other chapters.

The following photograph, taken in 1947-48, shows the three generations at Blackpool ( see the tram in the background). Haydn, aged 11-12, is on the left with Grandad, John Edward, in the centre, and father William on the right. Haydn told me that he still has his grandad’s walking stick .

Three generations of Boothroyds 1947-48

I will start with Grandad John Edward Boothroyd. He was born in 1883, probably in Almondbury, and died in 1955 aged 72. He worked at Deanhouse Institution as a master baker, see photograph below ( 1910s-1920s). He is the gentleman in the middle, sitting on a box with arms crossed, surrounded by other workers. Next to him is a young apprentice and the man on the far left with his cap and watch was probably the foreman. I have included an enlargement of John below the main photograph.

John Edward at Deanhouse Institution.

In October 1915, John made an application requesting permission to join HM Forces and the request was referred to the Workhouse Guardians Committee. I could not find any report on what  decision was reached but, in my chapter on soldiers who fought and survived WW1, his name does not appear, which indicates the Committee managed to make a case for his exemption.

His grandson, Haydn, said that at some date after the war, his grandfather was the owner of a bakehouse in Outlane and Haydn sent me his memories of the bakery.

 I can’t vouch for the previous owners of the bakery in the 30s, nor do I know when “Baker Boothroyd” took over. Growing up through the 40s, it seemed always to have been in the family. And in those days we never asked questions and the “old ones” didn’t talk a lot. I remember loaves, brown and white, baking in the oven – coke fired. Also teacakes – plain and currant and hot cross buns at Easter. With a weighed portion of dough, grandad  could mould a teacake, with a rotary motion, in each hand. The doughs were allowed to leaven before being baked. I can still feel the heat as the oven doors were opened to see how a batch was getting on. Perhaps they were put back for a bit or moved to a higher oven to finish off. Currant pasty, jam pasty and biscuit cake were the sweets of the day. Cream was not readily available. Bread rationing was still on in those days and I can remember going round the village and Deanhouse selling bread from a large flat basket and cutting the coupons from the ration books. The bakery also made meat and potato pies, with a crust, in white basins which we took down to “the mill” ( Deanhouse) for workers’ lunches. My Auntie Kathleen ( nee Boothroyd ) worked in the bakery until its closure. Later she served in the Co-op, mainly in the drapery section and she was a member of the WI. At this time in the 50s, Pontefracts in Holmfirth was a somewhat larger bakery and when Baker Boothroyd retired he sold his concern to them.”

The following photograph, probably dating from the 1930s, shows John holding the reins of a horse. The location is unknown but Haydn has vague memories that his grandad owned ” a leg in a racehorse ” but was never sure whether it was true or simply ‘family badinage’.

John and ‘ racehorse’

The above photograph is of John Edward Boothroyd, in the early 1950s, just outside the front door of Fox Farm where he lived. The little lad is Edward Roebuck, who was four to five years at the time. The contraption on the right was a hand pump which raised water from a well. Haydn said he used to be fascinated at the time, because after heavy rain water would appear in the cellar and climb 18″or so up the cellar steps and it was lovely and clear.

The young boy with John unfortunately drowned in New Dam. The report is in my chapter titled ” The family history of the Roebucks ” but I have reproduced it here because of the Boothroyd connection.

A family death  occurred in September 1952 that shocked the whole village. A six year old boy, James Edward Roebuck, son of Mr. & Mrs. John Roebuck of Ox Lane Farm was drowned in New Dam. An unsuccessful attempt to save him was made by Norman Hobson of Holmroyd Nook Farm who dived into the water several times without being able to locate him.

Along with his brother, John Keith, they had been playing near the dam and, when he fell into the water, John ran home across the fields to tell his mother. Mrs.Roebuck and a neighbour, Mrs.Eveline Kaye, of Moor Lane who ran to the dam but could not see the boy. Mr. Gerard Hobson and Mr. Norman Hobson had also run to the dam and with Mr. Albert Briggs of Sands Farm tried to find the boy using a hay rake and a farm drag. Mr. Norman Hobson stripped off and dived into the water several times but as the water was very dirty he could not find the boy. In the meantime Mrs. Kaye had run to the village to ring for the police. When they arrived they eventually recovered the boy after dragging for two hours. Haydn remembers it was a Saturday afternoon and he had been to ‘Town’ and got off the bus at the top of the hill where the road narrows. In those days there was a lane which led behind the farm , across two fields, to the dam. It was obvious from all the vehicles that something had happened and of course it transpired that Edward had died.

At the inquest the District Coroner, Mr.B.Little, recorded a verdict of ” Death by misadventure “.  Sergeant I. Williamson said that he was present when the body was recovered and that the New Dam was on the property of Messrs. Thomas Dyson and Sons, Deanhouse Mills, and was private property with no public right of way. He estimated that the depth of water where James fell in was about 20ft. The Coroner concluded that Mr. Hobson had made a very commendable effort to rescue the child and that it would be quite improper for him ( the Coroner ) to make any suggestion for added safety precautions as the dam was on private property.

Haydn came across a family tree which must have come from the effects of his Auntie Kathleen and it shows Grandad had two younger brothers: The eldest was Crowther (b.1884)who lived in Berry Brow and had a son, George, who was married but had no children. In his day, George was an accomplished cricketer (bowler) playing for a number of clubs in the Huddersfield League and at that time a club was allowed one paid,” professional”, player and George was one such. I knew about him by reputation and can recall looking for his performances in the Huddersfield Examiner. The second brother was Charles Alfred ( 1890-1959) who lived in a lane in Deanhouse and had a son and five daughters.

William Boothroyd was born in 1904 and registered in Almondbury. On his birth certificate, his father wrote as his profession – ‘Bread baker, Journeyman’. In the photograph below, which dates from early 1910s, young William is on the left of the top row next to the girl with long black hair. Looks like there are seven teachers in the photo and the five children in the middle dressed in army uniform are intriguing.

William in school photograph 1910s

Haydn’s mother, Nellie Wilkinson, was born in 1903 , and in the school photograph she is in the second row, 4th. from the left. The boy in the middle of the bottom row is holding a board saying ‘Netherthong Nat. School. Group A. The first photograph is an enlargement.

Nellie at school.

T. Dyson was a well-known and respected inhabitant of Netherthong and he gave lantern slides on a wide range of topics and used various local friends to operate the lanterns. In 1928 he gave a show at the Methodist Church titled “All about Yorkshire ” and William was one of his lanternists.

The Home Guard was operational from 1940 to 1944 and was set up by the British Army. It’s nickname Dad’s Army was due to the average age of local volunteers who signed up and were ineligible for military service usually because of age. They were originally called Local Defence Volunteers or LDV, and their role was to provide a local defence in case of an invasion. There was a Holmfirth Home Guard. Haydn Boothroyd told me his father, William, was a member from its beginning until it was disbanded – he did not pass his service medical exam because of severe varicose veins. The ‘battery’ was in a field alongside the lane behind the Ford Inn. His father told him he could throw a hand grenade the furthest in the squad. The photograph shows the volunteers with William on the far left in the top row. Others named in the photo are  Hildred Dyson ; Frank Dickinson ( officer) -( he was born in 1882 and died in 1958. He served in WW1 and achieved fame for singing to the troops in France. His name is on the WW1 Roll of Honour in the Parish Church).; Stanley Hepworth ; Clarence Daniel ; Stanley Turton : Harold Hinchliffe 😕 Ellis. Mr. Roberts ( he could be Herbert Roberts born in 1884 who was a private in WW1 and his name appears on the Roll of Honour in the Parish Church ). The second photo is an enlargement of William.

Holmfirth Home Guard
Co-op outing

Once a year the Netherthong Co-Operative Society had a day outing for staff, committee members and their wives. Invariably they went to Blackpool or Bridlington. The photograph above was taken in the late 40s/early 50s and include both William and his wife Nellie. William is second in from the right on the back row wearing a dark suit. The fellow in the front with his hands crossed was Phillip Dixon, who with his wife lived in the house that was the Methodist Chapel at the bottom of Outlane. Nellie, with glasses, is just behind Phillip and on her side in the white cardigan, peeping round is Aunt Kathleen, who until her death lived in the big house at the top of New Road with the gable facing onto the War Memorial. I have also included two enlargements of the photograph showing William and Nellie in more detail.

The following photograph was probably taken at a Co-operative outing to Skegness. William and Nellie are in the front. Aunt Kathleen, William’s sister is walking behind him with her friend, Sheila Sykes. The gentleman on the right is Arthur Wild, who was the manager of the Co-op. The second photograph shows William and Nellie on holiday when the temperature was obviously much warmer( no coats ).

William and Nellie
William and Nellie on holiday

The next photograph shows father William and young Haydn on holiday c.1949. It is very interesting to note the formal ‘holiday ‘ attire with Haydn wearing a school-cap and tie.

In the 1949 Co-op Society report , it recorded that William was one of the three retiring committee members who were re-elected, which explains why he and Nellie went on the outings, There was no other reference to him. Haydn had a memory of “stock taking” at the Co – op which he thought took place in the spring – probably in time for the end of the financial year. The Co – op closed over the week – end. His father seemed to “draw” the drapery every year, and each item , with a price, got listed in a little book – thimbles, reels of cotton, vests, pillow cases, tea cloths, you name it, it was there. Then came the calculations ; 20 x 3/6, etc. etc.; half pennies and there may even have been some items priced in farthings. Then the adding up! Quite a carry on. One tried to be accurate but it was tricky adding up the pence.

Haydn Boothroyd was educated in the village school and has shared some of his memories of his time there. “I’ve been reading  the School chapter, and Margaret Lax’s account of her years there tallies absolutely with what I recall, with one exception. In my day the school garden was a “going  concern”, all neat and tidy producing lots of vegetables. One lunch time, perhaps in my last year, a group of we lads had been sent to collect pea sticks ( on Miry Lane) and were walking back along Giles Street waving them in the air. Later in the afternoon, we were summoned by the Headteacher, Mr. Hinchcliffe, and caned for unseemly conduct and bringing the school into disrepute.

In 1941, and through all my time, Miss Wilson was the reception/infants teacher and Miss Johnson took Standards 1 & 2.

I had forgotten the Headteacher was a cricketer, but I now recall playing rounders in the yard and him “slogging” the ball into the rough ground alongside The Cricketers. In the winter we used to make slides down the playground from the high wall towards the school. Health and Safety eat your heart out! I don’t remember any broken bones or anyone stopping us from doing it.” ( Further to Haydn’s comment that no-one was damaged by sliding down the school yard in the frost, Margaret Lax wrote that she got a scar on her chin from one of the slides. Someone took me to Dr Meyer’s in Holmfirth, and he stitched me up – no anaesthetic in those days!)

The headmaster, Mr. Hinchliffe, was interested in amateur dramatics outside school and he “penned” playlets for the school concerts. The photograph below was taken in Dyson’s garden by Bray & Sons, the Holmfirth photographic studio, and shows Haydn playing the role of a ‘photographer’setting up a shoot of five fellow pupils. From the left they were Beryl Hinchliffe ( headmaster’s daughter ), Joan Hoyle, Beth Dufton, Ian Lancaster and Audrey Wood.

The second photograph , also taken in Dyson’s garden. is another playlet with Haydn in the starring role. He is all dressed up and wearing a bowler hat and surrounded by six ‘ladies’ with babies in prams and cots. From the left they are : Marie Singleton ; Yvonne Hinchliffe with pram ; Barbara Singleton ; Mary Buckley ; Beth Powell? ; Jean Beaumont with cot.

The photograph below has been in my possession for over seven years and Haydn was able to identify three of the fellows in it. On the far left was Morley Mallinson, who lived in Deanhouse. Third from the right was his uncle, Hubert Wilkinson, who later in life lived at 3, St.Anne’s Square, Outlane. Harold Wimpenny was on the far right.

1920s/30s. Far Left Morley Mallinson of Deanhouse. 3rd. from Right was Hubert Wilkinson, who later in life lived at 3 St.Anne’s Square. Far Right was Haroldd Wimpenny.

Haydn supplied the following photograph, dated 1934, which showed four generations. The lady with the V-neck top is Haydn’s paternal grandmother, Jane Boothroyd, the wife of John the baker. The elderly lady in the centre is his great grandmother, Mrs. Woodcock, who lived in Holmebridge. The lady on the right in the flowered dress is my grandmother’s daughter ,Renee, my father’s elder sister and my aunt. She’s the mother of Derek, the baby, in the photo who is my eldest cousin.

The Deanhouse Mill was the major employer for the villagers , and the history of all the Mills in the area has its own chapter. Haydn has many memories about his family and relatives involvement with the mill. His father was a “tenterer”, which involved drying the pieces after they had been scoured. When the Mill closed, he ended up doing night work at a mill in Meltham. His mother had been a warper, readying the long threads to go onto the loom. My (half) brother was an ordinary weaver at this time and later became a skilled pattern weaver and my uncle (mother’s brother), Hubert Wilkinson, was  in charge of the department where the warp and weft were brought together to be woven on a loom . So at one stage there were four family members working in the mill.

Haydn mentions David Wilkinson as great uncle David ( brother of his grandfather Tom), who had been a hero of WW1, laying down his life for his country. He is remembered on the Roll of Honour in the village War memorial.

The photograph below is of a group of Deanhouse Mill ‘menders’. These were usually highly skilled ladies who mended any flaws, which they could detect from the weaving process when either the weft or warp threads broke. The photograph was taken outside the scouring department – it and the tenter room were either side of the boiler house to make maximum use of the hot water in the scouring process and the heat for drying the cloth. Haydn’s father is on the right with Mrs. Morley Mallinson sitting on his knee. The man in the centre with a cloth cap was Edgar Beardsell, who worked in the scouring department. The lady kneeling in the front wearing black overalls was Cissie Wild, sister of John Arthur Wild who managed the Co-Op.

Deanhouse Mill Menders

The following account of Haydn’s holiday memories may ring a bell with people of a certain age who lived in Netherthong and the surrounding villages and remembered the Holiday Week.

As I recall holidays for us were a “must”. We always went away in the summer, perhaps it had to do with “recharging the batteries”. The week in August was governed by the Deanhouse mill closure which, in turn, was linked to the Huddersfield holiday week. Invariably we went to Morecambe one year or Bridlington the next. (My mother didn’t like Scarborough – “it was too hilly”). Day trips tended to be to Blackpool. In those days Baddeleys and Castles were the two coach companies in Holmfirth – we mostly used Baddeleys. Having found or been recommended a good boarding house, we went back year after year. With full board, you got a midday meal but were not expected to use your room on a rainy day. We always seemed “to get lucky” – good summers. Having settled in on Saturday lunchtime, the thing to do in the afternoon was to book for the various shows, which were on that summer, so you could be sure to get in – Arthur Askey, George Formby, Norman Evans, Albert Modley, Sandy Powell, Vic Oliver, whoever was on that season. My memory may be playing me false, but one year I think we saw Laurel & Hardy in Morecambe. Those were the days when a comedian could last a whole season with one routine. There was also a huge lido where the “Miss Morecambe “ competition was held.

Bridlington did not have the same range of venues but they did have the “Bridlington Belle”, a boat which did trips across the bay to Flamborough Head and the sea birds on Bempton Cliffs. The crossing could be quite choppy at times.

In the late 40s Walls ice cream was just becoming available again and I can remember buying blocks wrapped in paper and wafers to put the ice cream in.

Blackpool Tower Circus was in its pomp in those days. Two performances stick in my memory, on one occasion whilst the clowns were amusing us, attendants built a big cage around the ring before the lions came out with their “tamer”. Another year it was elephants – placing a foot on the head of the “trainer”. On another occasion the ring floor dropped, water poured in and we were treated to a water spectacular finale.

Haydn mentions his Aunt Kathleen, who was his father’s youngest sister and she appears in many of the photographs in this chapter.. She was married to Bill Woffenden, whose best man at his wedding was Jim Ellis, well known in the village for making walking sticks ( see article in the chapter ‘Portraits of people and events’). The photograph below , dated 1947, is of Kathleen’s wedding with her guests identified. From the back left : Emer Brook, groom’s brother in law, husband of Leila and father of Sheila : Jim Ellis, best man : Bill Woffenden, groom : Kathleen Boothroyd, bride : John Edward Boothroyd, bride’s father : William Boothroyd, bride’s brother. From the front left :Sheila Brook, groom’s niece : Jenny Hine, nine years old, bride’s niece : Leila Brook, groom’s sister, wife of Emer and mother of Sheila : Jane Boothroyd, wife of John and bride’s mother : Helen Bray, bride’s friend.

The next photograph shows Grandad and Dad with a studio portrait of them in their wedding suits with button holes.

Below are several more photographs of Aunt Kathleen. The first one, dated October 1942, was taken five years before she married. The second photo is dated October 1943.

She was obviously well-loved and close to Haydn’s mother as shown in the next two photographs. The first, from about 1937, is of Haydn’s mother holding him with Aunt Kathleen standing by her side. The second photo, taken in spring/summer shows the two friends sitting on a bench by the roadside, part way up Wolfstone Heights ( The bench is still there in 2020 ).

Kathleen had a deserved reputation for the quality of her cakes, probably learnt from her father when she worked in the bakery until its closure, and the photograph below from the Vicarage Party in July 1979, shows her on the left at her cake stall. She served in the Co-op and was a member of the WI.

1979 Autumn Fayre Cake stall ladies with Kathleen on the left.

Early Haydn

The photograph above is of a very young Haydn.. He is about 18 months old sitting in a wheelbarrow in a field at the rear of Fox Cottage. In the background is Sands Farm, which seems to have changed little in 80 years. Haydn has added a few more memories of his time when he left the village.

After leaving  junior school I attended  Holme Valley Grammar School, as it was  called in those days, I left Netherthong in 1956 to go to University in London – the London School of Economics from 1956 to 1959. It was a major cultural shock to   leap from Moor Lane to the Festival Hall, West End and all the other attractions in London.  I spent 1959-60 at Reading University studying for a Diploma in Education which is where I met Jill who was on her way back south having studied French at Leeds. We married in October 1961 (half term!) and lived in Morden. During the 60s I taught at three London boys’ schools. Inner London had only recently “gone comp.” and the traditions of former grammar schools still persisted and teaching was no problem. I was introduced to marking geography examination papers for both Cambridge University Overseas School Certificate and the Metropolitan Regional Examinations Board for C.S.E. In 1970, I was successful in filling a new post with the East Midlands Regional Examinations Board here in Nottingham where my family have been ever since, through the growth of C.S.E. and then the establishment of G.C.S.E. Our three children were educated here and went on to higher education.

I retired early at Christmas 1995 and have since been involved with setting up a local Probus Club and a branch of U3A. A daughter lives in the South Lakes and we occasionally, in summer, cross the Pennines via Holmfirth having lunch at The Bridge Inn. I cannot get over how small the villages now seem with all the cars about – they were not built for the age of traffic!

In May 2022, Haydn, found in his files, an article from the Huddersfield Daily Examiner dated May 8, 1990. It featured Bamforth and Company , which was based in Holmfirth and was founded by James Bamforth. As most people may know, Bamforth was famous for its saucy postcards with busty blondes, bare bottoms and henpecked husbands. The cards were issued on a massive scale and were displayed at most of the seaside resorts for holiday makers to buy and send back to their relatives. What made the article especially significant was that it had a photograph of Mrs. Connie Haigh, at work in the calendar department, who lived in Netherthong, She was Haydn’s cousin and lived with her husband, Brian, up New Road towards Netherthong. Haydn commented that on the left of New Road was Netherfields Drive, a development of ‘old folks homes’. Just before that was a narrow lane with two stone built detached cottages which had all the mod. cons. for those days. Connie and Brian lived in the first one and the next one was occupied by Ben Lockwood, a local builder and quarry owner. To live in New Road with neighbours such as the Lockwoods, Holroyds and the Batleys, one could say one had “arrived”.

Mrs. Connie Haigh ( with co-worker Mrs. Linda Watson ) in the calendar department.

Some more memories from Haydn based on various chapters in this history.

I’ve been looking through the mixed bag of photos and have a few observations in no particular order.

The photo of deep snow I thought I ‘d seen was the 1947 one outside Fox Farm with William Batley. We knew him as Mr. Batley – he owned the (top) end house where we lived a little further up Moor Lane on the left. New Dam bank is visible in the background together with the road over the Knowle to Honley. The road was drifted up to the wall tops all the way down to the grove of trees on the right as you got to the village.

The local bus in the snow is at the top of the hill in Moorgate – we used to sledge down the hill. No oncoming traffic! It was behind the buildings on the lane that Clifford Leake “garaged/sheltered” his car. By the 50s trees had grown up along the roadside behind the farm. It was when I got off at that bus stop that I realised something, the drowning, had happened.

From where we lived in Moor Lane we looked across 3 fields to Holmroyd Nook Farm where the Hobsons lived – Norman tried unsuccessfully to rescue young Edward.

Still in Moor Lane – in the 50s I recall Sands Farm (with pigs) was owned by the Lockwood family. This photo is taken from the “land” side. As we walked out of Thong past West End, the farm was on the LEFT, not right. That was a high wall and a field behind St. Anne’s Square – 2 relations lived there looking out the back on to the field. Sticking out of the third floor of the farm was the framework of a “hoist” which I always thought had been used for lifting materials, whatever, to that floor. I never found out.

I can recognise a number of the children on the Deanhouse Victory Group.

I remember delivering Christmas post to Rob Roy in the mid 50s.

The long shot of Haigh Lane in 1910 is a good one. By 1950 the far bank was allotments and Polly Dam filled the bottom of the valley a hundred yards or so above the mill. Polly Dam was topped up by opening the sluice in New Dam – my father had the key to the wheel house since he lived only 2 fields away. Until they moved to St. Annes Square, my Uncle and Aunt Wilkinson (parents of Connie) lived on Haigh Lane, alongside the Dufton family and the Prestons.

Still in Deanhouse, I can recognise what we called the “Cricket Field” in the 1953 feast but no one else.

Lastly, the Jubilee Group in Outlane. Do you know the source of the photo? The chap 2nd left on the back row could be my father. Looks remarkably like him on other family photos. I think the photo predates our queen. I do not recognise anyone else.

Incidentally, I remember John Roebuck, Keith’s father, moving cattle along the road to fields near the Honley crossroads. I used to help with haymaking – stacking hay on the cart and riding to the barn. Would not be allowed these days, in any case machinery has taken over. Collecting in the corn was also a great event together with threshing when the machine had to be hired in. Not every farmer could afford to own one. When his cattle “strayed”, I recall John got on the wrong side of the law. Does Keith still have the farm up and over Ox Lane ? He had an elder brother Derek, but am not sure if he went into farming.

In my day George Bamforth was a very going concern in Day Old Chicks and turkeys at Christmas. As I went through my teens I earned a bob or 2 cleaning out poultry huts and got creosote burns for my troubles. At Christmas, before you plucked a turkey you had to learn how to “pull its neck”! It was still warm and flapping as you began to pluck – you had to be careful not to tear the skin. All good stuff!

Netherthong Community Partnership (NCP) – 2019 onwards

Plans are moving ahead to convert All Saints Church, Netherthong into an all-purpose community centre. Space for church worship will be retained but the Netherthong Community Partnership hopes to transform the building into use for local events, meetings and more. Janet Chapman, NCP secretary, said the NCP was formed in the summer of 2019 and now has charitable status. Like many rural churches, All Saints has a small regular congregation but lots of people recently attended a meeting asking for community support, including many from local organisations.

It’s important to mention that during Netherthong’s history, various attempts were made to obtain a village hall/ community centre, ( If you type either word into the search bar, you will get four chapters with the details I was able to find.) The first was in October 1965, when a meeting was held to discuss a Village Hall. Representatives from nine Groups and Organisations attended but there was no follow up or report in the Holmfirth Express( unfortunately an all too common occurrence ). The second related to the Methodist Church in Outlane. In March 1986 , Parish Councillors were proposing that the church, which was no longer in use by the congregation, get a new lease of life as a Community Centre, However as it was a listed building and fell within the Netherthong conservation area, it was instead approved for a change of use to residential. A third attempt was in December 1986, when a Netherthong Community Association was formed and started raising money to provide a Community Centre They planned to build a centre next to the school, raised about £3,000 and needed £100,000 to build it. Once again I couldn’t find any more news about it or what happened to the money raised. The fourth one, in March 1983, was the conversion of No.2 Outlane into a church meeting room , with some restrictions on usage. It was purchased for £6,000. and in 1984, when the conversion was completed, the Bishop of Wakefield and the Rev.J.Capstick dedicated it as the Parish Centre, and it was used by local playgroups, mother and toddler group, Senior Citizens Club, Mothers Union and Sunday School. The usage continued until 2002 when the Parish Church sold the house, and used the money to carry out modifications and improvements to the church, which included an upstairs room for meetings and toilets. The intention was that this would be the forerunner of the NCP.

This latest attempt has captured the imagination and support of the villagers, and the NCP includes members of the church community, several of whom are trustees, including Nick Heaton, the chair of the NCP who is also the Vicar of All Saints, thus ensuring that the church community is happy with any proposed changes. It has a fundraising committee to organise events, and the first one in September was a village fete which raised £1,452. This was followed by a shopping evening in November, which raised £1,150 ( see photo below )

Graham Hoyle and Darren Kitson, owners of the Clothiers Arms, held an annual Harvest Festival. . Locals and villagers all brought donations to the event which raised £1,578. see photo. A treasure hunt from the Cricketers Pub raised £276.

The local Londis shop, directly opposite the church , is run by Warren and Adam Halstead and helps with the raffle prizes, displays the minutes of the NCP meetings and provides a collection point for prizes and donations. The minutes can also be viewed at the two pubs, the Cider Press, as well as on social media. The NCP has been awarded £1,000 from Yorkshire Building Society to help with the removal of pews and conversion work. A grant of £750 was received from Longley Farm Fund to help with a tree survey report and work, and £1,000 has come from the National Lottery to purchase a projector and screen for community use.

Having been researching and writing this history for many,many years, the NCP is fantastic news for the village with many events being planned especially with the Tour of Yorkshire when it comes through the village. It is a beacon of hope. So much of this history is all about what was and is now no longer – Wesleyan and Methodist churches, two public houses, shops, societies, clubs, music events, sports clubs and more.

Unfortunately the arrival of Covid 19 and all the limitations and restrictions that have been imposed , has placed a temporary stop on activities. As I sit here in self-isolation in front of my computer , I know, that once it has been conquered, the NCP will be even more essential to the wellbeing and future of our village and its inhabitants. In the meantime the NCP is offering all sorts of support, see the Hello card below and the prayer on its reverse. The cancellation of the Tour of Yorkshire through the village was a major disappointment as I was excited about being able to sit at the bottom of my drive and cheer the peloton as it came up New Road.

The excellent Free Copy Holme Valley Review in June 2020 published the following photo of the church and commented on the draft architect plans.

The Free Copy of the Holme Valley Revue for September 2021 contained the following article.

Christmas Market November 27 2021

Norman Smith – WW1 survivor, hero and medallist

2018 was the centenary of the end of World War 1 and I carried out extensive research into trying to identify the names of soldiers with a Netherthong connection, who had fought in that war and survived. The chapter titled “Netherthong- details of soldiers who fought and survived WW1” was the result. I managed to find 163 survivors, one of whom was Norman Smith and I was fortunate to find a few details about him and the fact that he was awarded a medal for bravery. Then, in January 2020, I was contacted by his grandson who sent me some photographs and ephemera. He also mentioned that his grandfather had written his memoirs about his experiences during the war. This was sufficient justification for me to give Norman his own chapter.

  He was born in Scholes on 17 July 1895 . He moved to Upper Oldfield ( in the Parish of Netherthong ) sometime in 1901 which must have been after the date of the 1901 Census ( 31 March 1901 ), because that Census shows him still a resident in Scholes. He stayed at Oldfield and, until he was 15, his schooling years, ( as evidenced by his 1908 attendance certificate), were at Netherthong National School. When he was 15 years old in 1910, he must have moved away because in the 1911 Census his family is shown as residing at Golcar. This explains why his gold watch, citing his valour/MM, is inscribed as from the residents of Golcar. Because of those years in Netherthong, his name was included on the Parish Church ROH and listed as a Corporal in the 1/5 Battalion of the Duke of Wellington 49th. West Riding Regiment. He enlisted as a private on 19th.December 1914 and went to France in June 1915. During his service he was promoted to Corporal. When he was 21, he was awarded the Military Medal and ribbon for gallantly rescuing a comrade on the battlefield under fire. After the war he lived in Longwood, Linthwaite and Cowlersley/ Milnsbridge. The Golcar District Heroes’ Fund recognized his meritorious conduct by presenting him with a solid gold ten- guinea English- made watch ( see photo below ). In circa 1978 at the age of 83 he wrote  about his experiences as a Corporal in the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment and these memoirs are held as Catalogue No. KX212 in Kirklees West Yorkshire Archive Service. The photographs and ephemera were supplied by his grandson ( January 2020).

Norman Smith in uniform
Norman Smith with his medals

Greetings card sent by Norman to his mother
Norman Smith School Attendance 1908

Reverse of the watch presented by Golcar District Heroes Fund.Reverse of the watch presented by Golcar District Heroes Fund. The photograph below gives a much clearer image.
A soldier pal of Norman called Sid James.
A group of Norman’s pals – Wilson and Maurice marked. The x is Norman.

Photo of four of Norman’s pals – one marked Joe Taylor.

In June 1986 the Huddersfield Daily Examiner carried an article about Norman’s memoirs of his experiences during the war. As they filled about 50 pages, the reporter, obviously limited by how many column inches he was allowed , used a combination of what he considered key points as well as quoting sections of Norman’s own words. There are a number of anomalies in the report particularly over dates.

I’ve included the article below.

The horrendous conditions endured by soldiers in the trenches of the battlegrounds of France during WW1 are graphically portrayed in the memoirs of a Huddersfield man. The writings of Mr. Norman Smith have only just come to light four years after his death at the age of 84. They were discovered by his daughter, Mary, at their family home for the last 58 years in Cowlersley. For four years before his death Norman had chronicled his memories of WW1. He was born in Scholes in 1895 and was the son of a weaver. He enlisted in December 1914 and during the next four years he was to witness death and destruction on a terrible scale and survived the battle of the Somme.

After only a few weeks basic training Norman left Southampton aboard a paddle steamer bound for France as a member of 2/5 Duke of Wellington Regiment .His pay was 1/- per day. After further training including guidance in the use of gas masks, he was sent to the front line trenches. He described his first night on sentry duty in a trench only 25 yards from the German lines. ” The trenches were dug about two feet into the ground with the rest of the depth being made by building sandbags up to about five feet high. Sentry duty, during the hours of darkness, was two hours on and two hours off during which time the infantrymen were expected to grab some sleep. Any show of smoke from the trenches would have brought shelling from the Germans and the men fried bacon and boiled water using “smokeless fuel.” Norman described the trenches being strewn with bodies and parts of bodies and yet men were expected to drink water that had collected in shell holes.

One of the communication trenches was named Colne Valley and it was whilst travelling down this trench that Norman experienced a mortar attack. ” You could hear the thud and then see them coming over, two of three in the air at the same time. They made a very large report. Going down the trench, pieces of timber could be seen marked ‘ unknown soldier buried here’. At one place a pair of leather jackboots were showing in the side of a trench-the feet of a German soldier. In the aftermath of such an attack, stretcher bearers attempted to reach the wounded – they had to crawl full length through the smashed trenches under file from German snipers. Another threat was that posed by the whizz-bangs, small artillery shells, fired at the trenches. They travelled at a very fast rate, the shells arriving over our trenches before we heard the report from the German guns.”

Norman spent this period of the war near Ypres with four day stints on the front line. When the rains arrived and conditions worsened, some trenches were two foot under water and others were just streams and the men were issued with thigh boots. ” We had a very tough time during October, November and December 1915 although casualties were light but sickness was very heavy and, at the end of December, when we were relieved, the platoons were less than 20 men strong. To ward off trench foot, soldiers would rub whale oil on their feet.” After surviving the ordeals of Ypres, Norman and his colleagues began to join what was described to them as ‘a new army’. Their destination was the Somme. He described the preparations made for the Battle of the Somme. Two months before the attack it was quite obvious what was coming and was openly talked about by the officers, NCOs and men. Late on the night of January 30 1916, Norman, whose job was company runner, set out with his battalion in full marching order and carrying two days rations. Their first stop was in a trench near Aveloy Wood which was about one mile from the front lines.

About midnight on July 1 with the battle now raging, Norman got orders to move to near Thriepval. “The roads were choked with artillery and streams of captured German soldiers , many of them wounded. One German , laying on a stretcher, asked me very politely if I would give him a drink of water, which I did. He told me he had lived in London and looked old enough to be my father”. On July 2, stories began circulating of heavy Allied losses. One of the messages he had to relay said the 147 Brigade will not attack. Attack cancelled. For the next seven weeks, without a break, Norman was among those who held the front line. Nights were spent repairing the trenches and burying the dead. As fighting continued, B Company was reduced from 150 to 28. Relief came when Norman, now a corporal, was instructed to return to England and resume work at David Browns.

He was a civilian once again until April 19 1919, when he received orders to return to his unit in France. He was sent to join the 10th. Duke of Wellington Regiment, not in France but in Padua. He describes heavy fighting and loss of life and it was whilst he was in Italy that the Armistice was signed. His demobilisation came in early March and he returned to Huddersfield. Most of the rest of his life he worked at John Crowthers in Milnsbridge. He was awarded the Military Medal. Norman did not want his son to fight in WW2 and he went to work in the pits as a Bevin Boy.

His memoirs are titled :

Memoirs of Norman Smith MM, 1895-1980.

5th. Duke of Wellington West Riding Regiment and

18th. Duke of Wellington 23rd. Division.

They are far too long for me to include them in their entirety in this chapter so instead I have selected paragraphs in Norman’s own words that are especially interesting. At the end of his writings, he added what was effectively an addendum titled -Notes on different topics. They are so poignant that I have copied them and listed them after his memoirs.

During October, I was sent on a few days instructions on the Mills bomb. This was at a farm near Poperinghe. Before the Mills bomb, we had a bomb made out of empty jam tins, very poor. These were ignited by striking the fuse on a piece of sandpaper tied on the back of ones hand. During October and November our Colonel left us, it was said the trouble was nerves. Col. Headlam ( later on Major General ) was very strict, he started to smarten us up ( we needed it ). He noted a large number of hat badges were missing and gave the order that they had to be replaced. After this, anyone losing his cap-badge must go in front of him to explain the reason ( see photo of cap badge ). We were now doing more training, but also plenty of working parties. During October 1915 the rains came. Trenches were flooded , communication trenches became streams. The front line, in some places, was 2 feet deep in mud and water. The dug-outs were out of use. I think we went into the front line twice in those conditions. Afterwards we received thigh boots and the frontline period was reduced to 48 hours. There were saps of ours which went up to 25 yards from the German trenches. These were now withdrawn and the front line was manned by posts of platoon strength about 30 yards apart. The first time we went in with the thigh boots, we drew them at a place behind the Canal Bank, changed into these waders ( in the rain ) and then made our way over the top, as communication trenches were not usable. We carried over our own boots with us , and afterwards found the platoon we were relieving, who were in a short stretch of trench, perhaps one foot deep in mud and water.

On the day of the gas attack, which was on December 19, 1915, we were taken up to the Canal Bank. Our gas mask had now been improved, being a kind of bag made out of flannel, with the eye piece made of mica, and with a mouthpiece of rubber, to enable one to breathe out. The open end of the bag was tucked into the neck of the tunic. They were very uncomfortable although better than the other two types which we had. We passed through the hamlet of Brelin, although about two miles from the Canal Bank, it had still ladies who sold coffee, tea and biscuits. In this hamlet there was a smell of gas ( musty hay ) and we fixed gas masks, took them off after getting through the place. Only on this particular day did we go to the Canal in daylight. We had to crawl a certain distance before we reached the Canal safely. A number of gas casualties were laid out behind the Canal Bank, perhaps waiting for darkness to remove them. The only people I saw attending to them were two padres, some of them appeared to be very sick. We had to move on and man the reserve line on the top of the Canal Bank. I think we stayed there two days and then went up to the front line. Was in the line on Christmas day 1915, very quiet, bread and cheese for dinner. 49th. Division was relieved after Christmas and marched to Naours for a rest and refit. I visited the new Talbot House at Poperinghe, must have been one of the very first to do so, would be in the early part of December 1915 and I remember signing the Visitors’ book. One amusing thing was when we asked for a book to read, we had to hand over our caps. These were returned when we took the book back”.

It was very tiring marching to Naours, not very fit after all those weeks in the mud and water. While on the Canal Bank sometime during November, a rather amusing incident happened to me and my friend Claude. We were in the Canal Bank in reserve, and we two were detailed to take a dixie of rice pudding to the men holding the fron line. This would be about 10pm. There was no communication trench we could use, so had to go over the top and find the platoon. We were on the extreme left of the BEF where the front crossed the Canal, the French troops being on our left. We had to cross the canal by the bridge on our extreme left and this could only be used in darkness, as it was under observation by the Germans during daylight. At night they frequently turned their machine guns on the bridge. The procedure was to wait ( undercover ) until the Germans traversed the bridge with the gun, and when the gun stopped to get across as quick as possible. This we did but the Germans broke their sequence this time and turned the gun on the bridge when we were very near the centre. It was a very low bridge , no tow rails. We dropped down at once, the dixie fell into the canal. I had my head over the offside of the bridge and my cap fell into the canal ( steel helmets had not yet come ). As soon as the machine gun stopped, we ran back to the end of the bridge, where we had come from and where there was protection. Then we had a discussion on what to do, decided to go back to our dug-out and say no more about it. Never heard any more about the rice pudding, but I had lost my cap and worse still, my cap badge. I received a new cap without any problem but had to go in front of our CO about the badge, told them the truth. He never asked any word about the pudding, gave me four days C.B. and paid for a new cap badge. “

” One officer, whom I went out with acted rather strangely, playing with a Mills bomb and suggesting he would like to blow himself up. A few days later he was taken away ( mind ). It was during one of these patrols, that we came across two German soldiers and took letters we found on them, which I still possess. ( See photograph at the end of this report ). These bodies must have been lying there for several months, according to the dates on these letters. When relieved from this area we went back several miles to a village called Reincheval, reinforcements arrived and we soon found out what our next job was to be.”

” During the last of the four days, we were completely exhausted. Food had been short, raining all the time, and the Platoon Sergeant, one of the old brigade seemed to have drunk what little there was of the rum ration. On that 4th. day, I did something I regretted. After telling the Sergeant that I was going down a dug-out to have a few hours sleep before darkness, the dug-out was very deep and was joined at the bottom by the steps to another dug-out. The other one was for officers. The one I was in was for signallers. The dug-out was full of soldiers, did not see any from our platoon. I very quickly crawled under a wire bed to have a nap before the Sergeant came to waken me, but at that moment the new company officer came in with a revolver in his hand, turning everyone out except the signallers. He did not see me but I was out and up the steps as soon as he had gone back. I never saw anything like this before, but the officers spent a lot of their time in that dug-out. What a difference this might have made as I was given the Military Medal and received promotion.”

This last paragraph deals with Norman finally going on the leave he was due and avoiding the continuing carnage on the Somme, spending a year in civvy-street before being mobilised again and going to fight in Italy.

In November 1916, I was expecting my 1st. leave home since coming out in the Spring of 1915. I was certainly overdue, I had not complained but our local press in Huddersfield took up the case and probably this came to the notice of our Adjutant. Order soon came I was to go on the next leave. Finally in March 1917, had to report to base and catch the ration train on its return journey and report to 49 Div. Base orderly room. I had to wait two days and then had to report to HQ, Huddersfield. After a few daysI received my transfer to Class W Army Reserves and was back working as a civilian at the firm ( David Browns ) which I had left when I joined the army. Carried on working there until April 1918 when I received telegram ‘ Mobilisation of Class W Army Reserves ‘. I had to report at once and proceed to unit in France. I reported to the Reserves Battalion at Ripon, and I was sent out to our 10th. Battalion Duke of Wellington Regiment, 23rd. Division. The train journey through France took five days , arrived at Padua ( Italy ). The front seemed very quiet compared with France. I left at the end of February 1919 for demobilisation. The band played us off with ‘Auld Lang Syne’. Tears came into my eyes, but they were tears of joy, and I did not want to see the army again. I was demobbed early in March. Work was waiting for me.”

” I have had a good life, plenty of work and good health, happy family and am now nearly 80 years.


LIVING CONDITIONS. Very bad winter for infantry, particularly in the trenches, when out on rest during the winter, I remember sleeping on a concrete floor, just one blanket between you and the concrete. In February 16, we were sleeping in huts near Bousingcourt. The huts were boarded and covered with roofing felt. The sides were a wooden framework with green canvas with dirt floors. These were new huts.

FOOD. As regards myself, always on the short side- I suppose I had a good appetite, not easy to satisfy mostly bacon and bread for breakfast. Dinner nearly always stew, sometimes we might have a joint chiefly mutton. Sometimes rice pudding( not much sugar or milk ), sometimes we might have hard biscuits softened up and mixed with raisins.

TEA. Chiefly bread and margarine with jam or cheese. About once a month we would have a piece of cake with currants and raisins in. Bully beef was quite often used in the stews, a good stand-by, always seemed to be plenty of cheese, if we wanted supper, mostly bought by ourselves. Often tea would be about 4.30. Nothing else until 8 next day, even in the trenches. This was so , even though the weather might have been bad.

SHELL SHOCK. Very bad. They had my sympathy, morale got very low sometimes in our battalion, and there were a few self-inflicted wounds. Also there were some who ate the cordite from the bullet casing to bring on a high temperature. There were a number of accidents through carelessness.

NARROW ESCAPES. Was practising throwing of Mills Bombs, September 1916. The new man dropped the bomb when starting to throw and, foolishly, we were standing on a wooden foot board raised little higher than the bottom of the trench. The bomb fell underneath the board…. out of the trench and fell flat. Neither of us was wounded, but others who were standing quite a good distance away were wounded. Was ready to mark off in columns, perhaps on the second day of the battle of Italy, the Lewis gun section was just in front. On the command quick march, No.1 Lewis gunner ( they had not yet got their handcarts over the river ) threw his gun upon his shoulders and the gun let off a single round, just appearing to pass over my head.

THE TRENCHES. In the early days in the trenches we often had to cook our own meals. Nights appeared to be long and cold. If you did get a place to sleep, you would wake up cold and move about for a little to get warm. We were often troubled by louse.

SMELLS. Very bad in the trenches, particularly in warm weather or when you were digging and you struck a dead body.

THE TRENCH SYSTEM. Very bad in some places. During October, November and December we went into the front line for two day periods. No communication trenches, we had to go over the top and drop into what was the front line, up to the knees in water and mud. The Officer and Sergeant had a piece of corrugated iron to give a little protection. We remained in water and mud all the time.

CHURCH PARADES. Always appeared to me to be a mockery.

LATRINES. Sometimes very crude. In August 1915 in Warboy our latrines were on the side of the road on spare land. Just a trench about 18 inches deep with a canvas about four feet around the trench.

COURSES. Had courses on Mills Bomb 1915. Lewis Gun 1916. Sniping 1916, several NCO courses all these, courses taking place chiefly when the battalion was on rest. Watched Sir John French go by in car – December 1915. Watched Sir. D.Haig go by in car – September 1916. Marched past Lord Cavan in Italy – November 1918.

ARMY COMMANDERS. 2nd. Army was visited by General Plummer and given a speech after leaving his command – January 1916. 4th. Army – never saw Rollinson – 1916. 5th. Army – never saw Gough – 1916. 3rd.Army – never saw Allenby – 1916-17. 1st. Army – did not know who the commander was at that time.

CORPS. COMMANDERS. Lt. Allenby – never saw him in 1915. LT. General Moorland – never saw him 1916. Lt. General Snow presented me with colours, Military Medal – 1916. Lt. General Babbington – passed by in car – 1918. Never knew who Corps. Commander was in the 1st. Army.

LEAVE. Was out for 16 months before I got my first leave, was going on leave before the Somme offensive , but leave was cancelled in May 1916 for several, months.

ENTERTAINMENT. Our Division had its own concert party which visited occasionally. First going into the trenches, looked forward to going in but soon changed my mind.

OVER THE TOP. Knew we had to do it, forgot about oneself when in action, but while waiting a little worrying, looked forward later to receiving a slight wound to take us back to Britain.

GAS. Very uncomfortable wearing respirators of whatever type, the ones we used at Ypres in 1915 were smothering. I was company runner during early part of the Somme battle taking ………..

Norman made some ( small ) contributions to ” The First Day of the Somme ” by Martin Middlebrook, ISBN 0 7139 0194 2, published 1971. They were credited to Pt. N.Smith, Cowlersley Yorkshire.

His grandson informed me that Norman went back to Italy many years after the war. He also took his grandson, when he was 14, to the Somme battlefields and Thiepval Memorial to the Missing. This Memorial is dedicated to the 72,337 missing British and South African servicemen, who died at the battles of the Somme between 1915-1918, with no known graves. It may be pertinent that five soldiers from Netherthong are included in that list- they were Irvin Barrowclough, George Richard Gledhill, John Henry Hoyle, Edward Smith and John Roberts.

The photograph below is of the letter Norman found on the body of a dead German soldier plus a one Mark note.

The following set of four photographs show Norman’s uniform stripes and badges with a close-up of his cap badge ( which he refers to in his memoirs ). There is also his Disembodiment Certificate, which was the term used when a whole unit is stood down at the end of the war, lastly is a Certificate associated with the Medaille Commemorative des Batailles de la Somme awarded 1956.

Norman in common, I guess, with most if not all his fellow soldiers brought back ‘souvenirs’ from the battlefield. Below are four photographs of his items. The first is a shell nose, picked up at the battle of Ypres, which he mounted on a wooden base. It is a German Graze Action Percussion Fuse KZ14 which first entered service in 1914. It was fired from a 77mm FK96 or FK 16 field gun. The shell would have contained TNT or High Explosive + shrapnel or a chemical agent such as chlorine or phosgene. These gas shells were used at Ypres for the first time on 31 May 1915 and, as this one came from Ypres , it may well have been associated with the chemical attack. The second is an example of trench art of a ring, made from a brass ammunition casing and inscribed Ypres – no provenance. The third item , also with no provenance, is a corkscrew which was made from a bullet and dated 1916. The last item is a collection of Italian banknotes dated 1918 from his time in Italy.

In c.1968, Norman took his grandson on a visit to the Somme battlefields and they brought back a fragment of shrapnel – see photograph.

Charles Arthur Hudson – WW1 survivor

Charles Arthur Hudson was a Netherthong lad, who enlisted in 1914 to serve his country and was fortunate to survive the horrors. He is listed in my “Chapter, Details of soldiers who fought and survived WW1”, with what few details I was able to find.
He was born on 10/11/1894 and was baptised  on 06/01/1895 in All Saints Parish Church and his parents were John Henry and Ann,  who lived in the village. His father was a cloth finisher. He attended the village school and, like many of his friends ,he became a scout in the Netherthong troop.  His name appears in a list of soldiers in the Holmfirth Express Roll of Honour (ROH), issued January 9 1915, as serving in the Army. In the framed Roll of Honour in the Parish Church, he is listed as a Private in the 9th. Battalion of the Duke of Wellington regiment with his enlistment date given as October 17,1914.

, In the baptismal records for all Saints’ Church, his Christian names are given as Charles Albert and not Charles Arthur. His birth date appears correct as it tallies with him giving his age as 20 years when he enlisted. He did have an older brother, Harry, who was born on 17/05/88 and in the 1891 Census Harry is listed as being two years old. The baptismal records give another brother, Willie, who was born on 12/12/84, but who was not included in that Census.The same baptismal records show that his father, John Henry was born on 02/07/1860 but was not baptised until much later on 25/07/1869. His parents were John and Mary, who lived in Thongsbridge, and they would have been Charles grandparents.

photograph of Charles Hudson courtesy of Tim Parsons – August 2019
Full size render from Holmfirth Express – supplied by Paul Sims

I received the first photograph of Charles from Tim Parsons in August 2019 and he also sent a number of certificates and forms relating to Charles enlistment , service and discharge from the army. Unfortunately they were very badly damaged and, as can be seen in the images below, large portions are illegible. However they are important documents, as they would have applied not just to Charles and all his friends in village but to all the soldiers who enlisted in WW1. I have augmented the details by extracting additional information from Google.

Image 1. The form above is the Short Service Attestation and it was introduced by Lord Kitchener in 1914 under which a man could serve for three years or the duration of the war, whichever was the longer. This was instead of the 12 years of service normally demanded when joining the army.

You can make out the list of questions –
1. What is your name ? – Charles Albert Hudson
2. What is your address ? – ?? Netherthong
3. Are you a British Subject ?, -Yes
4. What is your age – 20 years 7 months,,
5. What is your Trade or Calling, – ??
6. Are you married, – No
7.Have you ever served in the Forces, – No
8. Are you willing to be vaccinated or re-vaccinated? Yes
9. Are you willing to be enlisted for General Service.? Yes
10.Did you receive a notice …?
11. Are you prepared to serve upon the following conditions…

signed by Charles Albert Hudson.
Image 2.
Image 4. Record of promotions, reductions,transfers etc. during active service. Awarded Military Medal 1916. Transferred to Class “Z” Army Reserve on Demobilisation, Date 3-4-1919.
Image 5. Form – With reference to your application stating you have lost your discharge certificate. I am to request that you state overleaf the circumstances as under which the Certificate….. On receipt of your declaration , the question of replacing the Certificate or book will be considered. The declaration must be made before one of His Majesty’s Justice of the Peace ….. and returned to me when it is completed. It was signed by Officer I/c Records.
Image 6. The reverse side of the form in Image 5. and is his declaration. I sincerely declare that I have lost my Discharge Certificate. It got destroyed among some more old papers on October 17, 1937. Signed by Charles Hudson, present age 44, place of birth Netherthong, present address Upper George St. Huddersfield. Signed in the presence of Commissioner of Oaths on August 1939 in Huddersfield.
Image 7.
Image 8. Army Form B5112, Forwarding of accompanying medals and a request to complete receipt and return card. Signed by Hudson on March 11th. 1921.
Image 9. Dispersal Certificate ( Soldier ).
Image 10. Military History Sheet. Listing his Campaign Medals. Awarded Military Medal on 21/10/16. 1914/15 Star.
Image 11. Certificate of Medical Examination.

A search on Google shows that there were over 1100 Army Forms.

The Watson Family History

I have recently( 2019 ) been talking to Anne and Pamela Watson about their memories of their early life in Netherthong, their mother Louie, and other members of their family tree. On their mother’s side they are connected to both the Charlesworth and Roebuck names, which feature prominently throughout the history of the village. Anne was born in Dalton and lived in a new house her parents bought there. On September 3 1939, the Second World War was declared and her father, Ernest Watson ( Rex) was called up . He was worried about his wife and first daughter, as they lived near the ICI works in Huddersfield which might become a target for the German bombers. So, when he joined the Royal Engineers as a driver, Louie took baby Anne and moved back home to live with her mother Emma and her Auntie Polly at Cliffe View, 90 Thong Lane, a semi-detached stone house in Netherthong, until his return. Pamela Fay was born in the house and baptised in the Parish Church. There was another sister, Netta , and twins, Peter and Jane Their grandmother was Rachel Roebuck b. 23.8.1851, died 17.12.1931.

Watson family tree

Both Anne and Pamela attended the National School and can be seen in several of the photographs of school events ( see chapter on schooling). Anne’s school report, both sides, for 1948 is shown below. They also attended Sunday School at the Parish Church and Pamela can remember singing in the choir. Talking to the sisters helped to bring up some interesting memories, Anne said that there was a small stone house on the left hand side of Miry Lane, just past the Vicarage but before the lane to Holmroyd, and a ” character” called Mary lived there with lots of cats. At Christmas she would come out wearing a long white dress and walked to the Clothiers where she used to sing. Anne remembers that her mother played the viola and was part of a music ensemble that played classical music in the school once a week – the leader was a Sally Brook, who lived in St.Annes Square. In my chapter on Music , there are some references to a Netherthong Evening Institute and in, April 1947, it had 76 students and Miss Sally Brook taught instrumental music. This is obviously the group that Louie belonged to.

In the Town Square was Mallinson’s shop, which you can see facing you in the photograph below. When you opened the door a little bell rang to notify the Mallinsons, who lived at the back of the shop. There was only a small space to stand with a high counter on the right hand side. A chocolate dispenser was on the wall and the shop sold many varieties of cheap sweets directed at the children – maybe that’s why the counter was high !!. Among the sweets to tempt would have been sherbert fountains, sweet cigarettes, black jacks, dolly mixture, fizzers, liquorice wood, aniseed balls, gobstoppers, parma violets, love hearts etc- if you are of a certain age , these names will surely bring back memories and you might very well have had your own favourites. In addition the shop also sold comics and newspapers. One unusual memory from Anne concerned the Earth Toilets of Outlane !. They belonged to the Mallinsons and were in a stone building ,which was on the right hand corner of St.Annes Square as you turned into Outlane.. They consisted of a whitewood chest ( always kept in pristine condition ) with two holes and newspaper pieces hung on a hook on the door. There was no flush and Anne could only assume that the Council would have needed to come round regularly to empty. As Anne was good friends with Barbara the Mallinsons daughter, she was allowed to use it if the situation arose.

Their mother, Louie, who can be seen in many of the photographs in this chapter, compiled a very special gift for her family. It combined notes from the Family Bible and long-ago memories and vivid recollections from a childhood spent listening to tales around the fire.When Louie and Rex, living in New Mill, celebrated their golden wedding, Louie , now a great-grandmother, wanted to present her children with something of their history which they could keep and treasure. Each of her five children received a copy and she said this was due to the help of her daughter,Anne, who had them all compiled and copied.
The book brought to life all the women in her family, from the time of her own great-grandmother in the early 1800s to the present day .It was divided into four parts. Book One – William and Ann 1808-1871. Book Two – Rachel 1870-1905. Book Three – Emma 1895-1935 and Book Four – Louie 1916 . In the January 13, 1989, edition of the Huddersfield District Newspaper, a full page was devoted to snippets from the various books, along with a family tree and a photograph of Louie and her husband Rex. I’ve taken interesting abstracts from the various books and listed them below..

Book One – William and Ann. 1808 – 1871. . William married Ann, Louie’s great – grandmother and they had three sons and six daughters , all baptised at Netherthong Parish Church. One of his sons was Joseph.

Book Two Rachel 1870-1905.. Joseph became a vet and in 1872 he married Rachel Spenser( Battye) and their first son was born in 1873. Rachel went on to have eight more children, one of them, Arthur, died at six months old. The rest all attended Wilshaw school. Three of them contracted scarlet fever and were admitted to Moorview Hospital, Meltham. Emma suffered the worst and the doctor had to put leeches in a small glass on her neck to draw the poison out. As she was so brave she was given the glass to keep, and this leech glass remains in the family . When Rachel’s husband, Joseph, died in November, 1891 of a massive heart attack at the age of 47, she was advised to sell their farm and move closer to the village. This she did and took over an inn – The Queens Arms in Netherthong,

Book Three- Emma 1895-1935. Emma married Fred Charlesworth who was a master painter and decorator by trade and had started his own business, They lived in the pub with Rachel but when Rachel sold the inn and moved to Cliffe View, Emma and Fred found a cottage near by, They had four children but tragedy struck. Emma’s sister, Lily, died at the age of 27 from a heart attack. Life continued and Emma’s other sister, Alice, developed an interest in bicycles. She was cycling along one day and had an accident, crashing into a wall not far from home. Two workmen on a job nearby saw it happen and ran to help her. They carried her home, as they knew who she was and Rachel sent for the doctor. Alice was unconscious but there was no sign of blood on her anywhere. The doctor came and examined her and tried to remove her hat and found that the hat pin had stuck in her head. He removed it gently but when Alice came round her eyes were absolutely vacant. She didn’t recognise anyone. The doctor said the pin had pierced into her brain. Alice had surgical tests and examinations, but Rachel was forced to have her admitted to Storthes Hall Hospital, Kirkburton, on January 8, 1913. She remained there until her death on 18 March, 1950 – see copy of her Notice of Death. In 1916 her 14-year -old daughter, Helen, was sent home from work at Deanhouse Mills, where she had only worked for one month, suffering from a high temperature, extreme pains in her head and violent vomiting fits, The doctor diagnosed meningitis – the pain the child suffered was terrible and within a few days went quite mad and it was a great relief when she died on May 3, 1916. Five days later Emma gave birth to her eighth child and christened the baby Louie.

Book Four – Louie, 1915 – 2009, Her mother had been widowed at 44, lost a son of four and a daughter of 14 and was left with five children to bring up. She began working at Deanhouse Hospital and the children were looked after by a neighbour. Louie left school at 14,eager to help her mother. Her first job was at Bottoms Mill, at the end of New Road, and she would start work at 7am until 5.30 pm. She hated working at the mill and looked forward to attending the local dances and going to the pictures. It was at the Conservative Blue Ball in Holmfirth that she met her husband, Rex Watson. Rex lived with his sister at the Duke of Leeds Hotel, New Mill and he was a keen sportsman and played golf,tennis,football and bowls. They married on October 29, 1938. She said that she still treasures the heirlooms passed down to her – each of her five children have one each of the five decanters and she has the leech glass which belonged to her mother.

Anne married Albert Tinker in 1960 and bought a little cottage in Scholes. She had two sons, Neil and Ian. Pamela was married in 1962 to Randall Hinchliffe but had no children. Netta who died in 2014, was married twice. The first time was in 1961 to Trevor Moore with whom she had three children, Sharon, Sean and Susan. In 1975 she married John Wright and had a son Patrick. Janet was married twice but had no children. It was left to Peter to continue the Watson name, He had two children, Adele and Daniel. Daniel, who married Marie, had two sons , Alfie and Stanley.

Rex was born in Stairfoot, Barnsley and was very keen on football and, as a schoolboy, received an international cap playing for England. He retained his enthusiasm for the sport as can be seen in the a photo of him in full kit for his team, the 101 Convalescent Depot , Bedford, 1943. He is in the back, second from the right. (It is interesting to note that the player seated at the right in the front row was Kinnear, a Glasgow Rangers Scottish International) .He and Louie were married at All Saints Parish Church in the village – see photos of their wedding certificate and the happy couple outside the Church.After the war was over he lived with his family in Cliffe View – see the family photograph taken in the back garden of their house in Coronation Year 1953. In 1957 they moved to the Duke of Leeds public house in New Mill to run it. They stayed there until 1963 when they moved again to take over the stewardship of Scholes Working Mens Club. Their next move was to buy a house in Cinderhills( Holmfirth ) when Rex went back to wagon driving. Their final move was to retire to Lydgate, near New Mill. There are two great photos showing Rex and Louie celebrating their Golden Anniversary in 1988 – just the two of them together and the with all their children. Rex died on 10 June, 1993 and Louie died, 16 years later, on December 1st. 2009 at the grand age of 93 years.

School Report for Anne Watson, Junior M, for February 1948
Side two of Anne Watson’s School Report.
Baptism/ Confirmation Certificate from All Saints for Anne Watson.
Girl Guides at Scarborough – Louie is 2nd. left in front row.
Old photograph of Girl Guides at Scarborough with Louie on the far right.
Notice of Death from Storthes Hall Hospital for Alice Roebuck.
Charabanc mid 1930s. Lady in the front section with the curly hair was Louie and her brother was next to her.
Charabanc. Mid 1920s. Louie and her sister Mary are at the back of the bus with their mother, Emma.
Emma Charlesworth 1875 -1945, who was our grandmother.
Mary Ann – 1880-1954, who was our great aunt Polly
Cliffe View, 90, Thong Lane . It was built in 1905 by Rachel Roebuck, Pamela standing outside in 2016.
Rex and Louie outside the Parish Church after their marriage.
Marriage Certificate for Ernest and Louie-1938
Army football team – Rex is in the back row 2nd. from the righr.
Family group 1953 in their back garden
Rex and Louie in 1988 celebrating their Golden Anniversary
The whole family celebrating the Golden Anniversary in 1988
A great studio portrait taken in 1916 of Rex and his mother Priscilla,
The flyleaf in a Holy Bible presented to Louie Charlesworth on 19 January 1930 by HN Hind, the vicar

A short history of the Wharam family

I have recently ( February 2019 ) been contacted by Glenn , who has supplied me with the following interesting information about the Wharam family ( frequently misspelled as Wareham). From his research efforts he has proven that his family lived in and around Netherthong at least by 1782, and knows that they departed Netherthong in 1849, bound for America. His line of Wharam appears to have been the only family with that surname in Netherthong and , like most of those living in and around the village, they were engaged in weaving woolen cloth. The majority of persons with the surname Wharam seem to be in Clayton West and High Hoyland, with smaller numbers around Cumberworth and New Mill. Distant cousins live today in Skelmanthorpe. Glenn’s theory is that his great-great-great grandfather, Charles Wharam, must have migrated to Netherthong from the east. He married Ann Hudson in Netherthong, but she was baptized in Holmfirth.

Based on census and baptism records, the family moved around a bit, residing in Moor Lane Farm, Moor Gate Farm, and the Burnlee section of Upperthong. Cousins lived at Holmroyd Nook. One of the residents of Holmroyd Nook showed Glenn a leasehold document signed by Jonas Hinchliffe, the brother of his great-great-great grandmother, Lydia Hinchliffe Oldham. His great-great grandfather was baptised in All Saints Parish Church in 1837( the baptismal index records show a James Oldham Wareham, born 07/08/1837 and baptised on 27/09/1837 : father John and mother Sally Hinchliffe, both of Moor Lane), although this seemed to have been an exception as almost all the other baptisms and marriages were conducted at the Wesleyan Chapel.

The following addition was supplied to me by Jacki Smith in July 2020 on this chapter .  “There’s a mention of John (Wharam) and Sally Hinchliffe in the 2nd paragraph, and I don’t know if it’s clear that she was Sallie Hinchliffe Oldham, the daughter of Hinchliff Oldham and Lydia Hinchliffe.  Sallie’s sister Elizabeth Hinchliffe Oldham was my great-great-grandmother, and she married John Hobson.  Because so many distant cousin matches have shown up on my Ancestry account, I’ve been following the Wharam clan quite a bit in the U.S.   I was fascinated to read here that the Hinchliffes had also migrated to the U.S.   John Hobson and Elizabeth Hinchliffe Oldham migrated to Hawick, Scotland, and their daughter Emma Hobson married David Scott there, and they migrated to the U.S., in 1879.

The history continues when the Wharam family of Moor Lane (father John, mother Sally, great-great grandfather James Oldham Wharam, and his two sisters Lydia and Elizabeth) left Netherthong. They sailed via the Port of Liverpool to Canada and then on to join a family member who had already established a farm at Gaines Township in Genesee County, Michigan. The Hinchliffe cousins, who once lived at Holmroyd Nook, left a bit later and came to New Jersey. Incredibly, the Hinchliffes then traveled from New Jersey to Michigan and lived for a while with their Wharam cousins. So, two families who had lived on adjacent farms west of Netherthong were reunited and lived together in Michigan.

But Michigan did not appeal to the Hinchliffes because it was too cold . They left, and great-great grandfather, James Oldham Wharam, went with them (his mother had died, and his father had remarried). This group of cousins eventually made their way to Buckingham County, Virginia. It is helpful that the Hinchliffes had a child born in New Jersey, Michigan, and Virginia, as confirmed by the 1860 US census, which helped trace their movements. The Hinchliffes bought land in Buckingham and started farming.

In 1861 war broke out. James Oldham Wharam volunteered and became a soldier in Company C of the Virginia 44th Regiment of Infantry of the Confederate States of America. The Hinchliffe farm had no slaves, and James fought because his adopted homeland of Virginia was being invaded by the North.

James Oldham Wharam was a participant in the American Civil War for the duration, 1861 to 1865. He marched hundreds of miles and was shot twice, the second time through both lungs. He was left for dead on the battlefield but survived. He was captured by Union troops and taken to hospitals and then to a prisoner of war camp at Fort McHenry, Maryland . When the war ended, he was released and walked back to Buckingham County, which was devastated. There were no cows to milk, no pigs to slaughter, no stores of grain, and no seed to plant. The Hinchliffes had lost everything and, after military actions had ceased, they moved to Philadelphia. James married a local girl and started farming, after surviving the winter of 1865-1866, living mostly on the game he killed – mainly squirrels. He fathered 14 children. Almost all of the persons today with the Wharam surname, stretching from Georgia to Maryland, are descendants of James Oldham Wharam of Netherthong. Today, there are more Wharams in the US than in the UK. Glenn is obviously very proud of his family roots and ended his information with the following question.

What do you call a fellow whose family of clothiers were put out of business by the Industrial Revolution, who survived the cramped conditions of a ship sailing to America, who survived the Michigan winters in a log cabin, who trekked from Michigan to Virginia, who marched hundreds of miles as a soldier in the Confederate Army, who was wounded twice and left for dead, who survived the horrible conditions of a prisoner of war camp, who walked back home, barefoot and with no food after the war, only to find his home place totally devastated, who started a farm from scratch while avoiding starvation, and who fathered 14 children? Answer: a Yorkshireman – one from Netherthong.

Benjamin Roebuck – a Netherthong WW1 hero

In 2018, which was the centenary of the end of World War 1, I carried out detailed research into those men and boys from the village who gave their lives for their country, and I included photographs and as much information as I could find in my chapter titled Netherthong and its WW1 heroes . Benjamin was obviously included. However, in February 2019, I was given some excellent additional information, photographs and ephemera about Benjamin, which had been collated by Pamela Watson. This was an opportunity to give him his own chapter, as the Roebuck name features throughout many of the chapters in the history of the village, and his story is typical of what life must have been for other lads in the village, who would have known Benjamin and who also fought and, in many cases, gave their lives. I have used virtually all the information that Pamela sent and included her own comments in italics.

Benjamin Roebuck fought with honour in World War 1 and died a hero in France. He is remembered and commemorated in many locations which include: The War Memorial in Netherthong Town Square and on Plaque 5 on the War Memorial at the Holme Valley Hospital. He was also listed on the Working Men’s Club memorial, which was unfortunately lost when the Club closed in the 1930s and has never been found. His name is on the chart on the right hand wall inside All Saints’ Parish Church and he is commemorated on the family’s gravestone in the churchyard of the Parish Church. His name features on the Villers- Bretonneux Memorial to the Missing. He is on the Harvey war memorial, S.W. Australia. and King’s Park , South Perth, Australia. A recent addition ( 2021 ) has been his name being placed on a plaque on the Lochnagar Crater walkway ( see the end of this chapter for details of the Lochnager Crater )

Ben was born on the 18th.November 1878 at Wood Nook,Honley and was the son of Rachel and Joseph Hirst Roebuck,a farmer at Wood Nook. He was baptised on the 5th. January 1879 at St.Mary’s Church, Wilshaw ( see copy of certificate ). ( His elder sister,Emma,was my Grandmother and his younger sister, Mary Ann, was better known to me as my beloved Aunty Polly). He was educated at St.Mary’s Church of England School , attended Netherthong Parish Church and was a member of Netherthong Working Men’s Club. At that time his father,Joseph, had died and his mother, Rachel, had sold the farm at Wood Nook and moved into the Queen’s Head Public House in the village until she had a stone house built in about 1905, at Cliffe View, 90 Thong Lane. Ben worked for Batley’s Joiners as a teamer, driving a horse drawn wagon for Mr.Joseph Batley, and was described as a quiet , unobtrusive man with a loveable nature.

In 1910/11, Ben left ” Cliffe View” ( the house where I was actually born ) and emigrated to Australia on the ship ORMUZ, sailing to Freemantle ( see passenger list ). He worked as a farmhand, moving about and living in a tent ( see photo dated 1912), it upset his mother to know that he was living that way – but he found a permanent position, where he lived in the farmhouse. (Pamela could find no record that he owned his own farm and orchard). He enlisted in the 16th. Battalion , Australian Imperial Force and became Private, no. 5178 and volunteered at Blackhay Hill, near Harvey, on 19 January 1916, listing his mother, Rachel, as his next of kin. He sailed from Freemantle with reinforcements for the 16th. Battalion on 31st.March 1916, on board HMAT A9 SHROPSHIRE, stopping at Egypt on the way to the Western Front

He was ‘killed in action’ during the battle of the Somme on Saturday, 12th. August, 1916 aged 37 years near Moquet Farm, in an action described in The Old Sixteenth by Captain Longmore : The enemy bombarded the left of the line causing heavy casualties. Ben was either one of the 39 men known to have been killed, or one of the 19 reported missing believed killed in action with the 16th. Battalion on that day, serving under L.General John Mannash. He had no known grave and is commemorated on the Villers- Bretonneux Memorial to the missing ( I have laid wreaths near to his name and had The Last Post played for him by Bugler Pete.)

A letter, written by Ben shortly before his death, arrived in the village saying he was glad to get away from Egypt, which was a miserable place to live, and that he hoped to visit them at Netherthong before he returned to Australia. His mother received the news of his death on 2nd. September 1916, and his death was reported in the Holmfirth Express the following week. A memorial service was held in the Parish Church conducted by the Rev.H.H.Hind.

The photographs and ephemera are listed below, some of them are photocopies of the originals, many have been notated by Pamela.

Benjamin Roebuck in Australia
  • Baptism from Wilshaw Church register.
  •  Rachel, Benjamin’s mother( 1851-1931) outside Cliffe View
  • Joseph Hirst Roebuck, Benjamin’s father ( 1844-1891) in the front carriage.
  • Immigration Restriction Acts- Passenger List
  • Ben in his tent in Australia – circa 1912.
  • Village War memorial with B.Roebuck
  • Plaque 5 memorial with Benjamin Roebuck
  • War Graves Memorial – Villers-Bretonneux – long view
  • War Graves Memorial – Villers- Bretonneux – detail with B.Roebuck
  • Remembrance Cross
  • Photographs of Ben , which are also in my chapter of WW1 heroes
  • Lochnagar Crater walkway
Village War memorial with detail for B.Roebuck.
Benjamin Roebuck on Plaque 5 at the Holmfirth War Memorial.
Wreath for Benjamin
Baptismal Certificate for Benjamin dated January 5, 1878
Commonwealth War Graves Certificate
Villers Bretonneux War Memorial with detail for Ben Roebuck
Commemorative Cross
J.Batley Workshop with B.Roebuck & A. Charlesworth
Rachel Roebuck ( 1851-1931 ), owner and landlady of the Queens Arms, outside Cliffe View
Private B.Roebuck
Ben Roebuck in army uniform 1914

Joseph Hirst Roebuck ( 1844-1891 ), Ben’s father, sitting in the front of the carriage

In October 2019 I was contacted by Keith Bugden who is a war medal collector, specifically for soldiers who died on the Somme. He had obtained from a collector in Manchester, the Victory Medal * for Benjamin Roebuck and had carried out research into his name which led him to my history of Netherthong and this chapter. Keith also sent me the certificate below which shows that Benjamin was awarded three medals. The 1914/15 Star, British War Medal and the Victory Medal with details and dates. I put Keith in contact with Pamela and he very kindly sent her the medal so that one could say it found its proper resting place. He also sent her additional information which has been incorporated in this chapter.

* The Victory Medal, known as the UK British Empire 1st. World War campaign medal was awarded for Campaign Service – the total issued was circa 5,725,000

This episode of the medal has had a major impact on three people – Pamela has closure and will be taking the medal this summer to Ben’s grave on the Somme so she can place it on the grave and say a few words.( Unfortunately the onset of Corvid with all its effects on travel etc. means that, as of July 2021, Pamela has not been able to fulfil her objective.) Keith commented that reuniting the medal with Pamela was the highlight of 2019 for him. The role of my website and this chapter in acting as the catalyst has also been a highlight for me.

I asked Keith about his collecting hobby and he said that he was a relatively new collector and had medals for some 16 men who died on the Somme. He recently acquired the medals, memorial plaque and photo of a man who died on the first day – 1st July. Tragically he was wounded and lay in no man’s land from 8am until dark when he was brought back, but died of wounds. His friend stayed with him the whole time. Very moving. The research is very satisfying but he is rarely able to trace living relatives.

Confirmation of Benjamin’s war medals. See three views of his Victory medal below.
View 1 of Victory medal
View 2 of Victory medal
View 3 of the Victory medal


ROEBUCK, Benjamin

  • Step 1: Personal Details
Service Number:5178
Enlisted: 19 January 1916
Last Rank:Private
Last Unit:16th Infantry Battalion
Born:Honley, England, 18 November 1878
Home Town:Harvey, Harvey, Western Australia
Schooling:St. Marys C of E
Died:Killed in Action, France, 12 August 1916, aged 37 years
Cemetery:Villers-Bretonneux Memorial
Memorials:Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour, Harvey War Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux Memorial (Australian National Memorial – France)*

World War 1 Service

19 Jan 1916:Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 5178, 16th Infantry Battalion
31 Mar 1916:Embarked Private, SN 5178, 16th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Shropshire, Fremantle
31 Mar 1916:Involvement Private, SN 5178, 16th Infantry Battalion, Pozières

Profile pic 8e242753 dc5f 45b3 800c a158062e6dce

Make a Dedication

Thumb ben roebuck 1914
Thumb 8e242753 dc5f 45b3 800c a158062e6dce

Although the following War Diary is not specifically relevant to Benjamin Roebuck or in fact any of the Netherthong WW1 heroes, it is a most interesting and informative document as a War Diary. and is worthy of being included in this chapter. It was supplied by Keith Bugden – it is titled 10th. Battalion South Wales Borderers War Diary and dated 6/10/16. Keith has not only supplied the original Diary with the writing faded but also a “transcript “which makes it easy to read.

10th. Battalion South Wales Borderers War Diary 6/10/16.

Battalion in support to 11th. SWB usual fatigues carried out. At about 9pm a Fighting Patrol of 1 Officer and 10 ORS under Captain G F Charlton entered Enemy Sap No. 9 and killed the Garrison of 6 men. After obtaining necessary identifications the order to withdraw was given owing to large enemy reinforcements. After withdrawing for a few hundred yards it was noticed that Captain Charlton and 10/23064 Pte. D. Spanswick had been left behind. Despite terrific Machine Gun fire 2nd. Lt. T.T. Taylor and 10/20400 Sgt. P.F.Evans proceeded again to the Sap with the intention of looking for Capt. Charlton and Pte. Spanswick. Capt. Charlton was seen on a stretcher carried by 4 Germans following which were another 8 Huns. Pte. Spanswick was not seen. Under the circumstances 2nd Lt. Taylor and Sgt. Evans again withdrew during which the former was wounded. The skill with which this small raid was carried out gained the compliments of the Divisional & Corps. Commanders. For their excellent work in this raid 2nd,Lt. T.T. Taylor an d 10/20400 Sgt. P.F.Evans were awarded the MILITARY CROSS & MILITAY Medal respectively. Our caualities; Capt.G.F.H.Charlton missing and wounded. 10/23064 Pte. Spanswick missing, 2nd. LT.T.Taylor wounded and Sgt. R. Edwards wounded.

Earlier in the chapter I commented about the Lochnager Crater. It is dedicated to memories of The Great War and is an inspirational piece of work The photograph below is the front cover of the latest issue No. 11 : Spring 2022 and is courtesy of Stephen Kerr. The website is and the Editor, who has been so helpful in my research, is Rob Kirk on .

Details of local places from 1892 map – then and now

Dave Pattern is involved in an ongoing project to index historical maps of the Huddersfield area. One relevant to Netherthong and District ( Thongsbridge, Deanhouse and Oldfield ) is titled Hudds. Exposed 1892 Honley, and is centered  on grid ref. SE 4145 4105. The accompanying chart features places from that map and details ( 2018) their current situation after 126 years.

Dave has very kindly agreed that I can use this information in  my website.

name & location area type exists
Albert Hotel, Miry Lane. Now a private residence known as "Old Albert" Thongsbridge public house yes but new use
Inn, School Street Netherthong inn yes but new use
Star of the Day, Oldfield Road Oldfield public house yes but new use
Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, St. Mary's Road Netherthong chapel yes but new use
All Saints Church, Town Gate Netherthong church yes
All Saints' Church Graveyard Netherthong burial ground yes
Bastile, Moor Lane Netherthong property yes
Brown Hill, off Moor Lane Netherthong property yes
Calf Hill Wood Netherthong wood yes
Crodingley, off Thong Lane Thongsbridge property yes
Cross Lane End, corner of Oldfield Road & Cross Lane Oldfield property yes
Deanhouse Workhouse, off St. Mary's Road Deanhouse hospital, etc yes
Dock Hill Netherthong area yes
Forest Cottage, Spinner Gate (now Bradshaw Road). Also known Wood Cottage Oldfield property yes
Free United Methodist Chapel, Giles Street. Now Church House Netherthong chapel yes
Green Cottage, Holt Lane (now Broomy Lee Lane) Netherthong property yes
Har Royd, off Dean Brook Road Netherthong property yes
Holmroyd Nook, off Knoll Lane Oldfield farm yes
Manor House, Church Street Netherthong property yes
Mission Church, Miry Lane. Also known as the Parish Church of St. Andrew Thongsbridge church yes
Moor Croft, Spinner Gate (now Bradshaw Road) Oldfield property yes
Moor Lane Farm, Moor Lane Netherthong farm yes
Moorfield House, off Springwood Road Thongsbridge private house yes
Mountain Cottage, corner of Spinner Gate (now Bradshaw Road) & Wood Nook Lane Oldfield property yes
New Hagg, off Oldfield Road Oldfield property yes
Newland Wood Thongsbridge wood yes
Newlands, Huddersfield Road Thongsbridge property yes
Oldfield House, Oldfield Road Oldfield property yes
Railway Cottages, Springwood Road Thongsbridge property yes
Sands, off Moor Lane Netherthong property yes
School, off School Street. Now Netherthong Primary School Netherthong school yes
Spring Grove, Huddersfield Road. Also known as Spring Bottom (1854 map) Netherthong property yes
Spring Lodge, Calf Hill Road. Previously known as Spring Cottage (1854 map) Thongsbridge property yes
Spring Wood Netherthong wood yes
The Hey, off Heys Road Thongsbridge terraced row yes
Thongsbridge, Miry Lane. Road bridge over the River Holme Thongsbridge misc feature yes
Upper Fear Nought, off Huddersfield Road Netherthong property yes
Vicarage, Miry Lane Netherthong vicarage yes
View Terrace, Miry Lane. Row of 4 back-to-back properties Thongsbridge terraced row yes
Well Green, Holt Lane Netherthong property yes
Well House, off Huddersfield Road Netherthong private house yes
Woodlands. Property originally set in Longlands Wood and approached via a footpath Thongsbridge private house yes
Woodville, off Calf Hill Road Thongsbridge private house yes
Albion Mill, off Miry Lane. Woollen mill Thongsbridge mill partially
Quarry Netherthong quarry partially
Alma Mills, off Thong Lane. Woollen mill Thongsbridge mill no
Deanhouse Mills, off Dean Brook Road. Woollen mill Deanhouse mill no
Elmwood, off Huddersfield Road Netherthong private house no
Gas Works Deanhouse works no
Inn, Huddersfield Road Thongsbridge inn no
Lower Fear Nought, off Huddersfield Road Netherthong terraced row no
Mill dam for Thongsbridge Mills Thongsbridge mill pond no
Moorfield House, off Spinner Gate (now Bradshaw Road) Oldfield property no
Oaklands, off Huddersfield Road Netherthong private house no
Prospect House, off Heys Road Thongsbridge property no
Quarry, off Calf Hill Road Netherthong quarry no
Robin Royd, off Huddersfield Road Netherthong property no
Thongs Birdge Station. Railway station on the Holmfirth Branch Thongsbridge railway feature no
Thongsbridge Mills, off Miry Lane. Woollen mill Thongsbridge mill no
Folly Dam. Mill pond for Deanhouse Mills Deanhouse mill pond maybe
Size and Bone Works, off Miry Lane Thongsbridge works maybe

Netherthongs WW1 heroes and the location of their various Rolls of Honour

There are  eight War Memorials and Rolls of Honour ( ROH ) commemorating the young men of the district , who fought in World War 1. Six of them list the names of those who gave their lives, and two include the names of those who fought and survived. Details are given  below. ( For details of the individual soldiers, please see the appropriate chapters on World War 1 ).

  1. The Netherthong War Memorial, R.O.H. , which has the names of 41 heroes from Netherthong and Thongsbridge,  is located in the centre of the village opposite the Parish Church.  

2. Thirty names, including two not on the village ROH, are on  Plaque 5 on the large Memorial in the grounds of Holmfirth Hospital. 

3. Seventeen names were on a plaque in the Working Men’s clubhouse, which was located in St. Annes Square at the top of Outlane. Unfortunately the whereabouts of this plaque is currently unknown.( January 2019)

4. Six names appeared on the plaque in St.Andrew’s Church in Thongsbridge and,  when the church was closed,  the plaque was saved and found a new home in Holmfirth Parish Church.

5. Five names appear on a ROH on a metal plate on  the wall of what was the premises of R.L.Brook in Thongsbridge.

6. Six names  appear on the ROH in Huddersfield Drill Hall. They were soldiers who served in the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment.

7. There are 27 names on the United Methodist Church ROH, which has been located on the left hand wall in the Parish Church since the Chapel closed in 1984-85 and became a private residence. This ROH contains the names of seven soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice with the remainder being soldiers who fought and survived. 

Name Village ROH WMC Plaque 5 Saint Andrews Huddersfield Drill Hall Methodist Parish Church Thongsbridge
Irvin Barrowclough Yes Yes
Lewis Beaumont Yes Yes Yes
George H. Booth Yes
Clarence Brackenburg Yes
Harold Brackenburg Yes Yes Yes
George Bradley Yes Yes Yes Yes
George Bray Yes Yes Yes
Walter Bray Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Leonard Buckley Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Harry Charlesworth Yes Yes
George Child Yes
George Durrant Yes
Norman Fisher Yes Yes Yes
Cecil P. Floyd Yes
Robert Froggatt Yes Yes
Stanley Gill Yes Yes Yes
George Gledhill Yes Yes Yes
Andrew Greenwood Yes
William Haigh Yes Yes Yes Yes
Luther Hellawell Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fred Hill Yes Yes Yes
Hubert ( Herbert ) Hobson Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
John Hoyle Yes Yes Yes Yes
George Kaye Yes Yes
Matthew Lockwood Yes
Arthur Quarmby Yes Yes
Norman Ricketts Yes Yes Yes Yes
Ben Roebuck Yes Yes Yes Yes
Brook Sanderson Yes Yes
Abel Scholfield Yes Yes Yes Yes
Ben Senior Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Clemence Shaw Yes Yes Yes
Fred Shaw Yes Yes
Edward Smith Yes Yes Yes
Frank Swallow Yes Yes Yes Yes
Edgar Taylor Yes Yes Yes Yes
John Webster Yes Yes Yes Yes
Arthur Whitely Yes
David Wilkinson Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
C.( Charlie ) Woodhead Yes Yes Yes Yes
J.( Joseph ) Worsley Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Arthur Heeley Yes Yes Yes
Harold Heeley Yes Yes Yes Yes
Thomas Roger Booth Yes
Fred Hirst Yes


Methodist Church ROH


Methodist Church ROH

8. There are 114 names on a framed ROH in the Parish Church  and it gives the rank, regiment and date joined for each of the soldiers.  23 of these names are on the main War Memorial, the remainder being soldiers who fought and survived. Unfortunately it was both difficult to photograph as well as being too large to get into one picture.

Parish Church ROH


Parish Church ROH


Parish Church ROH


Parish Church ROH