I received the following four photographs from Mr. M.Ellis of Kent in 2014. They were originally postcards and he very kindly reproduced them and sent me these copies. They are .
1. Coronation -Netherthong – June 22nd. 1911. Was this taken outside the Parish Church?
2. Peace Celebration – Nether Thong – July 16th. 1919. Could this have been taken at Deanhouse Workhouse.?
3. A small group of ” Indians ” – “blacked -up” and in costume. Could these be local people appearing in a play or musical.? Probably circa 1910s and could have been taken inside the Parish Church?
4. A much larger group of actors and actresses including the eleven ” blacked – up” from the above photograph. What sort of play would incorporate such a diverse range of characters?
I have also inserted the photographs in the appropriate chapters in this history.
In 2016 Judith Wobst sent me the photograph below. It shows a group of Old Folks outside the Parish Church and is marked on the back 1898. She says that Emma Wimpenny, 4th. person in 2nd. row, was her great,great grandmother.
This chapter is specifically about those young men of the village and surrounding district who fought and in many cases died with honour in the war.
Signaller Charles Albert. Hudson was decorated with the Military Medal which he won in August 1916 for carrying dispatches under heavy fire in Delville Wood. He was delivering messages continuously for three days and of the 16 runners only 4 survived. He had enrolled on October 17 1914 with the first batch of young fellows from the district and went to France on July 15 1915. He had been associated with Netherthong since birth and was involved with the Parish Church and Sunday School and was a member of the choir. He was one of the scouts who had the privilege of taking part in the Scouts Rally at the Coronation festivities in London. He was employed at Deanhouse Mills. He had been on active service since he went to France and came through the war without a scratch.
Corporal Sam Schofield was awarded the Military Medal. He was the second son of Mrs. John Scholfield of Outlane
Corporal Norman Smith, 21 years old, was awarded the Military Medal and ribbon for gallantly rescuing a comrade on the battlefield under shell fire. Until he was 15 he had lived all his life in Netherthong and he then moved to Longwood.. He joined the West Riding Regiment In December 1914 and went to France in June 1915. The Golcar District Heroes’ Fund recognized his meritorious conduct by presenting him with a solid gold ten- guinea English made watch.
Lance- Corporal Joseph Edward Hobson was the oldest son of Mr. & Mrs. Ralph Hobson of Netherthong and died in Ottowa aged 67. He was well known in the village and , as a boy, was in the Parish Church choir. He had served for 8 years in the Army Medical Corps and on his discharge he obtained an important post in Canada and moved there 4 years later , married a Canadian lady and had two sons. At the outbreak of war, he re-enlisted in the Canadian Force, came over and was attached to A Section 22nd.Field Ambulance 7th. Division of the British Expeditionary Force and served in France. He was awarded the DCM for gallantry in carrying in the wounded under fire. On the expiry of his service he returned to Canada and his wife and family.
Corporal Sam Charlesworth was a prisoner of war in Germany for more than two and a half years. He had been in the army for 11 years and came to the front with the Indian Expeditionary force and transferred to the 1st. Battalion of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Regiment . He was shot in the left thigh and hand and , after recovering , was made a prisoner in No. F Block at Doeberity.
Private Charlie Woodhead, aged 26 years, was killed in action in a place not named in the Gallipoli Pensinsula. He was educated in the Church school and was musically inclined and learned to play the clarinet and became a member of Huddersfield Military Band and the Netherthong Philharmonic band. He had served as an apprentice with John Batley, joiner and builder.
His very close friend Private David Wilkinson ( 29 years ), who had worked in the woolen mill at Deanhouse, was wounded on August 20 1915 in the same war zone and he died on September 9 from those wounds. He had sent a letter to his sister, it was faintly scratched, almost illegible in indelible printing .” You will have heard of C.W. and myself by the time you get this. They were both done on the 20th. ( August ). It was awful , but I can’t talk about it as I am in a lot of pain. I have lost everything, even my pay book. I was shot 50 hours before I was picked up and my clothes were sodden with blood. “ Even in his pain and suffering he did not forget those back at home and his short message concluded with the words “Hoping you are all well at home “. It was his last message home.
In a letter written only four days before he was wounded, he gave an indication of the stern task which the soldiers have to accomplish as they begin their march on Constantinople. “ It is 50 times worse here than in France. We had to charge them straightaway as we got out of the boat. I have been on three bayonet charges by now and they are awful. It is about nine days since I had a wash and a fortnight since I shaved. “
Gunner Ben Senior, 24 years, of Outlane enlisted on April 27 and went to the front on August 19 and was killed in action in France on October 8 1916. The local paper reportedthat Outlane, which was no more than 200 yards from end to end , had seen 5 “lads” – Hubert Hobson, Abel Scholfield, Leonard Buckley , C. Woodhead and now Ben Senior fall in action, each having found a soldier’s grave on the Continent. It questioned whether so confined an area in the whole district had won so much distinction on the battlefield. , Ben was a weaver at Deanhouse mills and was involved with the football club and the WMC.
Signaller Leonard Buckley, 25 years, had joined the West Riding Regiment and had been out at the front since July 1915 and had taken part in the battles round Ypres. He returned home for a rest before going back to the front. He was killed on April 25 1916 somewhere in France. He was 25 years of age and was among the first batch of young men who volunteered for service at the start of the war. He had been employed as a tuner at Vickerman & Sons, Thongs Bridge. He was educated at the Church School and was closely identified with the United Methodists being a member of the choir and an instrumentalist in the Sunday school band,
Lance Corporal Hubert Hudson , 25 years , was killed by a shell on July 2 1916. He was a member of the Machine Gun Section, B Company, Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment. He was involved with the Methodist Church, was the Sunday School secretary, played clarinet in the Sunday School orchestra and was a member of the choir. He was also a member of the local football team and the WMC. Prior to the war he was employed at Deanhouse Mills.
Private Abel Scholfield , 28 years, was shot through the head by a Turkish sniper at Gallipolli. He was a fine lad who was one of a party of about 30 lads from the district who set out for the wars one Sunday in October. In company with his brother he attended a recruiting meeting in Holmfirth and on the way they talked matters over. He saw that one of them should obey the call and he decided, as he was the elder , that he should be the one. He joined the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment and with the 8th. Battalion landed at the Dardenelles. In the life of the village he was a member of the WMC and the organ blower at the Parish Church for several years. He was employed at Thompson’s mill at Honley. He was going on duty repairing trenches when he was hit in a trench called Green Lane by the soldiers.
Corporal G.F.Durrant was employed as a clerk at Deanhouse Institution. At the beginning of the war he was recalled to the colours of the 2nd. Manchester Regiment in which he was Corporal of D Company. In August he wrote to his wife that he was with the Expeditionary Force at the Front and was safe and well. No further news was heard of him until his name appeared in the list of “ wounded and missing “. His death was later confirmed and that he was wounded at Mons on August 26 and died later from his wounds.
Private Ben Roebuck, 37 years, was killed in action in the great “ push “ by the British on August 12. He was born at Netherthong , the son of Joseph Hirst Roebuck and Rachael Roebuck of Cliff View, Thongs Bridge and was educated at Saint Mary’s Church in Wilshaw and became a resident in Netherthong. He attended the Parish Church and was a member of the Working Men’s Club. He was employed as a teamer for John Batley. In 1910 he emigrated to Australia and through hard work bought a farm and orchard at Harvey, in a farming area in the South Western part of western Australia.. He was attached to the 16th. Battalion Australian Imperial Force. He volunteered at Blackboy Hill, near Harvey, on January 19th 1916, listing his mother, Rachel, as his next of kin, and sailed from Freemantle with reinforcements for the 16th Battalion on March 31st 1916, onboard HMAT A9 Shropshire, stopping at Egypt on the way to the Western Front. He was killed in action on Saturday August 12th 1916, shortly after he had arrived in France. His family received the news of his death on September 2nd; he was thirty-seven years old. There is no known grave.
The 16th Battalion spent the week before his death in attacks in the area around Circular Trench, north of Pozieres, France, also beating off a German counterattack from Mouquet Farm.On the 12th the German artillery bombarded the left of the line, and at 1:30 p.m. the Battalion was relieved, though the Germans shelled them as they moved to the rear.Benjamin Roebuck was either one of the thirty-nine men who were known to have been killed, or one of the nineteen reported missing believed killed in action with the 16th Battalion that day.Many more men were wounded. A letter written shortly before his death arrived in Holmfirth 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.
Sergeant Edgar Taylor of the Kings Royal Rifles was killed by a shell in the trenches onFebruary 19. He was 37 years and before going to France he had been employed as a porter on the L and Y Railway at Thongs Bridge. He had previously served in the South African War and afterwards in India and was for eight years with the colours and four years as a reservist. When war broke out his period of service had expired but he enlisted again and, being a trained soldier, he was quickly ready for the field where he was soon promoted.
Private John Henry Hoyle was born in Wilson Square in 1879 and he joined the Royal Welsh Fusiliers ( Teacher Battalion ) in January 1916. He was reported as missing and his body was found on March 20. He received his education at the Church Day School under J.T.Jackson. On becoming a pupil teacher he joined the Church choir and became the deputy organist,
Private John Webster joined the Duke of Wellington’s regiment on November 24th. 1914 and received his training at Newcastle He was wounded on July 2nd. 1916 and invalided home. After making a satisfactory recovery he crossed the Channel again and was killed on June 28 1917. A fellow soldier describes how he met his death – “ At the time we had just relieved a Company on the front line when a whiz-bang burst a few yards away, hitting John and another. The injuries he received were to the top of his head. He was unconscious immediately and in a very few minutes expired. His end was painless. He has had a soldier’s grave about two miles from the line , the service being conducted by the chaplain” . In civilian life he served his apprenticeship with B. Eastwood, brush manufacturerand he was a popular member of the WMC and , being passionately fond of football, he was a playing member of the Netherthong Association Football Club.
Gunner William Haigh, 30 years, was with the 33rd. Siege battery of the R.A. and was killed in battle about 6p.m. on July 18 1917. He was a native of Netherthong and involved in many activities in the village until he married and moved to Hoylandswaine. He was a member of the Parish Church and Sunday school as well as the WMC. He was an official of the Netherthong Gardener’s Friendly Society and interested in football and cricket. He was employed at Vickerman’s Thongs Bridge before he joined up.
Stanley Gill, 18 years, was killed in action on October 25. He joined at 18 and died at 19. After leaving day school, he became a student at Holmfirth Secondary School and made progress in chemistry, drawing and building construction. He started an apprenticeship with Radcliffe & Sons , contractors and builders. He was in the Boy Scouts and the Church Sunday school. The comment everyone made was that “ he was a great favourite“.
Private Norman Ricketts, 19 years. He was training at Cannock Chase, appeared to be hearty but he contacted meningitis and died after a brief illness. His parents lived in Outlane. When he left school he first joined J. Lancaster, Mytholmbridge before moving to Albert Mills, Holmfirth.
Private Luther Hellawell, 34 years, from Deanhouse died in hospital at one of the clearing stations from wounds sustained in battle. The letter his wife received stated “ … he was badly wounded in the chest and in spite of all we could do he succumbed to his injuries. He passed away very peacefully without any pain at the end. He was laid to rest in the military cemetery near here. “ He was 34 years old and had seen much active service as he joined up a few weeks before Christmas 1914. He had been involved in the big push and was wounded in his foot and thigh which necessitated his return to Blighty. He had hospital treatment for several months before going back on active service. Before joining the colours he was employed at James Robinson & Sons, Smithy Place.
Private Harold Brackenbury of Deanhouse died at the age of 20 years on October 11918 from wounds received in France. He was born in Thongsbridge , attended the Netherthong National School and was connected to the Wesleyans in Netherthong. After leaving school he worked at Albion Mills,Thongs Bridge. He trained with the Duke of Wellington’s before leaving England but when he reached France he was transferred to the York and Lancaster regiment.
Private Walter Bray joined in January 1917 . He was invalided home for a while but returned in 1917 and was killed in action. He was educated at Netherthong Church School before working at Deanhouse Mills. He was involved in many village activities, especially the football and cricket clubs. For a while he was the day- cricket professional for the Emley CC.
Private Harold Heeley of Thongsbridge was killed at the front on August 23 1916. His brother Arthur died from wounds on June 12 1917.
Private Frank Swallow of Deanhouse, 20 years old, was killed in action by a shell on the 15 August 1917. He volunteered for service on October 27th. 1914 and after being in training for some weeks he was discharged on account of ill health. He was not content to sit at home so he offered his services again and was accepted into the 18th. Hussars Cavalry early in 1916 and went to France on December 1916.. He was later transferred to the infantry. He was a scholar in Netherthong Day School and later at the Holmfirth Wesleyan day School.. He was active in the Netherthong Boy Scouts troop and was a member of the WMC. Before joining up he worked at Deanhouse Mills.
Norman Fisher was educated at Netherthong National School and attended the Wesleyan Sunday school and was a fine baritone in the Chapel choir. His parents lived in Thongs Bridge and in civilian life he was employed by Hey & Co., outfitters of Huddersfield later becoming the manager of the firm’s shop in Victoria Street, Holmfirth. He was attached to the Leicestershire Regiment and spent 10 months in France. He became a victim of heart disease and returned from France in January 1916 and after six months stay in hospital he was discharged and resumed business as a commercial traveller. He appeared to be in good health but was suddenly affected by pneumonia and died of heart failure at the age of 28. Internment was at All Saints Church.
Corporal George Child. He resided at Cliffe until he was 11 and then moved to live in Netherthong. After school he began working in Victoria Street and then was employed by Netherthong Co-Operative. He later transferred to the Colne Co-operative . He enlisted in the Scottish Rifles on January 1 1915 and went to France on October 29. He was killed after having been at the front for 10 months. He was 29 and left a widow and four children.
Lieut. H.Matthews was born in Holmfirth but joined the Netherthong Scout Troop in March 1910. He was the first scout in the Huddersfield area to obtain a commission and the first to make the supreme sacrifice.
Private Albert Hobson of Outlane joined the 2/5 Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment in March 1916 and went to France in 1917. He was reported missing on May 3 1917 but later wrote that he was a POW and was in hospital suffering from slight wounds in his head and back. He was in hospital for four months and left to work in an iron foundry in Hamelin before he was released. He had to walk 100 miles to Holland.
There were also reports in the Express about other soldiers , either from Netherthong or who had some association with the village, who had been injured or taken prisoner but these were often just short snippets with no follow up of information.
Private Arthur Sewell a former Deanhouse resident was reported wounded and missing. He was the son of Mrs. A. Sewell, formerly of the Cricketer’s Arms Public House in Deanhouse.
Gunner H. Charlesworth was wounded in the left arm.
Corporal Pickles of Brockholes was well known as a football player and was goalkeeper for the Netherthong team. His death was reported in the Express in February 1917.
Private T. Wilkinson served with the West Riding Regiment was wounded in the thigh and was in base hospital in France. He was formerly connected with the Netherthong WMC and the Wesleyan School.
Rifleman Ben Moorhouse of the King’s Royal Rifles who resided at Dean Brook was wounded twice.
Private Tom Bretton of Giles Street was wounded.
Privates Herman Sanderson and Lewis Dyson, two Netherthong soldiers, were wounded and sent to base hospitals in France.
Gunner Eddie Sykes from Deanhouse was gassed and lost his eyesight although the paper did add that it might be temporary.
2nd. Lieut. C.S.Floyd of West Riding Regiment was wounded for the second time above the knee by a shell splinter.
Private H. Walker , attached to the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment, sent a letter to his sister saying that he was a P.O.W. in Germany. Before joining up he was a teamer for Joseph Woodhead & Co. grocers of Giles Street.
Sergeant Herbert Noble, RFA, was the son of Mr. Noble the Thongs Bridge station master.
Private John Roberts who had originally lived in Netherthong and been employed at Deanhouse Mills, was killed in the fighting in France.
During 1917 Brook Sanderson died in Australia. In 1901 he was nineteen years old and living at 85 Lower Hagg, Netherthong, next door to Irvin, Willie and Dennis Barrowclough, who were all still young boys at the time and living at 87 Lower Hagg. Brook was a woolen cloth cutter who went out to Australia before the war. He joined the Australian Army on February 2nd 1916 but was discharged as unfit by the end of the month. He seems to have been suffering from a heart condition (mitral stenosis) which did not become apparent until he began training. He died in 1917 aged thirty-three years. He is believed to have been buried at Newtown, New South Wales, Australia.
Clemence Shaw , aged 23 years and married and living in Deanhouse,, who was adischarged soldier died in February 1920 under startingly sudden circumstances. He had served in the Northumberland Fusiliers and it appeared that whilst serving in France he had contacted frost bite and lost 4 toes from his left foot. He was discharged medically unfit in April 1917 and in 1918 began to suffer epilectic fits. He was employed at Albert Mills and had worked until 7.15pm on a Thursday. He had made no complaints during the day and was last seen alive as he left the Mill. At about 8.50 that same night he was found lying in New Road which was about 10 minutes away from the mill. The inquest was held in the Netherthong WMC and the verdict was that death was caused by a hemorrhage on the brain resulting from him knocking his head against a wall when having an epilectic fit. The funeral was held in the Parish Church.
The Chapter on Netherthong and its involvement in the Boer War and World War 1 is very detailed as it serves as an everlasting record of the role that the young men ,who went off to fight for their country, played in keeping it safe.
I have been able to find five In Memoriam / In Loving Memory cards and have decided to put them in a separate chapter. I have also included the card issued on Saturday , July 26th. 1919 for the Peace Rejoicing Celebration.
The Netherthong War Memorial is located in the Town Square and is there as a lasting reminder of all those Netherthong lads who answered the call to arms and fought and died for their country. On May 20th. 1922 a well-attended and fully representative meeting of residents of Netherthong was held in the National School to consider the question of a fitting public memorial to the fallen in the war. Mr. J.Woodhead presided. Everyone agreed that there should be a memorial and a further meeting should be held to decide the details.
That next meeting once again confirmed the need for a memorial as Netherthong had a splendid war record. Few Parishes had sent more men to the colours in proportion to its population and the number fallen was testimony to the part they had played. There were differences of opinion as to the position of the memorial so a further public meeting had to be held.
At that next public meeting, J.Woodhead again presided. The question of a recreation ground or an Institute , whilst worthy, would impose too big a financial load on the people of Netherthong. It was finally agreed that a memorial be built at the top of New Road and the piece of land, owned by the District Council, be purchased. A committee was formed to implement the proposal and its members were – J. Woodhead, Councillor Ogden , C.S.Floyd, H.Mellor, A. Dixon, W.Wagstaff, T.Wood,S. Butterworth, A.Wimpenny, W.Batley, E.Moorhouse, A.Preston and T.Dyson.
The Unveiling and Dedication of the Memorial was performed on Sunday , November 11th. 1923 at 3p.m. in front of a large gathering. A four page booklet giving the Order of Service and details of the Prayers. Lessons, Dedication and hymn was published and I have included it at the end of this chapter. There was a memo attached to the booklet saying that “ Parents or relatives of the fallen are specially invited to take part in the Ceremony and meet near the Memorial at 2.45 p.m.
There was an appeal in the Express in February 1924 for funds to complete the Memorial specifically for the railings and entrance gate. In May the Memorial Committee made a further appeal for additional funds as £40 was still required to meet the deficit. However at the end of the 4th. Annual Music Festival in June, Mr.Lancaster, a well known figure in the Holme Valley and chairman of the Festival , said he would clear the outstanding debt on the Memorial.
The memorial takes the form of a cross bearing the following inscriptions – “1914-1919. In grateful remembrance of the men from this Parish who made the supreme sacrifice in the Great War “
“ The men were very good unto us and we were both not hurt. They were a wall-unto us both by night and day” ( Samuel xxv.15-16 ).
It was made from Bradford stone and the work was executed by S. England & Son, Holmfirth.The following names were inscribed on it.
George H. Booth
Cecil P. Floyd
James Walker ( S.A.War )
In the November 7 1914 issue the Express listed those persons from Netherthong Parish who were serving but did add a rider that it might not be complete and it in subsequent issues added further names.
Netherthong Boy Scouts. The following names were scouts who served and those marked with a * are also listed in the above table,
On Nov 21 the Express added the name of T.Buchanan.
The Netherthong Working Men’s Club sponsored a memorial to the fallen in the war which was unveiled and presented by Capt. C.S. Floyd of Rose Leigh in the Church School. The memorial embraced the photographs of the “ lads “ from the district who had laid down their lives.
The photographs were of : Privates Woodhead, David Wilkinson,Abel Scholfield, Walter Bray, John Hoyle, Leonard Buckley, Hubert Hobson, Ben Senior, Frank Swallow, Ben Roebuck ( Austr ), Brook Sanderson ( Austr ), Harold Brackenbury, Jack Webster, Stanley Gill, Willie Haigh, Norman P. Ricketts and Sergeant Edgar Taylor.
Captain Floyd said about 130 men had enlisted, 21 were killed, at least 7 were wounded, 4 had been wounded and taken prisoner and 3 had won decorations, one DCM and two MM.
The memorial was presented to Mr.H.Wilson, the president of the WMC. Mr.Taylor read a report and said that the memorial had been subscribed for entirely by members of the club. The cabinet photographs were enlargements of photographs taken by and sent by the gallant lads while on active duty. They were enclosed in two large fumed oak and gilt frames executed by Messrs. Bamforth & Co. 14 of the lads were native born and received their education in the church school under Mr.Jackson and staff.
The following scouts and ex-scouts of the Netherthong troop served in HM Forces.
Lt. H.Matthews was born in Holmfirth but joined the Netherthong Troop in 1910. He wasthe first scout in the Huddersfield area to obtain a commission in the army and the first to make the supreme sacrifice.
Throughout the course of the war many local organizations raised money to send parcels to local soldiers. This was particularly relevant at Christmas and the presents included shirts, socks, cake, cigarettes, chocolates, hand kerchiefs and stationery. Penknives and periscopes were much requested items along with copies of the local newspaper.
The Netherthong Red Cross Society regularly ran “ teas “ in aid of the funds. At the 14th. tea , 130 sat down paying 8d a head and £7 was raised. Their secretary , Miss Edith Mary Wilson reported that the first consignment of goods were sent to the Huddersfield Bureau on September 14th. 1914. Since then a further 13 parcels had been sent and the total number of articles included : 28 pairs of pyjamas,113 day shirts, 6 cushions, 20 mufflers,17 pairs of bed socks,1 pair of slippers,10 pairs of gloves, 8 pillows, 3 helmets, 26 night shirts, 40 pillow slips,160 pairs of socks, 8 bottle covers, 37 belts, 79 scarves,1 flannel vest, 4 bed jackets, 69 pairs of mittens and 122 sand bags.
In October the Red Cross organised a sewing meeting and tea. 122 people sat down and 24 teas were sent out to people, either old or too sick, who couldn’t attend.The amount raised was £4 1s and it was collected by Corporal Tom Wood and Private James Marden who had both been given an 48 hour leave pass from camp.
A dance promoted by Misses Doris Mallinson, Priscilla Longbottom, Maggie Heaton, AmyHey, Mary Swallow and Doris Beardsell was held in the Church schoolroom. There was a large gathering of young people and dancing was indulged in to the music by Mr.Wood ( piano ) and Mr.Walker ( violin ) . £3 17s was raised. A Sewing tea in connection with the Red Cross Society attracted a large attendance and £3 17s 8d was raised. A social and American fair and café was featured at Wesleyan School , artists were in capital voice and selections were given on a gramophone kindly lent by Mr. Albert Longbottom. £5 was raised.
Letters received from soldiers serving at the front were often read out at the start ofmeetings. At the 41st. AGM of the Working Men’s Club , there were letters from Corporals Hubert Hobson and Harry McQue : Privates Wm. Barrowclough, T. Newall, Chas. A. Huson. Norman Smith, H.Dufton and Ronald Sykes : Drivers Norman Haigh and E.A.Ward.
At the Patriotic Committee meeting in January 1915, it was reported that each of the lads had received a camp penknife and 3 khaki pocket handkerchiefs. Letters of thanks from the soldiers were read out. Mr.T. Dyson was the treasurer and W.Wagstaff the treasurer.
Later that year in October, the Express printed a Local Roll of Honour for the whole of the Holmfirth District based on the names it had been supplied with and they updated it each week. They also gave prominence to a letter from King George asking for more volunteers.
In December the young men of the village held a dance at the National school to raise funds for the local soldiers fighting in the trenches. Dancing was to the music of Mr. C. Wood’s band and there was a good attendance with proceeds of £4 6s.
The people of Netherthong had contributed a substantial sum of money towards the Scouts Hut which had been “opened” in France early in 1916. It was a great wooden building and named ” The Boy Scouts YMCA Hut ” and was open from 11.30 to 1.30 and 4.30 to 8.30. It proved to be a very popular venue and was usually crowded to overflowing.
On May 20 1916, the Home Office issued a public notice about an alteration to times. On the night of Sat-Sun, May 20-21 at 2am. the time would be put forward by 1hour to 3 am. The chief objective was to reduce the number of hours during which artificial lighting was being used and thus save the nation fuel, oil and coke which were urgently required for other purposes arising from the War. In August a Public meeting was held in the National School to form a War Savings Department for Adults. The scheme had begun the previous week in the school when over 70 children had become members and paid in nearly £5 in the first week. The meeting unanimously decided to form an ” Adult Association ” and that the Wesleyan Chapel, the Free Church, the Co-op store, Gardeners’ Society and the WMC should each nominate a member to serve on the commmittee.
In December 1916 the children of the primary department of Netherthong Wesleyan Sunday school took pennies and toys to the Christmas service. The pennies bought a cake for wounded soldiers and this was taken by some of the children and teachers to the Military Hospital. The toys were sent to the West Indian Mission Creche. The same month the firm and employees of Messrs. Joseph Sykes & Co. Rock Mills, gave a tea, their second, in the Church schoolroom in aid of the Netherthong Red Cross Society.
In January 1917 a Whist Drive and Dance was held in the Church school to which 18 wounded soldiers from the Military Hospital were invited and conveyed by motor car. Music for dancing was by C.Wood ( piano ) and F.Walker ( violo ). £7 profit was handed to the treasurer of the Military Hospital.
A meeting of the Patriotic Society was fairly well attended and it was reported that 12 camp knives and 3 periscopes had been sent to the soldiers. In March a dance , promoted by Misses D.Mallinson, P.Longbottom, M.Heaton, A.Hey, M.Swallow and D.Beardsell, was held in the Church schoolroom in aid of funds for the Netherthong Patriotic Society. There was a large gathering of young people and £3 17s was raised. Miss Hart and Miss Mallinson organized another dance to raise funds to enable the Patriotic Society to send parcels of comforts to the gallant lads serving with the forces. There was a good attendance and dance music was supplied by the regulars, Mr.C.Wood on piano and Mr. Walker on violin. Over £5 was raised.
Throughout the year the Netherthong Red Cross Society held teas in the Church School.
The 3rd. annual report of the Netherthong Patriotic Society was prepared by Mr.J.Jacksonand presented in December. Based on Netherthong and Oldfield 140 villagers had joined one or other of the various services. 19 had been discharged, 3 were POWs, 17 had made the great sacrifice and 101 were still on active duty. Last year 66 Christmas parcels had been sent and thanks received and this year 18 periscopes and 31 field knives had been sent. Mr.Jackson listed all the various sources from which aid had been received. A special thanks was given to their secretary, Thomas Dyson, who was now serving his country.
What was described as the most festive social of Christmas 1917 was promoted by the young ladies under the banner of the Patriotic Society. The function included a whist drive and dance. Wounded soldiers from Holmfirth Military Hospital were in attendance and the music was provided by Mr.Wood and Mr. Walker. Mr. Russell and Mr. Horncastle were theMCs and £9 3s 6d was raised.
On August 1918, the 4th. Anniversary of the Declaration of War was commemorated by a special service at the Parish Church. The Rev. Hind conducted the service in a manner befitting the occasion. Suitable music under the leadership of C.Wood with Mrs. Jackson on organ was provided.
In October at a meeting of the Netherthong Patriotic Society , presided over by Mr. W. Horncastle, a vote of condolence was passed to the bereaved mother of the late Private Harold Brackenburg who had been killed in action in France. At the same meeting it was decided to supplement the Christmas gift of a shirt and pair of socks by a substantial monetary gift to each boy serving in the Forces either home or abroad. It was anticipated that at least £40 would be required.
At the end of the year the Patriotic Society promoted a concert in the Church School. They had an accomplished quartette party – Miss Lizzie Mellor, soprano ; Miss Ethyl Barker , contralto ; David Oxley, tenor ; Harold Sykes, bass. Mr.Goddard was the accompanist and further entertainment was provided by Frank Phillips, humorist. The objective was to raise funds for sending Christmas parcels to local lads serving in the forces. The hall was packed and the Express reported that the concert would long be remembered as one of very high order.
In July a cricket match was organized between wounded soldiers from the Holmfirth Auxiliary Hospital and a team from Denby Dale Auxiliary Hospital. Unfortunately no further information was supplied.
I have dedicated a separate chapter for the list of details of many of the Netherthong heroes.
Patriotic Thong “ Lads “.
Admirer’s Message from the Antipodes
“ I am proud of them all”.
Mr. Thomas Edward Mosley, who, out in South Africa, is proud to be known as a Thong lad, is particularly pleased to learn of the response made by Netherthong to the national demands of the Empire, and, besides forwarding a substantial contribution to the funds of the Red Cross Society, sends a most interesting letter to Mr. T.Dyson, the secretary of the Netherthong Patriotic Society.
“ I am thankful “ writes Mr. Mosley “ that the lads from Netherthong came up so well, I am very proud of them all I can tell you. We get the Holmfirth Express every week and we always look forward to it coming. it does one good to read about the place that is near and dear. How terrible it is to think about this War and a lot of cowards we have to fight. I hope itwill be soon be over but not before we have broken Germany military power “ After touching on the daily demands of the War – Mr. Mosely is engaged in a woolen factory in Cape Town. Mentioning that he works from 6am to 8.30pm. “ So as a Thong lad I did my duty for the soldiers who went to British South West Africa, and nobody was more pleased to see General Botha coming back after conquering them.” Mr.Mosely adds that the place where he works is just on the sea front and “ I can see all the ships come into Cape Town Docks and I was able to see all the ships go away to German West Africa and we were also able to see the troops leave for Europe “. In the course ofan intensely-human postscript , he mentions that just as he had completed his letter, he received the sad tidings that C.Woodhead had been killed in the Dardenelles and he had to add the following appreciation ; -“ I sympathise with you all at Netherthong in having lost a fine and promising young man. Please give my sympathy to his parents. It will be very trying to have to part with a fine young man like Charlie was. He was one of those young men I took an interest in. He was one of the young men who came to our class held at the Wesleyan Chapel onThursday nights. I hope his parents will be given strength to get over the serious shock that it will have caused them. It will be a consolation to them to know that he died a heroic death in doing his duty for the country. “
In a subsequent letter, Mr.Mosely made touching reference to the death of Private DavidWilkinson. “ We have got the Express again to-day and I see that one of my friends at the National School has died from his wounds. It is very sad to keep seeing such news. I cannot express my sorrow –it is too much for me to say anything ; just take our sympathy in the loss of yet another school friend. I am sure you will be upset by the loss of two fine young men like David and Charlie. I would write a long letter , but I cannot do so after reading your paper.
By the former mail, he also sent eight scarf- helmets “ similar to those that have been given to all the troops who are coming over to Europe. “ So just let the Netherthong lads have them “ Following this gift, the Netherthong Red Cross Society decided to use the monetary donation received from him to buy more scarf- helmets. The Committee decided to send a scarf- helmet and a pair of gloves to each of the 24 “ lads “ serving at the front so that they would be better equipped for the rigours of winter campaigning. It was hoped that the Christmas “ boxes “ will reach them on the morning of Dec. 25th. 1915.
NETHER THONG SOLDIER’S
Graphic Battlefield Messages
Telling Descriptions of the War’s Realities.
“ I can assure you that all of us are eagerly looking forward to the time when the cause of the Allies will be crowned with glory. I am keeping very well and cheerful, knowing that we are only fighting for what is right. “
This is the prevailing sentiment of quite a number of the messages from the battlefield to the good people of Netherthong, who recently sent suitable presents to the local soldiers at the front. Several of these letters were read at the meeting of the Netherthong Patriotic Committee, held in the National School under the presidency of Mr.W.Horncastle. The patriotism of the young men of Netherthong in promptly answering the national call has been an encouraging and pleasing feature of the life of the community during the first year of the War. 15 Netherthong lads are on active service and Mr.T. Dyson, the secretary of the Patriotic Committee, read pleasing letters of grateful thanks from practically all of them. Mr. Dyson, in the course of a few introductory explanatory remarks, claimed that no community throughout the country has sent more suitable presents for the soldiers nor received such delightful letters of appreciation. Moreover , the soldiers were particularly desirous of hearing from them again, not from a monetary point of view, but for real friendship’s sake. Each of the local soldiers at the front had had a periscope sent to him from the people of the district. They were anticipating the fulfillment of a statement recorded in one of their gallant soldier’s letters ; “ I hope that in due time the War will come to a successful close, and a peace will reign which the world has never known before. “
In addition to the simple, yet forcible, message given at the outset, Pte. Ronald Sykes, writing from “ somewhere in Belgium “, expressed his appreciative thanks to the Patriotic Committee’s present of periscopes in the following terms – “I am sure they could not have bought anything that will be more serviceable for us. They are used in the trenches a lot at present. As you will know , it is not safe to show ourselves, but by means of the periscopes you have presented to us we shall be able to see what is going on in front without exposing ourselves. I am sure that we shall always remember the interest all the people in the village have taken in us.This, for one thing, helps us to face the dangerwith a better heart, and I am sure we are only too pleased to be doing our little bit in this great national strife.”
Pte. Sykes also gave a graphic pen picture of the devastation wrought by the enemy.“ We come into contact with sights here that we would not like to see at home. It would make your blood boil to see the houses and churches all in ruins. The town that we are billeted in at present must have been a fine place but to see it now it is awful. All the homes belong to someone who have had to flee and leave everything for the safety of their lives . “
Referring to the periscope and knife which he had received, private J. Webster’s message ran ; “ They are the very things we want in the trenches, and when we come out for reststhey come in useful for shaving purposes, but they are more useful in the trenches. “
From Pte. D. Barrowclough, one of three brothers on active service, came the following impressions. “ I shall try to use your presents every opportunity I have. I shall try and do my duty as far as I can and keep the Huns out of good old England, because if they get in they will be ten times worse to our women folk and children than they were forthe Belgians.”
Pte. T. Newell, who was formerly on the staff of the Deanhouse Institution , and now with the headquartersstaff at the 4 th. Cavalry Brigade sent the message ; “ Just a few lines to answer your nice letter and to thank you for the very handy periscope, which arrived quite safe, for I know, if necessary, it will be a great help. “
Private Dutton incidentally wrote ; “ You all know we are only doing our duty, as true Yorkshire lads ought to do. I am pleased to say that God has kept us free from shot and shell so far. We have been on the banks of the River —————, and I can tell you it is a very warm place.We have had a few wounded and gassed. It is not a nice place to be whenthey are shelling. “
Other similarly grateful epistles were presented, and the reading of them was followed with considerable interest. The members of the Patriotic Committee went home gratified with andproud of their gallant representatives who were serving their King and country.
Most of the soldiers obviously sent letters home and some were printed in the paper.
Mr. J.Hobson, a native of Netherthong, who was formerly in the R.A.M.C. for some years and went to Canada fro where he was called to the front. He sent a letter to H.Mellor in Netherthong and said that he was in the Red Cross with the stretcher bearers. “ It is dangerous as we render first aid from the firing line having to do all our work in the dark. We can’t get anywhere in daylight as the Germans have no respect for the Red Cross and will fire on ambulances without any thought for thewounded. “ He ended by asking Mellor to thank the Netherthong Red Cross for the presents they had sent.
In a letter to a friend in Deanhouse, Private Charles Hudson related a remarkable experience on night duty. He wrote ; “ I have had some exciting experiences since I came out what with dodging shells and one thing and another. I will relate to you one of them. I was picked for a reconnoitering patrol in front of the German trenches one night. There were 6 of us and an officer. By the way my platoon officer is a very good one. We crawled out about 10 o/clock under our barbed wire. We went out into the open feeling a little excited you can guess for bullets were flying over us and flares kept going up. When they did we had to lay flat down. We got to the German trenches, had a good look round and crawled for about 3 hours. Once I was crawling over a dead German and another time I was laid on a dead man’s foot but we got in at last safe and sound , I am glad to say. You can guess now what we have to do. “
In December 1939 the Express reported the death of Mr. Charles Ricketts of West End. He was 69 years old and was an old volunteer. He had served in the South African War and WW1 and was a member of the Holmfirth branch of the British Legion and of the South African Veterans Association of Huddersfield.
The news of the armistice reached Netherthong about 11am on the Monday morning but it was not fully confirmed until the flag was raised at Deanhouse Institution by order of the master, Mr.F.E.Rowbothan. This was followed by flags being hoisted at Deanhouse Mills, the Church,the Schools, Holmleigh, the Manor House and many cottages in Netherthong and Deanhouse. Merry peals were rung on the church bell by Oswald Sykes, Arthur Wimpenny and Robert Gill.
Peace rejoicings were not held on the official day, July 19, but were postponed for a week. The official day however did not pass unrecognized with flags floating gaily on public buildings, mills, workshops and cottages and, at three hours intervals, the Parish Church bell was rung. In the evening a bonfire and flares were lighted at Wolfstones Height by kind permission of Mr.Hampshire followed by a display of rockets and fireworks under the superintendence of Mr. Harry Mellor and assistants.
The following report on the celebrations on the Saturday is taken from the Express and I have put it in parenthesis so as to maintain the tense and the style of the reporting used. … ” Saturday was the children’s and old folks’ day and one which will be long remembered by the youth in the Parish in years to come as was the peace rejoicing day in 1852 by the old folks. The village was en fete for the occasion for, in addition to the flags that were still flying from the previous Saturday. the village was ablaze with brightly coloured bunting, Union Jacks, bannerettes and Chinese lanterns strung across the streets thanks to Mrs. Floyd of Roseleigh and Joseph Woodhead, Green Cottage, for their generous gifts of much of the material used. Town Gate was simply stunning. The only mark of sadness in all the decorations was the laurel leaf mounted on a Union Jack and surmounted by a gilded crown at the entrance to the Churchyard in honour of the brave and loyal lads who have made the great sacrifice. Deanhouse was not far behind in its spirit and among its beautiful decorations was an effigy of the fallen exile ” The All Highest ” hanging from the arm of a lampost on Deanhouse Hill and which, in the course of the evening fittingly paid its due penalty in the ascending smoke and burning ashes falling to the ground to be contemptuously trodden underfoot.
The day’s proceedings commenced with merry peals ringing from the church bell at 12 am and 1.30pm. The children from the Day school, the Parish Church, Free Church, Wesleyan Church and Oldfield Mission Church Sunday schools assembled in the Day school yard and were marshalled into marching-order by Harry Mellor, Edward Dyson, Ben Gill, Albert Wimpenny, James Hy Mallinson, Harry Mallinson, Corporal J.Marsden and Private Albert Hobson and marched up to Town Gate where they met the demobilised and discharged soldiers under the command of Captain C.S.Floyd, members of the WMC and Free Gardeners plus a large gathering of the general public. A short service of thanksgiving was conducted by Rev.H.Hind and hymns were sung accompanied by the Holme Valley band conducted by Sergeant Tom Wood. A large procession was formed and, headed by P.C.Denton, Mr.B.Eastwood and A.F.Sykes, marched to the Deanhouse Institute and then back to the village.The sing in Town Gate , listened to by a large concourse of people , would long be remembered.
On returning to the Day school, about 350 children were regaled with a sumptuous tea of bread and butter, sweet cakes, crackers etc. the trays presided over by Misses E.Wilson, E.Cousen, A.Woodhead, A.Hart, A.Whitehead, L.Boothroyd, S.Briggs, M.Eastwood, Marion Woodhead and Elsie Woodhead. The old people, along with the soldiers and their wives ,were treated to a knife and fork tea consisting of roast ham and ox-tongue, bread and butter, almond tea-cakes and 18 other varieties of confectionery supplied by Miss Mitchell. The trays were presided over by Mrs.Floyd ( Roseleigh ), Mrs.Hinchliffe ( Oaklands ), Mrs.Mellor ( Holmleigh ), Mrs.Jackson ( Manor House ) , Mrs.Brookes ( The Hagg ) and Mrs.Craig ( Thongs Bridge House ). Among those sitting down were five octogenarians, Mrs.Bower, Mrs. Russell, Mrs. Eastwood and Mr.& Mrs. J. Armitage all of whom had taken part in in three peace rejoicings, two Royal Jubilees and two Coronations.
The evening from 6 to 10.30 was spent in a field, kindly lent by Mr.J.Moorhouse of the Clothiers, and a large crowd enjoyed watching the parade of the fancy dress competitors and the judging , the sports and the music by the Holme Band.
There was a large range of sporting activities and the winners of the various sports were. Flat races, Boys 5-7 – Lloyd Swallow & Reggie Mallinson. Girls 5-7 – Blanche Hall and Hilda Hallas. Boys 7-9 – Ronald Ricketts and George Davidson. Girls 7-9 – Edna Smith & Elsie Chambers. Boys 9-11 – Bernard Daniel & Ronald Knutton. Boys 11-13 – Robert Buckley & Frank Day. Boys over 14 – Eric Rusby & Harry Charlesworth. 3-legged race – Boys 9-11 – Bernard Daniel & Ronald Knutton. Egg & Spoon – girls 9-11 – Phyllis Brook & Cora Charlesworth. Egg & Spoon – girls over 11 – Gertrude Marsden & Sarah Brook.Thread & Needle race – girls 9-11 – Cora Charlesworth & Marjorie Hall. Obstacle race – boys 11-13 – Frank Day & Raymond Hall. Boot race – boys under 14 – Cyril Dufton & Ryder Dyson. Skipping competition – under 10 – Elsie Chamber & Edna Smith. Under 14 – Phyllis Brook & Marjorie Hall. Senior skipping – Elsie Batley. Fancy skipping – Edna Smith. Tandem race – girls over 14 – Gertrude Marsden, Dora Woodhead & Aurelia Batley. The fancy dress winners were : Ronald Settle, Reggie Hirstle , Cora Charlesworth,Alice Turner, Marjorie Hart,Eileen Knutson,Marion Woodhead and nellie Wilkinson.
A large bonfire had been built at Wolfstone Heights , by kind permission of Mr. Hampshire whoowned the highest point. Messrs. A.Dixon, H.Mellor, J.Mallinson,W.Wagstaff, A.Wimpenny, H.Wimpenny and F.Harper built an enormous beacon. Seen from the village it looked like a tower. In the evening there was a beautiful, never –to-be-forgotten, sunset. As the hour for lighting approached one could see beacons on Holme Moss, Nabscliffe ( Shepley ) with lots more visible in the distance. At the start a rocket was sent up and then one of the giant Admiralty flares which made the whole hill as day. As the flare burnt, the rain came down in torrents. The National Anthem was sung and Corporal Charlie Ricketts, who had served in the South African war and the present war, lit the bonfire and the huge pile became a mass of flame. It reminded the old stagers of the bonfire in 1887 in the village which burned for a week. The cost of all the festivities were defrayed by public subscription.”
In the midst of all the celebrations Deanhouse Poor Law Institution was not forgotten and the Guardians granted extra fare for “ Peace Day “. Mr. and Mrs. Beavis prepared a most sumptious menu for the patients, breakfast, dinner and tea with entertainment to finish.
In April 1919 a social re-union of returned soldiers took place in the Wesleyan school. A substantial dinner followed by entertainment was provided.
In March a public meeting was held in the National school in support of the Holme Valley Memorial Scheme. Mr. Jackson presided over a capital attendance and the scheme was explained by Major Trotter. Many members of the audience spoke in support and subsequently a local committee of about 30 members was formed with Mr.T.Dixon as secretary. It was noted that £5 remained from the fund for the Coronation festivities and the meeting resolved that this balance be handed over to the funds for the new Memorial Hospital.
The concept generated lots of articles and letters in the paper and in June it gave numerous lists of people in the District and their subscriptions. In the second list there were 62 names of Netherthong residents and 38 appeared on the 4th. list.
The Express ran a ½ page notice about the proposed War memorial Scheme. I detail it below.
In aid of the Holme Valley War Memorial Scheme
Netherthong District Committee will hold a
Whist Drive and Dance
In National School
On Friday Next, December 5. Whist to commence at 7.15pm.
Four handsome prizes will be given to the most
Successful Ladies & Gentlemens Whist Players
Admission ( including refreshments ) 2/-.
Please bring your own sugar
The paper reported the following week that the event had been very successful with 32 tables. After the Whist drive there had been tea and dancing and £20 was raised for the fund.
The second anniversary of Armistice day was celebrated in November 1920 by a supper and social held in the house of mine host, Mr.Richard Russell, the Queen’s Arms Hotel. Covers were laid for 60 ex-servicemen and friends and an excellent meal was provided. The social that followed was very well attended and the only toasts proposed were ” The King “, ” The Army, Navy and Air Force” and ” The Memory of the Fallen Heroes “.
On January 29th. 1922 , a Grand Concert was held at the National School in aid of the Holme Valley Memorial Hospital. Music was by the Merry Makers and admission was by programme with tickets priced at 1/6 and 1/- and 6d for school children. The Express reported that there was a large audience and the programmes comprised choruses, songs, duets, recitations and jokes and a sketch entitled ” Callers at a police station “. There were 22 items and with many encores the concert lasted 3 hours.
With the war completely over, the Netherthong Patriotic Society held a meeting to discuss the disposal of the Society’s surplus funds. After a vote it was agreed to donate the balance of £23 to the Netherthong Memorial.
In May 1923 an impressive ceremony took place in the Drill Hall, Holmfirth, when a memorial tablet was unveiled by Colonel R.Mellor. The ceremony took place after a church parade at Netherthong Parish Church and the gathering at the Hall included relatives of the fallen, past and present members of the Holmfirth Company, the Meltham and Netherthong sections, members of the Holmfirth Branch of the 5th. Duke of Wellington’s Old Comrades Association and the trustees of the Drill Hall. The tablet read :
5th. Duke of Wellington’s Regiment
In glorious and grateful memory of the
Officers, non-commissioned officers and
Men from this District who died in the
Service of their King and Country
Great War, 1914-1919.
This was the 2nd. tablet to be unveiled in the Hall. The 1st. one was unveiled in appreciation of those who served in the South African war.
N.B. Both of these plaques were moved and re-located in the entrance foyer of Holmfirth Town Hall.
At the Remembrance Day event in November 1924, the Rev. E. Harland, the superintendent Wesleyan minister, offered prayers ; the Rev. H. Hind , All Saints, read from the scriptures and Mr. Snow, United Methodist minister, read out the list of the names on the Memorial. The event in 1925 was recorded as most impressive. There was a large attendance and the service was conducted by the Rev. H. Hind, the vicar, and the Rev. J. Birkbeck, a minister from the Holmfirth Wesleyan circuit. The Rev. A.Sharman, United Methodist, sent his apologies.