Netherthong and The Wars.
Part 2 – World War 1
The Netherthong War Memorial is located in the Town Square and is there as a lasting reminder of all those lads from Netherthong, Deanhouse and Thongsbridge 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.
|Irvin Barrowclough||Hubert Hobson|
|Lewis Beaumont||John Hoyle|
|George H. Booth||George Kaye|
|Clarence Brackenbury||Matthew Lockwood|
|Harold Brackenbury||Arthur Quarmby|
|George Bradley||Norman Ricketts|
|George Bray||Ben Roebuck|
|Walter Bray||Brook Sanderson|
|Leonard Buckley||Abel Scholfield|
|Harry Charlesworth||Ben Senior|
|George Child||Clemence Shaw|
|George Durrant||Fred Shaw|
|Norman Fisher||Edward Smith|
|Cecil P. Floyd||Frank Swallow|
|Robert Frogatt||Edgar Taylor|
|Stanley Gill||John Webster|
|George Gledhill||Arthur Whitely|
|Andrew Greenwood||Davis Wilkinson|
|William Haigh||Charlie Woodhead|
|Luther Hellawell||Joseph Worsley|
|Fred Hill||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 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,
J.Battye; C.Hudson*; J.Marsden *; F.Swallow*; N.Coldwell; H.Horner; V.Mosley* : Wadworth.
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, four had been wounded and taken prisoner and three 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.
J.Battye, N.Coldwell, E.Crookes, C.A.Hudson, R.Horner, J.Marsden, V.Mosley, H.Matthews, G.Hoyle, B.Earnshaw, E.T.Sykes, A.Lockwood, R.Lee, H.Hebblewaite, J.Wadsworth and H.Lawrence.
Lt. H.Matthews was born in Holmfirth but joined the Netherthong Troop in 1910. He was the first scout in the Huddersfield area to obtain a commission in the army and the first to make the supreme sacrifice.
In the January 9th. 1915 issue, the Express listed a Roll of Honour of all the men from the Holme Valley serving in either the Army, Territorials or the Navy – 42 of them were from Netherthong and Thongsbridge. In each issue they also printed letters sent by soldiers serving at the front.
In Spring 1915, enlistments had averaged 100,000 men per month but this number could not be sustained. The upper age limit was raised from 38 to 40 in May 1915 in an attempt to keep the numbers up but it became clear that voluntary recruitment was not going to provide the number of men required. The Government passed the National Registration Act on 15 July 1915 as a step towards stimulating recruitment. The results of the census became available by mid- September 1915 ; it showed that there were almost 5 million males of military age who were not in the forces of which 1.6 million were in the “starred” ( protected, high or scarce skill ) jobs. On October 11 1915, Edward Stanley, 17th. Earl of Derby, better known as Lord Derby, was appointed Director General of Recruiting. The Derby Scheme, official title was Group Scheme, was an attempt to increase recruitment and avoid the need for conscription by allowing men to voluntarily attest for service at a later date. Attested men were placed in groups according to their age and marital status, and the groups would be called up when needed, prioritising single men over those who were married. ( In November a public meeting was held in the National School in Netherthong for the purpose of appointing canvassers for this scheme in the village). A total of 215,00 men enlisted when the scheme was on and another 2,185,000 attested for deferred enlistment. The numbers were not sufficient and in January 1916, the Military Services Act, see poster below, was passed which imposed conscription on all single men between 18-41, and a second Act was passed in May 1916 which extended the conscription to married men. In 1918 during the last months of the war, the Military Services ( No.2 ) Act was passed which raised the age limit to 51.
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. At the meeting of the Patriotic Committee in January 1915 it was reported that 30 of the men at present or formerly associated with the village serving their country had each received a gift of a camp knife and three khaki pocket handkerchiefs.
In January 1915 a decision was made by the Upper Agbrigg magistrates to enforce the closing of public houses at 9pm. This would cover the whole Holmfirth area with effect from January 23.
The Netherthong Red Cross Society regularly ran monthly “ teas “ in aid of the funds. In January 1915 they raised £4 8s at a tea in the schoolroom and £1 1s 2d was raised at a social gathering organised by Corporal Edgar Taylor who was on leave for a few days. The 6th. tea in February was given by Mrs. Stephenson, Sands, in the Church schoolroom and 90 sat down and, with the teas sent out, the total was over 100. The attendance for the 7th. tea was very large and £4 16s was raised. The popularity of the teas continued and the 8th. tea in early April was given by Mrs.T.E.Turner of South View Villa and raised £3 8s. The vicar, Rev.H.N.Hind , gave the 9th.tea at the end of April and 125 sat down and £3 13s was raised. The 10th. tea in June had a very large attendance and Mrs. Buchanan, Mrs.Joseph Woodhead, Miss Edith Mary Wilson and Miss Gertrude gave the tea and £3 19s was raised. The ladies who gave the 11th.tea in August were Mrs.Joseph Roebuck, Mrs. Wm.Hy. Goddard, Mrs.Edwin Briadbent and Miss Briggs and £3 12s was raised. The Express often got the ‘number’ of the tea wrong because in September they reported that the 11th. tea was given by members of the Parish Church choir. 200 sat down at the tables which were presided over by Mrs.Jackson the voluntary organist and three of the oldest members of the choir, Miss Wood, Miss M.H.Schofield and Miss E.E.Batley and the princely sum of £5 8s was raised. At the 14th. tea in October, 180 sat down notwithstanding that that price had been increased from 6d to 8d a head and £6 2s was raised. The tea was followed by a social promoted by the inkers and knotters of Thomas Dyson & Sons, Deanhouse Mills.The secretary , Miss Edith Mary Wilson reported on the activities and said there had been four teas in 1914 and ten in 1915 plus two socials and that a total of £65 8s had been raised. She added that the first consignment of goods were sent to the Huddersfield Bureau on September 14th. 1914 and 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. The 15th. tea was given by the sidemen of the Parish Church, Private C.S.Floyd ( who was on leave from fighting at the front in France ), H.H.Wilson, Herbert Roberts, J.Russell, W.E.Bailey, J.H.Harper and S.D. Butterworth. Over 140 sat down to eat, £6 8s was raised and the trays were presided over by Mrs. Russell ( in her 80th. year ), Mrs.W.Batley, Mrs.Harper and Mrs. Tom Willis. The tea in November 1916 was sponsored for a second time by the firm and employees of Joseph Sykes & Co., Rock Mills.The trays were looked after by Mrs. Joe Taylor,Mrs.M.Bailey, Mrs. Arthur Sykes and Miss Mallinson and £5 10s was raised.
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, Amy Hey, 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 of meetings. 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 to provide seasonable gifts 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. Sgt. Edgar Taylor was present and entertained everyone with tales of his military experience. The MCs were George Charlesworth and Arthur Buckley.
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. Mr.J.E.Woodhead QC presided.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 be asked to 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. Christmas in the village was enlivened by a whist drive and dance in the Church School to which a party of 30 wounded soldiers from the Holmfirth Military Hospital were invited and conveyed by motor-car. The music for dancing was played by Mr.C.A.Wood on the piano and Mr. Fenton Walker on violin.
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.Jackson and 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 the MCs 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 it will 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 of an 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 on Thursday 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 David Wilkinson. “ 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.
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 rests they 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 for the Belgians.”
Pte. T.Newell, who was formerly on the staff of Deanhouse Institution, and now with the headquarters staff at the 4th. 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 when they 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 and proud 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 from 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 the wounded. “ 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 Silver 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 who owned 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.
I had not been able to find any photographs of the peace celebrations although I’m sure many must have been taken. Then, in October 2020, I received the following three superb photos of the celebrations in Town Square courtesy of Rich McGill of Holmfirth. The first one shows the crowd gathered in Town Square outside the Co-Op with everyone dressed in their finery and the children in a range of costumes. The second looks to have been taken at the top of Outlane and features the Holme Band. The third photograph shows another crowd scene with what appears to be a bowler-hatted man controlling them.
I have also included the photograph below which I think was taken at Honley.
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.
Read more about Netherthong and the wars…