Netherthong and the wars – Part 3 – WW1 heroes

Dateline : December 2017.

I first published this Chapter on March 23, 2013 and  next year, 2018,  will see the centenary of the end of World War 1. This chapter is  about those young men of the village and the surrounding district ( Deanhouse & Thongsbridge ) who fought and  died and fought and lived in that war. There are 45 names in total on the War Memorial in the centre of the village , 41 are from WW1, one is from the Boer War and the remaining three are from World War 2. ( for details of the war memorial and life in the village during the war years  see Chapter titled Netherthong and the wars part 2 ).

As an essential part of ensuring that the life histories of those servicemen and women who served in the war are not lost,  a project has been set up by the Imperial War Museum, in association with the genealogy web site – Find My Past – and will be called Lives of the First World War. The website contains the names of eight million servicemen and women. The project is  going to be  very important locally because for the first time it will draw together information on all the Holme Valley servicemen into one online location. A Community on the website is formed by collating servicemen into groups defined by a common connection – eg. regiment, workplace, location, family etc.

Vivien Aizlewood of the Holmfirth Local History Group is a co-ordinator and  has set up, on behalf of the Project, two Communities for Holme Valley servicemen. The first is Holme Valley Memorial Hospital which consists of all the men who are listed on the War Memorial at the Hospital. The second is Holme Valley Lads and this project will comprise all the other servicemen and women who served and survived and who had connections with the Upper Holme Valley. In the New Year she will be welcoming any enquiries or information.

 I  must make reference to an exceptional book titled Huddersfield Roll of Honour 1914-1922 . The information  was researched by Margaret Stansfield, who  spent 30 years compiling the  biographical entries in the book. She passed away in 2012  but her work was not in vain as the book was edited by Rev.Paul Wilcock, BEM and published by the University of Huddersfield Press in 2014. The  ISBN is 978-1-86218-126-7 and a version of the book is available at

It contains the names of  3,439 sevicemen  from the Huddersfield area who gave their lives for their country and 1,304 of whom  died fighting with the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment.  The scope of her research included  the Netherthong lads who died and although, in many instances,  the details are similar to those I had been able to obtain when I finished this  chapter, it does give very important additional information some of which I have incorporated to update my details. Where there is any important difference  in the information, I have added it in brackets. The book does not include the names of  any lads who survived.

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, was born in the village He was educated in the Church school  was musically inclined ,   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. He was Private 1331 in Y Co. 8th. Battalion Duke of Wellington’s Regiment. He enlisted in October 1914 and went to the Dardenelles in July 1915 but was killed in action on August 21 1915, aged 26. There was no known grave and he was Commemorated at Helles Memorial to the Missing.

His very close friend Private David Wilkinson ,  was also born in the village but lived and worked in Deanhouse.  He enlisted at the outbreak of war as Private 14391, Y Co. 8th. Battalion Duke of Wellington’s Battalion.  He died, aged 29,  at Alexandria, Egypt,  on September 9 1915 from wounds he had received at Gallipoli  on August 20 1915 . He had sent a letter to his sister which was faintly scratched, almost illegible in indelible printing .” You will have heard of C.W. ( his mate Charlie Woodhead ) 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,  of Outlane  was  the son of George Senior, landlord of the Queen’s Arms. He was employed as a weaver at Deanhouse Mills, was a member of the WMC and the United Methodist Church as well as playing for the village football club. He enlisted as Gunner 77454, 135th.Siege battery, Royal Garrison Regiment on April 27 1916 and went to the front on August 19 and was killed in action in France on October 8 1916. He was buried at Longueval Road Cemetery. The local paper ( Holmfirth Express ) reported that 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. ,  

Signaller Leonard Buckley had joined the  9th. Battalion of the Duke of Wellington  Regiment ( Private No.14231 ) shortly after the outbreak of war 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 and he was wounded whilst repairing telephone wires and died at the age of 25 of those wounds on April 25 1916 somewhere in France. He was buried in the Bailleul Communal Cemetary Extension. He  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, 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. ( No.14235 2nd. Battalion of Duke of Wellington 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 played for the village football team and was a member of the WMC. Prior to the war he was employed at Deanhouse Mills. He was killed during the Battle of the Somme on July 2 1916, aged 25. He was buried in Bertrancourt Military Hospital.

Private Lewis Beaumont,   no. 242023, 2/5 Battalion Duke of Wellington Regiment. He was born in Upper Hagg, Thongsbridge and was employed at Rock Mills Dyehouse. He was killed in action at the battle of Bullecourt on May 3,1917 aged 22. There was no known grave and he was commemorated on Arras Memorial to the Missing.

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 born in Guildford, Surrey and was employed by the Huddersfield Board of Guardians as a clerk at Deanhouse Institution.  ( His wife , Olive, was also employed at the Institution ). In August 1914, as a reservist  he was recalled to the colours of the 2nd. Manchester Regiment in which he was a 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, at the age of 26, was later confirmed and that he had been wounded at Mons on August 26 and died later from those wounds. There was no known grave and he was commemorated at La Ferte-Sons-Jouarre Memorial to the Missing.

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 on February 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 George H.Booth , number 301950 2/7 Battalion Durham Light Infantry, formerly Number 6083 Duke of Wellington regiment. He was born in Underbank and educated at Netherthong  National School. He was married with two children and enlisted in July 1916. He was killed in action on April 2 1918, aged 26. There was no known grave and he was commemorated on Pozieres Memorial to the Missing.

Private John Henry Hoyle was born in Wilson Square in 1879 and he received his education at the Church Day School under J.T.Jackson,  becoming a pupil teacher. He joined the Church choir and became the deputy organist, ( There is also a reference that he was the organist at the Wesleyan Chapel ). He enlisted  at Oxford in January 1916 as Private No.10120 in the 9th. Battalion Royal Fusiliers. ( Public Schools Battalion ). He was reported missing on October 7 1916 aged 36 years. There was no known grave and he was commemorated at Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.

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,   was a native of Netherthong  and involved in many activities in the village until he married and moved to Hoylandswaine. ( another report says that he was born in Honley and lived in Deanhouse ). He was a member of the Parish Church School 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 and was employed at Vickerman’s Thongs Bridge before he joined up. As Gunner No.326692 he was with the 33rd.Siege Battery Royal Garrison Artillery. He was killed in battle about 6pm on July 18,1917 aged 30 and was buried in Dickeburgh New Military Cemetary Extension.

Stanley Gill was  born in the village and was the son of Mr.& Mrs. B.Gill of Stoney Croft. He was educated at the Day School and was a member of  the Parish Church Sunday School and, after leaving  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 . He enlisted in February 1917 as Private No. 29049 in the 1st. Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment and was killed at Passchendaele in October of the same year aged 19. There was no known grave and he was commemorated at Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing. The comment that everyone in the village 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,  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 and embarked to France in July 1915 as Private No. 14981 of 2/5 Battalion  Duke of Wellington Regiment.  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. He died from further wounds on 21 November 1917, aged 34, and was buried at Rocquigny-Equancourt Road British Cemetery. Before joining the colours he was employed at James Robinson & Sons, Smithy Place.

Private Harold Brackenbury of Deanhouse  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 and was a member of Burnlee Association FC. He enlisted in March 1917 and  trained with the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment ( private no. 31383 ) before leaving England in June but when he reached France he was transferred to the  6th. Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment ( private no. 33222 ). He had been on leave a few weeks before he died and in his last letter to his mother he wrote ‘ It felt hard leaving home ‘. He died of his wounds on October1, 1918 , aged 20, and was buried in Chapel Corner Cemetery, Sauchy- Lestree.

Private Walter Bray  ( Private no. 23585 ) joined the 2/7th. Battalion,Duke of Wellington January 1917 . He was invalided home for a while but returned later in 1917 and was killed in action on March 27 1918. 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 as well as the WMC and the Free Gardeners Society .  For a while he was the day- cricket professional for Emley CC. He was buried in Pommio Communal Cemetry.

Private Harold Heeley  was born in Wooldale  and lived  in Thongbridge . He enlisted at the start of the war as Private 19329, 10th. Battalion Duke of Wellington regiment and was killed at the front in August  1916. There was no known grave and he was commemorated at Thiepval Memorial to the Missing. His brother Arthur Heeley, Private 29323, also of the 10th. Battalion was born in Thongbridge. He enlisted on September 4 1916 and died from wounds at Boulogne on June 12,1917 aged 25. He was buried at Boulogne Eastern Cemetery on June 12 1917. Note that neither of the brothers are listed on the Netherthong War Memorial.

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 was born in Wooldale and resided at Cliffe until he was 11 before moving to live in Netherthong. After school he began working in Victoria Street, Holmfirth 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. There was no known grave and he is commemorated on Menin gate Memorial to the Missing.

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  Lance Corporal  Number 14060 9th Battalion Duke of Wellington Regiment was well known as a football player and was goalkeeper for the Netherthong team. He had worked at Thongsbridge and Brockholes Railway Station. He was reported missing, presumed killed on July 1916, aged 27. ( His death was reported in the Express in February 1917). There was no known grave and he was commemorated at Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.

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 a discharged 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.

Read more about Netherthong and the wars…

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