Canon John Purvis OBE (1890-1968)
Canon John Purvis was an extremely talented artist and photographer. He is best remembered however for his historical and literary achievements. His translation of the original York Mystery Plays into modern English were central to their revival during the Festival of Britain in 1951. This work, along with his initiation of the Borthwick Institute for Archives in York, lead to his OBE in 1958.
Purvis was born in Bridlington 1890. After studying at Cambridge University he worked at Cranleigh School as a history teacher, a role to which he would return after the First World War. He enlisted with the Yorkshire Regiment, serving with the 5th Battalion from early 1916. Purvis was wounded during the Battle of the Somme on the first occasion he went ‘over the top’. On that day, 15th September 1916, he had recorded history’s first tank attack in pen and ink in the early light of dawn. Two well known war poems, ‘High Wood’ and ‘Chance Memory’, originally published under the pseudonym Philip Johns(t)one are now known to have been written by Purvis.
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Submitted by Rachel Blenkinsop. Arthur Bateman (Rachel’s maternal grandfather) served with the Royal Army Medical Corps. The photograph of him with his peers shows that he qualified as a Signaller (seated in the centre of the group – a crossed flag badge on his left sleeve is evidence of his Signals qualification). He was based in Boulogne at the 83rd (Dublin) General Hospital. In addition to its role as a general hospital, the 83rd had three specialist units treating facial injuries, eye injuries and had a ‘physical medicine’ or rehabilitation unit established by the Red Cross. Electric shock treatment was used at the hospital – this was often seen as a way of attempting to treat the symptoms of shell shock, but was also used when trying to allieviate problems with limbs. In a handwritten poem by one of the patients, both the electric shock treatment and also Arthur Bateman’s artistic ability are drawn to the fore. The 83rd General Hospital was moved from Boulogne at the end of the conflict, but was re-established in the Rhur (part of the area occupied by Allied troops following the Armistice). Arthur’s photo album shows that he too was relocated to Langenfeld to help care for the men of the army of occupation. Phyllis Cawthra, who became Mrs Bateman in 1923 caught the Spanish ‘flu at the end of the war. While she survived, the infection caused her to suffer from deafness…
George William Cattermole was born in Tudhoe County Durham in 1889 to George, a colliery worker, and Mary. He had two elder sisters called Sarah and Elizabeth. By 1906 he had left school and became a farm labourer. Aged 17 he travelled to Richmond and enlisted into the Yorkshire Regiment, 23rd April 1906. He was initially posted to the 3rd battalion and remains with the Yorkshire Regiment, recorded as living in the barracks at York during the 1911 census. By September 1918 Pte Cattermole is serving with the 2nd Battalion who were deployed near Arras. The war diaries describe the battalions involvement in an attack on the village of Epinoy on 27th September 1918 during which 5 officers and 127 other ranks are recorded as missing, possibly including George. Shortly after the regimental gazettes record George as a prisoner of war. He is released from captivity after the armistice on 11th November 1918 and returned to England.
Researched by John Mills. Arnold was born on the 19th January 1896 in Harrogate Yorkshire. His Army career started with the 5th Lancers with which he went to France in August 1914. He was present at the Battles of the Aisne, Ypres, Somme 1916 and Arras 1917. He transferred to the Yorkshire Regiment on the 26th September 1917 and having gained a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant and joined the 2nd Battalion on the 18th January 1918. He was promoted Lieutenant 26th March 1919, Captain 16th November 1929, Major 1st August 1938 and Lieutenant Colonel 27th December 1943. He also served in Waziristan 1913-25 and with the Shanghai Defence Force 1930-31. Between 1933 and 1936 while serving in India he played 1st class cricket for the ‘Europeans’ team. During the Second World War he commanded the 1st Battalion, The Green Howards, 1941-43 and received a DSO on the 8th November 1943. He retired from the Army as Honorary Brigadier on the 30th December 1943. He had married Constance Smith on the 6th October 1917 when they were both just 21. On the 27th January 1949 they set sail from London on the P&O liner SS Matiana for a life in Kenya where Arnold joined the Nairobi police force. He was made Assistant Superintendant of Police on the 6th January 1950, becoming Senior Superintendant on the 1st January 1956. He was there during the early years of the Mau-Mau Rebellion. He died at Malton Yorkshire on the 13th November 1972.