Alfred Myers came from a large family in East Cleveland and before the war worked with two of his brothers in the ironstone mines. A member of the Independent Labour Party and a devout Wesleyan Methodist, he played a key role in his local community. He was a tenor in the Wesleyan Carlin How choir, a Sunday school superintendent and trustee of the local church.
Myer’s service record survives and records the process of his arrest and sentencing in cold, hard terms. One month after his posting he was arrested and court-martialled. Initially he was sentenced to death but this was commuted to 10 years imprisonment.
At his hearing for exemption from compulsory military service, Myers asserted his belief in an international brotherhood of man, and stated that he ‘could not conscientiously kill, nor assist in killing’. But like so many others he was only granted exemption from combatant service and was sent to the Non-Combatant Corps at Richmond Castle.
In the cells at Richmond, Myers’s tenor voice was put to good use. With two other conscientious objectors, Brocklesby and Gaudie, he sang the hymn ‘Nearer My God to Thee’ in three-part harmony. Myers’s performance wasn’t as perfect as the other prisoners hoped, however – they had to bang on the cell floor to keep him in time.
Following his ordeal with the rest of the Richmond Sixteen in France, Myers was sent first to Dyce Camp, near Aberdeen, and then Maidstone prison. Others of the Richmond Sixteen were also there, and Myers worked alongside Brocklesby in the laundry.
On his release, the effects of imprisonment were evident. Brocklesby described in his memoirs how on their journey home ‘poor old Alfred … was suffering from an emotional or nervous reaction and felt unable to go further alone’.
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The site of Richmond Camp as it was first called was suggested by Robert Baden Powell while he was based at Richmond Castle as Inspector-General of Cavalry. The name quickly changed to Catterick Camp in order to avoid confusion with Richmond in Surrey. The Camp’s first troops occupied the area for training in 1915. Major-General Michael Frederick Rimington was the officer in charge. In 1915 the decision was made to expand the training camp. A new prisoner of war camp was established and eventually 5000 German prisoners of war were housed there. Initially German PoWs were not permitted to work and boredom became a major problem. The prisoners played sports and even set up an orchestra (with instruments they made themselves) to fill their time. A change of government policy meant that prisoners could be allowed out of the camp to work as labourers. As a result they were employed in constructing the road leading out of Richmond Station, via St. Martins and on to Catterick Camp (Rimington Road). Catterick Prisoner of War Camp became the administrative headquarters for all ‘working camps’ in the area. By the end of the war 89,937 prisoners who had served with the German army were interned in camps across the United Kingdom.
Arthur was born at Smeaton Hall , Great Smeaton, Northallerton, Yorkshire on the 9th September 1877. He was the son of Colonel A. F. Godman. He was educated at Rugby School and was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant, Yorkshire Regiment in May 1898. Whilst serving in India he wrote two articles for The Green Howrads Gazette. One was about ‘G’ Company’s donkey! Apparently awarded an Army Temperance Medal despite having a taste for alcohol! Advancing to Lieutenant in November 1900 he saw service in Somaliland. Promoted Captain in January 1906 and, after a posting in South Africa, returned to the UK to serve as Adjutant for the University of London Officer Training Corps. He was appointed Staff Captain attached to the 21st Infantry Brigade in 1914. Severely wounded at Ypres on the 30th October 1914, on recovery he was posted to the General Staff in France. Promoted Major in August 1915 he was attached to the 4th Brigade, Royal Flying Corps. He served as Brigade Major during the Battle of the Somme and advanced to Temporary Lieutenant Colonel, Assistant Adjutant General, on the RFC staff from July 1917. By the end of the war he was a Brigadier-General and was confirmed as a Wing Commander in August 1919. The following month he was posted as Assistant Commander, RAF Cranwell. He was posted to RAF HQ India at Simla being promoted to Group Captain in June 1923. Returning the following year to the UK he served consecutively as: Officer Commanding, School of Technical…
John Charles Morris was from South Hetton. He was born in 1896 and was 18 when he enlisted in the Yorkshire Regiment as 14136 Private Morris. He served in the 8th, 9th and 10th Battalions and was awarded the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, as well as the Silver War Badge. He was wounded in December 1915 and again in November 1916. He suffered a gun shot wound to his left hand and lost part of a finger and substantial power and movement in his right hand. He also suffered a shrapnel wound to his left foot. These injuries precluded manual work due to a lack of power in his hands. After his discharge in December 1918 he was awarded a pension of 8 shillings a week and was subject to regular reassessments of his injuries. He died aged 61 in 1957.