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 for the rest of her life. It seems ironic that treating soldiers suffering from Spanish ‘flu was one of the principle functions of Arthur’s hospital in 1918/19.
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George Frederick Gywn Rees and his younger brother Charles Bernard Russell Rees from Leicestershire both joined the Yorkshire Regiment during the First World War. Their parents, Sydney and Margaret Rees were relatively wealthy and they lived in Sheffield for much of their childhood. Sydney was a Church of England clergyman. Born only 1 year apart, George in 1895 and Charles in 1896, it would appear that they took similar paths through their early life. In the 1911 census they were both recorded as living at a boarding school in Workshop along with several hundred other boys. George and Charles both joined the 5th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment in 1915. Unfortunately their service records do not appear to have survived but museum records track their military careers from 1915 to 1918. George was wounded twice, in November 1916 and in June 1917, but neither wound appears to have affected his career as he was promoted to acting Captain in July 1917. Charlie however appears to have made it through the war relatively unscathed. Other than various promotions he is not listed until June 1918 as missing, turning up as a Prisoner of War in September. He returned home in late 1918 to Scrayingham Rectory, Stamford Bridge, York. Charles’ medal card records that he received the Victory Medal and the British War Medal. Both brothers survived the war but we do not know what happened to them later in life.
Si Wheeler submitted the story of his great grandfather, Dixon Overfield, but it’s also a great example of the impact of war on all those connected to the soldier who served. “Dixon was married to Margaret and they had a daughter Madge, born in 1915. Dixon enlisted in Filey in September 1916. He originally joined the Royal Field Artillery but soon got transferred to the 6th Battalion, the Yorkshire Regiment. He was sent to France and saw action at Arras, before being moved to Belgium. Dixon survived this fight, but twelve days later he too was killed in action at the Battle of Poelcappelle on the 9th of October 1917 when a shell burst just above himself and several comrades. Their bodies were never recovered. Dixon is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial. Dixon’s wife died in 1924, leaving my grandmother, Madge, aged 9, an orphan. Raised by two aunts, then entering service at 13, Madge was taken under the wing of her housekeeper boss, Lizzie Andrew and became part of her extended family. Aged 18, Madge moved to London to train as a nurse, working through the Blitz and marrying a Dunkirk evacuee soldier, my granddad, Harry Wheeler. Harry didn’t mind where they settled to start married life, so they moved to Swanland in East Yorkshire, where Lizzie lived. My parents live there to this day.”
Captain Thomas Ernest Dufty was born in on the 30th of June 1880. His father was Arthur Richard Sykes Duffy and his mother was called Katie. He was educated at Pocklington Grammar School. He joined the 5th Battalion in 1912 and became a lieutenant in June 1913. Prior to this his profession was as a banker and manager of the Bridlington branch of the London Joint Stock Bank. Duffy was promoted to Captain on the 18th of April 1915. He was reported as killed in action on or about the 19th of May 1915 (killed by a shell). His Battalion had been deployed to Sanctuary Wood (1.9 miles east of Ypres). His whistle and blood stained scarf are on display at the Green Howards Museum. He left a widow, Beatrice, and a 4-year-old son Arthur Richard. He is buried at the Vlamertinghe Military Cemetery in Belgium and commemorated at the Manor Road Cemetery Scarborough.