Submitted by Paul Elliott.
Many people will, no doubt, have the same experience as myself, in that my grandparents and parents never discussed or talked about their war experiences.
Arthur Dobson was a Great Uncle of whom I was totally unaware. He was born in 1896 and lived with his parents, Benjamin and Emily at Commercial Street, Rothwell, Leeds. He was a miner.
He joined the Kings Own Yorkshire Light infantry as 37722 Private Dobson and went to France in September 1915 with the 9th Battalion. They were active at the Battle of the Somme and Arthur was posted as missing in September 1916. His parents twice put appeals for information about him in the Yorkshire Evening Post. He was eventually found to have been killed in action on September 16th 1916.
He is commemorated on Rothwell war memorial and at Thiepval. He was 20 when he died.
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Erasmus Darwin was born on the 7th December 1881 in Cambridge and lived at ‘The Orchard’. He was the only son of Horace Darwin FRS (Fellow of the Royal Society) who was Chairman of the Cambridge Scientific Society. He was also the grandson of the famous naturalist Charles Darwin. Erasmus was educated at Horris Hill School near Newbury and at Marlborough. He then went on to Trinity College, Cambridge University to study Mathematics. On leaving Cambridge he worked at Mather and Platts in Manchester, a hydraulics and pump engineering company. He then moved on to work for Bolckow, Vaughn & Co Ltd Iron and Steel in Middlesbrough, whereby, at the outbreak of the war he was Secretary of the Company. He lived at the time at Saltburn on the north east Yorkshire coast. As soon as war broke out he joined up and was gazetted on the 12th September 1914 as a 2nd Lieutenant the 4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment. Apparently just before he left England he was summoned to the War Office and offered a Staff appointment at home in connection to munitions work. Though the work was important he opted to stay with his unit making the case that there were plenty of older men equally qualified for the work. The 4th Battalion arrived in France on the 18th April 1915 and were straight away into the 2nd Ypres offensive which started on the 22nd April. The Battalion was involved in the Battle of St Julien in the heart…
John was born on the 4th January 1890 at East Witton in North Yorkshire and was the eldest son of John and Annie Maughan. They lived at Abbey Hill, a large house overlooking Jervaulx Abbey near Middleham, North Yorkshire. John senior was the agent for the Jervaulx estate. John was educated at Marlborough College. He was gazetted to a commission in the 4th Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment in 1909 and was promoted Captain on the 3rd November 1914. John went to France in April 1915 and was in action at the 2nd Battle of Ypres just a few days later. His distinguished service during this action resulted in him being ‘Mentioned in Dispatches’ by Sir John French. On the 12th February 1916 the Battalion occupied trenches around Hill 60 near Ypres. Work was ongoing repairing trenches when on the 14th February the Germans began to bombard them. The enemy also exploded a mine which killed thirteen men. On the 17th February, ironically regarded as a relatively quiet day, some minor shelling resulted in John being hit and killed by shrapnel. Captain John Maughan was buried in Poperinghe New Military Cemetery. John’s name is commemorated on the War Memorial at East Witton.
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.