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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Information from Judith Farrar which relates to her husband Don’s great-uncle. Joseph Stoney’s occupation before the war as a stonemason, a skilled trade which places strenuous demands upon the worker’s hands. This was of some consequence following his attempt to enlist at the start of the First World War. He had previously been a territorial soldier with the West Yorkshire Regiment and when war broke out he naturally offered his services to his former regiment. His record shows that he was accepted, but that after only sixteen days he was discharged. The medical discharge paper records ‘Deformity of both thumbs, rheumatoid arthritis. Loss of gripping power. General debility.’ This judgement is reinforced by a second comment in a second hand, ‘Not likely to become an efficient soldier.’ This judgement did not deter Joseph from trying again, as his medal card attests. He managed to join the 1st Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment as 21581 Private J Stoney and was awarded the British War medal. Unfortunately John died either on the way out to India where the battalion was stationed, or when returning on leave. John died from dysentery on 10 May 1917 and is buried in the Cape Town (Maitland) Cemetery. His headstone appears to record the correct regimental number, but displays the West Yorkshire badge, rather than the Yorkshire Regiment.
Sergeant John (Jack) Charlton joined the Army as a Territorial in 1908 when he enlisted in the 4th Battalion, Alexandra, Princess of Wales’ Own Yorkshire Regiment (The Green Howards). He served on the Western Front from April 1915 where he had a distinguished career, earning a Distinguished Conduct Medal and being Mentioned in Despatches in 1917. One particular act stands out from his memoirs which earned him a commendation from his Commanding Officer was while serving at the Arras Front while he was in charge of Battalion communications. After heavy shelling cut phone lines he used a Lucas Day Light Signalling Lamp to request an artillery barrage to defend the HQ from German gas shells. This Lamp was donated to the Museum and can be seen on display. Jack also suffered injuries during his service, firstly in April 1915 when he was gassed at Zillibeck and another, more serious gas attack got him sent home towards the end of 1917 where he remained for the rest of the War. While on Leave in 1916 Jack got engaged to Phillis Blow but they didn’t get married until 1918 after we was sent home. During 1918 he attended various training courses including a Signals Course at the Armoury School near Dunstable but before he was able to finish the Armistice was signed and so he was demobbed at Hornsea.
Private Firby was born in 1883 and came from Richmond, living at 49 Newbiggin. He enlisted on 12th December 1914 at the age of 31. He was a ‘Commission Agent’. He was posted to the 6th battalion on 24th August 1915 and arrived in Gallipoli on 8th September. He was wounded by shrapnel on 25th October 1915 when, according to the Battalion War Diary, at 9.30 in the morning there was a ‘Fire display by the Turks along whole of the front. 8 men wounded by shrapnel.’ He returned home on 15th November 1915. He appears among the list of wounded in the December 1915 edition of The Green Howards Gazette. On recovering from his wounds, Private Firby was transferred to the Labour Corps on 22nd May 1917 and he saw out the remainder of the war with the Labour Corps. Private Firby was examined by a Medical Board on 9th March 1917 and was in The Royal Victoria Hospital, Edinburgh on 29th July 1918 when a copy of The New Testament was presented to him. Private Firby was discharged from military service on 4th April 1919. Private Firby was again examined in 1920 and 1921 and declared to have a 40% disability, the cause being listed as ‘Bronchitis’ and granted an award of 8 shillings per week.