Information submitted by Mrs Drury of Richmond.
Arthur Selwyn Morley MC was one of nine children of a Weardale hill farmer who sold up in 1894 and moved to Houghton-le-spring, County Durham. Arthur ran with the Houghton and District Harriers. When war broke out Arthur and three of his five brothers joined up. His regiment was the Durham Light Infantry and he did his training at Bullswater Camp, Woking, Surrey when he was a Lance Corporal in 1914, before he proceeded to the Flanders trenches. On one of his precious leaves he married in haste, as many soldiers did who had seen the countless deaths and injuries and knew their own chances of survival were not good.
On one occasion in the trenches Arthur took command of his company, being a temporary Second Lieutenant, when senior officers became casualties. He led several attacks on an enemy position and behaved with great coolness and courage until his battalion was relieved. For this conspicuous gallantry he was awarded the Military Cross, but only weeks later he was killed and never got the chance to see his daughter.
His name is on the Menin Gate. His elder brother William had a son soon after Arthur’s death and named that son for Arthur.
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John Sweeny was 22 years of age when he enlisted in the Yorkshire Regiment in late 1914. He was the son of John and Mary Sweeney of Washington Station, Co. Durham. The 8th Battalion arrived in France in late August 1915 and John is reported to have been wounded in that November. He was again wounded in December 1916 and was killed in action in August 1917. The only reported 8th Battalion casualties at this period were working as Yukon Pack Carriers, re-supplying the front line with munitions in the area of Ypres. He is commemorated on Panel 33 of the Menin Gate at Ypres, Belgium. 144466 Private John Sweeney of ‘A’ Company was awarded the 15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
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.
William Colling – Sunderland Joseph William Colling was the father of Brenda Crinall of Little Crakehall, who called in at the museum with a friend who wanted to contribute a story to the Ribbon of Rememberance. Brenda didn’t really know a great deal about her father’s participation in the war, but was interested when we offered to take a look and see if any records still existed from that time. As fortune would have it, her father’s service record was available to see and so we were able to piece together some of his experiences from the time of the First World War. Before enlisting Colling worked as a sorting clerk and telegraphist for the G.P.O. in Sunderland. Prior to going to German East Africa (G.E.A.) in 1916 he served for 13 months in France. Some of the most dangerous activities he undertook was to lay cables as close to the enemy lines as possible. These cables were essential for information and orders to be relayed to and from the battlefront. In 1916 the German plan for war in G.E.A. was to divert Allied forces away from the Western Front in Europe. Colling sailed from Devonport on the 8th of February 1916 and he arrived in Durban on the 6th of March.On the 14th of March he arrived at Kildini inlet near Mombassa. Over the next few months he and his comrades came under heavy attack several times as they advanced south towards German forces.This included fierce action near Kilosa….