Submitted by Pat Burgess.
The Graham family were local to Barnard Castle, they lived on The Bank, where father John had a chemist and grocery business. John Austin was born on 2 March 1872.
After his time at school from 1886 until 1889, he took a Electrical Engineering apprenticeship. Later he started an electrical business with his brother – Graham Brothers Electrical Engineers in Middlesbrough.
He was secretary of the Saltburn R.N.L.I. and a gifted operatic singer.
Serving as a territorial captain, Austin Graham was with the 4th battalion when war broke out in August of 1914. He landed with the battalion at Boulogne on April 18th
1915 when the battalion was almost straight away thrown into the 2nd battle of Ypres. On April 24th Captain Graham and his men had their first taste of action in fierce fighting during the Battle of St Julien. On Whit Monday 1915 the battalion were in trenches astride the Menin Road at Hooge and Austin Graham was badly gassed and hospitalised with his injuries. In early 1918 the battalion were back in the Ypres sector and when the German Spring Offensive opened on March 21st they were in a position close to Hancourt. There followed nine days of fighting on the retreat under the enemy onslaught. A brief rest at Bethune followed this and then on April 8th the battalion was moved up to take part in the Battle of the Lys.
By now CO of the 4th battalion Major Austin Graham was wounded in action during efforts to hold a bridge at Sailly sur La Lys. He died of his wounds the following day April 11th 1918.
He is buried in Haverskerque British Cemetery.
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Fred was the youngest son of Joseph Shields, a Castle Bolton plumber and tinsmith. He was born around 1897. The 1911 census shows the family as having 3 children, Alice, 28, Joseph, 26, and Fred, 14, with his wife Elizabeth. They lived in a section of Bolton Castle, acting as caretakers, with Elizabeth providing refreshments for visitors. They also had a tinsmith’s shop in a building across from the castle making kettles and pans etc. which today is a storeroom. Fred enlisted at Northallerton on the 7th December 1915 and joined the 8th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment. Early in July 1917 Fred arrived with a detachment of men at Steenvoorde in northern France adjacent the Belgium border in the area west of Ypres. It was during the 3rd Battle of Ypres, better known as Passchendaele, that Private Fred Kilding Shields was killed. A shell burst in the trench where Fred and 3 others died, He was just 21 years old. Fred is buried at Tyne Cot Cemetery.
Mary Wilkinson (née Marshall and usually known as Molly) died in Winchester in 1983 at the age of 90. Mary had originally enlisted in the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry in 1912. On the outbreak of the First World War she was initially refused permission by the British Authorities to go to Belgium and so it was under the jurisdiction of the Belgian Government that she made her way across the Channel. Her medals, testament to her work during the war, are displayed in the museum’s Medal Room alongside those of her husband, Captain Wilkinson. Few FANYs, let alone women, were decorated with the Military Medal, an award earned while she was based at the hospital at Marquise in the grounds of the 1st Aeroplane Supply Depot. This location saw the most devastating German aerial attack of the war on an aviation facility. The citation for her Military Medal states “For gallantry and coolness during a bombing raid by hostile aircraft….she displayed the utmost disregard of danger, attending many serious wound cases which required skilful and immediate assistance.”
Sister Katherine (Kate) Evelyn Luard Kate was born in Averley Essex on the 29th June 1872, the daughter of the vicar and the tenth of thirteen children. Her childhood was spent at Aveley Vicarage and then Birch Rectory near Colchester. Between 1887 and 1890 she attended Croydon High School for Girls. Her headmistress and school founder, Dorinda Neligan, had been a nurse in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870/1, as well as being a suffragette and campaigner for women’s rights. She may well have been the inspiration for Katherine’s desire to go into nursing. On leaving school Kate took various jobs to earn money to train as a nurse. This she did at Kings College Hospital in London. In 1900 she served with the Army Nursing Service for two years in South Africa during the 2nd Boer War of 1899-1902. Following nursing work at home, on the 6th August 1914, aged 42, Kate enlisted in the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve. Kate served in France until 1918, firstly on ambulance trains then at Casualty Clearing Stations. She was awarded the Royal Red Cross and Bar, and was twice mentioned in dispatches for gallant and distinguished service in the field. Her various letters to her family at home were published in two books: ‘Diary of a Nursing Sister on the Western Front 1914-15’, published anonymously in 1915, and ‘Unknown Warriors: The Letters of Kate Luard RRC and Bar, Nursing Sister in France 1914-1918’ first published in 1930. Kate never married…