Elizabeth Jane Griffiths known as Batchie
Born in Llandingat, Carmarthenshire, in 1899. Batchie was enrolled with the Red Cross at the age of 18 and served as a VAD for just over a year. She was stationed at Catterick Military Hospital as a clerk.
After her time at Catterick Camp, she returned to North Wales and married Emlyn James. Just before Christmas 1946, the British authorities relaxed the rules on contacts between British people and German prisoners of war. Emlyn and
Batchie James were among the many British families who invited German prisoners to their home on Christmas day. From then on they invited two German prisoners from the camp at Castle Martin to their home in Pembroke every fortnight. Each time a prisoner was moved to a different camp, another would take his place, and so over time they got to know many Germans.
Batchie and Emlyn received a letter from the Secretary of State for War refusing permission for two German prisoners of war, Helmut Grothe and Joachim Becker, to visit before returning to Germany. These two prisoners had been among those whom Emlyn and Batchie James had invited to their home in Pembroke.
This information provided by Alathea Anderssohn (granddaughter of Batchie Griffiths) has been drawn from the Imperial War Museum’s ‘Lives of the First World War’ archive.
Explore more memories from the ribbon
John was born in 1896 in Leyburn North Yorkshire. In 1900 the family moved to Burtersett near Hawes where John’s father Jeremiah worked as a stonemason at the local quarry. John had two younger brothers, Anthony and George. On leaving school John also worked at the quarry. In February 1916 he had married a local girl, Jane Ann Dinsdale. By the time of his wedding John was with the 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, having enlisted at Askrigg in October 1915. John embarked for France in April 1916. The Battalion would not take part in the Somme offensive until September 15th with the eventual plan for the 26th was for the Battalion to attack and capture German trenches running from Flers. It was during the German counter attack that the Battalion suffered heavy casualties, one of which was John. His body was never found and it wasn’t until early 1917 that his wife Jane was officially notified that her husband had been killed. By the time of his death Jane had given birth to a child. Private John William Horn’s name is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
Valerie Slater of Coverdale provided this story about her grandmother, Catherine Walls – a happy and unusual tale wherein all 5 of her sons survived the Great War. In 1883, Catherine Louisa Polden, then living in Dorset set eyes on George Walls for the first time. It was love at first sight. George was twenty years older than Catherine and arranged the wedding with all haste – the marriage by licence took place at Hampreston near Wimborne. Catherine left the county of her birth, never to return. After journeying north, Catherine and George made their home in Carlton at Coverdale Cottage. The couple had three daughters and five sons born between 1886 and 1898. George died in 1908 so Catherine had to face the anxious war years supported by her daughters. She was a religious woman, so her faith combined with her respected and busy life as unofficial midwife in the village helped her to get through. Her prayers were answered. William Walls (born 1898) served in the Machine Gun Corps; George (born 1889) was with 21st Kings Royal Rifles, being wounded by shrapnel at the Battle of Flers-Courcelet on 17 September 1916; Alfred (born 1891) served in the Army Service Corps and then the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, he was hospitalised twice (the second occasion being the result of a gas attack); Joe (born 1896) enlisted with the King’s Royal Rifle Corps with his brother Dick. Joe was discharged from the army in November of 1916 due to ill…
Submitted by Jon Bemrose. Private Fred Ward (50236) born 1898 in East Yorkshire. Working as a lad porter on the railway at Ampleforth before joining up. Joined the Green Howards at Richmond, but he was transfered to the Northumberland Fusiliers. Fred was in France, near Arras in early 1917 – Jon states: “The fateful day was the Battle of Arras, Easter Monday 9th April. It must have been terrible, having heard and seen all the death and destruction that had occurred before they set off at around 9:00am. My best guess is that they reached the “Blue” line, where they were hit by machinegun fire. Whether initially buried by shell fire or his comrades, Fred was later found and finally burried at Orchard Dump Cemetery, Arleux en Gohelle. I visited his grave in 2016, the first of the family to do so I am led to believe.”