At over six feet tall and 22 stone, Bill Moore must have been an impressive sight! While originally from Wells, he made his way to the north of England with his travelling boxing booth. For a time he set up at Darlington, but at the outbreak of war in 1914, Moore decided to move his show to Catterick Camp. The ‘Tommies’ must have enjoyed what he had to offer. Boxing matches even involved Annie, his daughter and a captive bear which on one occasion escaped onto local moorland. Military Police eventually tracked the animal down, much to the relief of the locals.
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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.
John Vivian Nancarrow was born on the 6th June 1885 in Middlesbrough. He was eldest son of George and Charlotte Nancarrow of ‘Ravenscroft’ at Grove Hill in Middlesbrough. John was educated at Leys School and Kings College in Cambridge attaining an MA and a Law degree. He was admitted a Solicitor in 1909 and became Secretary to Middlesbrough Chamber of Commerce. He had joined the 1st Volunteer Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry in 1907 and later was attached to the Northumberland Fusiliers at Newcastle. At some point he moved to Cornwall and was attached to the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. In 1911 he is recorded as being a Solicitor in Camborne Cornwall. Shortly after John was back in Middlesbrough joining the 4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment as a Lieutenant. He was promoted Captain in late 1913. Prior to his mobilisation to France he had become engaged to Miss Elsie Harkness of Stokesley North Yorkshire. The 4th Battalion arrived in France in April 1915 and were at Ypres by the 23rd. The Battalion were straight away into Ypres offensive being involved in the Battle of St Julien. During the attack at Fortuin on the 24th John was leading his men forward when he was shot and died instantly. Subsequently his body was never recovered. He was 29 years of age. John is commemorated on the Menin Gate at Ypres.
Walter Gorner Barker was born in Richmond on 2 August 1889. For a time he lived with his family at 71 Frenchgate. He worked as a footman for Sir Mark Sykes at the family seat, Sledmere House near Driffield. Sykes was Commanding Officer of the 5th (Territorial) Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment before the war. It seems that Walter may have served as a territorial soldier before the war (he has a low early regimental number 2274 which is then revised later to 240643). He enlisted at Scarborough and became a Private in the 5th battalion. Walter died on 27 May 1918, south of Craonnne. Prior to this, the battalion war diary records several days as ‘day quiet in trenches’ before the ominous entry for 26th May – ‘”Stood to” at night owing to information received that enemy attack was to be delivered on morning of 27th May’. The diary records that the bombardment began at 1 am with the enemy attacking at 4.30am. The battle lasted for four days. Walter Gorner Barker is commemorated on the Soissons Memorial in France.