Born in Church Fenton, Yorkshire in 1889, Leonard Yorke’s life was to come to a tragic conclusion ten years after the First World War came to an end. In his early years, Leonard lived in Castleford, the son of a Station Master with the NER. He moved to London to become an Electrical Engineer and following the outbreak of war was gazetted as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 4th Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment. By May he was in Belgium where on 24th and 25th the 4th Battalion were involved in heavy fighting. 2nd Lt Yorke was pulled out of the line due to being a vicitm of the first gas attack of the war, not returning to front line duties until August 1915. In late 1916 he was promoted to Lieutenant and by June 1917 he had attained the rank of Captain. His Military Cross citation of 28th September 1918 states that he “displayed great courage in the leading of his platoon at a time of exceptional difficulty and danger…..He was seriously wounded during the action”. The Yorkshire Post of 11 October 1918 reported “Capt. Leonard James Yorke, Yorkshire Regiment, son of Mr James Yorke, 19 South End Avenue, Darlington, has been wounded and is in hospital abroad”. After two years in hospital, Yorke was invalided out of the army.
Leonard Yorke returned to London after leaving the army, but couldn’t cope following the stresses of war. On May 2nd 1929, Yorke shot himself on Hampstead Heath. At the inquest his wife explained that “In January last he slipped and broke his ankle, and he was laid up for eight weeks. This depressed him very much, because he loved his work. He also frequently had great pain from his wounds, especially during the cold weather….”. Before taking his own life, Leonard wrote to his wife – “I have failed you completely, and this evening I am afraid I must take the arm of a coward and walk across Hampstead Heath and go out for good…..I don’t think I can say anything else. I expect the dear old temporary insanity will come up again. As a matter of fact a lot of it was temporary madness.” A verdict of suicide while of unsound mind was returned; the jury added a rider that they thought Yorke was a victim of the war.
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Submitted by Christine Gayton Private Alfred Arthur Hibben was my great uncle Private Hibben served in his home regiment, The 1st Battalion, Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment (R.W.K.). He was born in Dartford Kent and enlisted on the 1st of April 1914 at Gravesend Kent. He was 5 foot 4 inches tall, weighed 109 pounds and worked as a plumber’s mate. His age was stated as 17 years, 248 days but in fact, he was only aged 16 having been born in the last 3 months of 1898! He was posted to France on the 31st of January 1915, which still made him under the 19 years minimum required to fight abroad ( in reality he was still only 17). On the 22nd of July 1916 the 1st R.W.K. attacked the south east corner of High Wood. No significant gains were made in this assault but the R.W.K. suffered 420 casualties, approximately 50% of those who went over the top. Private Alfred Arthur Hibben was one of these soldiers and was therefore presumed killed on the 22nd of July 1916 aged 18 years. His body was not recovered but he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial Pier and Face 11C, France. The photograph shows Alfred aged 2 with his parents Arthur and Elizabeth and baby sister Ivy.
Story from Harry Binks, via Val Slater of Coverdale. Harry was named after his father, whose story is outlined below. My father, Harry Binks, was born at Highfield in Carlton on 11 September 1893, a short while before his twin brother Thomas. The 1901 Census recorded the family still at Highfield where my grandfather Thomas was farming, but shortly afterwards they moved to Lane House on the edge of the village. Harry went to Horsehouse school. In 1911 the family was living at Lilac Farm (House) – now Abbots Thorn – but Harry was not at home. He would have been working away as a farm labourer in Kettlewell; however he has not been found on the Census. On 11 December 1915 Harry enlisted at Leyburn. His address was Lilac House, Carlton and next of kin his mother Elizabeth Binks – his father having died in 1912. Harry’s occupation was farm hand. He was assigned to the Yorkshire Regiment – “The Green Howards” – and posted to France in October 1916, fighting at the Western Front until April 1917. Harry returned to France in September 1917 where the main focus was the Third Battle of Ypres, including the infamous Battle of Passchendaele. In December Harry was injured by gun shot wounds to his right thigh. After treatment he was deemed no longer physically fit for war service and discharged to the reserve in June 1918. At the end of the war Harry was in the Slough area where a number…
Vicki Walker of Little Crakehall called into the museum to show us a photograph of Duncan Harvie, her grandfather. The photo is a postcard addressed to ‘Mary and Sam’, sent on 3 April 1916 and shows a group of Signallers on board HMS Laconia. Duncan Harvie (5th South African Regiment) is sat at the front of the group with crossed legs. The ship’s log shows the Laconia (an armed merchant cruiser) to be anchored at Zanzibar on that date, on it’s way to British East Africa (now Kenya). The ship was used in the early part of the war to patrol the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean, but in April 1915 her role changed and she was used as a headquarters ship to aid in the fight in German East Africa. Following her return to to Cunard, the Laconia was sunk by U-50 160 miles northwest of Fastnet while returning form the United States on 25th February 1917. Twelve people were killed following a double torpedo strike.