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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Researched by John Mills. Arnold was born on the 19th January 1896 in Harrogate Yorkshire. His Army career started with the 5th Lancers with which he went to France in August 1914. He was present at the Battles of the Aisne, Ypres, Somme 1916 and Arras 1917. He transferred to the Yorkshire Regiment on the 26th September 1917 and having gained a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant and joined the 2nd Battalion on the 18th January 1918. He was promoted Lieutenant 26th March 1919, Captain 16th November 1929, Major 1st August 1938 and Lieutenant Colonel 27th December 1943. He also served in Waziristan 1913-25 and with the Shanghai Defence Force 1930-31. Between 1933 and 1936 while serving in India he played 1st class cricket for the ‘Europeans’ team. During the Second World War he commanded the 1st Battalion, The Green Howards, 1941-43 and received a DSO on the 8th November 1943. He retired from the Army as Honorary Brigadier on the 30th December 1943. He had married Constance Smith on the 6th October 1917 when they were both just 21. On the 27th January 1949 they set sail from London on the P&O liner SS Matiana for a life in Kenya where Arnold joined the Nairobi police force. He was made Assistant Superintendant of Police on the 6th January 1950, becoming Senior Superintendant on the 1st January 1956. He was there during the early years of the Mau-Mau Rebellion. He died at Malton Yorkshire on the 13th November 1972.
Olive was born on the 29th August 1899 in Harrogate. The 1911 census shows Olive living at home with parents George and Miriam, and baby brother George (aged 1). Other than she would gain employment at Barnbow Munitions Factory little is known of her life. Barnbow Munitions Factory, at Crossgates Leeds, was one of the new purpose built munitions factories to meet the demand for shells and ammunition. The factory was operational by December 1915, so it would have probably been around that time or shortly after that Olive started work there. It was a huge complex and at peak output was employing about 16,000 workers. The local train station was extended and would bring in workers from the surrounding towns and villages. It even had a farm producing 300 gallons of milk per day, with employees receiving a free daily milk ration. Munitions work was dangerous. Barnbow ran 3 shifts a day and involved hard manual work involving the use of heavy machinery. Most of the workforce was women and young girls, attracted by the high wages on offer. Conditions at the factory were very hot, the raw materials toxic which would turn their skin and hair yellow in a short time. This led to the nickname ‘The Barnbow Canaries’. The uniforms offered inadequate protection against the dust which could prove deadly if settling in the lungs, even though masks were provided. Olive worked in Room 42, as one of about 170 workers, where the fully loaded shells were…
265990 Private Albert Norris served in the Yorkshire Regiment, joining up sometime after January 1915. For his service during the First World War he was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal. He was transferred to the Royal Munster Fusiliers and served at the garrison in Cork. Following the war, he ran a Draper’s shop in Tonbridge, Kent. In 1924 He married Myra Donovan. Albert’s step granddaughter is Dame Kelly Holmes, double Olympic Champion.