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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Edward was the Great Uncle of Robert Raw and Margaret Hird, who visited the museum during one of our Ribbon of Remembrance drop-in days. Edward, born in Richmond (he lived for at time along Frenchgate and then at 3 Maison Dieu) worked as a plumber for the North Eastern Railway, and enlisted after the outbreak of war in York. He became a Private in the 17th (Service) Battalion (NER Pioneers), a group whose skills were vital in constructing and maintaining the railways that developed behind the lines which kept the troops equiped and fed for the duration of the war. Edward was killed on 2nd November 1917, during the period where the battalion were working on light railways in the Ypres sector and suffered from shrapnel and gas shelling as well as high-explosives. Edward Barker is buried in Bard Cottage Cemetery, Belgium.
2nd Lieutenant Arthur F Clarke was attending the 5th Battalion annual camp in Wales when war broke out. He spent the first months of the war moving between Scarborough, Hull, Newcastle, Hartlepool and Darlington. On the 18th April 1915 he went out to France and was wounded during a gas attack on the 26th May 1915. The Green Howards Gazette records: “The day seemed interminable as the poor shelter had to be hugged tight all the time. With darkness came the order that we were to pass through GHQ lines and take up a front line position in Zouave Wood facing Hooge, where the main attack by the enemy had been made. That little strip of ground has since been the cockpit of our Western front. On our journey up another man was killed, and Lieutenant A F Clarke was wounded. That tour was destined to be the worst we had so far entered upon.” We know he returned to the front line as the Green Howard Gazette for January 1916 records that he was wounded. He rose to the rank of Captain in November 1916.
Samuel was born in 1894 at Askrigg. His mother, Frances, was 20 years old and single. However, 5 years later she married Wilfred Kirk, the likely father of Samuel though the 1911 census has Samuel down as a ‘stepson’. Wilfred was some 20 years senior to Frances and a farmer. They would have four more children, all girls. However, the 1911 census only shows two daughters as being listed. Samuel attended Hardraw School and worked on the family farm. Samuel enlisted at Leyburn in June 1916 joining the 6th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment. The Battalion went to France later that year. On November 1st 1917 the Battalion was in the support line SE of Loos in northern France. Between the 4th and the 6th work was spent on improving the Battalion trenches. On the 9th Samuel and his colleagues were helping in the preparations for a raid, cutting wire and ladder placements. On the evening of the 9th during heavy shelling Samuel was badly wounded. He was taken to a Casualty Clearing Station near Bethune. On the night of the 12th November Private Samuel Kirk Lambert died. He is buried in Choques Military Cemetery.