Anthea Dunne dropped into the museum with a photo of her father (pictured in the centre of the group), and after a little research she has managed to piece together the story of his service during the First World War.
William George Samuel Padden was my father from Pontnewydd, near Newport, Monmouthshire, he volunteered and enlisted at Carmarthen in west Wales on 9th October 1914, as part of The Pembrokeshire Yeomanry, the Territorial Force. As a Private in the Pembroke Yeomanry, he was given the regimental number 4390. Although not compelled to, he signed up as willing to serve overseas.
He was transfered to 210 Company of the Machine Gun Corps (part of the 4th Dismounted Brigade) on 22nd October 1916 and given the new regimental number 74792. Initially a private in the Machine Gun Corps, he later became a corporal (29th May 1918).
In April 1916 he sailed for Alexandria as part of the 4th Dismounted Brigade, fought in Egypt, stationed at Wadi El Natrun for 2 years. By 1917 this brigade had become part of The Welsh Regiment. By May 1918 he was fighting on the Western front in France. He was wounded on September 25th 1918 and sent home to a military hospital in Reading with a fractured right femur. He was finally discharged from hospital on May 3rd 1919 with a 40% degree of disablement and a pension of 12 shillings a week [with a temporary bonus of 20%].
He received a Silver War Badge in 1921 due to his injuries and was awarded his British War and Victory medals in April 1922. He was a single man throughout the war. In fact he did not meet and marry my mum until 1940. By then he only had a slight limp. He never talked about the war at all when I was growing up and I didn`t know to ask!
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Submitted by Mike Crisp. Private 47165 George Laws was by trade a painter and decorator from the small market town of Beccles, Suffolk. He joined the 22nd Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers (Tyneside Scottish) and served in France. On the opening day of Operation Michael, 21st March 1918 his battalion was in the front-line trenches around St Leger / Bullecourt where he was reported missing. His body was never recovered, and he is commemorated on the Arras memorial. According to the battalion diary they suffered 1,130 casualties on that day. George’s wife Gertrude, was heartbroken and never gave up hope of her husband being found, writing to the War Office on several occasions to try and gain more information. It was not until many months later friends of George visited her to relate that George was a member of a bombing party which went to a flank and were never seen again. Not only was Gertrude in mourning but also on the poverty line, forced to bring up 2 small children on her own. To help make ends meet she took in washing, sat with the dying, and laid out corpses for the local undertakers. Her son became the surrogate ‘man of the house’ and it was not until 1968 that he felt that he could leave his mother to get married himself. Gertrude died at the age of 97 in 1977.
Thomas was born around 1894 in Appleby Westmorland and settled in Hawes before the Great War. He married a local girl and had a family of 4 young children. He was a good footballer and played in goal for Hawes Football Club for many years in local leagues. He was also a member of the Hawes Conservative Club billiards team and secretary of the Hawes Brass Band. When he enlisted in 1914 Thomas was the first married man from Hawes to join up. Thomas joined the 6th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment and saw action in the latter stages of the 1915 Dardanelles campaign and in February 1916 they were in Egypt. The Battalion embarked for France arriving at Marseilles on July 1st and then travelled to billets in Arras taking over trenches at Agny. In September 1916 they were entrenched in Thiepval area where on the 14th they encountered severe fighting resulting in heavy losses for the 6th Battalion, five officers and 130 men dead. One of the dead was Thomas, killed instantly by shellfire. At the time of his death Thomas had the rank of Corporal. His body was recovered and he is buried at Lonsdale cemetery, just north of Albert.
George Frederick Gywn Rees and his younger brother Charles Bernard Russell Rees from Leicestershire both joined the Yorkshire Regiment during the First World War. Their parents, Sydney and Margaret Rees were relatively wealthy and they lived in Sheffield for much of their childhood. Sydney was a Church of England clergyman. Born only 1 year apart, George in 1895 and Charles in 1896, it would appear that they took similar paths through their early life. In the 1911 census they were both recorded as living at a boarding school in Workshop along with several hundred other boys. George and Charles both joined the 5th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment in 1915. Unfortunately their service records do not appear to have survived but museum records track their military careers from 1915 to 1918. George was wounded twice, in November 1916 and in June 1917, but neither wound appears to have affected his career as he was promoted to acting Captain in July 1917. Charlie however appears to have made it through the war relatively unscathed. Other than various promotions he is not listed until June 1918 as missing, turning up as a Prisoner of War in September. He returned home in late 1918 to Scrayingham Rectory, Stamford Bridge, York. Charles’ medal card records that he received the Victory Medal and the British War Medal. Both brothers survived the war but we do not know what happened to them later in life.