Paul Goad, a resident of Frenchgate and local history enthusiast submitted his research on one of the families from Frenchgate at the time of the Great War.
The Fawcett family lived at 55 Frenchgate, Richmond throughout the First World Ward. John Fawcett, who worked in agriculture and construction, lived here with his wife Elizabeth Grace, daughter Elizabeth Alice and two sons, Christopher and Cyril Edgar. John was born in Castle Bolton in Wensleydale, Elizabeth Grace in Thornton Buckinghamshire and all three children hailed from the small parish of Walburn, Downholme a little way up Swaledale from Richmond.
At the outbreak of hostilities Christopher was 20 and Cyril 14. As the eldest, Christopher was the first to enlist on 27th November 2015, three months shy of his 22nd birthday. Prior to enlistment he worked as a butcher, a profession he continued after the war. In January 1916 he joined the 4th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry. The 4th DLI were a reserve Battalion and were station at Seaham Harbour from 1915 through to the end of the War. Records confirm that Christopher was based at Seaham from 1916 to June 1918 serving in D Company. A copy of a charge sheet shows that Christopher was late returning from leave on June 12th 1916 for which he was forfeited 1 days pay.
In October 1917 Cyril enlisted at the age of 18 years and 1 month, giving his trade as a Motor Driver. Despite his Attestation papers suggesting that he was interested in joining the Royal Naval Air Service he was posted to the 22nd Battalion Durham Light Infantry. Following initial training Cyril joined his Battalion in France on April 1st 1918. In May as part of the 8th Division the Battalion was moved to a ‘quiet’ part of the front south of the River Aisne. When the Germans attacked on 27 May, the 22nd Battalion, although Pioneers fought as infantrymen. Losses were significant with Cyril being one of the many casualties killed in action. He was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal.
At the time of his brother’s death Christopher was hospitalised in Seaham Infirmary with influenza. In late 1918 Christopher was transferred to the 12th Battalion DLI and joined them in Italy. In July 1919, still in Italy, he was transferred to the 22nd Battalion the Manchester Regiment. He returned to England in October 1919 before being demobilised in November. He too, was subsequently awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal.
It would seem from his records that he returned to his pre-war employer Sykes and Sons Butchers. Christopher married Edith Bickerdike in the autumn of 1930 and they had two children Margaret and David. Christopher continued to live in Richmond until his death in 1960.
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Robert Codling was the son of John and Elizabeth Codling of 13 Revesby Street, Tyne Dock, South Shields. At the outbreak of war he enlisted in the Yorkshire Regiment and was posted to the 8th Battalion. 19873 Private Codling arrived in France in September 1915 and was in and out of the lines in October, November and December. The 8th Battalion relieved the 10th West Riding Regiment in trenches at La Rolanderie on the 18th December. Robert was awarded the DCM for his actions on the 21st. His citation reads, “For conspicuous gallantry near Rue du Bois on 21st December 1915, when under heavy fire and in the face of rifle grenades, he returned to a wounded comrade and brought him in. Later in the day he joined a patrol and searched under heavy fire for his platoon officer who had failed to return”. On 13th October 1916, at the age of 21, he died of wounds. The battalion had been serving in the area of Contalmaison and had suffered a number of casualties. He is buried at Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension in the Somme.
Shirley Stephenson visited the museum to tell about the story and final letters of 5444 Private George Brown, 7th battalion, Yorkshire Regiment, the youngest brother of her mother in law. George was the seventh of nine children. Three of his brothers also served in France but survived. In 1915, he left his family home in Brandon, County Durham, to live with his older sister and her family on their farm in North Cowton. Here, he worked for them and was learning the trade of butchery, his sister and husband hoping to set him up, eventually, in his own business but he was called up in May 1916. He enlisted at Croft and was sent to Babworth Camp, Retford. At the beginning of July, he writes to his sister, Mary, and her husband, Tom, asking them to apply to his commanding officer for a month’s leave in order to assist them with haytime saying, ‘……tell him I worked for you and you can’t get anyone else…. I think you will succeed as he can’t refuse.’ Unfortunately, he could because the Regiment was posted to France; three weeks later, ‘we are going to face the foe….. we poor devils with three months’ training.’ By 25th July, George and his Company were training on the French coast ‘…… it is very hot here…… very tiresome marching around in the sand all day….. we get better food than in Retford but not much of it.’ Three weeks later his letter reads, ‘…. I am…
Submitted by Olivia Wallis of Richmond. Thomas Cole, son of Ben and Jane Cole, was born in Gainford, Durham in 1882, though the farming family resided in the local village of Newsham. On 9th June 1906, Thomas married Margaret Ellen Watson in St Cuthbert’s Church, Durham and, by 1911, Thomas and Margaret were the parents of Thomas, aged 3, Mary, aged 2, and Ben, aged only 11 months. Following the outbreak of war, though the exact date uncertain, Thomas enlisted at the neighbouring village of Dalton, and joined the 9th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment. Throughout his time with the 9th Battalion, Thomas wrote often to his devoted wife and children. In October 1916, Thomas wrote to tell his wife that he had become teetotal, news he expected to surprise his wife, explaining ‘I can’t drink French beer!’ Perhaps more poignantly, Thomas also expressed to Margaret his hopes of the future and a hope that future generations would never suffer the horrors of war. Thomas never got to pursue his hopes, he was killed on 23rd June 1917, aged 35. The battalion war diary for 23rd June does not detail events of that day, it simply collates casualties for the month as 6 men killed, 1 wounded and 2 missing. Private Thomas Cole is buried at Dickebusch New Military Cemetery, Belgium and commemorated locally on the war memorial in Newsham village.