Si Wheeler submitted the story of his great grandfather, Dixon Overfield, but it’s also a great example of the impact of war on all those connected to the soldier who served.
“Dixon was married to Margaret and they had a daughter Madge, born in 1915. Dixon enlisted in Filey in September 1916. He originally joined the Royal Field Artillery but soon got transferred to the 6th Battalion, the Yorkshire Regiment.
He was sent to France and saw action at Arras, before being moved to Belgium. Dixon survived this fight, but twelve days later he too was killed in action at the Battle of Poelcappelle on the 9th of October 1917 when a shell burst just above himself and several comrades. Their bodies were never recovered. Dixon is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial.
Dixon’s wife died in 1924, leaving my grandmother, Madge, aged 9, an orphan. Raised by two aunts, then entering service at 13, Madge was taken under the wing of her housekeeper boss, Lizzie Andrew and became part of her extended family.
Aged 18, Madge moved to London to train as a nurse, working through the Blitz and marrying a Dunkirk evacuee soldier, my granddad, Harry Wheeler. Harry didn’t mind where they settled to start married life, so they moved to Swanland in East Yorkshire, where Lizzie lived. My parents live there to this day.”
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John Charles Morris was from South Hetton. He was born in 1896 and was 18 when he enlisted in the Yorkshire Regiment as 14136 Private Morris. He served in the 8th, 9th and 10th Battalions and was awarded the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, as well as the Silver War Badge. He was wounded in December 1915 and again in November 1916. He suffered a gun shot wound to his left hand and lost part of a finger and substantial power and movement in his right hand. He also suffered a shrapnel wound to his left foot. These injuries precluded manual work due to a lack of power in his hands. After his discharge in December 1918 he was awarded a pension of 8 shillings a week and was subject to regular reassessments of his injuries. He died aged 61 in 1957.
Judith Farrar told us the story of Ernest Holdsworth Farrar, the Great Uncle of her husband, Don. Ernest Farrar was born in 1882 in Leeds, after a spell at Teacher Training College in Isleworth, Middlesex he went on to study at Trinity College, Cambridge. He attained both a BA and BSc. After his graduation, Ernest spent some time in Dresden in Germany, and while the reasons for this sojourn are no longer known, it is highly likely that he continued as an academic at the University of Dresden. On his return to England Ernest was appointed to the Headship at Todmorden Secondary School. This important work continued after the outbreak of the First World War, but with the introduction of conscription in January 1916, Ernest was compelled to face several Tribunals when it was insisted that he enlist. The School Governors tried to intervene and to keep him as Headmaster, but he was sentenced to 6 months in Wormwood Scrubs prison. After an unsuccessful appeal, Ernest was sentenced by the Central London Tribunal to 6 months in Dartmoor Prison in 1917. His reasons for refusing to fight are given in the extract from the Yorkshire Post.
Frank Walker joined the 4th (Territorial) Battalion East Yorks in Sept 1914. He served as a private in France until being commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in July 1916 with the 11th Battalion East Yorks (2nd Hull Pals). During the 1st Battle of Ypres in April 1915 the 4th Battalion East Yorks were mentioned in a dispatch from Major General Edward Bulfin (Yorkshire Regiment Green Howards) the Commander of the 28th Division. Also mentioned for ‘good service’ in the dispatch were the 8th Battalion Durham Light Infantry and the 4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment. Frank was promoted to temporary Lieutenant in January 1918 and acting Captain on the 14th October 1918. Frank would survive the war. In November 1917 the Battalion were based at Mont St. Eloi near Arras. It was here leading raiding party action that, in January 1918, Frank would be awarded Military Cross. The award appeared in the London Gazette on the 23th April 1918. The citation read: ‘For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during a daylight raid. He led his party across a long open stretch of ground to the enemy second line. After clearing the enemy trenches and taking prisoners he successfully effected a difficult withdrawal under heavy fire.’