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.
Explore more memories from the ribbon
Marion Moverley, a Richmond resident, provided us with information about her grandmother, Evelyn Fletcher. My grandmother was called Evelyn Fletcher and born in 1898 in Halifax. She met my grandfather Tom Stocks who was born in 1897 in Bradford, and they married in 1920. They both played a part in the War. Tom joined up, Evelyn worked in munition factories. The photograph shows a munitions factory in the Bradford/Halifax district, with two figures picked out by ‘x’ marks in biro. The girl marked on the left appears to be Evelyn and the one on the right is probably her sister, Lizzie Fletcher.
Researched by John Mills. Born 27th of January 1880 Thomas was the son of Sergeant Valentine Goode also of the Yorkshire Regiment and his mother was called Helen. He was part of a large family; he had five brothers and two sisters. He enlisted in Richmond on the 27th of August 1897. Being a first rate rifle shot he devoted himself to musketry and became an instructor. He served throughout the whole of the Boer War with the 1st Battalion. He was awarded the Queen’s medal with 6 clasps and the King’s with 2. In 1905 he married Mary Agnes Grace Dobinson. In 1914 he was with the 1st Battalion in India, his campaign medals indicate he was in France some time after 1915. He became a 2nd lieutenant in the Somerset Light Infantry (Prince Albert’s). He survived the war and retired with the rank of Captain on the 8th of June 1920. He was awarded the M.B.E. on the 3rd of June 1919 for his services in connection with the war in India. He must have returned to the army to serve in World War 2 because he has campaign medals (World War 2 service medal and war medal). Perhaps this might have been in some form of instructor role.
Ernest Pigg was the son of James and Maria Louise Pigg of 7 Langley Avenue, Thornaby on Tees. He enlisted in late 1914 and was posted to the 8th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment. The 8th Battalion left for France in late August 1915 and took over trenches in the area of La Rolanderie and Bois-Greniers. Having been in France for only one month 11605 Private Ernest Pigg is reported to have died of wounds on 28th September. He was buried at Sailly-sur-la-Lys Canadian Cemetery in the Pas-de-Calais. He was awarded the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. His effects, which were left to his father James, constituted £2-2s and a gratuity of £3-10s.