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.
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Joseph (third from left) was born around 1884 in Ainderby Steeple near Northallerton in North Yorkshire. He was the eldest of five children to Thomas and Amelia. He would eventually end up living at East Witton where he worked on the Jervaulx estate. He married Agnes Kendray and they would have three children. Joseph was a fine athlete as witnessed on Coronation Day June 22nd 1911. In the fell race to the top of Witton Fell and back Joseph came first. His exploits were published in the parish magazine. Joseph enlisted at Middleham joining the 7th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment. The Battalion embarked for France on the 13th July 1915. It was during operations in February 1917 in an area of the Somme that heavy German artillery would take a heavy toll. A shell destroyed a cellar being used to house stretcher cases killing most of the men. One of those reported missing was Private Joseph Allen. His body was never found. Joseph’s name is commemorating on the Thiepval Memorial. A service was held at East Witton Church on the 3rd March. Tragically, one month after the service, Joseph’s widow Agnes died, aged 33, leaving three young orphans.
Submitted by Neil Duncan of the 8th Darlington (Cockerton Green) Scout Group. Lieutenant-General Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell, OM, GCMG, GCVO, KCB, DL was born in 1857 and had a long and illustrious military career, as well as having a profound impact on civilian life for generations of young people. Baden-Powell spent most of his military service in India and Africa where he honed his Scouting skills and began writing training manuals which would later be the basis for the Scouting Movement from 1908. One of his most famous commands was during the Seige of Mafeking in 1899 when a small garrison held out for 277 days and a ‘Cadet Force’ was drawn up take over small but important jobs to allow the adults to fight. These Cadets gain an honourable mention in the opening chapter of Scouting For Boys. He returned to England to take up a post as Inspector-General of Cavalry in 1903. From 1908-10 he was in command of the Northern Territorial Army. During this appointment, Baden-Powell selected the location of Catterick Garrison to replace Richmond Castle which was then the Headquarters of the Northumbrian Division. His plan was brought to fruition following the outbreak of the First World War. The original concept was for a temporary camp to accommodate 2 complete divisions, 40,000 single men in 2,000 huts. On the outbreak of World War I in 1914, at the age of fifty-seven, Baden-Powell put himself at the disposal of the War Office. Lord Kitchener…
Joseph was born around 1897 in Aysgarth North Yorkshire. His father James was a cowman on a local farm. The 1911 census shows one other child, a son Simon. Before joining up Joseph was employed as a farm hand in West Burton. Joseph enlisted at Leyburn joining the 2nd Battalion Yorkshire Regiment. By September 1916 he was at the front. Joseph would prove to be a brave soldier, twice being recommended for distinction. He was finally rewarded at the end of April 1918 when he received the Military Medal for gallantry he had shown during the action in the St. Quentin area from March 21st to the 28th. Sadly one week later he was dead. On the 6th May the Battalion was in the Ypres Salient. During heavy engagements with the enemy he was killed on the 8th May. He was 21 years of age. His body was never recovered. Private Joseph Dixon Raw MM is commemorated at the Tyne Cot Cemetery.