George William Cattermole was born in Tudhoe County Durham in 1889 to George, a colliery worker, and Mary. He had two elder sisters called Sarah and Elizabeth. By 1906 he had left school and became a farm labourer.
Aged 17 he travelled to Richmond and enlisted into the Yorkshire Regiment, 23rd April 1906. He was initially posted to the 3rd battalion and remains with the Yorkshire Regiment, recorded as living in the barracks at York during the 1911 census. By September 1918 Pte Cattermole is serving with the 2nd Battalion who were deployed near Arras. The war diaries describe the battalions involvement in an attack on the village of Epinoy on 27th September 1918 during which 5 officers and 127 other ranks are recorded as missing, possibly including George. Shortly after the regimental gazettes record George as a prisoner of war. He is released from captivity after the armistice on 11th November 1918 and returned to England.
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Diane Hawthorne sent in a request for us to look into her grandfather’s First World War service – this is what we managed to discover. Gosnay William Riley attested on 10th December 1915 into the 11th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment at Brighouse and was assigned the regimental number 27654. The 11th was a Home Service Battalion dealing with Drafts and Reinforcements. In September 1916 the 11th amalgamated with the 16th Durham Light Infantry as a Training Battalion thereby losing its distinct identity. At some time prior to this Gosnay transferred to the 10th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment. He had been promoted to the rank of Corporal. Sometime thereafter he transferred to the 9th York and Lancaster Regiment. His Regimental number was 34441. On the 3rd March 1919 he became a reservist in the British Army with many thousands of others.
Percy Raworth was Judith Farrar’s grandfather’s cousin, she visited the museum to tell us his story. Percy Raworth was born in 1890 and attended Elmfield College in York. His father William ran a local building firm, and later became a local Councillor in Harrogate. By 1911 Percy was a Joiners’ apprentice and well on the way to joining the family firm. His career seems to have taken a side track as he was working as a ‘Stock Keeper’ at his brother-in-laws leather warehouse at Rushden, Northamptonshire when he enlisted. Originally a member of the Machine Gun Corps, Percy went on to serve with the Tank Corps, specifically, ‘D’ Brigade and win the Military Medal. The Rushden Echo of 10th November 1916 notes that he: Has been in action several times with the ‘Tanks’, once he was four hours under fire digging the ‘Tank’ out of a German dug-out into which it has sunk. On another occasion the ‘Tank’ caught fire, and Private Raworth and his driver got the military medal.’ Percy died on 23rd September 1917 of wounds he received during a German air raid. It seems that his tank again became grounded and whilst Percy was digging it out German aircraft attacked. Capt. F. A. Robinson wrote to Percy’s father: ‘…he was struck by an enemy bomb. He was made as comfortable as humanly possible under the circumstances, and you will doubtless find some consolation in the knowledge that he did not appear to feel very much pain……our experiences…
Alfred Martlew was a member of the No-Conscription Fellowship and the Independent Labour Party. He was uncompromising in his stance against the war but despite his protestations he was ordered to join the Non-Combatant Corps. He was one of the 16 men sent from Richmond to France in May 1916. After returning to England, Martlew was imprisoned at Winchester before being offered a place on the Home Office Scheme. This gave ‘genuine’ and ‘sincere’ conscientious objectors the opportunity to undertake civilian work under civilian control as an alternative to time in prison. Martlew worked in the quarry at Dyce Camp, spinning at Wakefield Work Centre, West Yorkshire, and tree felling in Dalswinton, Dumfries. But like many other conscientious objectors he questioned whether the work he was performing was still contributing, if indirectly, to the war effort. In 1917 Martlew went missing from his Home Office Scheme post and travelled to York where, before the war, he had been a ledger clerk at Rowntrees Cocoa works. There he met his fiancée, Annie Leeman. He gave her his money, watch and other possessions, and told her he intended to hand himself in to the police authorities. This was their last meeting. Just over a week later Martlew’s body was found in the River Ouse at Bishopthorpe. Although the inquest into his death returned the unresolved verdict of ‘found drowned’, the coroner thought it likely that he had taken his own life.