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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Fred was the youngest son of Joseph Shields, a Castle Bolton plumber and tinsmith. He was born around 1897. The 1911 census shows the family as having 3 children, Alice, 28, Joseph, 26, and Fred, 14, with his wife Elizabeth. They lived in a section of Bolton Castle, acting as caretakers, with Elizabeth providing refreshments for visitors. They also had a tinsmith’s shop in a building across from the castle making kettles and pans etc. which today is a storeroom. Fred enlisted at Northallerton on the 7th December 1915 and joined the 8th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment. Early in July 1917 Fred arrived with a detachment of men at Steenvoorde in northern France adjacent the Belgium border in the area west of Ypres. It was during the 3rd Battle of Ypres, better known as Passchendaele, that Private Fred Kilding Shields was killed. A shell burst in the trench where Fred and 3 others died, He was just 21 years old. Fred is buried at Tyne Cot Cemetery.
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.
Florence was born on the 19th of October 1899 in Boxted, Essex, United Kingdom to Ellen Biggs and Henry Ernest Biggs. She enrolled as a VAD clerk for the British Red Cross and was stationed at the Military Hospital Catterick Camp. ‘Biggsie’, as she was known by her friends and fellow VAD workers, spent approximately a year at Catterick Camp. Stationed from 15th January 1918 until the 11th of February 1919 when she returned to Essex as a VAD G/S Clerk in the British Red Cross, Sobraon Military Hospital, Colchester. Florence Hilda Lily Biggs died in Essex, United Kingdom in 1984. This information, provided by Alathea Anderssohn has been drawn from the Imperial War Museum’s ‘Lives of the First World War’ archive.