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.
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Elspeth De Montes told us about her grandad John MacKenzie, a carpenter, who was called up in August 1914. “John had been working as a carpenter for James Bryce in Clephanton since April 1910 when he was called up on 4th August 1914. He enlisted with the Highland Mounted Brigade at Nairn eventually being posted to to Egypt in 1916. He worked chiefly on the wagons, greasing and making slight repairs but he also saw action throughout his time in Egypt. During an air raid at Ramleh on 27th November 1917 5 men were killed along with approximately 100 horses.” John survived his time in Egypt, returning home on 4th April 1919. He kept some of his equipment in the Princess Mary Tin he received during his service. Elspeth still has his Princess Mary tin. He passed away in 1980.
John Vivian Nancarrow was born on the 6th June 1885 in Middlesbrough. He was eldest son of George and Charlotte Nancarrow of ‘Ravenscroft’ at Grove Hill in Middlesbrough. John was educated at Leys School and Kings College in Cambridge attaining an MA and a Law degree. He was admitted a Solicitor in 1909 and became Secretary to Middlesbrough Chamber of Commerce. He had joined the 1st Volunteer Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry in 1907 and later was attached to the Northumberland Fusiliers at Newcastle. At some point he moved to Cornwall and was attached to the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. In 1911 he is recorded as being a Solicitor in Camborne Cornwall. Shortly after John was back in Middlesbrough joining the 4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment as a Lieutenant. He was promoted Captain in late 1913. Prior to his mobilisation to France he had become engaged to Miss Elsie Harkness of Stokesley North Yorkshire. The 4th Battalion arrived in France in April 1915 and were at Ypres by the 23rd. The Battalion were straight away into Ypres offensive being involved in the Battle of St Julien. During the attack at Fortuin on the 24th John was leading his men forward when he was shot and died instantly. Subsequently his body was never recovered. He was 29 years of age. John is commemorated on the Menin Gate at Ypres.
Jennifer Bullen visited the museum to show us the memorial plaque to Lt Henry Stanley Tempest Bullen, her father-in-laws elder brother. Harry Bullen of ‘D’ Battery, 251st Brigade of the Royal Field Arilltery was Killed in Action on 14th April 1917 during the Battle of Arras (an action launched in support and as a diversionary action to the larger French offensive on the Chemin des Dames). He died at the age of 20 and is buried south of Arras at Beaurains Road Cemetery, which was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. His mother, Edith Bullen lived in Gosforth, Northumberland. A memorial window to Lt Bullen was erected in St Nicholas Church, Gosforth following the war.