Alan Simpson, a resident of Richmond called into the musueum to tell us about his grandfather. After months of collecting stories from the time of the First World War for the Ribbon of Remembrance, we have our first story relating to our rural location.
Henry Barningham Simpson farmed at High Rockliffe Farm Hurworth during the First World War. He was also given the role of official horse buyer to the War Department during the conflict. Alan Simpson recalled, “I know he had to travel to very many farms selecting the best of the cart horses to pull the guns and carts of the army. My dad told me that he hated having to take the farmers best and most useful horses. He knew very well that a lot would be killed or injured from the shelling, ‘blown to pieces’ were his actual words. I suppose he was given some leeway in selecting which horses to buy as food still had to be produced, how they were selected he never said but I suppose they had to be fit for purpose whether they be cart horses or hunters for the cavalry”.
The requisitioning of horses during the First World War was dealt with by the Army Remount Service. This department existed before the conflict broke out, with a total establishment of 25,000 horses and mules, five Remount Depots and four Remount companies, with a strength of approximately 1,200 animals. Within 12 days, the establishment had been increased to 165,000 animals and a year later, in August 1915, to 534,971. At its peak in 1917, the Army establishment reached almost 870,000 horses and mules, with remount accommodation for 60,000 animals. Over the course of the war, a total of 468,323 horses were purchased in the United Kingdom by local offical horse buyers such as Henry Barningham Simpson.
Explore more memories from the ribbon
Story submitted by Mrs Drury. Jack (John Adam) Bell was the son of a gamekeeper at Langdon Beck in Teesdale, County Durham. He grew up in the countryside a became a railway clerk. When he joined the army and went to experience life in the trenches he had the horror of standing next to a fellow soldier when his head was blown off. Jack also had to endure the news that his own brother had been killed. Jacks country knowledge became most useful in the mire of Flanders. He would cut trenches to make a sleeping place out of the mud, trap rabbits and stew them in a metal helmet. He would look after horses for officers who had never had to look after their own mounts before. He described how starved the horses were near the front line – the near stampedes when fodder was brought and how the horses gnawed each others’ manes and tails for food. He remembered how long the cavalry had to stand mounted and how weak horses collapsed. Remounts were needed constantly and Jack was sent in to break in and train them. He was stationed on the Thames, possibly at Tilbury, to receive horses, practically wild sent by ship from South America and often in a sorry state on arrival. He had six weeks to prepare each batch (size unknown) for dispatch abroad. During this training Jack rode these recovered and lively horses with a ladies side saddle as he said it was…
The story of Private Arthur Bateman was compiled by Margeret Sparke, his granddaughter. Arthur was born in 1879 – the son of William and Mary Bateman of Battersea. He worked as a labourer and married Emily Jackman in September of 1903. After the outbreak of war Arthur joined the Yorkshire Regiment, enlisting at Kingston-on-Thames. His service was quite unusually as he was posted to a total of 4 battalions. He served with the 4th, 7th, 6th and 2nd battalions of the Yorkshire Regiment. He has two regimental numbers (9166/235033) – the earlier number suggests that he may have served with the 4th battalion before the war as a Territorial soldier. He died on 6th November 1918, just before the Armistice came into force and is buried in Bettrechies Communal Cemetery in France. Tragically, with Arthur’s death being so close to the end of the war, his widow Emily only found out that he had been killed in action while taking part in an Armistice street party.
Harold was born in 1894 in Well, a small hamlet to the east of Masham in North Yorkshire. He was the eldest of five children of Thomas and Elizabeth Binks. Thomas had also been born in Well, whereas Elizabeth was from Thornton Watlass near Bedale. Thomas was employed as a gamekeeper on the nearby estate of Snape Park. Harold enlisted in Leyburn in 1915 and joined the 13th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment. The Battalion mobilised and arrived in France on June 6th 1916. The Battalion went into the front line near Loos and would see action at The Battle of Ancre on the Somme. In 1917 they saw action during the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line and at the Battle of Cambrai. March 21st 1918 saw the start of the German Spring Offensive. At the action between Arras and Bapaume on the 22nd March Private Harold Binks was killed. His body was never recovered. He is commemorated on the Arras Memorial. He was 23 years of age.