Kevin Robinson of Dalton on Tees visited the Green Howards museum to tell us about his great great grandfather, Sergeant Henry Robinson MM.
Henry joined the Yorkshire Regiment (the Green Howards) as a very young man and soon left the UK to serve in the Boer War. Henry had several service numbers during his career with the earliest (and therefore a low number) being 421.
On returning from the Boer war he then went to serve in the First World War both in France and Belgium, Henry and his division engaged in 2nd & 3rd Battle of Ypres, 1st & 2nd Battle of the Somme and the Battle of Arras to name a few. He is believed to have been a very accomplished horseman.
His army career spanned some 4 decades as a Territorial reservist. During this time he picked up a proud chest-full of medals including the Military Medal awarded 10th October 1916. Adding a Bar to his MM in October 1918, other medals believed to be Queens South Africa Medal, 1914 Star, British War Medal, and Victory Medal with Oak Leaf (Mentioned in Despatches).
Henry was also a Hero when not serving his country he was serving children with fun, Henry and his wife Elvira lived in a motor home at Derby Street / Cooper Street / Canon Street Common in Middlesbrough. They operated several fun fair rides which included swing boats and a roundabout. They continued to run the fun fair rides for several decades into the 1950’s, at which time they let the fair ground rides to British Steel for the forerunner to the British Steel gala day which became very popular over the next decades.
Later moving into a house in Welford Street Middlesbrough with His wife Elvira and Children, Maggie (Walton), Nellie (Townsend), Henry from where they operated a small retail shop from the living room selling essentials to other locals, who would call at their home at all hours. The shop sold everything from sweets, baby dummies, home made bread, soap, shampoo, Hair Nets etc.
Henry and Elvira masterminded the local celebrations to celebrate King George V’s Silver Jubilee during 1935, winning first prize for the street decorations.
Long after his death in 1961, people would say what a lovely gentleman Henry was.
Submitted by Kevin Robinson, Great Great Grandson of Henry, living in Dalton-on-Tees. Many of Henry’s family still living in and around Middlesbrough.
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The Stansfeld family have many connections with the regiment. Both Thomas and his brother older brother ‘Jock’ served with the regiment in 1880s and 1890s. Thomas’ son and nephew also joined the regiment and both saw action in the Second World War. Thomas Wolryche Stansfeld was born in Leeds in 1877. He joined the regiment in 1897 and quickly rose to the rank of Captain. Stansfeld fought in the War in South Africa including the Battle of Paardeberg. Stansfeld was a skilled rider and joined the regiment’s Mounted Infantry Battalion. He was involved in many actions against the Boers, including the capture of the Elandsfontein railway station near Johannesburg. He narrowly escaped death when a bullet smashed into his cigarette case, leaving him unharmed. Stansfeld’s battlefield experiences were a major asset to the regiment in the First World War. During the First Battle of Ypres he ordered his company to rapidly fire at different intervals; fooling the Germans into believing that they were facing a nest of machine guns. Stansfeld survived the battle and fought throughout the First World War. After the war Stansfeld held a number of senior posts, including Commandant of the Small Arms School at Hythe. He retired from the Army in 1929 and died on the 23rd February 1935.
George Frederick Gywn Rees and his younger brother Charles Bernard Russell Rees from Leicestershire both joined the Yorkshire Regiment during the First World War. Their parents, Sydney and Margaret Rees were relatively wealthy and they lived in Sheffield for much of their childhood. Sydney was a Church of England clergyman. Born only 1 year apart, George in 1895 and Charles in 1896, it would appear that they took similar paths through their early life. In the 1911 census they were both recorded as living at a boarding school in Workshop along with several hundred other boys. George and Charles both joined the 5th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment in 1915. Unfortunately their service records do not appear to have survived but museum records track their military careers from 1915 to 1918. George was wounded twice, in November 1916 and in June 1917, but neither wound appears to have affected his career as he was promoted to acting Captain in July 1917. Charlie however appears to have made it through the war relatively unscathed. Other than various promotions he is not listed until June 1918 as missing, turning up as a Prisoner of War in September. He returned home in late 1918 to Scrayingham Rectory, Stamford Bridge, York. Charles’ medal card records that he received the Victory Medal and the British War Medal. Both brothers survived the war but we do not know what happened to them later in life.
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.