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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Judith Farrah told us about her great-grandfather James Allen, who’s joinery business contributed to the war effort on the Home Front. “James Allen was born in 1855 in Newbiggin, Richmond. He was originally called James Thistlethwaite but changed his name to Allen, which was his stepfathers name. He apprenticed with William Raworth, learning to be a joiner, and married his daughter Matilda. By 1901 he had set up his own joinery business known as James Allen & Son Ltd and worked on the Kursaal (later known as The Royal Hall) in Harrogate.” During the First World War, James did not join the armed forces but used his joinery business to create boxes for munitions. Static trench warfare required huge numbers of shells; the First World War became a war of production. Hundreds of manufacturing companies, including James’, were commandeered for munitions production. As men were sent to the trenches, women moved into the factories. Some factories’ workforce was almost entirely female, and this was true for James’ business.
John Thompson, husband of Martha and father figure to Thomas, John and Jonah, resided in Little Crakehall, Bedale, where he worked as a blacksmith – an occupation that in December 1914, aged 44 years, led him to be specially enlisted into the Army Service Corps to serve as a farrier. Unbeknown to his family, John’s service records reveal that in January 1915, he embarked with the British Expeditionary Force to the Western Front, being transferred to Egypt in October, and later transferred to Salonica, Greece in November. On one occasion in 1915, when on active service, John was found to be ‘drunk, out of bounds and improperly dressed’, offences for which he received a fine of five shillings on January 1st 1916- not a good way to start the new year! In July 1916, John was admitted to the 2nd Western General Hospital, Manchester, where he received treatment for myalgia, influenza and rheumatism in his feet and reported suffering from a ‘troublesome cough’. Following discharge from hospital in August, John was deemed ‘no longer physically fit for war services’ and subsequently returned home to Little Crakehall that September. John soon discovered that he was not the only family member to suffer in July 1916 – aged only 20, his son, John Jr, had been killed in the Battle of the Somme. On the 10th of July 1916, John Jr, serving with the 8th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment, was ordered to attack and capture Contalmaison. Advancing from Horseshoe Trench, John came under…
Phyllis was born in Dowlais, Glamorganshire, Wales in 1892, the daughter of Margaret Jane and David Thomas Jenkins. She joined the British Red Cross on the 21st of January 1918. Subsequently, she was stationed as a Voluntary Aid Detachment Nurse in the Other Empire Force, British Red Cross, Catterick Camp. Surviving photographs imply that Phyllis was part of the dental team stationed at Catterick. Phyllis volunteered at Catterick Camp until the 14th February 1919.