Herbert Read served in the 2nd, 7th and 10th battalions of the Yorkshire Regiment from 1915 to 1918. During his time in service he was awarded the Military Cross for his actions in leading a trench raid, successfully securing a German prisoner for interrogation and a Distinguished Service Order for his role commanding the 2nd Battalion during the German Spring Offensive of March 1918. He published two volumes of war poetry during the conflict and is commemorated alongside Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey.
He became a leading figure in the 20th Century, as curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum and Professor of Art at Edinburgh and Harvard Universities. He counted Picasso, Dali, Graham Greene, George Orwell, Peggy Guggenheim and Man Ray amongst his friends. A knighthood in 1953 (at the suggestion of Winston Churchill) came as a surprise to his circle of political associates. His headstone at St Gregory’s Minster near Helmsley reads ‘Knight, Poet, Anarchist’.
Explore more memories from the ribbon
Canon John Purvis OBE (1890-1968) Canon John Purvis was an extremely talented artist and photographer. He is best remembered however for his historical and literary achievements. His translation of the original York Mystery Plays into modern English were central to their revival during the Festival of Britain in 1951. This work, along with his initiation of the Borthwick Institute for Archives in York, lead to his OBE in 1958. Purvis was born in Bridlington 1890. After studying at Cambridge University he worked at Cranleigh School as a history teacher, a role to which he would return after the First World War. He enlisted with the Yorkshire Regiment, serving with the 5th Battalion from early 1916. Purvis was wounded during the Battle of the Somme on the first occasion he went ‘over the top’. On that day, 15th September 1916, he had recorded history’s first tank attack in pen and ink in the early light of dawn. Two well known war poems, ‘High Wood’ and ‘Chance Memory’, originally published under the pseudonym Philip Johns(t)one are now known to have been written by Purvis.
Steven Shackleton told us about his great uncle, Thomas Edwards from Ironbridge. During the First World War, Tommy Edwards was a Corporal in the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. Prior to the war he had served as 86589 Pte T Edwards with the Territorial Reserve Battalion. He served with the 10th KOYLI and then transfered to the 2nd KOYLI before he was killed in action on 30th September 1918, aged 19. He is buried at Bellicourt British Cemetery in France. His mother was Mrs Francis Edwards of Hoylake, Cheshire and had the following inscription added to the bottom of his headstone: ‘Peace, perfect peace’.
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.