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 easier to jump off when necessary form a side saddle than from astride!
It was on 26th June 1918 when Jack received his commission as Second Lieutenant. Later, as Captain, he dealt with German Prisoners of War in Italy. He was also involved in the Macedonian Campaign 1915-17 but that is another tale. After the war he attended Magdalen College, Oxford on one of the courses the University put on for officers. He enjoyed rowing on the Isis and soon married Nancy Bainbridge, one of Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service and they saw their golden wedding anniversary when we had a fine family party.
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At the outbreak of the First World War, George Butterworth was being described as the most promising British composer of his day. George was born in Paddington, London in 1885 but at the age of six moved to Yorkshire when his father became first solicitor and then General Manager of the North Eastern Railway Company. George inherited his mother’s talent for music (she was a professional singer before her marriage). His parents sent him to Aysgarth Preparatory School, near Bedale where he played the organ during school services. His musical ability led to him gaining an Organ Scholarship to Eton College. He initally entered Trinity College, Oxford with the intention of studying law, but this idea was abandoned as he became increasingly interested in setting down the folk music of the British Isles. At the outbreak of the First World War, George enlisted in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry and was later granted a commission in the Durham Light Infantry. He was on active service for almost a year and awarded the Military Cross in 1917. The citation states that he had commanded the Company when the Captain was wounded ‘with great ability and coolness … and total disregard of personal safety’. Less than a month later, on Saturday 5 August, he was shot through the head by a German sniper in ‘Munster Alley’. Only a day later, William Short of the 8th Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment undertook the action which led to his posthumous Victoria Cross in the same…
Captain Thomas Ernest Dufty was born in on the 30th of June 1880. His father was Arthur Richard Sykes Duffy and his mother was called Katie. He was educated at Pocklington Grammar School. He joined the 5th Battalion in 1912 and became a lieutenant in June 1913. Prior to this his profession was as a banker and manager of the Bridlington branch of the London Joint Stock Bank. Duffy was promoted to Captain on the 18th of April 1915. He was reported as killed in action on or about the 19th of May 1915 (killed by a shell). His Battalion had been deployed to Sanctuary Wood (1.9 miles east of Ypres). His whistle and blood stained scarf are on display at the Green Howards Museum. He left a widow, Beatrice, and a 4-year-old son Arthur Richard. He is buried at the Vlamertinghe Military Cemetery in Belgium and commemorated at the Manor Road Cemetery Scarborough.
Vicky Hurwood’s great uncle, Septimus Frederick Herbert Allen was born in Richmond on 1 December 1891. He was the seventh son of Leonard and Mary Allan. He was awarded the 1915 Star and so joined the British Army before the introduction of conscription. Arriving in France on 25 January 1915, he initially served with the Army Service Corps before being transfered to the 9th battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers. 48457 Private Septimus Allan was Killed in Action on 25th November 1917 and having no known grave he is one of the 35,000 men commemorated on the Arras Memorial. His name is also listed on the Richmond War Memorial.