Submitted by Glennis Robson.
John Albert Lancaster was my uncle, he was my mother’s elder brother (13 years older). My mother spoke of much loved brother who was a source of goodness and “spoilt” his baby sister.
On receiving the news of his death my grandmother picked my mother up from school. They made their way home down the back lanes to hide their tears from passers by.
“Jack”,as he was known, was killed on the 16th of October 1917 at hill 60 in Flanders aged 19 after only a few months at the front.
He enlisted in the Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) regiment on the 6th of December 1916 in Newcastle. His father William, a farrier, also joined up declaring that if his son was prepared to fight so was he. Unlike his son he survived the war. Having no known grave his name is on the Menin Gate. In 1988 my husband Keith and I visited the Western Front to see his name and the battlefield where he died. Since then “our Jack” has been in the consciousness of the wider family. Every November we place a poppy cross by my mother’s grave-stone in St Mary’s churchyard.
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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.
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.
Meryl Abbey sent us some information about her great uncle, Richard William Adams. Richard served with the Yorkshire Regiment, arriving in France on 25th March 1915. Little is known about his service, but he served as 10438 Lance Corporal R Adams. He is buried at Bethune Town Cemetery having died on 30 August 1915. He was awarded the 1915 Star, the British War medal and the Victory medal.