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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William was born in 1897 in the village of Thoralby, near Aysgarth, in the North Yorkshire Dales. Birth registrations show he was born in the first quarter of that year. He was the youngest son of farmer John and his wife Alice, living at Town Head Farm. The 1901 census shows he had two older brothers, Ralph 10 and John Hunter 7, and a sister Elizabeth 9. However, the 1911 census only shows William, and by that time his mother was a widow at 42. Also at the time, three boarders lodged at the farm. William attended the local school and in his teens became a valued member of Aysgarth Amateur Dramatic Society. At the outbreak of war, aged 17, he enlisted in the 10th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment. He went to France in October 1915. By the onset of the 3rd Battle of Ypres in 1917 William was now a Corporal. It was during this offensive on the 3rd October that the 10th Battalion was involved in an action on Broodseinde ridge. It was during the heavy shelling on the 4th that William was killed. His body was never found. William is commemorated on a panel at the Tyne Cot Cemetery. He was just 19 years of age when he died.
John was born in Leeds on the 31st July 1892. He was the eldest of five children. The family obviously moved round the country a lot as the 3rd youngest child was born in Liverpool and the two youngest children were born in Nottingham. John’s father originated from Norfolk, his mother from Hawnby in the North York moors. At some point the family settled in Great Yarmouth, the 1911 census giving an address as 86 Churchill Road. It was in Great Yarmouth that John married Dora (Dolly) Mary McQueen in September 1924. By 1939 they were living in Richmond, John’s occupation being a Secondary School Master, with Dora doing unpaid domestic duties. There does not appear to be a record of any offspring. John was obviously heavily involved with the town of Richmond and the people as he served as town mayor in 1957/8. John died on the 23rd November 1982 aged 90. At the time of his death he was living at 8 Gilling Road. During WW1 John served as a pilot, with the rank of Captain, in the Royal Flying Corps. John had joined the 10th Squadron RFC at Abeele, an airfield near Ypres Belgium, in May 1917. The 10th had been formed at Farnborough on the 1st January 1915. In April 1918 it would be re-designated the 10th Squadron RAF. Initially John flew De Havilland BE2s, a 2 seat biplane until the Squadron was re-equipped with Armstrong Whitworth FK8s, general purpose biplanes with a synchronised Vickers machine…
Thomas Holman, great-grandfather of Carl Watts, the Green Howard Museum’s Learning Officer, worked as a boiler maker at the Wellington Foundry in Lincoln. At the outbreak of war the company which owned the foundry, Fosters, converted production from agricultural vehicles to war machinery. It was here that the first tanks were developed under the management of William Tritton. Secrecy was of the utmost importance, and the original code name for the revolutionary new vehicle was ‘The water-carrier for Mesopotamia and Russia’. Bill Rigby, chief draughtsman and designer recounted in the mid-1980s that eventually a group of the boiler makers came to is office, fed up with the long winded code name. Their suggestion that it should just be referred to as ‘the bl**dy tank!’ has stuck with the vehicle and its successors ever since. Thomas Holman is pictured with colleagues back row, third from the left in front of ‘Lurcher’ a Mark IV male tank in November 1917. His brother George Edward Holman served with the 6th battalion Lincolnshire Regiment at Gallipoli, Egypt and France. The efforts of the brothers were combined on 15 September 1916, as 6th Lincs were at the Battle of Flers Courcelette – the first battle to see the use of the tank.