John Charles Morris was from South Hetton. He was born in 1896 and was 18 when he enlisted in the Yorkshire Regiment as 14136 Private Morris. He served in the 8th, 9th and 10th Battalions and was awarded the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, as well as the Silver War Badge.
He was wounded in December 1915 and again in November 1916. He suffered a gun shot wound to his left hand and lost part of a finger and substantial power and movement in his right hand. He also suffered a shrapnel wound to his left foot.
These injuries precluded manual work due to a lack of power in his hands. After his discharge in December 1918 he was awarded a pension of 8 shillings a week and was subject to regular reassessments of his injuries.
He died aged 61 in 1957.
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Deirdre Tyler of Richmond explained the story of Ernest (Ernie) John Tyler to us at one of our drop-in days. Ernie was born on 23 April 1880 in Edmonton, London. He served in the Royal Engineers 1914-1919, mainly with 29 Division and saw active service in the Dardanelles and the Somme. He embarked for his first active service on 2 June 1915. He was one of the few Royal Engineers aboard the “S.S. River Clyde” in 1915, when it was ill-fatedly beached at “V” beach, Cape Helles, Gallipoli, under the guns of the defenders. Six VC’s were subsequently awarded to the ship’s crew for their courage in maintaining the bridge and rescuing the wounded from the beach. Ernie subsequently spent time in Egypt and then at the Home Depot. He suffered from typhoid or enteric fever and as a result was granted home furlough from 29 February to 19 April 1916. He also caught malaria, being classed B,ii for six months as a result. He was awarded a Good Conduct Badge on 18 June 1917. Ernie lost two of his brothers in the Great War, one at Gallipoli, and another at sea. After the First World War, Ernie returned to his work in the postal service and was in charge of the first telegraph message motor cycle delivery riders. He had six children who survived into adulthood. Five served their country in the forces; four in the second world war and one post war. Bernard, his eldest son, was killed…
Information submitted by Liz Thompson, a resident of Richmond. Michael Joseph Kavanagh (Liz’s Great-Uncle) was born in Walsall, Staffordshire on 20 February 1879. He joined the South Staffordshire Regiment, serving in the Boer War in the Cape Colony, the Transvaal and at Wittegbergin. At the outbreak of the First World War he reenlisted into the same regiment as a Private and advanced to the rank of Colour Sergeant. He was Commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in January 1915 and promoted to Lieutenant in September of the same year. He was wounded twice during the Battle of the Somme and was awarded the Military Cross. The citation published in the London Gazette stated “For conspicuous gallantry during operations. Though knocked over and wounded by a shell, he took over command of a machine gun company two days later, and, suffering from shock and considerable pain, stuck to his command and did good work”. He was promoted to Acting Captain on 8 March 1918. On his retirement in November 1919, Michael Joseph Kavanagh was granted the full rank of Captain. In later life Captain Kavanagh moved into local politics, being elected to the position of Mayor of Walsall in 1945. During the Second World War he served as Platoon Commander of No. 21 Platoon of the 27th Staffordshire Home Guard.
John was born in October 1876, the eldest son of Warrin and Ellen Mitton of Hawes. His father Warrin was both a joiner and a farmer. John married a girl from the Leyburn area, Mary Teresa, in July 1905 and had two daughters. Before joining the Army he spent four years as a postman in Raydaleside and previous to that, for about 14 years, a rural postman at Finghall near Leyburn. It was while he was there he got married. On leaving Finghall the people on his round presented him with a marble clock, pipe and a pouch containing some money. Needless to say he was a very well liked postman! He played for Hawes football team for many years, and for two years the club secretary. He was a fine billiards player and a member of Hawes Church choir. John was described as a cheery likeable chap. John enlisted at Leyburn joining the 2nd Battalion Yorkshire Regiment and embarked for France at the end of July 1916. On April 7th 1917 the Battalion readied itself for the Arras Offensive which was due to start on the 9th. Private John Mitton was killed on that opening day. He was 40 years old. John is buried in the Neuville-Vitasse Road Cemetary, SE of Arras.