John Lionel Calvert Booth – research by John Broom
Born in Catterick Village in 1876, he worked as a farmer and then became a 2nd Lieutenant in the Yorkshire Regiment 1897. He was the son of John Bainbridge and Margaret Alice who in 1881 were living at Killerby Hall, Killerby, Yorkshire. He had served 15 years as captain with the Yorkshire Regiment.He also appears to have been the editor of a book called ‘Sporting Rhymes and Pictures’ in 1898.
Booth married in 1905. His two sons were born in 1906 and 1909. During the Boer and the Balkan Wars between Bulgaria and Turkey (1904 and 1909) he served as a war correspondent and artist, representing ‘The Graphic’ in the latter. In 1909 he was severely wounded at Constantinople. He also contributed to ‘Punch’, the satirical magazine and was author and illustrator of ‘Trouble in the Balkans’.
In 1912 he began farming in Australia and later became a Boy Scout troop leader.
At the time of his enlistment into the AIF he lived with his wife Margaret Caroline at The Cottage, Serpentine Road, Albany, New South Wales. He embarked from Freemantle on H.M.A.T. A7 Medic on the 2nd November 1914 for the Mediterranean. He was wounded in action near the Dardanelles on the 25th April 1915. On 1st May he died of his wounds while bound for Malta on Hospital Ship “Mashroba” and was buried at sea. He was Mentioned in Despatches.
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Submitted by Pam Reed – William was her first cousin once removed. William Billam was born Robert William Beckwith Earsdon in Jarrow on 17 September 1893. By 1906 his mother and stepfather Elizabeth and George Billam had moved to Hinderwell, 8 miles north of Whitby. In 1911 William was living with them and had taken his stepfather’s surname of Billam. In 1913 William married Ada Simpson and continued to live in the same village. On the outbreak of the First World War he enlisted on 15 August 1914 at Whitby as 12122 Private Billam in the 11th Reserve Cavalry Regiment. However on 1 November 1914 he was discharged as ‘being unlikely to make an efficient soldier’. Having failed to make the grade in the cavalry, he promptly volunteered for the infantry . At the end of 1914 he enlisted again at Whitby as 18687 Private Billam in the 2nd Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment. William was killed on 1st July 1916, first day of the Battle of the Somme. He was buried in the Dantzig Alley British Cemetary in Mametz along with 2052 other British soldiers. His name is on the Hinderwell War Memorial. He left a widow and 2 year old daughter. Extract from the Whitby Gazette Friday 18 August 1916 as follows:- Killed in action on July 1st. Private William Billam, aged 22 years. He was the first to enlist from Hinderwell on August 15th 1914. “His country called and he answered”
John O’Hern is buried in Reeth Road cemetery, Richmond. He died of his wounds after the end of the First World War on 1 February 1919. He entered into service at the age of 29 years and 9 months while living at Mill Lane in Richmond. He worked at the paper mill and had also previously served in the 4th Territorial Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment. His medal card shows his original regimental number (1669) and also his later number (200238) – as the 4th Battalion issued new nubmers in 1917. He was tried by Court Martial at Baizeiux on 9 October for being drunk on parade – after 6 days confinement he paid a 10 shilling fine. The card shows that not only did he receive the three well known medals nicknamed ‘Pip, Squeak and Wilfred’ – so called after a cartoon strip in the Daily Mirror, but also a Silver War badge due to his injuries towards the end of the war. Owing to a terrible gunshot wound to the spine, John O’Hern became paralysed. A bullet was removed from his spine through surgery in April 1918, but he died as a result of this battlefield injury months later.
Submitted by Mike Crisp. Private 47165 George Laws was by trade a painter and decorator from the small market town of Beccles, Suffolk. He joined the 22nd Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers (Tyneside Scottish) and served in France. On the opening day of Operation Michael, 21st March 1918 his battalion was in the front-line trenches around St Leger / Bullecourt where he was reported missing. His body was never recovered, and he is commemorated on the Arras memorial. According to the battalion diary they suffered 1,130 casualties on that day. George’s wife Gertrude, was heartbroken and never gave up hope of her husband being found, writing to the War Office on several occasions to try and gain more information. It was not until many months later friends of George visited her to relate that George was a member of a bombing party which went to a flank and were never seen again. Not only was Gertrude in mourning but also on the poverty line, forced to bring up 2 small children on her own. To help make ends meet she took in washing, sat with the dying, and laid out corpses for the local undertakers. Her son became the surrogate ‘man of the house’ and it was not until 1968 that he felt that he could leave his mother to get married himself. Gertrude died at the age of 97 in 1977.