John Malcolm Osborne, submitter Jackie Wilson’s father, was born on 14th October 1888 to Frederick Osborne and Lydia Lindridge in Goudhurst Kent, having 7 siblings. In 1911 he was living at home in Goudhurst, Kent working as a motor mechanic. During the First World War he joined the Royal Naval Air Service on the 22nd October 1915 with the service numbers of 208815 and F 8815, before the creation of the Royal Air Force by the merger of the RNAS and the Royal Flying Corps on 1 April 1918. His papers record that he was five feet seven and a half inches tall, had brown hair and grey eyes, with a fresh complexion. He was stationed at President II, a shore based depot at White City, London. When called to a Zeppelin crash site, John removed the propeller as a souvenir. At a later date the propeller was fashioned into a walking stick. A clock was also made from the remains of the propeller, owned by Jackie’s Godfather. John Osborne was transferred to the reserve in April 1919 and discharged April 1920.
John married Florence Huddlestone in Shepherd’s Bush, London, 3rd March 1918. In the 1930s he lived in Hammersmith with his wife before they moved to Cambridge. He died on the 4th February 1953 at Chesterton Hospital, Cambridge, leaving effects of £224 14s 6d to his widow Florence Maud Osborne.
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Jonathan Helm submitted this information about his Great Grandfather, Harold Surtees. Lance Corporal Surtees (2048/200407), was born in West Hartlepool and lived in Great Ayton. He volunteered for service in a local meeting on 2nd September 1914. Serving with the 1st/4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment, he was posted to France as part of the 50th Northumbrian Division on 18th April 1915. Although little is known of his exact war record, his photograph indicates two wound stripes and the Whitby Gazette when reporting his death noted that he had been “three times wounded and gassed”. The only confirmed record of wounding is in the War Office Casualty List, which was printed in The Times on Wednesday 25th October 1916. This is likely to have occurred during the Battle of Flers-Courcelette (15th – 22nd September 1916) which was fought during the Battle of the Somme. He died on the 10th April 1918 (aged 26) from wounds sustained when the battalion fought at the Battle of Estaires in an attempt to stop the German advance. Harold is buried at the Haverskerque British Cemetery in France. He left behind his wife, Sarah, and their two children, Harold and Mary.
Shirley Stephenson visited the museum to tell about the story and final letters of 5444 Private George Brown, 7th battalion, Yorkshire Regiment, the youngest brother of her mother in law. George was the seventh of nine children. Three of his brothers also served in France but survived. In 1915, he left his family home in Brandon, County Durham, to live with his older sister and her family on their farm in North Cowton. Here, he worked for them and was learning the trade of butchery, his sister and husband hoping to set him up, eventually, in his own business but he was called up in May 1916. He enlisted at Croft and was sent to Babworth Camp, Retford. At the beginning of July, he writes to his sister, Mary, and her husband, Tom, asking them to apply to his commanding officer for a month’s leave in order to assist them with haytime saying, ‘……tell him I worked for you and you can’t get anyone else…. I think you will succeed as he can’t refuse.’ Unfortunately, he could because the Regiment was posted to France; three weeks later, ‘we are going to face the foe….. we poor devils with three months’ training.’ By 25th July, George and his Company were training on the French coast ‘…… it is very hot here…… very tiresome marching around in the sand all day….. we get better food than in Retford but not much of it.’ Three weeks later his letter reads, ‘…. I am…
Submitted by Wendy Patch I am the granddaughter of the much celebrated Harry Patch, who is famous, for the most part because he survived the First World War. But I often think of my other grandfather, or great grandfather to be precise, who didn’t survive and of his wife, who was left a widow with five young children, my grandmother amongst them. His name was Warwick McCartney and he was a deserter. Who knows why, fear, no doubt but surely just as much a reluctance to leave his wife and young family. He was caught, taken to Scotland to be as far from his family as possible (he was a Londoner) to discourage absconding. I know my great grandmother travelled up to Scotland by train to see him and that she knew when he was passing through London on his way to the front, so she went to the station hoping to see him as he passed through. Needless to say she was unsuccessful. He was put in the front lines, as I understand deserters often were and was killed, leaving his wife to manage on her own as best she could. [Warwick’s] wife was called Caroline (maiden name Farmer) and she actually had seven children when he died, my grandmother Annie, Warwick (known as Wally), Nell, Carrie, Harry boy, Bobby and Georgie. The two little boys were in hospital, we think with diphtheria and when the policeman came to the door to tell her that her husband had been…