Elspeth De Montes told us about her grandad John MacKenzie, a carpenter, who was called up in August 1914.
“John had been working as a carpenter for James Bryce in Clephanton since April 1910 when he was called up on 4th August 1914. He enlisted with the Highland Mounted Brigade at Nairn eventually being posted to to Egypt in 1916. He worked chiefly on the wagons, greasing and making slight repairs but he also saw action throughout his time in Egypt. During an air raid at Ramleh on 27th November 1917 5 men were killed along with approximately 100 horses.”
John survived his time in Egypt, returning home on 4th April 1919. He kept some of his equipment in the Princess Mary Tin he received during his service. Elspeth still has his Princess Mary tin. He passed away in 1980.
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Sergeant John (Jack) Charlton joined the Army as a Territorial in 1908 when he enlisted in the 4th Battalion, Alexandra, Princess of Wales’ Own Yorkshire Regiment (The Green Howards). He served on the Western Front from April 1915 where he had a distinguished career, earning a Distinguished Conduct Medal and being Mentioned in Despatches in 1917. One particular act stands out from his memoirs which earned him a commendation from his Commanding Officer was while serving at the Arras Front while he was in charge of Battalion communications. After heavy shelling cut phone lines he used a Lucas Day Light Signalling Lamp to request an artillery barrage to defend the HQ from German gas shells. This Lamp was donated to the Museum and can be seen on display. Jack also suffered injuries during his service, firstly in April 1915 when he was gassed at Zillibeck and another, more serious gas attack got him sent home towards the end of 1917 where he remained for the rest of the War. While on Leave in 1916 Jack got engaged to Phillis Blow but they didn’t get married until 1918 after we was sent home. During 1918 he attended various training courses including a Signals Course at the Armoury School near Dunstable but before he was able to finish the Armistice was signed and so he was demobbed at Hornsea.
Alfred was born around June 1882 at Thornaby near Stockton, the son of Thomas Salmon, a foreman brewer. Alfred would eventually become an assistant grocer at Leyburn. Here he courted Lizzie Chiltern. Lizzie’s brother James had joined the West Yorkshire Regiment and was killed in June 1917 aged 20. It would appear that they never married as Alfred’s attestation form, when he signed up, has him as unmarried. The 1911 census has Alfred living in Leyburn as a boarder to a widow Catherine Pearson, aged 70. He enlisted on the 8th April 1916 at Leyburn joining the 5th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment. By early 1917 Alfred had been wounded and was to spend the rest of 1917 and part of 1918 convalescing in England. He was discharged from the Army on the 15th April 1918, his rank being Lance Corporal. Alfred was now living in Waverley Terrace, Darlington. It was here that he died from pneumonia, exacerbated by his war wounds on the 16th February 1919 aged 36. Alfred was buried in Darlington West Cemetery.
Captain Frank Woodcock 5th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment Captain Woodcock, who was only 22 years of age, was the youngest son of John and Elizabeth Woodcock of Driffield Yorkshire. He was killed in action during an assault on the 15th of September 1916. Frank was one of 6 children having 2 brothers and 3 sisters, the family must have been “comfortably off” because the 1901 census records his father as “living on his own means” and they had a servant called Margaret. He was educated at Bridlington School, where he was in the Officer Training Corps (O.T.C.). He became a Second Lieutenant in a Territorial Battalion in December 1912. He was promoted Lieutenant in April 1914 and then to Captain in May 1915. The Regimental Gazette recorded his death as follows: “The death of Captain Woodcock deprives his battalion of a very capable Company Commander and a very popular Officer. Despite his youth, he very soon proved himself an Officer of much resource and dauntless courage. He was wounded when wiring in front of the trenches in July 1915, and returned to France in January 1916 when he succeeded to the command of a Company. It was in this capacity that he showed himself a cool and capable Commander with great initiative and pluck, always setting a fine example to his men when any dangerous work had to be performed. He was twice mentioned in despatches. Captain Woodcock is buried at Flatiron Copse cemetery in France.