Christine Howie (née Magee) visited the museum to tell us about the sad story of her Grandfather, John Magee who was born in Birkdale in 1889. 30876 Private John Magee enlisted on 24th July 1915 and served with the 12th Battalion of the King’s Liverpool Regiment during the First World War. He was wounded by a shell burst which damaged his left wrist and led to him being hospitalised. The distinctive ‘hospital blues’ are shown on his photo, a uniform worn by enlisted men during treatment. The fingers of his hand were badly damaged and as a result he received the Silver War Badge – according to regulations he was “no longer physically fit for war service”.
At home in Southport John’s wife Annie was looking after the two children. In the photograph, Christine’s father Harry is depicted age three, with his elder brother John Alfred. Tragically, as the extract from her death certificate shows, Annie was to be one of the victims of the outbreak of Spanish flu. Her death came just a few days after the signing of the Armistice that brought about an end to the fighting. John’s sister Kitty took care of the children until John returned – to bring Harry and John Alfred up as a single parent.
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Walter Gorner Barker was born in Richmond on 2 August 1889. For a time he lived with his family at 71 Frenchgate. He worked as a footman for Sir Mark Sykes at the family seat, Sledmere House near Driffield. Sykes was Commanding Officer of the 5th (Territorial) Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment before the war. It seems that Walter may have served as a territorial soldier before the war (he has a low early regimental number 2274 which is then revised later to 240643). He enlisted at Scarborough and became a Private in the 5th battalion. Walter died on 27 May 1918, south of Craonnne. Prior to this, the battalion war diary records several days as ‘day quiet in trenches’ before the ominous entry for 26th May – ‘”Stood to” at night owing to information received that enemy attack was to be delivered on morning of 27th May’. The diary records that the bombardment began at 1 am with the enemy attacking at 4.30am. The battle lasted for four days. Walter Gorner Barker is commemorated on the Soissons Memorial in France.
Fiona Hall, Communications and Retail Manager at the Green Howards Museum submitted this story about one of the most important women of the First World War (in fact of any) era. I’m intrigued by this local hero – a complex character. There’s not enough space here to describe the many achievements of Gertrude Bell, and that’s not the point of this entry. Although I do recommend you take some time to acquaint yourself with her if you are not already familiar with this fascinating woman – archaeologist, mountaineer, one of the first women to gain a degree at Oxford (a First in History) but an anti-suffrage campaigner, the first to work for British military intelligence, colleague of TE Lawrence, and also the first to write a government white paper. She was born in 1868 into the sixth richest family in England, the granddaughter of the industrialist Sir Isaac Lowthian Bell, and lived in Redcar. When war broke out her request for a government posting to the Middle East was denied. Instead she volunteered with the Red Cross, taking charge of the missing and wounded office in Boulogne. Meanwhile her brother, Maurice, a career soldier and Boer War veteran was commanding the 4th Bn The Yorkshire Regiment on the western front. Imagine working in the environment Gertrude was working in- with the very possible chance she may have to ‘process’ information about the fate of her own brother. Maurice was in fact invalided home in 1916 and died in 1944. In…
William Lincoln Robinson was born in 1897, the son of a farmer. By the time of the 1911 census his mother had died and he was living with his father, and sister in Scorton, near Richmond. Robinson enlisted in 1915. At the time he was working at Kirkbank, Middleton Tyas as a gardener. He served with the 2nd and 6th Battalions of the Green Howards as a Lewis Gunner. He survived the war and was discharged from the army on the 15th February 1919. At the moment we don’t know what happened to Robinson after he left the Army. Can you help? Robinson died aged 77 in 1975.