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.
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Submitted by Peter Marwood, a long term resident of Richmond. I was brought up on my late father’s farm in Langthorne near Bedale. Driver John Marwood 671397 of the 379th Battery, Royal Field Artillery was my father’s brother and my uncle. John Marwood was born at Gayles near Richmond on the 16th of May 1890. He was the second of four children of John and Caroline Marwood. The family initially lived at Gayles where John senior was self employed as a master carpenter. By 1901 the family had moved to a rented farm at Aske Moor and began farming. After a few years they moved to a larger and better farm which was Low Coalsgarth farm. John is listed in the 1911 census as working as a gardener at Selaby Hall near Gainford. The family were living at the farm at the time of John’s death in France. He was wounded on the Somme during the famous Kaiserschlacht offensive which began on the 21st March 1918. My father and his other brother Harry recounted that John had been badly wounded at the Front and was taken to hospital in Rouen but sadly died of his wounds on the 25th of March 1918 aged 28. He is buried in the St Sever cemetery in Rouen. During the 1950s my father would usually attend the Great Yorkshire Show, along with my Uncle Harry and one older brother and if we were lucky myself or my younger brother would get to go too….
Alfred Martlew was a member of the No-Conscription Fellowship and the Independent Labour Party. He was uncompromising in his stance against the war but despite his protestations he was ordered to join the Non-Combatant Corps. He was one of the 16 men sent from Richmond to France in May 1916. After returning to England, Martlew was imprisoned at Winchester before being offered a place on the Home Office Scheme. This gave ‘genuine’ and ‘sincere’ conscientious objectors the opportunity to undertake civilian work under civilian control as an alternative to time in prison. Martlew worked in the quarry at Dyce Camp, spinning at Wakefield Work Centre, West Yorkshire, and tree felling in Dalswinton, Dumfries. But like many other conscientious objectors he questioned whether the work he was performing was still contributing, if indirectly, to the war effort. In 1917 Martlew went missing from his Home Office Scheme post and travelled to York where, before the war, he had been a ledger clerk at Rowntrees Cocoa works. There he met his fiancée, Annie Leeman. He gave her his money, watch and other possessions, and told her he intended to hand himself in to the police authorities. This was their last meeting. Just over a week later Martlew’s body was found in the River Ouse at Bishopthorpe. Although the inquest into his death returned the unresolved verdict of ‘found drowned’, the coroner thought it likely that he had taken his own life.
Submitted by Paul Elliott. Many people will, no doubt, have the same experience as myself, in that my grandparents and parents never discussed or talked about their war experiences. Arthur Dobson was a Great Uncle of whom I was totally unaware. He was born in 1896 and lived with his parents, Benjamin and Emily at Commercial Street, Rothwell, Leeds. He was a miner. He joined the Kings Own Yorkshire Light infantry as 37722 Private Dobson and went to France in September 1915 with the 9th Battalion. They were active at the Battle of the Somme and Arthur was posted as missing in September 1916. His parents twice put appeals for information about him in the Yorkshire Evening Post. He was eventually found to have been killed in action on September 16th 1916. He is commemorated on Rothwell war memorial and at Thiepval. He was 20 when he died.