This story was submitted by Mr Johnson of Richmond, he is the grandson of John Ramsden.
John was born in East Ardsley, Leeds. He was called up in 1917 and trained at Chelmsford. He was posted with the 6th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry as 78916 Pte J Ramsden. John kept a diary during his time away from home. On 6th February 1918 at Passchendale Ridge he recorded “Shells are whistling menacingly overhead, I hope my God will give me the strength to withstand the trials that beset me!”
21st March 1918 saw the last big German attempt to win the war. John’s diary reads, “Found a fellow I’ve seen very often laid out of the trench – grim and bloody – ah, yes but smiling in death”.
John was wounded on 28th March and was evacuated to Rouen with other casualties. On 31st March he wrote, “The Doc prodding my head with an instrument much like a pair of sugar tongs. Eventually succeeds in extracting a small piece (but quite big) of the product of Essen”.
After recovering, John was sent back into the line in late May. Again he was hospitalised, this time in an American hospital, taking a serious wound to the hand. The family always believed that the different approach taken by American surgeons saved John’s hand from amputation.
John survived the war and moved to Barnsley, running the local cinema and writing a column for the Barnsley Chronicle.
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Deirdre Tyler of Richmond explained the story of Ernest (Ernie) John Tyler to us at one of our drop-in days. Ernie was born on 23 April 1880 in Edmonton, London. He served in the Royal Engineers 1914-1919, mainly with 29 Division and saw active service in the Dardanelles and the Somme. He embarked for his first active service on 2 June 1915. He was one of the few Royal Engineers aboard the “S.S. River Clyde” in 1915, when it was ill-fatedly beached at “V” beach, Cape Helles, Gallipoli, under the guns of the defenders. Six VC’s were subsequently awarded to the ship’s crew for their courage in maintaining the bridge and rescuing the wounded from the beach. Ernie subsequently spent time in Egypt and then at the Home Depot. He suffered from typhoid or enteric fever and as a result was granted home furlough from 29 February to 19 April 1916. He also caught malaria, being classed B,ii for six months as a result. He was awarded a Good Conduct Badge on 18 June 1917. Ernie lost two of his brothers in the Great War, one at Gallipoli, and another at sea. After the First World War, Ernie returned to his work in the postal service and was in charge of the first telegraph message motor cycle delivery riders. He had six children who survived into adulthood. Five served their country in the forces; four in the second world war and one post war. Bernard, his eldest son, was killed…
Submitted by Paul Elliott. George was a Great Uncle, the younger brother of my paternal Grandmother. I had no knowledge of his existence until recently. He lived in Church Street, Rothwell, Leeds, was married in December 1914 to Jane Ann Ambler and worked as a miner. He joined the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (regimental number 25522) in September 1915 at Pontefract. He was transferred to the Machine Gun Corps (35672) in December 1915 and went to France in May 1916 with the 40th Company. He is one of the people whose Full Service Record survives. It shows that he had two sons, Alan born in 1915, and George born in March 1917. He died of wounds in April 1918 having served in France and Belgium. He is not commemorated on the Rothwell War Memorial. He was buried at Outtersteene Communal Cemetery Extension, Bailleul. His wife received a pension of 25 shillings and 3 pence a week and inherited £1- 6s with a gratuity of £11-10s. He appeared on the Yorkshire Evening Post Roll of Honour on 4th May 1918, described as a driver and having died of wounds.
Bert Brocklesby, a school teacher from Doncaster, applied for exemption from military service early in 1916 on religious grounds. Bert went before his local and appeal Tribunals in February and April 1916, and was given exemption from Combatant Service Only by both. To Bert, this was an unacceptable decision – joining the Army, even in a Non-Combatant role meant going against his deeply held conscientious belief that war in all forms was a crime. He was arrested as an absentee after refusing to obey the order to report to his nearby barracks to be enlisted into the Non Combatant Corps. Bert refused to compromise his principles in any way, and did not even take the step of signing his Army papers – denying the military authorities even this rudimentary control over his life. For making this stand, and for disobeying other orders, Bert was Court Martialled and would soon become one of a group of Absolutists (known as the ‘Richmond 16’) sent to France from Richmond Castle, Yorkshire, as military prisoners. It seems that Bert managed to drop a cleverly edited field service postcard out of the train while being transferred to France for further punishment. This postcard alerted Bert’s local MP (who sympathised with the principles behind Bert’s objection to military service) that men were being transferred to the combat zone, where, considered to be on active service, they could be sentenced to death for disobeying orders. Bert would find this out on arrival at Henriville Camp, Northern France….