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.
Explore more memories from the ribbon
Matthew Bell was born in West Scrafton, Coverdale on 21 October 1895. He served with the Yorkshire Regiment, initially joining before the war with the 4th Territorial Battalion, probably around 1912 according to his regimental number (3899). He later served with the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment (235593) before returning to the Yorkshire Regiment later in the war. He went to France on the last day of September 1915 and survived the war, being awarded the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his service. Matthew died aged only 40. Two of his children are still alive and living in Leyburn but they don’t remember him. His youngest child was born posthumously which must have been very hard for his widow.
Vicky Hurwood provided this information about her grandfather, George Ernest Hurwood. He was born on 19 November at Scorton 1880 to Richard and Mary Hurwood. He worked for the Post Office with his father. When the war broke out George would enlist as a Sapper in the Royal Engineers, his Regimental Number being 67828. His medal card gives his ‘Theatre of War’ as France where he had arrived on the 7th October 1915. He was awarded the 1915 Star, which means he enlisted before conscription was introduced, along with the British War medal and Victory medal. George made and engraved match box covers recording Ypres 31/7/17 and Arras 9/4/17 which Vicky still has at home. He survived the war and is commemorated on a list at the Scorton War Memorial Institute. He ended the war as a Sergeant and from his demobilisation on the 30th June 1919 became a Class Z Reserve.
Story submitted by Mrs Drury. Jack (John Adam) Bell was the son of a gamekeeper at Langdon Beck in Teesdale, County Durham. He grew up in the countryside a became a railway clerk. When he joined the army and went to experience life in the trenches he had the horror of standing next to a fellow soldier when his head was blown off. Jack also had to endure the news that his own brother had been killed. Jacks country knowledge became most useful in the mire of Flanders. He would cut trenches to make a sleeping place out of the mud, trap rabbits and stew them in a metal helmet. He would look after horses for officers who had never had to look after their own mounts before. He described how starved the horses were near the front line – the near stampedes when fodder was brought and how the horses gnawed each others’ manes and tails for food. He remembered how long the cavalry had to stand mounted and how weak horses collapsed. Remounts were needed constantly and Jack was sent in to break in and train them. He was stationed on the Thames, possibly at Tilbury, to receive horses, practically wild sent by ship from South America and often in a sorry state on arrival. He had six weeks to prepare each batch (size unknown) for dispatch abroad. During this training Jack rode these recovered and lively horses with a ladies side saddle as he said it was…