Judith Farrar visited the museum to tell us about Rifleman John Stoney, the uncle of her husband, Don.
John enlisted as R/41447 Private J Stoney, King’s Royal Rifle Corps, and was attached to the 9th battalion, London Regiment (Queen Victoria’s Rifles).
The final letter from John to his sister, Hilda still survives. The letter of 12th June mentions many things – a royal visit to Leeds, his hopes that his sister is selected for the school cricket team and the fact the locals in France ‘won’t even let us get water from their pumps.’ A key passage states ‘I was sorry to hear about the explosion at the munition works and hope the casualties are not so heavy as you say they are reported to be.’
He died tragically close to the end of the war, aged 18 on 25 August 1918 and is remembered at the Memorial in Vis-en-Artois.
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At the outbreak of the First World War, George Butterworth was being described as the most promising British composer of his day. George was born in Paddington, London in 1885 but at the age of six moved to Yorkshire when his father became first solicitor and then General Manager of the North Eastern Railway Company. George inherited his mother’s talent for music (she was a professional singer before her marriage). His parents sent him to Aysgarth Preparatory School, near Bedale where he played the organ during school services. His musical ability led to him gaining an Organ Scholarship to Eton College. He initally entered Trinity College, Oxford with the intention of studying law, but this idea was abandoned as he became increasingly interested in setting down the folk music of the British Isles. At the outbreak of the First World War, George enlisted in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry and was later granted a commission in the Durham Light Infantry. He was on active service for almost a year and awarded the Military Cross in 1917. The citation states that he had commanded the Company when the Captain was wounded ‘with great ability and coolness … and total disregard of personal safety’. Less than a month later, on Saturday 5 August, he was shot through the head by a German sniper in ‘Munster Alley’. Only a day later, William Short of the 8th Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment undertook the action which led to his posthumous Victoria Cross in the same…
Lorna Pound visited us on one of our drop-in days to share the story of her grandfather, 58755 Sapper Thomas Henry (Harry) Wright. Harry was born in Richmond on 18 October 1878. At just 14 years old he attempted to enlist with the West Yorkshire Regiment in York on the 2nd November 1892, claiming he was 18 years old. Eight days later he was discharged with a payment of £1. In the face of this set back he continued with his apprenticeship as a saddler with Mrs Rymer in Northallerton. It is likely that he re-enlisted again sometime after reaching the age of 18 years as a photograph taken in the early 1900s shows him in uniform as a Lance Corporal. In 1918 he married and was still employed as a saddler with H Myers in Richmond Market Place. On 26th December 1914 he presented himself for enlistment into the Royal Engineers. It is said within the family that he was told if he enlisted early he could keep his trade of saddler whilst serving. Sadly Sapper Wright’s papers did not survive the bombings of the Second World War and therefore it is not known which unit he originally served with but he was initially sent to Egypt on 7th August 1915. He certainly served in France for some time as numerous embroidered cards survive which he sent to his wife and children. By the end of the war in 1918 he was serving with 5 Corps Signals Company Royal…
Submitted by Josephine Parker. My Grandfather, Owen Thompson served in The Northamptonshire Regiment, he trained new recruits during the First World War. During the war he served in Egypt and Gallipoli. He continued this role despite contracting Malaria.