Submitted by Michael Kent.
Joseph Hatton was my dad. I only recently learnt about his early life. Dad never spoke about the First World War. He was born 20 February 1896 in Bradford and had three sisters and two brothers. My dad never told me that grandad was a train driver in the 1890’s, or that I had a half brother born in 1915, that he lost his father in 1919 and his wife, when he was in his early twenties. I do not know what happened or where he went from 1922 until 1950 when he was living in London where I was born thirty years later, in 1952.
10724 Private Joseph Hatton was recruited in Yorkshire in August 1914 and served in the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment (3rd West Riding) as a Reserve. After training in England he was sent to the Western Front in 1915. In May of that year he was poisoned by gas. My dad didn’t die, unlike so many around him who suffered this cruel death, but he was evacuated via Boulogne to Manchester Western General Hospital to recover. He was posted again in December 1915. In March 1916 he was then posted to the 9th Battalion and embarked for France again in April. He had a few days leave in Etaples and then returned to the front. He was wounded in July 1916 by a shell explosion killing many men. Dad lost his hand. He was put on a train back to England. He was discharged as unfit for service in April 1917 having served for 2yrs and 250days. He received the Victory Medal, British War Medal, 1914/15 Star, Kings Certificate and War Badge.
Growing up, all I knew about Dad’s past was that he had been a Royal Arch Druid in the 59th Chapter and that he worked as a civil servant in London, in the social security or pensions department. He drove a car, we went on holidays, he liked a pint, smoked a pipe and was very sociable. How could he tell me of the horrors of war and his losses? Dad retired to Cambridge and died in 1973 when I was 20.
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Submitted by Pat Burgess. The Graham family were local to Barnard Castle, they lived on The Bank, where father John had a chemist and grocery business. John Austin was born on 2 March 1872. After his time at school from 1886 until 1889, he took a Electrical Engineering apprenticeship. Later he started an electrical business with his brother – Graham Brothers Electrical Engineers in Middlesbrough. He was secretary of the Saltburn R.N.L.I. and a gifted operatic singer. Serving as a territorial captain, Austin Graham was with the 4th battalion when war broke out in August of 1914. He landed with the battalion at Boulogne on April 18th 1915 when the battalion was almost straight away thrown into the 2nd battle of Ypres. On April 24th Captain Graham and his men had their first taste of action in fierce fighting during the Battle of St Julien. On Whit Monday 1915 the battalion were in trenches astride the Menin Road at Hooge and Austin Graham was badly gassed and hospitalised with his injuries. In early 1918 the battalion were back in the Ypres sector and when the German Spring Offensive opened on March 21st they were in a position close to Hancourt. There followed nine days of fighting on the retreat under the enemy onslaught. A brief rest at Bethune followed this and then on April 8th the battalion was moved up to take part in the Battle of the Lys. By now CO of the 4th battalion Major Austin Graham was…
Betty was born on the 3rd September 1896 in Clifton in the Bootham area of York. She came from a well off middle class background and was educated at home until she was 14 whereby she was despatched to boarding school at St Georges Wood in Haslemere Surrey. From school she went to Brussels to study music. In 1913 the family moved to Harrogate where Betty’s father, Arthur, established himself as a leading estate agent. Betty had a younger brother born in 1901, James Arthur Radford, in which in her letters referred to him as JARS. Both Betty’s parents were active supporters of the YMCA. Her mother Catherine served throughout the war as chair of the YMCA’s Women’s Auxiliary. Betty appears to have acquired early in her life a high sense of civic duty. Betty and her parents were part of the group that travelled to London to help with the Belgium Relief Fund after the outbreak of WW1. They would be involved in the transferring of refugee families to the Harrogate area from their encampment at Alexandra Palace. In January 1916 one of Betty’s aunts went to France to manage a YMCA canteen and Betty was determined to join her. She set off on February 11th, aged 19, to join her in the St Denis Hut outside Paris. She completed her time at St Denis, took some home leave and returned to France to become a driver at Etaples in April 1917. Betty was extremely young at the time…
Shirley Stephenson visited the museum to tell about the story and final letters of 5444 Private George Brown, 7th battalion, Yorkshire Regiment, the youngest brother of her mother in law. George was the seventh of nine children. Three of his brothers also served in France but survived. In 1915, he left his family home in Brandon, County Durham, to live with his older sister and her family on their farm in North Cowton. Here, he worked for them and was learning the trade of butchery, his sister and husband hoping to set him up, eventually, in his own business but he was called up in May 1916. He enlisted at Croft and was sent to Babworth Camp, Retford. At the beginning of July, he writes to his sister, Mary, and her husband, Tom, asking them to apply to his commanding officer for a month’s leave in order to assist them with haytime saying, ‘……tell him I worked for you and you can’t get anyone else…. I think you will succeed as he can’t refuse.’ Unfortunately, he could because the Regiment was posted to France; three weeks later, ‘we are going to face the foe….. we poor devils with three months’ training.’ By 25th July, George and his Company were training on the French coast ‘…… it is very hot here…… very tiresome marching around in the sand all day….. we get better food than in Retford but not much of it.’ Three weeks later his letter reads, ‘…. I am…