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.
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Robert Codling was the son of John and Elizabeth Codling of 13 Revesby Street, Tyne Dock, South Shields. At the outbreak of war he enlisted in the Yorkshire Regiment and was posted to the 8th Battalion. 19873 Private Codling arrived in France in September 1915 and was in and out of the lines in October, November and December. The 8th Battalion relieved the 10th West Riding Regiment in trenches at La Rolanderie on the 18th December. Robert was awarded the DCM for his actions on the 21st. His citation reads, “For conspicuous gallantry near Rue du Bois on 21st December 1915, when under heavy fire and in the face of rifle grenades, he returned to a wounded comrade and brought him in. Later in the day he joined a patrol and searched under heavy fire for his platoon officer who had failed to return”. On 13th October 1916, at the age of 21, he died of wounds. The battalion had been serving in the area of Contalmaison and had suffered a number of casualties. He is buried at Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension in the Somme.
Submitted by Pauline Blewis. George was born in Old Malton and joined the Green Howards in around 1905. In the same year he married Annie Hemstock, a Richmond girl. Their family of three sons and a daughter were raised in the barracks, now the Garden Village. George served during the Boer War and during the First World War was transferred to the 13th Battalion (October 1915)- the battalion was made up of ‘Bantams’. George served through the war up to the Battle of Cambrai. On 23rd November 1917 he was sent up to the front line with his battalion with the aim of taking Bourlon Wood and village. Tanks were sent in with the infantry following up, eventually the village was taken after hand to hand fighting. George died during this advance and while his body was never found his name is inscribed on Panel 5 of the Cambrai Memorial. After his death the family were moved from the barracks into a house inside Richmond Castle.
Maureen Hunt told us about her grandfather, William Smith. William was born around 1883 in Wirksworth, Derbyshire and worked as a bath attendant at Matlock before the war. He volunteered early in the war and possibly joined the High Peak Rifles (later 6th battalion, Sherwood Foresters). He recounted to his family the horrors of war, having fought at the Battle of Ypres. Later in life he complained of chest pains as a result of having been gassed in the trenches. He was taken prisoner by the Germans on 21 March 1918, during the German Spring Offensive. He did not return to England until 1919. Gardening became a favourite pastime, helping him to cope with the mental and physical scars of war. William died in 1962 at almost 80 years of age.