Story submitted by Mrs Drury, a resident of Richmond.
Nancy Bainbridge was born in Weardale, County Durham in May 1894. She was one of eight children whose parents were hardy hill farmers. Nancy was a very practical person and joined Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service in 1914.
Nancy served at a military hospital in East Anglia where the nurses received casualties straight from the Somme. Her upbringing on a farm had afforded her some preparation for the ensuing, distressing sights and sounds. She described how the men arrived with mud and tufts of grass in their wounds. The nurses found out the hard way that soldiers’ skin, subjected to the mustard gas attacks in the trenches, could not be washed with water as that inflicted pain. Nancy received many deathbed requests.
After the war Nancy worked as a private nurse in families with disabled soldiers and patients with other conditions. She married Captain Jack (John Adam) Bell.
Nancy had a brother William, also a hill farmer and ten years older. He joined the Northumberland Fusiliers, but saw little service because, when detailed to chop an officer some sticks, a splinter blinded him in one eye.
Another sibling, Violet, worked in Barnard Castle’s recruiting office. Her soldier husband Harry Raine was awarded the Military Cross. The medal was presented to the Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle.
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Anthea Dunne dropped into the museum with a photo of her father (pictured in the centre of the group), and after a little research she has managed to piece together the story of his service during the First World War. William George Samuel Padden was my father from Pontnewydd, near Newport, Monmouthshire, he volunteered and enlisted at Carmarthen in west Wales on 9th October 1914, as part of The Pembrokeshire Yeomanry, the Territorial Force. As a Private in the Pembroke Yeomanry, he was given the regimental number 4390. Although not compelled to, he signed up as willing to serve overseas. He was transfered to 210 Company of the Machine Gun Corps (part of the 4th Dismounted Brigade) on 22nd October 1916 and given the new regimental number 74792. Initially a private in the Machine Gun Corps, he later became a corporal (29th May 1918). In April 1916 he sailed for Alexandria as part of the 4th Dismounted Brigade, fought in Egypt, stationed at Wadi El Natrun for 2 years. By 1917 this brigade had become part of The Welsh Regiment. By May 1918 he was fighting on the Western front in France. He was wounded on September 25th 1918 and sent home to a military hospital in Reading with a fractured right femur. He was finally discharged from hospital on May 3rd 1919 with a 40% degree of disablement and a pension of 12 shillings a week [with a temporary bonus of 20%]. He received a Silver War Badge in…
Information submitted by Mrs Drury of Richmond. Arthur Selwyn Morley MC was one of nine children of a Weardale hill farmer who sold up in 1894 and moved to Houghton-le-spring, County Durham. Arthur ran with the Houghton and District Harriers. When war broke out Arthur and three of his five brothers joined up. His regiment was the Durham Light Infantry and he did his training at Bullswater Camp, Woking, Surrey when he was a Lance Corporal in 1914, before he proceeded to the Flanders trenches. On one of his precious leaves he married in haste, as many soldiers did who had seen the countless deaths and injuries and knew their own chances of survival were not good. On one occasion in the trenches Arthur took command of his company, being a temporary Second Lieutenant, when senior officers became casualties. He led several attacks on an enemy position and behaved with great coolness and courage until his battalion was relieved. For this conspicuous gallantry he was awarded the Military Cross, but only weeks later he was killed and never got the chance to see his daughter. His name is on the Menin Gate. His elder brother William had a son soon after Arthur’s death and named that son for Arthur.
Edith Purkiss wanted to tell us about her father’s war service. George Johnson Junior was a Richmond lad whose father, also called George had seen active service in Egypt with the West Yorkshire Regiment. The 1911 census shows George Jnr was working as a groom and living in Richmond at 20 Bargate along with his parents and siblings. George Jnr enlisted into the Yorkshire Regiment on 3rd September 1914. Having survived the First Battle of the Somme unscathed he was later injured at the Second Battle of the Somme in 1918. He lay in no man’s land for a considerable amount of time, wounded, until he was carried to safety by Mr Buchanan who later became manager of Timothy Whites & Taylors chemist shop (now Boots). George was severely wounded in his right leg and left arm, and was sent to a convalescent hospital in Sheffield to recover. His wounds were so severe that he was discharged, aged 24 years on 26th June 1918. Although he survived, George suffered from ill health due as a result of his wounds all his life. Ironically, he was finally granted a war pension of the day he died, 15th June 1959.