Marcia Howard submitted this photo of her father, Philip Baker (right) and her Uncle Leslie – both ready to defend King and Country in 1915. The story she has to tell connects the First and Second World Wars:
“Philip my father and Uncle Leslie were the two youngest of the boys in their large family. With an ‘Army’ father in the Hampshire Regiment, it depended on his posting as to where each child was born. Uncle Leslie b.1907 was born in Bermuda, although by the time my dad arrived, they were back in England and he was born 1910 in Winchester. Older siblings had been born in various locations including County Cork, Aldershot and Hampshire. My grandfather Ernest Benjamin Baker was discovered to have haemophilia, a condition which eventually caused his demise, but with an Army Pension, was retained as an Army Messenger as far as I am aware. My grandfather, who died well before I was born, suffered a nose bleed after falling off his bike which caused him to bleed to death.
From checking the National School Admission Register, Leslie went to St Thomas’s Higher Grade National/Service Church of England school in Winchester. I couldn’t find details of where my father Philip went to school, but I do recall him telling me during my early teenage years, that he had hated school, and one day had just walked out, never to return. It was a year before he was officially allowed to leave. Fortunately for him he was both intelligent, and practical with his hands, and with a strong work ethic, became a self-taught engineer.
He married my mum Ivy in 1936, and at the outbreak of war in 1939, now with a young son (my eldest brother b.1938), was living in Bedfordshire. He worked as an Maintenance Engineer & Tool Fitter in the factory of ‘Malleable Iron Founders & Engineers’. As a ‘Key’ man, he was left to run the factory which had solely gone over to the production of Ammunition for the duration of the war, manned mainly by a workforce of women. It was a difficult time for my father as he suffered abuse on the street, still being fairly young but dressed as a civilian. My mother in later years told me he had also been given white feathers, as had happened to others in the Great War. He was a proud man and suffered great shame during this time, as he would have loved to have ‘gone off to war’. He was however on regular night-time fire-watch for the duration. Soon after the end of WWII he moved the family, which by this time had increased to 5 with the arrival of 3 more children, to London, where I was eventually born in 1948.”
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Christine Howie (née Magee) visited the museum to tell us about the sad story of her Grandfather, John Magee who was born in Birkdale in 1889. 30876 Private John Magee enlisted on 24th July 1915 and served with the 12th Battalion of the King’s Liverpool Regiment during the First World War. He was wounded by a shell burst which damaged his left wrist and led to him being hospitalised. The distinctive ‘hospital blues’ are shown on his photo, a uniform worn by enlisted men during treatment. The fingers of his hand were badly damaged and as a result he received the Silver War Badge – according to regulations he was “no longer physically fit for war service”. At home in Southport John’s wife Annie was looking after the two children. In the photograph, Christine’s father Harry is depicted age three, with his elder brother John Alfred. Tragically, as the extract from her death certificate shows, Annie was to be one of the victims of the outbreak of Spanish flu. Her death came just a few days after the signing of the Armistice that brought about an end to the fighting. John’s sister Kitty took care of the children until John returned – to bring Harry and John Alfred up as a single parent.
Submitted by Rachel Blenkinsop. Arthur Bateman (Rachel’s maternal grandfather) served with the Royal Army Medical Corps. The photograph of him with his peers shows that he qualified as a Signaller (seated in the centre of the group – a crossed flag badge on his left sleeve is evidence of his Signals qualification). He was based in Boulogne at the 83rd (Dublin) General Hospital. In addition to its role as a general hospital, the 83rd had three specialist units treating facial injuries, eye injuries and had a ‘physical medicine’ or rehabilitation unit established by the Red Cross. Electric shock treatment was used at the hospital – this was often seen as a way of attempting to treat the symptoms of shell shock, but was also used when trying to allieviate problems with limbs. In a handwritten poem by one of the patients, both the electric shock treatment and also Arthur Bateman’s artistic ability are drawn to the fore. The 83rd General Hospital was moved from Boulogne at the end of the conflict, but was re-established in the Rhur (part of the area occupied by Allied troops following the Armistice). Arthur’s photo album shows that he too was relocated to Langenfeld to help care for the men of the army of occupation. Phyllis Cawthra, who became Mrs Bateman in 1923 caught the Spanish ‘flu at the end of the war. While she survived, the infection caused her to suffer from deafness…
Thomas was born around 1894 in Appleby Westmorland and settled in Hawes before the Great War. He married a local girl and had a family of 4 young children. He was a good footballer and played in goal for Hawes Football Club for many years in local leagues. He was also a member of the Hawes Conservative Club billiards team and secretary of the Hawes Brass Band. When he enlisted in 1914 Thomas was the first married man from Hawes to join up. Thomas joined the 6th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment and saw action in the latter stages of the 1915 Dardanelles campaign and in February 1916 they were in Egypt. The Battalion embarked for France arriving at Marseilles on July 1st and then travelled to billets in Arras taking over trenches at Agny. In September 1916 they were entrenched in Thiepval area where on the 14th they encountered severe fighting resulting in heavy losses for the 6th Battalion, five officers and 130 men dead. One of the dead was Thomas, killed instantly by shellfire. At the time of his death Thomas had the rank of Corporal. His body was recovered and he is buried at Lonsdale cemetery, just north of Albert.