George Frederick Gywn Rees and his younger brother Charles Bernard Russell Rees from Leicestershire both joined the Yorkshire Regiment during the First World War. Their parents, Sydney and Margaret Rees were relatively wealthy and they lived in Sheffield for much of their childhood. Sydney was a Church of England clergyman. Born only 1 year apart, George in 1895 and Charles in 1896, it would appear that they took similar paths through their early life. In the 1911 census they were both recorded as living at a boarding school in Workshop along with several hundred other boys.
George and Charles both joined the 5th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment in 1915. Unfortunately their service records do not appear to have survived but museum records track their military careers from 1915 to 1918. George was wounded twice, in November 1916 and in June 1917, but neither wound appears to have affected his career as he was promoted to acting Captain in July 1917. Charlie however appears to have made it through the war relatively unscathed. Other than various promotions he is not listed until June 1918 as missing, turning up as a Prisoner of War in September. He returned home in late 1918 to Scrayingham Rectory, Stamford Bridge, York.
Charles’ medal card records that he received the Victory Medal and the British War Medal. Both brothers survived the war but we do not know what happened to them later in life.
Explore more memories from the ribbon
Alfred Martlew was a member of the No-Conscription Fellowship and the Independent Labour Party. He was uncompromising in his stance against the war but despite his protestations he was ordered to join the Non-Combatant Corps. He was one of the 16 men sent from Richmond to France in May 1916. After returning to England, Martlew was imprisoned at Winchester before being offered a place on the Home Office Scheme. This gave ‘genuine’ and ‘sincere’ conscientious objectors the opportunity to undertake civilian work under civilian control as an alternative to time in prison. Martlew worked in the quarry at Dyce Camp, spinning at Wakefield Work Centre, West Yorkshire, and tree felling in Dalswinton, Dumfries. But like many other conscientious objectors he questioned whether the work he was performing was still contributing, if indirectly, to the war effort. In 1917 Martlew went missing from his Home Office Scheme post and travelled to York where, before the war, he had been a ledger clerk at Rowntrees Cocoa works. There he met his fiancée, Annie Leeman. He gave her his money, watch and other possessions, and told her he intended to hand himself in to the police authorities. This was their last meeting. Just over a week later Martlew’s body was found in the River Ouse at Bishopthorpe. Although the inquest into his death returned the unresolved verdict of ‘found drowned’, the coroner thought it likely that he had taken his own life.
Henry Parker In October 2015 the Green Howards Museum was contacted by the Ministry of Defence’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC). Human remains had been found in a field to the north- east of the village of Martinpuich on the Somme. The JCCC wanted to know if we could do anything to help identify this unknown soldier. We looked at events around Martinpuich between 25 and 27 September 1916. 77 men were lost, whilst an additional 319 Officers and Other Ranks were either wounded, or listed as ‘missing’. The remains could have belonged to any one of a potential 396 men. Through a process of elimination using research and archive information, we produced a shortlist of 12. To get any further, science needed to play its part. The Forensic team from JCCC collected DNA from the femur of the remains. DNA was taken from the next of kin of our shortlisted missing soldiers who had agreed to take part in the process. The remains were positively identified as those of 3183 Private Henry Parker, born 29th September 1893 in Weavererthorpe, in the Yorkshire Wolds. He was killed in action, aged 22, during the Battle of the Somme on 26 September 1916. Shoulder badges, uniform buttons, a belt buckle and clip, bullet and cut throet razor were found with the remains of Private Henry Parker – these are now on display at the museum. He was reburied with full military honours in Warlencourt Cemetary in France on 17th May 2017….
Story submitted by Mrs Drury. Jack (John Adam) Bell was the son of a gamekeeper at Langdon Beck in Teesdale, County Durham. He grew up in the countryside a became a railway clerk. When he joined the army and went to experience life in the trenches he had the horror of standing next to a fellow soldier when his head was blown off. Jack also had to endure the news that his own brother had been killed. Jacks country knowledge became most useful in the mire of Flanders. He would cut trenches to make a sleeping place out of the mud, trap rabbits and stew them in a metal helmet. He would look after horses for officers who had never had to look after their own mounts before. He described how starved the horses were near the front line – the near stampedes when fodder was brought and how the horses gnawed each others’ manes and tails for food. He remembered how long the cavalry had to stand mounted and how weak horses collapsed. Remounts were needed constantly and Jack was sent in to break in and train them. He was stationed on the Thames, possibly at Tilbury, to receive horses, practically wild sent by ship from South America and often in a sorry state on arrival. He had six weeks to prepare each batch (size unknown) for dispatch abroad. During this training Jack rode these recovered and lively horses with a ladies side saddle as he said it was…