Submitted by Olivia Wallis of Richmond. Thomas Cole, son of Ben and Jane Cole, was born in Gainford, Durham in 1882, though the farming family resided in the local village of Newsham. On 9th June 1906, Thomas married Margaret Ellen Watson in St Cuthbert’s Church, Durham and, by 1911, Thomas and Margaret were the parents of Thomas, aged 3, Mary, aged 2, and Ben, aged only 11 months.
Following the outbreak of war, though the exact date uncertain, Thomas enlisted at the neighbouring village of Dalton, and joined the 9th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment.
Throughout his time with the 9th Battalion, Thomas wrote often to his devoted wife and children. In October 1916, Thomas wrote to tell his wife that he had become teetotal, news he expected to surprise his wife, explaining ‘I can’t drink French beer!’ Perhaps more poignantly, Thomas also expressed to Margaret his hopes of the future and a hope that future generations would never suffer the horrors of war.
Thomas never got to pursue his hopes, he was killed on 23rd June 1917, aged 35. The battalion war diary for 23rd June does not detail events of that day, it simply collates casualties for the month as 6 men killed, 1 wounded and 2 missing.
Private Thomas Cole is buried at Dickebusch New Military Cemetery, Belgium and commemorated locally on the war memorial in Newsham village.
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Horace Stoney was born on 7th December 1897. He was baptised in February 1898 at the Free Methodist Chapel, in Leeds close to where they were living at the time. At the age of 13 he was working as an office boy for an engineer and living at home with his parents in Leeds. On 10th December 1915, three days after he turned 18 Horace went to Leeds, joined the Royal Army Service Corp (RASC) and was posted to the Army Reserve. His service record includes the statement: “Transferred to Learners’ Section” on 10th October 1916. A contract survives, signed by Horace the day previous, declaring that he joined the RASC with a view to be trained as a Motor Transport Driver. Success would guarantee him an additional 1 shilling per day in pay, and provide him with a skill to use after the war. The RASC ensured that ammunition, food and equipment was delivered forming a complex supply network. Horace survived the war, although he contracted malaria, and was discharged in 1919. The 1939 Register lists him as living with his parents, John and Sarah, and his aunt Harriet, at his childhood home in Leeds. He was working as a Clerk Store Highway Constable and although he is listed married, his wife is not mentioned on the record.
Samuel was born in 1894 at Askrigg. His mother, Frances, was 20 years old and single. However, 5 years later she married Wilfred Kirk, the likely father of Samuel though the 1911 census has Samuel down as a ‘stepson’. Wilfred was some 20 years senior to Frances and a farmer. They would have four more children, all girls. However, the 1911 census only shows two daughters as being listed. Samuel attended Hardraw School and worked on the family farm. Samuel enlisted at Leyburn in June 1916 joining the 6th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment. The Battalion went to France later that year. On November 1st 1917 the Battalion was in the support line SE of Loos in northern France. Between the 4th and the 6th work was spent on improving the Battalion trenches. On the 9th Samuel and his colleagues were helping in the preparations for a raid, cutting wire and ladder placements. On the evening of the 9th during heavy shelling Samuel was badly wounded. He was taken to a Casualty Clearing Station near Bethune. On the night of the 12th November Private Samuel Kirk Lambert died. He is buried in Choques Military Cemetery.
William was born on the 16th December 1894 in the village of Murton in County Durham. At 14 he would follow his father down the pit at Mutton Colliery. At the outbreak of war he enlisted on the 3rd September, aged 20, into the Yorkshire Regiment, The Green Howards, and was posted to the 8th (Service) Battalion. The Battalion travelled to France in August 19115 as part of the 69th Brigade, 23rd Division. It was during the Somme offensive in 1916 that William would win his first Military medal, having gone out into no-man’s-land to rescue a wounded officer. The following year during 3rd Ypres, generally known as Passcheandaele, he received a bar to his Military Medal, again recuing men wounded or buried under shellfire. In late 1917 he was part of the detachment of British and French troops sent to the Italian front to bolster the Italians after their disastrous defeat at the Battle of Caparetto. In October of 1918 the allied advance culminated in their victory at the Battle of Vittorio Veneto paving the way for the total defeat of the Austrian Army. It was during this battle that William received the Victoria Cross having put to flight the enemy and capturing a machine gun. William left the Army in February 1919 and returned to life down the pit at Murton Colliery. He married and would father 6 children. In 1940 he joined the Local Defence Volunteers in Murton and the following year served in the Durham Home…