Lorna Pound visited us on one of our drop-in days to share the story of her grandfather, 58755 Sapper Thomas Henry (Harry) Wright.
Harry was born in Richmond on 18 October 1878. At just 14 years old he attempted to enlist with the West Yorkshire Regiment in York on the 2nd November 1892, claiming he was 18 years old. Eight days later he was discharged with a payment of £1. In the face of this set back he continued with his apprenticeship as a saddler with Mrs Rymer in Northallerton. It is likely that he re-enlisted again sometime after reaching the age of 18 years as a photograph taken in the early 1900s shows him in uniform as a Lance Corporal. In 1918 he married and was still employed as a saddler with H Myers in Richmond Market Place.
On 26th December 1914 he presented himself for enlistment into the Royal Engineers. It is said within the family that he was told if he enlisted early he could keep his trade of saddler whilst serving. Sadly Sapper Wright’s papers did not survive the bombings of the Second World War and therefore it is not known which unit he originally served with but he was initially sent to Egypt on 7th August 1915. He certainly served in France for some time as numerous embroidered cards survive which he sent to his wife and children. By the end of the war in 1918 he was serving with 5 Corps Signals Company Royal Engineers.
Harry likely returned to England in the spring of 1919, having spent some time at Oldway Mansion, Paignton in Devon which was transformed into the American Womens Relief Hospital. His statement of conduct describes him as a man who has “proved himself an excellent worker at his trade. He is thoroughly trustworthy”.
He was discharged to the reserve on 27th June 1919. For his service in the Great War he received the 1915 Star, the British War medal and the Victory medal.
Explore more memories from the ribbon
William Hird was nominated for the Ribbon of Remembrance by Dianne Evans, and his story illustrates a problem that can occur with records that are a century old. Thanks to the original 1914-16 enlistment leger at the Green Howards Museum, we can say with some confidence that William enlisted on 10th December 1914 in the City of Durham and that he was posted to the 3rd Battalion, based at West Hartlepool on 18th January 1915. According to his medal card 18390 Acting Lance Corporal William Hird served in France from 19th September 1915, and was entitled to the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. William is recorded on the ‘Soldiers died in the Great War 1914-1919’ database as having died on 29 September 1916 as a Private in the 7th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment. This might have been the case, but on examining the battalion war diary, the 7th Battalion were away from the frontline in training and there are no records of any deaths that day. Of course soliders would often die from wounds days after an offensive, however the Green Howards Gazzette for December 1916 records that 18390 W Hird was Killed in Action – there is a separate list for those who Died of Wounds. On further investigation, the Register of Soldier’s Effects lists William as being in the 6th Battalion when he was killed in action in France. The war diary of 6th battalion recounts the attempted assault on ‘Stuff Redoubt’…
Richard Oliver was 22 years old when he enlisted at Cramlington in September 1914. He was from Esh Winning, Crook, Co. Durham and was a miner. He enlisted in the Northumberland Fusiliers but was posted to the Yorkshire Regiment. He served in the 9th and 10th Battalions and whilst with the 10th Battalion in 1915 he was awarded the Military Medal. He served in France and Italy and became disabled due to the effects of gassing. He was discharged in March 1920 and was initially given a pension of 8 shillings a week, but this was subsequently withdrawn and his appeal rejected. He left the army as a Corporal, he served in France from 1915 to 1917 and on the Italian Front from November 1917 until December 1918.
Captain Frank Woodcock 5th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment Captain Woodcock, who was only 22 years of age, was the youngest son of John and Elizabeth Woodcock of Driffield Yorkshire. He was killed in action during an assault on the 15th of September 1916. Frank was one of 6 children having 2 brothers and 3 sisters, the family must have been “comfortably off” because the 1901 census records his father as “living on his own means” and they had a servant called Margaret. He was educated at Bridlington School, where he was in the Officer Training Corps (O.T.C.). He became a Second Lieutenant in a Territorial Battalion in December 1912. He was promoted Lieutenant in April 1914 and then to Captain in May 1915. The Regimental Gazette recorded his death as follows: “The death of Captain Woodcock deprives his battalion of a very capable Company Commander and a very popular Officer. Despite his youth, he very soon proved himself an Officer of much resource and dauntless courage. He was wounded when wiring in front of the trenches in July 1915, and returned to France in January 1916 when he succeeded to the command of a Company. It was in this capacity that he showed himself a cool and capable Commander with great initiative and pluck, always setting a fine example to his men when any dangerous work had to be performed. He was twice mentioned in despatches. Captain Woodcock is buried at Flatiron Copse cemetery in France.