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.
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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’…
Gilbert Davison Pitt Eykyn was born at the France Lynch parsonage in Gloucestershire on the 22nd August 1881. He was baptised on the 29th September 1881. He was the only son of the late Reverend Pitt Eykyn. His father at the time of his death was Chaplain at Parel Bombay. Gilbert married Emily Constance on the 28th November 1902 and a son, Duncan Arthur, was born on the 11th August. The 1911 census shows that Duncan was born Poona in India. At some point after the family returned to England they moved to Northallerton in North Yorkshire. Gilbert was a career soldier. He was also a gifted linguist, having passed Army exams in Russian, French and Hindustani. He received his first commission with the 3rd Loyal North Lancashire Regiment in 1899. He then joined the 4th Manchester Battalion in May 1901 and was promoted to Lieutenant on the 24th December 1901. He joined the Royal Scots on the 4th February 1905 attaining the rank of Captain on the 26th June 1913. On the 13th February 1913 he was appointed adjutant to the 4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment in Northallerton. During his military career he had served in India and saw action in the 2nd Boer War (1899-1902). Gilbert was with the 4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment when they arrived in France just prior to the 2nd Ypres offensive. He was killed leading his men in the storming of St Julien on the 24th April 1915. He was 34 years old. Gilbert has…
Judith Farrah told us about her great-grandfather James Allen, who’s joinery business contributed to the war effort on the Home Front. “James Allen was born in 1855 in Newbiggin, Richmond. He was originally called James Thistlethwaite but changed his name to Allen, which was his stepfathers name. He apprenticed with William Raworth, learning to be a joiner, and married his daughter Matilda. By 1901 he had set up his own joinery business known as James Allen & Son Ltd and worked on the Kursaal (later known as The Royal Hall) in Harrogate.” During the First World War, James did not join the armed forces but used his joinery business to create boxes for munitions. Static trench warfare required huge numbers of shells; the First World War became a war of production. Hundreds of manufacturing companies, including James’, were commandeered for munitions production. As men were sent to the trenches, women moved into the factories. Some factories’ workforce was almost entirely female, and this was true for James’ business.