Thomas Holman, great-grandfather of Carl Watts, the Green Howard Museum’s Learning Officer, worked as a boiler maker at the Wellington Foundry in Lincoln. At the outbreak of war the company which owned the foundry, Fosters, converted production from agricultural vehicles to war machinery. It was here that the first tanks were developed under the management of William Tritton.
Secrecy was of the utmost importance, and the original code name for the revolutionary new vehicle was ‘The water-carrier for Mesopotamia and Russia’. Bill Rigby, chief draughtsman and designer recounted in the mid-1980s that eventually a group of the boiler makers came to is office, fed up with the long winded code name. Their suggestion that it should just be referred to as ‘the bl**dy tank!’ has stuck with the vehicle and its successors ever since.
Thomas Holman is pictured with colleagues back row, third from the left in front of ‘Lurcher’ a Mark IV male tank in November 1917.
His brother George Edward Holman served with the 6th battalion Lincolnshire Regiment at Gallipoli, Egypt and France. The efforts of the brothers were combined on 15 September 1916, as 6th Lincs were at the Battle of Flers Courcelette – the first battle to see the use of the tank.
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Paul Goad, a resident of Frenchgate and local history enthusiast submitted his research on one of the families from Frenchgate at the time of the Great War. The Fawcett family lived at 55 Frenchgate, Richmond throughout the First World Ward. John Fawcett, who worked in agriculture and construction, lived here with his wife Elizabeth Grace, daughter Elizabeth Alice and two sons, Christopher and Cyril Edgar. John was born in Castle Bolton in Wensleydale, Elizabeth Grace in Thornton Buckinghamshire and all three children hailed from the small parish of Walburn, Downholme a little way up Swaledale from Richmond. At the outbreak of hostilities Christopher was 20 and Cyril 14. As the eldest, Christopher was the first to enlist on 27th November 2015, three months shy of his 22nd birthday. Prior to enlistment he worked as a butcher, a profession he continued after the war. In January 1916 he joined the 4th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry. The 4th DLI were a reserve Battalion and were station at Seaham Harbour from 1915 through to the end of the War. Records confirm that Christopher was based at Seaham from 1916 to June 1918 serving in D Company. A copy of a charge sheet shows that Christopher was late returning from leave on June 12th 1916 for which he was forfeited 1 days pay. In October 1917 Cyril enlisted at the age of 18 years and 1 month, giving his trade as a Motor Driver. Despite his Attestation papers suggesting that he was…
Deirdre Tyler of Richmond explained the story of Ernest (Ernie) John Tyler to us at one of our drop-in days. Ernie was born on 23 April 1880 in Edmonton, London. He served in the Royal Engineers 1914-1919, mainly with 29 Division and saw active service in the Dardanelles and the Somme. He embarked for his first active service on 2 June 1915. He was one of the few Royal Engineers aboard the “S.S. River Clyde” in 1915, when it was ill-fatedly beached at “V” beach, Cape Helles, Gallipoli, under the guns of the defenders. Six VC’s were subsequently awarded to the ship’s crew for their courage in maintaining the bridge and rescuing the wounded from the beach. Ernie subsequently spent time in Egypt and then at the Home Depot. He suffered from typhoid or enteric fever and as a result was granted home furlough from 29 February to 19 April 1916. He also caught malaria, being classed B,ii for six months as a result. He was awarded a Good Conduct Badge on 18 June 1917. Ernie lost two of his brothers in the Great War, one at Gallipoli, and another at sea. After the First World War, Ernie returned to his work in the postal service and was in charge of the first telegraph message motor cycle delivery riders. He had six children who survived into adulthood. Five served their country in the forces; four in the second world war and one post war. Bernard, his eldest son, was killed…
Kevin Robinson of Dalton on Tees visited the Green Howards museum to tell us about his great great grandfather, Sergeant Henry Robinson MM. Henry joined the Yorkshire Regiment (the Green Howards) as a very young man and soon left the UK to serve in the Boer War. Henry had several service numbers during his career with the earliest (and therefore a low number) being 421. On returning from the Boer war he then went to serve in the First World War both in France and Belgium, Henry and his division engaged in 2nd & 3rd Battle of Ypres, 1st & 2nd Battle of the Somme and the Battle of Arras to name a few. He is believed to have been a very accomplished horseman. His army career spanned some 4 decades as a Territorial reservist. During this time he picked up a proud chest-full of medals including the Military Medal awarded 10th October 1916. Adding a Bar to his MM in October 1918, other medals believed to be Queens South Africa Medal, 1914 Star, British War Medal, and Victory Medal with Oak Leaf (Mentioned in Despatches). Henry was also a Hero when not serving his country he was serving children with fun, Henry and his wife Elvira lived in a motor home at Derby Street / Cooper Street / Canon Street Common in Middlesbrough. They operated several fun fair rides which included swing boats and a roundabout. They continued to run the fun fair rides for several decades into the…