Thomas was born around 1894 in Appleby Westmorland and settled in Hawes before the Great War. He married a local girl and had a family of 4 young children. He was a good footballer and played in goal for Hawes Football Club for many years in local leagues. He was also a member of the Hawes Conservative Club billiards team and secretary of the Hawes Brass Band. When he enlisted in 1914 Thomas was the first married man from Hawes to join up.
Thomas joined the 6th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment and saw action in the latter stages of the 1915 Dardanelles campaign and in February 1916 they were in Egypt. The Battalion embarked for France arriving at Marseilles on July 1st and then travelled to billets in Arras taking over trenches at Agny. In September 1916 they were entrenched in Thiepval area where on the 14th they encountered severe fighting resulting in heavy losses for the 6th Battalion, five officers and 130 men dead. One of the dead was Thomas, killed instantly by shellfire. At the time of his death Thomas had the rank of Corporal.
His body was recovered and he is buried at Lonsdale cemetery, just north of Albert.
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John was born in October 1876, the eldest son of Warrin and Ellen Mitton of Hawes. His father Warrin was both a joiner and a farmer. John married a girl from the Leyburn area, Mary Teresa, in July 1905 and had two daughters. Before joining the Army he spent four years as a postman in Raydaleside and previous to that, for about 14 years, a rural postman at Finghall near Leyburn. It was while he was there he got married. On leaving Finghall the people on his round presented him with a marble clock, pipe and a pouch containing some money. Needless to say he was a very well liked postman! He played for Hawes football team for many years, and for two years the club secretary. He was a fine billiards player and a member of Hawes Church choir. John was described as a cheery likeable chap. John enlisted at Leyburn joining the 2nd Battalion Yorkshire Regiment and embarked for France at the end of July 1916. On April 7th 1917 the Battalion readied itself for the Arras Offensive which was due to start on the 9th. Private John Mitton was killed on that opening day. He was 40 years old. John is buried in the Neuville-Vitasse Road Cemetary, SE of Arras.
Jane Metcalfe visited the museum and outlined the story of her father, John Smith. He was born in Dundee, Forfar in 1883. After working as a boilermaker, he joined the Royal Engineers on 1 September 1909 and remained in military service until 31 January 1930. He spent time at Catterick Camp one hundred years ago at the time of the garrison’s founding. During the First World War John served in Egypt, before being transferred to the British Expeditionary Force in France. He became a Lance Corporal, and was promoted to Sergeant in April 1917. His record was ‘Exemplary’, and he was described as ‘Extremely honest, sober and reliable. A good organiser and very good in charge of men.’ 1852361 Sergeant John smith was awarded the 1914 Star, the British War medal, the Victory medal, the General Service medal and the Long Service and Good Conduct medal.
Ruth Kendon came into the museum and told us the story of her father, Reginald Howes. Reginald Howes (1889-1977) attended the University of London Officer Training Corps (OTC) between 6 May 1915 and 20 July 1916 before being commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Yorkshire Regiment on 21 July 1916. He served with the 4th Battalion as temporary Adjutant and Intelligence Officer, and was wounded on 15 September 1916 at Kemmel, just south of Ypres. Ruth remembers him saying he was wounded on the day tanks were first used. Howes was awarded the Military Cross in March 1918, for “conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty” on the Somme, during the Kaiserschlacht offensive and promoted to Captain the following month. He was taken prisoner on 27 May 1918 and released on 14 December 1918. Ruth kindly donated a number of items which belonged to her father to the museum for safekeeping.