Submitted by Wendy Patch
I am the granddaughter of the much celebrated Harry Patch, who is famous, for the most part because he survived the First World War. But I often think of my other grandfather, or great grandfather to be precise, who didn’t survive and of his wife, who was left a widow with five young children, my grandmother amongst them. His name was Warwick McCartney and he was a deserter. Who knows why, fear, no doubt but surely just as much a reluctance to leave his wife and young family. He was caught, taken to Scotland to be as far from his family as possible (he was a Londoner) to discourage absconding.
I know my great grandmother travelled up to Scotland by train to see him and that she knew when he was passing through London on his way to the front, so she went to the station hoping to see him as he passed through. Needless to say she was unsuccessful. He was put in the front lines, as I understand deserters often were and was killed, leaving his wife to manage on her own as best she could.
[Warwick’s] wife was called Caroline (maiden name Farmer) and she actually had seven children when he died, my grandmother Annie, Warwick (known as Wally), Nell, Carrie, Harry boy, Bobby and Georgie. The two little boys were in hospital, we think with diphtheria and when the policeman came to the door to tell her that her husband had been killed, she thought he’d come to tell her one of the boys had died. They did, in fact both die soon afterwards. Poor woman.
She married again a Bill Badder and had two more children, Joe and Joyce but Bill was “no good” so they divorced. Then her sister died in childbirth and she brought up the baby Donald and his older sister, another Joyce. She eventually married their father, when the law changed allowing her to marry her dead sister’s husband.
I remember her as a strong woman (she must have been) with a great sense of humour.
My mother was always telling us stories about her gran and loved her dearly.
Editor’s Note: As the image from the Ancestry website shows, Warwick may have been sent to Egypt (EEF = Egypt Expeditionary Force) for court martial, and so may not have died at the front in France.
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Florence was born on the 19th of October 1899 in Boxted, Essex, United Kingdom to Ellen Biggs and Henry Ernest Biggs. She enrolled as a VAD clerk for the British Red Cross and was stationed at the Military Hospital Catterick Camp. ‘Biggsie’, as she was known by her friends and fellow VAD workers, spent approximately a year at Catterick Camp. Stationed from 15th January 1918 until the 11th of February 1919 when she returned to Essex as a VAD G/S Clerk in the British Red Cross, Sobraon Military Hospital, Colchester. Florence Hilda Lily Biggs died in Essex, United Kingdom in 1984. This information, provided by Alathea Anderssohn has been drawn from the Imperial War Museum’s ‘Lives of the First World War’ archive.
George William Cattermole was born in Tudhoe County Durham in 1889 to George, a colliery worker, and Mary. He had two elder sisters called Sarah and Elizabeth. By 1906 he had left school and became a farm labourer. Aged 17 he travelled to Richmond and enlisted into the Yorkshire Regiment, 23rd April 1906. He was initially posted to the 3rd battalion and remains with the Yorkshire Regiment, recorded as living in the barracks at York during the 1911 census. By September 1918 Pte Cattermole is serving with the 2nd Battalion who were deployed near Arras. The war diaries describe the battalions involvement in an attack on the village of Epinoy on 27th September 1918 during which 5 officers and 127 other ranks are recorded as missing, possibly including George. Shortly after the regimental gazettes record George as a prisoner of war. He is released from captivity after the armistice on 11th November 1918 and returned to England.
Frank Walker joined the 4th (Territorial) Battalion East Yorks in Sept 1914. He served as a private in France until being commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in July 1916 with the 11th Battalion East Yorks (2nd Hull Pals). During the 1st Battle of Ypres in April 1915 the 4th Battalion East Yorks were mentioned in a dispatch from Major General Edward Bulfin (Yorkshire Regiment Green Howards) the Commander of the 28th Division. Also mentioned for ‘good service’ in the dispatch were the 8th Battalion Durham Light Infantry and the 4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment. Frank was promoted to temporary Lieutenant in January 1918 and acting Captain on the 14th October 1918. Frank would survive the war. In November 1917 the Battalion were based at Mont St. Eloi near Arras. It was here leading raiding party action that, in January 1918, Frank would be awarded Military Cross. The award appeared in the London Gazette on the 23th April 1918. The citation read: ‘For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during a daylight raid. He led his party across a long open stretch of ground to the enemy second line. After clearing the enemy trenches and taking prisoners he successfully effected a difficult withdrawal under heavy fire.’