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.
Explore more memories from the ribbon
Mary Burn visited the Green Howards Museum to tell us about her father’s cousin, Thomas Holmes. Prior to the outbreak of the First World War, Thomas Holmes worked for Mr Gaffanney, a coal dealer in Leeds. As a reservist, he was called up on the outbreak of War to the 9th Battalion, the West Yorkshire Regiment while his brother served with the 1st Scots Guards. At only 19 years of age, Private Holmes was sent to Gallipoli. One of the thousands to die at Suvla Bay, he was killed on 29th October 1915 and is buried at Hill 10 cemetery along with 548 other casualties.
The Green Howards Museum’s Fiona Hall shares her thoughts about Edward Methuen Stone, her maternal grandfather: “This picture shows my grandfather, Edward Stone, with my Mum on her wedding day in 1960. Edward was born in St Mary le Bow in London in about 1900; in the 1901 census he is shown as living with his parents and three older sisters – Eliza, Emma and Julia, and a brother, John in Armagh Road. There is absolutely no existing anecdotal information regarding Edward’s war service within our family. My older cousins, who knew their granddad as young children, can’t remember anything ever being said about it. My grandfather died ten years before I was born, and I can only remember my Mum saying what a kind and gentle father he was. My great uncle John was ten years older than Edward. It seems he served in the Royal Engineers and also survived the war. No service record exists for Grandad Stone, so we do not know when he enlisted or was demobbed, or precisely where he served, his medal card shows he was a Private in the Norfolk Regiment. A researcher at their regimental museum managed to find just one intriguing reference to him. On the 10th of October 1916 he is recorded as being in 23 Base General Hospital, Amara, Mesopotamia with a ‘slight gunshot wound’. That’s it. There’s nothing else. The boy from Bow was in what’s now Iraq! Needless to say my cousins are gobsmacked. How could we…
The Stansfeld family have many connections with the regiment. Both Thomas and his brother older brother ‘Jock’ served with the regiment in 1880s and 1890s. Thomas’ son and nephew also joined the regiment and both saw action in the Second World War. Thomas Wolryche Stansfeld was born in Leeds in 1877. He joined the regiment in 1897 and quickly rose to the rank of Captain. Stansfeld fought in the War in South Africa including the Battle of Paardeberg. Stansfeld was a skilled rider and joined the regiment’s Mounted Infantry Battalion. He was involved in many actions against the Boers, including the capture of the Elandsfontein railway station near Johannesburg. He narrowly escaped death when a bullet smashed into his cigarette case, leaving him unharmed. Stansfeld’s battlefield experiences were a major asset to the regiment in the First World War. During the First Battle of Ypres he ordered his company to rapidly fire at different intervals; fooling the Germans into believing that they were facing a nest of machine guns. Stansfeld survived the battle and fought throughout the First World War. After the war Stansfeld held a number of senior posts, including Commandant of the Small Arms School at Hythe. He retired from the Army in 1929 and died on the 23rd February 1935.