William was born in 1897 in the village of Thoralby, near Aysgarth, in the North Yorkshire Dales. Birth registrations show he was born in the first quarter of that year. He was the youngest son of farmer John and his wife Alice, living at Town Head Farm. The 1901 census shows he had two older brothers, Ralph 10 and John Hunter 7, and a sister Elizabeth 9. However, the 1911 census only shows William, and by that time his mother was a widow at 42. Also at the time, three boarders lodged at the farm. William attended the local school and in his teens became a valued member of Aysgarth Amateur Dramatic Society.
At the outbreak of war, aged 17, he enlisted in the 10th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment. He went to France in October 1915. By the onset of the 3rd Battle of Ypres in 1917 William was now a Corporal. It was during this offensive on the 3rd October that the 10th Battalion was involved in an action on Broodseinde ridge. It was during the heavy shelling on the 4th that William was killed. His body was never found. William is commemorated on a panel at the Tyne Cot Cemetery. He was just 19 years of age when he died.
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2nd Lieutenant Arthur F Clarke was attending the 5th Battalion annual camp in Wales when war broke out. He spent the first months of the war moving between Scarborough, Hull, Newcastle, Hartlepool and Darlington. On the 18th April 1915 he went out to France and was wounded during a gas attack on the 26th May 1915. The Green Howards Gazette records: “The day seemed interminable as the poor shelter had to be hugged tight all the time. With darkness came the order that we were to pass through GHQ lines and take up a front line position in Zouave Wood facing Hooge, where the main attack by the enemy had been made. That little strip of ground has since been the cockpit of our Western front. On our journey up another man was killed, and Lieutenant A F Clarke was wounded. That tour was destined to be the worst we had so far entered upon.” We know he returned to the front line as the Green Howard Gazette for January 1916 records that he was wounded. He rose to the rank of Captain in November 1916.
Peter Seaden-Jones visited us at a drop-in session at Richmond Station. From a photograph of his grandfather, we have managed to piece together the key details of Ernest John Pilcher’s war story. Ernest John Pilcher was born in Pietermaritzberg, Natal, South Africa in around 1881. According to the 1891 census, he appears to live in Chester as the 9 year old son of Frederick and Lucy Pilcher. He has a sister Edith and two brothers Archie and Arthur. His siblings are born in the U.K. but his father’s occupation as an Army Warrant Officer may explain Ernest’s birth in South Africa. On the 26th of December 1907 at the age of 26 he married Florence Alltimes at the Balham Hill Ascension church in Streatham. Florence was 23 years old at the time of their wedding. His occupation is recorded as a grocer. In the 1911 census Ernest and Florence were recorded as living at 23, Sussex street in Pimlico. He is listed as “Manager in the business of grocery stores”. Marjorie Edith their daughter was just 2 years old. At the age of 34 years and 6 months he enlisted in the army on the 22nd of November 1915. By this time his attestation record shows that he and Florence have a second daughter Peggy Dorothy born on the 6th of July 1913. Their address is now 20, Bellenden Road, Camberwell and his occupation is recorded as a “Traveller”. Although originally assigned to the Royal Field Artillery he transferred to…
Submitted by Ron Taylor, “raised in Shute Road Catterick Camp, moved to Scotton and was schooled in Richmond before wandering around with the forces”……who wanted to tell us about his grandfather, Percy. Percy was born about 1891 in Brighton Sussex, and died 20 September 1967 aged 76. 68703 Bdr Percy Levi Lelliott, enlisted in the 119th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, Sussex on 12 Dec 1915. He undertook initial training at Shorncliffe. His unit embarked for France on 5 June 1916, and he fought at the Battle of the Somme. Percy distinguished himself in the field on several occasions by bringing in wounded men under heavy gunfire, sometimes dragging them by his teeth. He was subsequently awarded the DCM. Discharged as Sgt (Acting BSM) 13 February 1919. Percy retired in 1946 after a long career in the Police Force. PC Lelliott received four Commendations from the Watch Committee and local magistrates, two of which referred to rescue operations at Fairlight and Ecclesbourne Cliffs. Retired, Grandpa Percy sat in his Windsor Chair, smoked his pipe and tended his greenhouse.