William Hird was nominated for the Ribbon of Remembrance by Dianne Evans, and his story illustrates a problem that can occur with records that are a century old.
Thanks to the original 1914-16 enlistment leger at the Green Howards Museum, we can say with some confidence that William enlisted on 10th December 1914 in the City of Durham and that he was posted to the 3rd Battalion, based at West Hartlepool on 18th January 1915.
According to his medal card 18390 Acting Lance Corporal William Hird served in France from 19th September 1915, and was entitled to the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
William is recorded on the ‘Soldiers died in the Great War 1914-1919’ database as having died on 29 September 1916 as a Private in the 7th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment. This might have been the case, but on examining the battalion war diary, the 7th Battalion were away from the frontline in training and there are no records of any deaths that day. Of course soliders would often die from wounds days after an offensive, however the Green Howards Gazzette for December 1916 records that 18390 W Hird was Killed in Action – there is a separate list for those who Died of Wounds.
On further investigation, the Register of Soldier’s Effects lists William as being in the 6th Battalion when he was killed in action in France. The war diary of 6th battalion recounts the attempted assault on ‘Stuff Redoubt’ (27-30th September), a terrible fight in which both British and German troops occupied the same earthwork. Captain Archie White was to be awarded the Victoria Cross for his command during this action. A total of 381 ‘Other Ranks’ were killed or wounded during the fight at ‘Stuff Redoubt’ according to the battalion diary, making it much more likely (but not certain) that William died fighting with the 6th battalion, rather than in training with the 7th. His body was not found and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial – one of 72,000 names of soliders with no known grave.
Explore more memories from the ribbon
Marcia Howard submitted this photo of her father, Philip Baker (right) and her Uncle Leslie – both ready to defend King and Country in 1915. The story she has to tell connects the First and Second World Wars: “Philip my father and Uncle Leslie were the two youngest of the boys in their large family. With an ‘Army’ father in the Hampshire Regiment, it depended on his posting as to where each child was born. Uncle Leslie b.1907 was born in Bermuda, although by the time my dad arrived, they were back in England and he was born 1910 in Winchester. Older siblings had been born in various locations including County Cork, Aldershot and Hampshire. My grandfather Ernest Benjamin Baker was discovered to have haemophilia, a condition which eventually caused his demise, but with an Army Pension, was retained as an Army Messenger as far as I am aware. My grandfather, who died well before I was born, suffered a nose bleed after falling off his bike which caused him to bleed to death. From checking the National School Admission Register, Leslie went to St Thomas’s Higher Grade National/Service Church of England school in Winchester. I couldn’t find details of where my father Philip went to school, but I do recall him telling me during my early teenage years, that he had hated school, and one day had just walked out, never to return. It was a year before he was officially allowed to leave. Fortunately for him he was both…
Kenneth Henderson was born on the 29th May 1895 at Sutton in Surrey, the third and youngest child of Robert and Janie Henderson. His father was a bank manager. The family were quite reasonably well off as the 1911 census shows the family having 3 servants. By this time Kenneth was at Charterhouse School. His early life is undocumented. On the outbreak of WW1 Kenneth enlisted in the 28th Battalion, The London Regiment (Artists’ Rifles). This was a popular unit for volunteers and a number would be selected to be officers in other Regiments, as Kenneth would be. On the 26th October he landed in France with the Artists’ Rifles and on the 15th March 1915 was made temporary 2nd Lieutenant with the 2nd Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment. During 1915 he saw action with the 2nd Battalion at Fromelles, Festuber and Givenchy. On the 7th July 1916 during the Somme offensive he received his fourth wound of the war. After the war he was with the newly reconstituted 6th Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment, for service in the Russian Archangel campaign. It was here that he received the Military Cross. The London Gazette of the 21st January 1919 read: ‘He has carried out the duties of a Company Commander of a mixed force at Bolshe-Ozerki and has worked in a very efficient way. He has had continuous service on this front since November 1918 and in four engagements in which his company has taken part he has proved to be a fearless and…
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.