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.
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William was born in Middlesbrough on the 26th March 1887. He was the son of Joseph and Maria Constantine of Harlesly Hall Northallerton. He was one of five offspring, having 2 sisters and 2 brothers. His father ran a shipping company which he had started in 1885 and would last until it was sold off in 1960. At the outbreak of WW1 the company had 28 vessels, 22 being ocean going and 6 coastal. During the war 13 of the company vessels and 32 crewmen would perish. William was gazetted into the Yorkshire Regiment as a 2nd Lieutenant in March 1906, promoted to Lieutenant 27th May 1907, and to Captain 5th October 1913. He served in France with the 4th Battalion. He suffered gassing at Ypres on the 24th May 1915 and was wounded on the Somme on the 15th September 1916. In 1916 he was awarded the Military Cross for ‘conspicuous gallantry in action’ which was cited in the London Gazette on the 14th November 1916. He had been promoted to Major on the 13th June 1916. On the 2nd May 1918 he was posted to The 2nd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment, then in August to the 9th Battalion the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. The family were associated with Constantine College in Middlesbrough having donated £40,000 towards the building cost. The college opened in 1930. William died on the 11th November 1970 and was buried at the Church of St. Oswald, East Harlsey where he had been Churchwarden…
John was born on the 4th January 1890 at East Witton in North Yorkshire and was the eldest son of John and Annie Maughan. They lived at Abbey Hill, a large house overlooking Jervaulx Abbey near Middleham, North Yorkshire. John senior was the agent for the Jervaulx estate. John was educated at Marlborough College. He was gazetted to a commission in the 4th Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment in 1909 and was promoted Captain on the 3rd November 1914. John went to France in April 1915 and was in action at the 2nd Battle of Ypres just a few days later. His distinguished service during this action resulted in him being ‘Mentioned in Dispatches’ by Sir John French. On the 12th February 1916 the Battalion occupied trenches around Hill 60 near Ypres. Work was ongoing repairing trenches when on the 14th February the Germans began to bombard them. The enemy also exploded a mine which killed thirteen men. On the 17th February, ironically regarded as a relatively quiet day, some minor shelling resulted in John being hit and killed by shrapnel. Captain John Maughan was buried in Poperinghe New Military Cemetery. John’s name is commemorated on the War Memorial at East Witton.
Anthea Dunne dropped into the museum with a photo of her father (pictured in the centre of the group), and after a little research she has managed to piece together the story of his service during the First World War. William George Samuel Padden was my father from Pontnewydd, near Newport, Monmouthshire, he volunteered and enlisted at Carmarthen in west Wales on 9th October 1914, as part of The Pembrokeshire Yeomanry, the Territorial Force. As a Private in the Pembroke Yeomanry, he was given the regimental number 4390. Although not compelled to, he signed up as willing to serve overseas. He was transfered to 210 Company of the Machine Gun Corps (part of the 4th Dismounted Brigade) on 22nd October 1916 and given the new regimental number 74792. Initially a private in the Machine Gun Corps, he later became a corporal (29th May 1918). In April 1916 he sailed for Alexandria as part of the 4th Dismounted Brigade, fought in Egypt, stationed at Wadi El Natrun for 2 years. By 1917 this brigade had become part of The Welsh Regiment. By May 1918 he was fighting on the Western front in France. He was wounded on September 25th 1918 and sent home to a military hospital in Reading with a fractured right femur. He was finally discharged from hospital on May 3rd 1919 with a 40% degree of disablement and a pension of 12 shillings a week [with a temporary bonus of 20%]. He received a Silver War Badge in…