William was born on the 16th December 1894 in the village of Murton in County Durham. At 14 he would follow his father down the pit at Mutton Colliery. At the outbreak of war he enlisted on the 3rd September, aged 20, into the Yorkshire Regiment, The Green Howards, and was posted to the 8th (Service) Battalion.
The Battalion travelled to France in August 19115 as part of the 69th Brigade, 23rd Division. It was during the Somme offensive in 1916 that William would win his first Military medal, having gone out into no-man’s-land to rescue a wounded officer. The following year during 3rd Ypres, generally known as Passcheandaele, he received a bar to his Military Medal, again recuing men wounded or buried under shellfire.
In late 1917 he was part of the detachment of British and French troops sent to the Italian front to bolster the Italians after their disastrous defeat at the Battle of Caparetto. In October of 1918 the allied advance culminated in their victory at the Battle of Vittorio Veneto paving the way for the total defeat of the Austrian Army. It was during this battle that William received the Victoria Cross having put to flight the enemy and capturing a machine gun.
William left the Army in February 1919 and returned to life down the pit at Murton Colliery. He married and would father 6 children. In 1940 he joined the Local Defence Volunteers in Murton and the following year served in the Durham Home Guard. In 1947 he became a foreman at a timber yard that made pit props retiring in 1947. He died, aged 81, on the 5th January 1976.
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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…
Olive was born on the 29th August 1899 in Harrogate. The 1911 census shows Olive living at home with parents George and Miriam, and baby brother George (aged 1). Other than she would gain employment at Barnbow Munitions Factory little is known of her life. Barnbow Munitions Factory, at Crossgates Leeds, was one of the new purpose built munitions factories to meet the demand for shells and ammunition. The factory was operational by December 1915, so it would have probably been around that time or shortly after that Olive started work there. It was a huge complex and at peak output was employing about 16,000 workers. The local train station was extended and would bring in workers from the surrounding towns and villages. It even had a farm producing 300 gallons of milk per day, with employees receiving a free daily milk ration. Munitions work was dangerous. Barnbow ran 3 shifts a day and involved hard manual work involving the use of heavy machinery. Most of the workforce was women and young girls, attracted by the high wages on offer. Conditions at the factory were very hot, the raw materials toxic which would turn their skin and hair yellow in a short time. This led to the nickname ‘The Barnbow Canaries’. The uniforms offered inadequate protection against the dust which could prove deadly if settling in the lungs, even though masks were provided. Olive worked in Room 42, as one of about 170 workers, where the fully loaded shells were…
Captain Thomas Ernest Dufty 5th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment Captain Dufty was born in on the 30th of June 1880. His father was Arthur Richard Sykes Dufty and his mother was called Katie. He was educated at Pocklington Grammar School. He joined the 5th Battalion in 1912 and became a lieutenant in June 1913. Prior to this his profession was as a banker and manager of the Bridlington branch of the London Joint Stock Bank. Dufty was promoted to Captain on the 18th of April 1915. He was reported as killed in action on or about the 19th of May 1915 (killed by a shell). His Battalion had been deployed to Sanctuary Wood (1.9 miles east of Ypres). He left a widow, Beatrice, and a 4-year-old son Arthur Richard. He is buried at the Vlamertinghe Military Cemetery in Belgium and commemorated at the Manor Road Cemetery Scarborough.