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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Gilbert Davison Pitt Eykyn was born at the France Lynch parsonage in Gloucestershire on the 22nd August 1881. He was baptised on the 29th September 1881. He was the only son of the late Reverend Pitt Eykyn. His father at the time of his death was Chaplain at Parel Bombay. Gilbert married Emily Constance on the 28th November 1902 and a son, Duncan Arthur, was born on the 11th August. The 1911 census shows that Duncan was born Poona in India. At some point after the family returned to England they moved to Northallerton in North Yorkshire. Gilbert was a career soldier. He was also a gifted linguist, having passed Army exams in Russian, French and Hindustani. He received his first commission with the 3rd Loyal North Lancashire Regiment in 1899. He then joined the 4th Manchester Battalion in May 1901 and was promoted to Lieutenant on the 24th December 1901. He joined the Royal Scots on the 4th February 1905 attaining the rank of Captain on the 26th June 1913. On the 13th February 1913 he was appointed adjutant to the 4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment in Northallerton. During his military career he had served in India and saw action in the 2nd Boer War (1899-1902). Gilbert was with the 4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment when they arrived in France just prior to the 2nd Ypres offensive. He was killed leading his men in the storming of St Julien on the 24th April 1915. He was 34 years old. Gilbert has…
In 1930 St Mary’s Parish Church offered the Lady Chapel as a memorial chapel for the Green Howards. This gift recognised that for over a century St Mary’s had been the garrison church for the regiment. The church already held the Green Howard’s Book of Remembrance for those who had been killed in the First World War, the regiment’s old Colours (Regimental flags) and many individual memorials. Fundraising began in 1931 but the economic depression made for a very challenging campaign. In August £386 had been raised but in September the regimental magazine noted, ‘Subscriptions to the Chapel fund have been most disappointing. In view of the present depressing state of the country this is not altogether surprising, but the Committee most earnestly appeal to all Green Howards to do their utmost to assist in completing the Chapel as a tribute to those whose memory it will perpetuate.’ The cry for assistance was heard and by the end of 1931 a date of Sunday, March 13th 1932 had been set for the dedication of the Chapel. The dedication service was led by the Bishop of Ripon. In his sermon he praised the Green Howards for providing a, ‘special place of prayer. It was a reminder that the war has a spiritual and Godward side, and taught them, among other things, the hopelessness of materialism as a way of life.’ As well as housing the Book of Remembrance the chapel also includes a number of items given in memory of soldiers…
Sister Katherine (Kate) Evelyn Luard Kate was born in Averley Essex on the 29th June 1872, the daughter of the vicar and the tenth of thirteen children. Her childhood was spent at Aveley Vicarage and then Birch Rectory near Colchester. Between 1887 and 1890 she attended Croydon High School for Girls. Her headmistress and school founder, Dorinda Neligan, had been a nurse in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870/1, as well as being a suffragette and campaigner for women’s rights. She may well have been the inspiration for Katherine’s desire to go into nursing. On leaving school Kate took various jobs to earn money to train as a nurse. This she did at Kings College Hospital in London. In 1900 she served with the Army Nursing Service for two years in South Africa during the 2nd Boer War of 1899-1902. Following nursing work at home, on the 6th August 1914, aged 42, Kate enlisted in the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve. Kate served in France until 1918, firstly on ambulance trains then at Casualty Clearing Stations. She was awarded the Royal Red Cross and Bar, and was twice mentioned in dispatches for gallant and distinguished service in the field. Her various letters to her family at home were published in two books: ‘Diary of a Nursing Sister on the Western Front 1914-15’, published anonymously in 1915, and ‘Unknown Warriors: The Letters of Kate Luard RRC and Bar, Nursing Sister in France 1914-1918’ first published in 1930. Kate never married…