Richard Dales – almost made it through

Richard Dales, Sergeant 15/261 1st Leeds Pals

Richard Dales was born in Louth, Lincolnshire, on 28th November 1895, the fourth child and second son of Samuel Dales and Susannah Parrish, who had married in Louth in 1888.  Richard was baptised on 6th August 1896, together with his older siblings Lillian, Maggie and Sidney.  Four more children followed, Percy, Constance, Marion and Dorothy.  There had been a ninth child, but it did not survive.  Father Samuel’s occupation in 1891 was butcher, but by 1901 he had changed professions and was a cellarman.  By 1911 he had risen to be brewer’s foreman.  Richard did not follow either of these occupations, being listed in 1911 as a dentist’s assistant.  For the whole of this period the family was living in Queen Street, Louth, and what brought Richard to Leeds we don’t know, possibly his job.

Richard’s army records are missing, and all we have are the list of applicants for the Pals made towards the end of 1914, and the Roll, made around the middle of 1915.  Richard was a very early volunteer, putting his name down on 4th September 1914 and being given the number 261.  After his training he was posted to A Company, 2nd Platoon, where he became the bugler for No. 4 Section.  He will have done his training at Colsterdale, then Ripon and Fovant, before sailing with the battalion in December 1915 for Egypt, to guard the Suez Canal.  The Pals stayed there for two months, before sailing again, this time to France, to prepare for the Big Push, as the Battle of the Somme was initially known.

Two things are known about Richard’s time in the Pals.  One is that he was good at sports.  Three prize rosettes are preserved among his effects, which he had won for running in 1918, but he is also noted in the Battalion War Diaries as having won a First Prize in 1917 at the Horse Show.  The other noted fact is that he was promoted, to Lance Corporal by 1917, Corporal by the following year and reached the rank of Sergeant before his death.

Having joined up right at the start of the war Richard almost made it through to the end.  In October of 1918 the Allies were advancing on all fronts, and it was only a matter of time before the war ended.  The Germans were retreating before them but still fighting hard, and men were being killed right up to the last few minutes of the fighting.  On the 3rd October Richard became one of those casualties, and was buried in Underhill Cemetery, Hainaut, Belgium.

He was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.  These were sent to his family, along with his Death Plaque.

Sources:

Ancestry – Medal records, birth records

Find My Past – Census records

Free BMD – Marriage records

Also information held by Leeds City Museum

Researcher: Peter Taylor

Please Note:

  • All opinions and inferences are the researcher’s own.
  • Please refer to our Glossary of Terms for further information on the terms and phrases used in this post.

 

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Robert Crossland – he fell at the last

Robert Crossland, Private 15/248 1st Leeds Pals

Robert Crossland was born on 2nd May 1889, and baptised two months later in the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in New Wortley.  He was the second child of James William Crossland and Elizabeth Ann Blackburn who had married in Bramley in 1884.  Robert had an older brother William Isaac, and two younger sisters, Agnes and Jennie.  There had been a fifth child who sadly had not survived.  James worked for the Great Northern Railway as a plate-layer, inspecting and maintaining the track.  He had previously been, in 1891, a stationery engine stoker.  Neither of his sons followed him into this trade, William becoming a grocer’s assistant and Robert a cloth drawer, someone who fed and minded the tentering machine in which woollen cloth or felt was stretched while wet or steamed and then dried under tension, on tenter hooks.  It appears Robert was also a keen cricketer, being a member of the Holbeck A Team, winners of the Leeds League in 1913.

Robert and Clarice

So when the war began Robert was 25, and he wasted no time in volunteering.  He went first to Colsterdale, where the Pals did their initial training, but on Boxing Day 1914 he was home in Holbeck, for he married Clarice Amelia Swales in the Wesleyan Chapel there.  He gave his occupation as Cloth Drawer and Private in the Leeds Pals, and his place of residence as Colsterdale.  Clarice was a tailoress machinist.  Following his initial training he was put into D Company, No.16 Platoon, and he is listed on the Roll as servant, to one of the company officers, but with no indication as to which one.  His service records are missing but we can assume that he went next to Ripon, then to Fovant, and certainly sailed, with the rest of the battalion, to Egypt, there to guard the Suez Canal, from where he sent a postcard to William.  Two months later they were on their way again, this time to France, to take part in the Big Push, the Battle of the Somme.

The Suez Canal, a postcard sent by Robert

Whether Robert was directly involved is not known, but if he was he clearly survived, unlike so many of his comrades.  He also survived 1917 when the Pals once more came close to extinction at the Battle of Arras.  He may, however, have been wounded at some stage.  In March 1918 he was taken prisoner, and those records have survived.  One of them mentioned a gunshot wound, to his shoulder and face, but as the initial report on his capture says he was not wounded that suggests an earlier encounter.

On 21st March 1918 the Germans launched the Kaiserschlacht, their final attempt to win the war before the Americans arrived in force.  At the time the Pals were involved in battalion sports, and doing well as usual.  But everything came to an abrupt end and they were hurried into the line, in time to be overrun on 27th March.  Finally only four officers and about forty men escaped, Sergeant Mountain winning the Victoria Cross in the process, but Robert was not so lucky.  He was captured at Ervillers, where the Pals had made their stand.  What happened to him initially is not clear, but by the beginning of August he had arrived at Parchim POW Camp.  At the end of August he was moved to Meschede Camp.  He may also have gone to Friedrichsfeld Camp, but the dates are not clear.  Certainly he was in the hospital at Meschede on 18th November 1918, because that was when he died, of pneumonia, just one week after the armistice.  He may have been one of the victims of the Spanish Flu epidemic that was sweeping the world, and which eventually claimed more victims than the war itself.  He was buried in the Niederzwehren Cemetery, Kassel, which had been established by the Germans for POWs who died while in captivity.

Robert was subsequently awarded the 1914-15 Star, for his service in Egypt, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, but these would have been sent to his widow, who would also have received his death plaque, the ‘Dead Man’s Penny’.  It is possible that his brother William also joined up, not in the Pals, but I have so far found no confirmation of this.

Sources:

Ancestry – Medal Records

Find My Past – Census Records

Free BMD – birth, marriage and death records

ICRC – POW Records

CWGC – details of death

Researcher: Peter Taylor, with additional information and photos from the family.

Please Note:

  • All opinions and inferences are the researcher’s own.
  • Please refer to our Glossary of Terms for further information on the terms and phrases used in this post.

 

Harry Zalk, or Solk – a little known Pal

Tags

H Zalk, L/Corporal 267224, 15/17 Bn. West Yorkshire Regiment

In the British Jewry Book of Honour is an entry for H Zalk, Lance Corporal 267224, 15/17th Battalion, WYR.  There is also an entry for Harry Solk, Corporal 5080, 2/7th Battalion WYR.  The Medal Roll shows him as Harry Solk, but also shows that he was first in the Pals, and later in the Leeds Rifles.  Solk is by far the more common spelling, but whether it is correct is another matter.  As Zalk he is the only entry for ‘Z’ on our list.  Harry would appear to be short for Harris, but mainly it is as Harry that he appears.

Harry was born on 22nd May 1895, but where and to whom I have not discovered.  I have not found him on any of the censuses, so it is possible that he was a recent arrival in this country.  He appears on the Absent Voters’ List as living at 6 Friendly Terrace, and later at 29 Grafton Street, always alone, until 1929, when he is joined by Sarah Solk, but with no indication as to who she is.  In 1930 a marriage was recorded between a Harry Solk and a Lily Gill, but whether our Harry we don’t know.  On the 1939 Register he is listed as a tailor’s machiner living at 9 Beamsley Terrace, together with Gladys George, later to be Gladys Solk after a marriage in 1941, and Annie E Brook, an old lady of 71.  Harry definitely survived the war, and was posted to the Reserve on 18th March 1919.  He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Such is our knowledge of Harry Solk, or Zalk.  If you can add to it, please let us know.

Sources:

Ancestry – Medal Records

Find My Past – 1939 Register, Electoral Registers, Absent Voters’ List

Free BMD – Marriage Records

Researcher: Peter Taylor

Please Note:

  • All opinions and inferences are the researcher’s own.
  • Please refer to our Glossary of Terms for further information on the terms and phrases used in this post.

John Yeadon – the Pal who became a medic

John Yeadon, Private 15/1024, 1st Leeds Pals

Later Corporal 140171 RAMC

John Yeadon was born about 1890 and probably volunteered around the end of 1914.  He was not only the first of the ‘Y’s, but also the last of the names to be entered on the list in strict alphabetical order.  After him came Private Eddison.

Private Yeadon went with the battalion to Colsterdale to do his initial training, followed by Ripon, then Fovant, and finally they all sailed for Egypt in December 1915, there to guard the Suez Canal.  John was in B Company, No.7 Platoon, where he was platoon bomber.  Egypt was largely uneventful, and after two months they sailed again, this time for France.  They were to train for the Big Push, but John didn’t quite make that.  By early June he was in the 2nd General Hospital at Le Havre with an infection of the middle ear.  That does not sound overly serious, but in his case it was.

After five days John was moved to Cinder City, a camp at Le Havre, so called because it was built on what had been marshland, but had been reclaimed by covering it with cinders, or embers, from other camp fires.  It was a convalescent camp, for men who had done their bit but were not considered fit enough to return to their units.  It was not unusual for men to go from here to other units, and it may have been at this time that John was transferred to the RAMC.

As a private in the RAMC he was given a new number, 140171, and ultimately a promotion, to corporal.  Where he served in this capacity is not known, but by the end of March 1918 he was back in hospital as a patient, this time in the No.4 Stationary Hospital at Arques, a victim of the influenza epidemic sweeping the world, which ultimately claimed more victims than the war itself.  Fortunately John survived, to be discharged and posted to the Reserve on 26th March 1919.  He was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

And that is the sum total of our knowledge of John Yeadon.  If anyone can add to it I should very much like to hear from them.

Sources:

Ancestry – Medal Records, Medical Records

Find My Past – Medical Records

Researcher: Peter Taylor

Please Note:

  • All opinions and inferences are the researcher’s own.
  • Please refer to our Glossary of Terms for further information on the terms and phrases used in this post.

Harold Walch – the Pal sent back to work

Harold Walch, Private 15/925, 1st Leeds Pals

Harold Walch, the first of the ‘W’s, was born in Bramley on 12th April 1889, one of the six children born to John Staniforth Walch and Sarah Jane Farne, who had married in Middlesbrough in June 1880.  Harold had three older sisters, Eliza, Clara and  Helena, and a younger brother Ernest.  Another child had died, and Clara was also to die in 1900.  Harold in fact outlived all his siblings apart from Helena, and also his wife, but that comes later.

When Harold left school he went to work at a tar distillery, probably the one at which his father was manager, and by 1911 he was a foreman.  When he enlisted he gave his occupation as ‘engineer’, but elsewhere as ‘chemist’.  Given what happened later it is possible that he worked for the firm of Messrs. Tunstall & Co., Newlay Chemical Works, but I have found no definite evidence of this.

In 1914 when war broke out Harold was 25 years old, 5ft 11ins tall, with light brown hair and green eyes.  He put in his application on 4th September, and nine days later formally joined the Pals, signing up at the Town Hall, after a satisfactory medical.  Like the rest of the battalion he went off to Colsterdale to begin his training, where he seems to have done well enough to earn a first stripe and become an, unpaid, lance corporal.  Unfortunately he blotted his copybook soon after, by ‘creating a disturbance in his hut after tattoo’, and lost it again.  Thereafter he appears to have remained a private, but as we shall see, he had little further opportunity for promotion.  He was put into the Transport Section as a driver, driving water-cart No.2.

In late December the Pals sailed for Egypt, to guard the Suez Canal, staying there for two months.  Then they sailed for France to prepare for the Big Push, but this time Harold did not go with them.  On 7th February 1916 he sailed for England, on a temporary release to do munitions work at the above mentioned Tunstall’s, and stayed there for the rest of the war.  During this period, on 28th June 1916, at St Peter’s, Bramley, he married Beatrice Annie Jones.  Whether he had worked at Tunstall’s before, whether they requested him, is not clear, but he was certainly lucky.  Had he stayed with the battalion he could easily have been killed or at least seriously wounded, on the Somme in 1916, at Arras in 1917, or in the Kaiserschlacht in 1918.  As it was he survived and was able to return to his wife permanently after being discharged from the army on 10th January 1919.  He was subsequently awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. 

He appears with Beatrice on the 1939 Register, as a sheet metal worker, living at 199 Belle Vue Road, Woodhouse.  He died and was buried in Shipley on 5th November 1962.

Sources:

Ancestry – Medal Records

Find My Past – Census Records, Service Records

Free BMD – birth, marriage and death records

Researcher: Peter Taylor

Please Note:

  • All opinions and inferences are the researcher’s own.
  • Please refer to our Glossary of Terms for further information on the terms and phrases used in this post.

Walker Vince – an old soldier, and the oldest to die?

Walker William Vince, CSM 15/918, 1st Leeds Pals

Previously Colour Sergeant, Leeds Rifles

Walker William Vince, the first of the ‘V’s, was born at the end of December 1861, and baptised on the 29th in St James’s Church, Manston.  He was the fourth child of George Vince, a coal pit labourer, and Jane Walker, who had married in Tadcaster in March 1852.  It was a large family, Walker being preceded by Mary, Thomas and Jesse, and followed by George, Leonard, Frederick, Vincent, Harry and Elizabeth.  On the 1881 Census Walker is shown as a railway clerk, and in fact he worked for the North Eastern Railway for 37 years.  He was also a volunteer soldier, having joined the Leeds Rifles and reached the rank of colour-sergeant.

In 1885 Walker married Mary Elizabeth Hodgson in Leeds, and started a family of his own, though not quite as large.  His first child, Eva Mary, was born in 1886, followed by Jane Annie in 1888, and George Walker in 1893.  His period of service with the Rifles came to an end, though the records are missing so we don’t know the exact details.  He must have been looking forward to settling down and raising his family.  But then the war intervened.

In 1914 Walker was nearly 53, though there are some discrepancies about his age.  The official age range for volunteers was 18 to 40, but in the heady days of 1914 this was often ignored, particularly when the volunteer had previous military experience, something the new battalions were desperately short of.  Anyone with even minimum experience could be given a stripe, so it is not surprising that Walker ended up as CSM of D Company.  What is surprising is that, having done his bit in training the new recruits at Colsterdale and beyond, he was then ordered abroad with them.  Thomas Connors, to give just one example, who was a decade younger, was left in England when the battalion sailed for Egypt.  Walker was not.

Nor was he missing when the Pals went over the top on the first day of the Somme.  But this time he did not survive.  At first he was posted missing, and the North Eastern Railway Magazine published in November of that year had him as wounded and missing.  But his body was never found, and he was eventually commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.  He is also named on the memorial at St Agnes’, Burmantofts, and on the Leeds Rifles Memorial in the Leeds Minster.  He was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.  He was possibly the oldest Leeds soldier to die in the war.

In April of the following year his daughter Eva was married in St Agnes’ Church, and given away by her brother George, himself a sergeant in the ASC.

Sources:

Ancestry – Medal Records

Find My Past – Railway Records, Census records

Free BMD – birth, marriage, death records

Researcher: Peter Taylor

Please Note:

  • All opinions and inferences are the researcher’s own.
  • Please refer to our Glossary of Terms for further information on the terms and phrases used in this post.

Joseph Umpleby – lucky to survive

Joseph Smith Umpleby, Private 15/1479, 1st Leeds Pals

Then Private 7312693 ASC

There are just five names beginning with ‘U’ on the list of Pals, fewer even than with ‘Q’, and the first of these is that of Joseph Smith Umpleby, a late entrant but, nevertheless, the first of the ‘U’s.

Joseph was born on 26th October 1895, the third son of Joseph Christopher Umpleby and Mary Elizabeth Claughton, who had married in Leeds in September 1882.  He had two older brothers, Vernon and John, 10 and 9 respectively when he was born.  There had been two other children who did not survive, possibly born in the long gap between John and Joseph.  Joseph senior was a plumber and gasfitter, and this was the occupation his son gave when volunteering, although on leaving school he initially went into the printing trade.  Joseph senior had been born in Holbeck, and this was the area the family lived in all their lives.  Joseph junior joined the Pals from the family home at 9 Charmouth Terrace, off Beeston Road, and his later addresses are in Bewerley Road and Roxburgh Road.

When the war started Joseph was almost 19, but he did not volunteer straight away, not enlisting until June 1915, so he does not appear on either the original List of Applicants or the Full Roll made up around that time.  There is an H Umpleby on the List, living in Blenheim Square, whether a relative I don’t know, but he does not appear to have gone on to join.  When Joseph joined, the Pals were nearing the end of their training at Colsterdale, and by the end of the year they were in Egypt.  But Joseph was not with them.  His training was clearly not far enough advanced, so he joined them when they reached France.

In early June of 1916 he was severely wounded by a bullet in his left arm and thigh, and was sent back to hospital in England for treatment, at which point he was transferred to the Depot battalion.  He returned to France in January 1917, but it was soon clear that he was not sufficiently recovered to cope with front line service.  He was categorised as B2, which meant he was capable of walking up to five miles, and could see and hear sufficiently for ordinary purposes.  Two months later he was transferred again, to the ASC, where he was given a new number, T-312693, and put in the transport section.  There he stayed for the rest of the war.  According to his records he returned to England on 30th January 1919, but on the 11th January he is on record as having married May Lee in Leeds.  There are other instances where the dates on his records do not tally, and on the Electoral registers for 1920 – 1924 he alone is shown at Bewerley Road.  May does not appear until 1925.

After the end of the war Joseph was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.  He may well also have applied for a pension in view of his wounding, but I have not located the records of that.  In 1939 he was living with May at 38 Roxburgh Road, and he had now become a shopkeeper, running an Off Licence.  The Register also shows a closed record, which may be a child.  Joseph died in Leeds in June 1957, at the age of 61.

It looks as though both Joseph’s brothers joined the services, Vernon initially in the navy before transferring to the RAF, and John in the army, in a training reserve battalion, but then going out to India.  Both appear to have survived and gone home to their wives.

Sources:

Ancestry – Medal Records

Find My Past – Census Records, 1939 Register, Electoral Registers

Free BMD – birth, marriage and death records

Researcher: Peter Taylor

Please Note:

  • All opinions and inferences are the researcher’s own.
  • Please refer to our Glossary of Terms for further information on the terms and phrases used in this post.

Harry Tattersfield – from Pal to RAF

Harry Tattersfield, Private 15/874, 1st  Leeds Pals

Also RFC Corporal 87662

The first ‘T’ to volunteer was Harry Tattersfield, the youngest of five children born to Josiah Tattersfield and Jane Loughhead, who had married in Dewsbury in June 1871.  Harry was born in Wakefield on 1st March 1889, and baptised two months later in the Methodist Chapel at Batley.  His older brother was Arthur, born in 1872, and by 1891 a pupil teacher.  Then he had three sisters, Annie Maud, born in 1875 but died in 1881, Clara Maud, born in 1883, and Martha, born in 1888.  In the 1891 and 1901 Censuses they were living in Flanshaw Lane, Alverthorpe, but by 1911 had moved to 148 Lincoln Street, Wakefield, the address Harry gave when he enlisted.  Josiah had died in 1905, and Jane lived only until 1918.

Harry volunteered for the Pals on 6th September 1914, and passed his medical six days later.  He was 5ft 9ins, with dark brown hair and grey eyes, and he worked as an electrical engineer.  He was put into the Headquarters Company, and later became a stretcher bearer, in itself a dangerous job.  In that same year, on 9th September, he married Eva Rogers.

As with so many men, most of his service records are missing.  His medal card shows that he went with the battalion to Egypt in December 1915, to guard the Suez Canal, and then, two months later, to France for the Big Push.  Being in HQ Company he may not have gone over the top on 1st July, but either way he survived, as he also survived the Battle of Arras in May 1917, for on 9th June of that year he transferred to the RFC, and at the beginning of November was promoted to Corporal.  Here, as a mechanic, he served for the rest of the war, becoming part of the RAF on 1st April 1918.  The war ended eight months later, but Harry was not discharged until 30th April 1920, after which he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

He was able to return to his wife and his job, appearing on the 1939 Register as an electrical power station operative engineer, living with Eva at 103 Lower York Street, Wakefield.  He also had a second job as an ARP warden.  He died in November 1967, survived only by his sister Martha.

Sources:

Ancestry – Medal Records

Find My Past – Census Records, RAF Records

Free BMD – births, marriages and deaths

Researcher: Peter Taylor

Please Note:

  • All opinions and inferences are the researcher’s own.
  • Please refer to our Glossary of Terms for further information on the terms and phrases used in this post.

Kenneth Charles Sanders – a survivor

Kenneth Charles Sanders, Private 15/781, 1st Leeds Pals

Kenneth Charles Sanders was the first of the ‘S’s to join the Pals, volunteering on 6th September 1914, at which point he was just turned 18.  He had been born on 14th June 1896 in Moor Allerton, the eldest of two children born to George Sanders, a coachman from Lincolnshire, and Mary Jean Thompson, who had married in December 1892 in Knaresborough.  Their other child was a daughter, Muriel Caroline, born two years later.  They all appeared on the 1901 Census, living in Chapel Allerton, with George’s mother Ann.  Eight years later George died, at the age of 45.

On the 1911 Census the family was still in Chapel Allerton, but Mary Jean was now a waitress and Kenneth, at 14, a clerk.  Three years later he joined the Pals, and had his medical over two days, 14/15th September.  He went to Colsterdale for initial training, followed by Ripon and Fovant, and then off with the battalion to Egypt in December 1915.  He was put into D Company, No.15 Platoon.  After two months guarding the Suez Canal they all sailed for France, to prepare for the Battle of the Somme.  To what extent Kenneth was involved in this we don’t know, but assuming he took part he clearly survived, as he did the other major battles, Arras and the Kaiserschlacht, that involved the Pals, and on 14th March 1919, having survived the war, was discharged and put into the Reserve Class Z.  There are no medical records to say whether he was wounded, in fact no service records at all apart from the medal ones, which show that he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

After the war Kenneth came home to his family, where he lived presumably until 1936, when he married Edith Fawcitt.  On the 1939 Register he was living at 7 Henconner Crescent with his wife and her mother.  He was a local government officer working for the Leeds Rating Authority, and also a special constable.  His own mother appears to have been living with Muriel and her husband in Talbot Crescent.  Kenneth died in Leeds in October 1984, at the age of 88.

Sources:

Ancestry – medal records

Find My Past – census records and 1939 Register

Free BMD – birth, marriage and death records

Researcher: Peter Taylor

Please Note:

  • All opinions and inferences are the researcher’s own.
  • Please refer to our Glossary of Terms for further information on the terms and phrases used in this post.

William Ransome – does anyone know anything?

William Ransom(e), Sergeant 15/742, 1st Leeds Pals

Acting WOII

The first of the ‘R’s to volunteer was William Ransome, and that is virtually all we know about him.  His name appears on the list of applicants, where on 4th September 1914 he gave his address as 53 Burley Road, Leeds.  He was given a medical on 12th September and accepted.  On his medal records he is shown as sergeant, with no previous ranks, and with the acting rank of colour sergeant, a warrant rank, and almost the highest rank possible for an ordinary soldier.  He is not on the full roll, drawn up around the middle of 1915, nor is there any indication on the medal records of his ultimate fate, nothing to suggest he was killed, and no discharge date.

One possibility is that he was an experienced soldier who had served before and rejoined on the outbreak of war.  This might explain his rapid promotions.  But he was not that old as he went with the battalion to Egypt, and then, presumably, to France.  At the end of the war he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Despite having an address I have not been able to find him on any census and he is not on the Absent Voters’ List.  Hopefully someone may read this and be able to fill in the gaps, of which there are far too many.

Sources:

Ancestry – Medal records

Researcher: Peter Taylor

Please Note:

  • All opinions and inferences are the researcher’s own.
  • Please refer to our Glossary of Terms for further information on the terms and phrases used in this post.