Ernest Archer – unknown soldier

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Ernest Archer, Private 9376, 15th West Yorkshire Regiment

Photo courtesy of York Army Museum

Very little is known about Ernest.  Only his medal records have survived, and these show that he enlisted first in the 2nd Battalion, a regular battalion, where he attained the rank of WOII.  He then moved to the 1st Battalion, before finally joining the 15th, where, according to the photo, he was ranked as private.  At the end of the war he was discharged and re-enlisted, being given the new Army Number 87268.  He was awarded the 1914 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Any further information would be very welcome.

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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Walter Ford – a soldier of record

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Walter Ford, Private 37042, 15th West Yorkshire Regiment

Photo courtesy of York Army Museum

Walter Ford was born in Burley, Leeds, in March 1892, probably the sixth child of Frederick and Sarah Agnes Ford.  Frederick was a labourer from Suffolk, his wife from Burton-on-Trent.  According to the 1911 Census they had six children, all living, but the 1901 Census lists eight, two of whom are gone by 1911.  One of those was the eldest so she could have left home, but the other was more or less the middle child.  I suspect they did not fully understand the questions on the census form.  It also states that Frederick and Sarah had been married for 22 years but I have found no record of this marriage.  The full list of children, from 1901, was Mary A, Frederick W, Sarah A, Albert, Percy, Walter, Edgar and Edith.

The family also moved round a lot, though always in Leeds.  In 1891 they were in Otter Street, in 1901 Jermyn Street, and by 1911 at 21 Langford Street.  Perhaps with an ever growing family they needed bigger premises.  (Find My Past)

In 1913 Walter left home.  He married Marie Grice in the August, and they lived at 41 Langford Street.  He was working for JP Blythe, butcher, in Burley View.  On 27th March 1916 their son Percy was born.

In 1914 the Great War began.  Walter was 22 and married, but, it seems, did not feel the need to volunteer.  Fortunately he is one of a relatively small percentage of men whose army records have survived.  So we know that on 10th December 1915 he attested, possibly under the Derby Scheme, whereby a man could indicate his willingness to serve if and when needed, though by this stage there was little question of ‘if’.

On 17th August 1916 Walter was mobilised and sent to the depot.  The following day he was posted to the 3rd Battalion, and at the beginning of November notified for service overseas.  On the 21st November he was in Whitley Bay, ready to sail to following day.  On arriving in France he was posted first to the 12th Battalion before finally joining the 15th Battalion on 5th December as a member of D Company. (Find My Past)

On 3rd May 1917 he was captured at Gavrelle, though not wounded, and taken first to Douai and then Limburg POW camp.  The next month he was sent to Dülmen, but then back to Limburg, where he stayed until the following February, when he went to Güstrow.  Finally, at the beginning of May, after almost a year in captivity, he was sent to Parchim Camp, where he remained for the duration.  On 18th December, just over a month after the armistice, he returned to England. (grandeguerre.icrc.org)

Walter was now suffering from gastritis and applied for a disability pension.  He was assessed as 10% disabled and awarded a pension of 5/6 a week for one year. (Find My Past)  He was also awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. (Ancestry)  I have not found him on the 1939 Register so he may have died before that.

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.

Arthur Durant – a big family man

Arthur Durant, Private 37048, 15th West Yorkshire Regiment

Photo courtesy of York Army Museum

Arthur Durant was born in Leeds in September 1882, the fourth of the nine surviving children of George and Mary Ann Durant.  Three other children had died.  His older siblings were Annie Elizabeth, Henry, known as Harry, and Thomas.  After Arthur came Jessie, John, George, Clarence and Charles.

The older George was a tailor and he married Mary Ann possibly in 1873.  He was eleven years older, but even so he died young, in 1898, aged 55.  Initially they lived in Scarborough, where the first children were born, but it is likely there wasn’t enough tailoring work to be had, since the 1881 Census has him boarding with David Scott, another tailor, in Leeds, having left his family behind.  By 1891 however they were all living in Leeds, at 4 Portland Terrace, close to the Infirmary.  Ten years later they had moved to 63 Portland Crescent, and Mary Ann was a widow, with nine children still at home.  Arthur, now nearly 19, was a cellarman in the wine trade, and ten years after that an out porter at a hotel.  His older brother Henry had apparently married, possibly Clara Harrison, had a child, Arthur, and been widowed, his wife perhaps dying in childbirth, but there is no indication of Arthur marrying. (Find My Past)

When the war started Arthur was nearly 32, and does not appear to have felt the need to volunteer.  His army records are mostly missing, but his army number suggests that he joined, or was conscripted, sometime after September 1916.  Certainly he was in the Pals by 4th May 1917, as he was wounded and captured then, at Oppy.  He was hit by shrapnel in his right upper thigh, near his hip, and taken to the hospital at Douai.

From there he was taken to Dülmen camp, where he was registered on 25th May, and the record shows that on 5th June his family was informed.  His Next of Kin was given as Mr George A Durant, presumably his younger brother, who was George Alexander.  Two weeks later he was moved to Münster, and a month after that to Friedrichsfeld, where it was noted that he had been wounded in the head as well as the hip.  Finally he was sent back to Münster, where he was registered as not wounded, so presumably his wounds had healed. (grandeguerre.icrc.org) However, the experience was not good for his health, and on returning to England at the end of the war he was discharged sick on 29th April 1919, having been given a Silver War Badge.

He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, but apart from that little is known of him.  I have not found him on the 1939 Register and it seems likely that he died in 1938. (Ancestry & Find my Past)

Researchers: Jane Luxton & Peter Taylor

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  • 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 Henry Daker – long-lasting postman

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Jospeh Henry Daker, Private 41430 17th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment

Photo courtesy of York Army Museum

Joseph Henry Daker was born in Leeds on 2nd January 1882, the third child and second son of John Daker, a drayman, and his wife Emma.  He had an older sister Annie, or Anna, an older brother John William, who later became an officer in the Leeds City Police, and subsequently two more sisters, Florence Emily and Eleanor Emma.  In 1891 the family was living at 7 Enfield Place in Sheepscar.  Father was a grocer’s drayman, though he later worked for a brewer.  He died in 1906, leaving Emma a widow with five children, though according to the 1911 Census there had been another who died.  By this time also Annie had married Walter Lee, and had a child, Gladys, who also appeared on the census, at 11 Ashton Street, Harehills Lane.  Florence was now a cigar maker, and Eleanor worked in a tobacconist’s. (Find My Past)

Joseph had also left home, having married Alice Forster in 1906, (Free BMD) and they were living at 41 Ashton Terrace, with their daughter Doris.  He was working as a postman.  When the war began he was 32 with a wife and child, and clearly did not volunteer.  His army number suggest that he did not join up until after September 1916, and may have been conscripted.  As he was listed as 17th Battalion he must have joined before December 1917, when both battalions were amalgamated. (Ancestry) Only his POW records have survived. (grandeguerre.icrc.org)

With the rest of the battalion Joseph took part in the battle of Arras, March to April 1917, and was later wounded by shrapnel, in his right thigh, at Guillemont, on 31st August.  He was captured and taken to Münster hospital.  When he was sufficiently recovered he went to Soltau POW Camp, where he was registered on 13th November.  There he appears to have stayed until the war ended a year later.  On returning to England he was placed on the Reserve List on 23rd March 1919.

After the war he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.  He continued to live at 41 Ashton Terrace, with his wife, Doris and, after 1921, a second daughter Alice, and they all appear on the 1939 Register, Doris as a machinist, Alice as a passer, also in the clothing trade, and Joseph still a postman. (Find My Past)

He died in Leeds in December 1972, just short of his 91st birthday.  (Free BMD)

Researcher: Peter Taylor

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  • 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.

Arthur Culpan – an almost unknown soldier

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Arthur Culpan, Private 38492, 15th West Yorkshire Regiment

Photo courtesy of York Army Museum

According to his POW records, which are virtually the only records to have survived, Arthur Culpan was born in Sowerby in August 1880.  But that is only on one register.  The other has omitted the year, and gives the place as Halifax.  I have found no other record of an Arthur Culpan born in 1880, though there are nine born between 1877 and 1897 in Halifax alone.  Having thought that this surname would be relatively uncommon and therefore easy to pin down, it appears to have been particularly common in Halifax, if nowhere else.

Nor is the POW register helpful with Next of Kin, giving Mrs A Culpan, of 24 Martin Street, Boothtown, Halifax.  Is this his wife or mother?  If his wife, is this his or her initial?  I can find no suitable marriage record, and too many possible census records.

All we can say with any certainty is that Arthur joined the Pals, probably after September 1916, possibly as a conscript, and was captured on 3rd May 1917 at Oppy, during the battle of Arras, and according to a list in the Leeds Intelligencer of 16th August 1917 he had been wounded, though the POW register says not.  He was taken first to Lille and from there to Dülmen.  By the end of July he was at Limburg, where he appears to have remained for the rest of the war, being repatriated at the end of 1918 and arriving in Hull on SS Frederick VIII on 30th December, together with Francis Best. (Find My Past)

He was put on the Reserve List on 11th April 1919, and later awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. (Ancestry)

Any further information would be very welcome.

Researchers: Jane Luxton & 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.

Francis Best – Pal with a dividend

Francis Best, Private 36186, 15th West Yorkshire Regiment, The Leeds Pals

Photo courtesy of York Army Museum

Francis was born in Hunslet in March 1885, the fourth child of William Best, a labourer in a blast furnace, and his wife Mary, both of whom had been born in Ireland.  Francis had an older sister Jane Ann and two older brothers, George Henry and John.  On the 1891 Census they were living at 5 Willans Yard, Hunslet, but Mary was now a widow, William having died in 1887. (All census records from Find My Past)

On the 1901 Census the family had moved to 8 Milner Terrace.  Jane and John seem to have left home, but there was another sister, Mary, born in 1892.  Francis was given as a grocer’s assistant.   Not far away, in Milner Street, lived the Wilks family, one of whom was 14 year old Mary Emma.  About six years later Francis and Mary married, though I have found no marriage record, and in 1909 their son Arthur Enzor was born.

On the 1911 Census Francis and family were living at 42 Garnett Terrace, and he was working at the Leeds Co-operative Society shop in Church Street, Hunslet, as a grocer’s assistant.

When the Great War started Francis was 29, with a wife and small child, which all meant he may not have felt the need to volunteer straight away.  His army number suggests he did not join up until after September 1916, at which time he could well have been conscripted.  He was posted to A Company, and if all this is correct his first, and last, major battle was Arras, which took place from April to May of 1917.  Around the middle, on 5th May, at Gavrelle, Francis was captured.  He was lucky as the Pals suffered heavy casualties in this battle, having only just recovered from the Battle of the Somme.  According to his subsequent POW records he was not wounded and was taken first to Lille.  From there he went first to Dülmen, where he was recorded on 23rd June, and from where he wrote, presumably to his wife, though it was published in the Yorkshire Evening Post, saying that he had been wounded and was a prisoner.  His service records have not survived so we cannot confirm either version.  Then he went to Burgsteinfurt, 30th July, next to Limburg, 11th August, and finally to Münster, where he was registered on 8th November.  He then had just over a year of captivity to endure, but he survived to be repatriated at the end of the war. (Grandguerre.icrc.org)  On 14th February 1919 he was placed on the Reserve List, and later awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. (Ancestry)

In the 1939 Register he was listed as a storekeeper in the Dairy department, so perhaps he was still with the Co-op.  With him were his wife and presumably a daughter, Edith, born in 1916, whose surname was given as Callowaye (sic), replacing Best after marrying Albert Galloway.  The fourth person was his mother-in-law Alice Wilks, now 80. (Find My Past)

Francis probably died in Leeds in 1956, at the age of 71.  Certainly he is the only Francis Best listed there for the entire decade. (FreeBMD)

Researchers: Jane Luxton & Peter Taylor

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  • 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.

Lewis Booth – fell at the last

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Lewis Booth, Private 38160, 2nd Leeds Pals

Photo courtesy of York Army Museum

Lewis was born, according to his POW record, on 24th October 1882, at Wooldale, near Huddersfield.  He was the fifth child and third son of  George Henry Booth and Elizabeth Aspinall, who had married in 1876.  They went on to have two more sons, though at some point there were two other children that died.  The family then comprised Joe, Martha, Agnes, Wilson, Lewis, Frank and Ingham.  They lived at Lane Bottom, Wooldale, Holmfirth, and do not appear to have moved.  The 1911 Census gives a number, 70 Lane Bottom.

George Henry was a woollen weaver, and his children seemed to have followed the woollen trade once they were old enough.  On the 1901 Census Lewis is given as a mill worker, and by 1911 he was a woollen and worsted weaver.  He was also married and living at Bunker’s Hill, Holmfirth, with his wife Ann Tinker, whom he had married in Huddersfield in 1910.

When the war began Lewis was 31 and a married man, which probably meant there was no immediate need for him to enlist.  Certainly his army number suggests he was quite a late joiner, and may even have been conscripted.  Unfortunately his service records are missing.  We cannot even be sure why he joined the 2nd Leeds Pals, The Bantams.  The photo gives no indication of his height, and if he joined after September 1916, as suggested by his number, he could have been sent there as part of a draft to replace casualties.  Whatever the reason, he was posted to W Company.

On 31st August 1917 he was captured at Guillemont Farm, having been wounded by shrapnel in his left leg and foot.  He appears to have been sent to hospital at Le Cateau, and from there, once recovered enough to travel, he was moved to Stendal POW camp, where he was on 1st October 1917.  This may have been only a temporary holding camp, as by 19th of that month he was at Limburg, probably another temporary camp.  Finally he was moved to Quedlinburg, where he was on 2nd February 1918.

Sadly he contracted pneumonia and died on 21st April 1918.  This may have been in hospital, as he is buried in Niederzwehren Cemetery, Kassel (Hessen), which is a good few miles from the camp.

This left Ann a widow, and there do not appear to have been any children.  Nor, it seems, did she remarry.  On the 1939 Register she is listed as Ann Booth, living at 2 Hollingreave, Holmfirth, and working as canteen worker, in a motor works.

Lewis was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

There is one other mention of a Lewis Booth, but no evidence to confirm that it was the same Lewis, in an article in the Huddersfield Daily Examiner of 25th August 1914, which reports the result of a Union Football match between two teams of territorials, who were stationed at Laceby in Lincolnshire.  It was sent in by the referee, Lewis Booth of C Company.  However, there was more than one Lewis Booth born in Huddersfield in 1882, and that’s just one year.

Researchers: Jane Luxton & 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.

George Call – missionary?

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George Frederick Call, Private 41474, 2nd Leeds Pals

George Frederick Call was born in Armley on 13th February 1887, the tenth and apparently last child of James Call, who had married Jane Fielding in 1868.  His older siblings were Emily, Mary, William, Benjamin, Frances (or Fanny) and Alice.  According to the 1911 Census three other children had died, but they do not appear on any of the earlier censuses.

James Call was a forgeman when he married, and living in Bradford.  But this seems to have been a precarious trade and by 1881 he was unemployed, having not given a trade in 1871.  By 1891 he was back as a hammerman, but in 1901 he gave his trade as rug maker. He and his family also moved round quite a lot.  In 1871 they were in Halifax, but by 1881 back in Bradford.  Between then and 1887 they moved to Armley, where George was born.

In 1901 they were still in Armley, and George was listed as a commercial clerk, but this does not seem to have suited, as by 1911 he was a costume presser, and they were living in Wortley.  In December of the following year he married Gertrude Wilkinson in Bramley.

In 1914, when the war began, George was 27, but from his army number he does not appear to have enlisted straight away.  Married men were not required at first, and perhaps there was a young child, or one on the way.  Unfortunately his service records are missing, so we cannot know.  But when he did join it was the Leeds Bantams, suggesting he was not very tall.

On 31st August 1917 George was captured, unwounded, at Guillemont, and taken initially to Le Quesnoy.  By November he was in the camp at Dülmen, and in March 1918 he was at Münster.  At some point he was photographed, by the Germans, probably in order to show outsiders that their prisoners were properly looked after, although by this stage Germany was suffering severe food shortages.

Photo courtesy of York Army Museum

The photo is interesting for a number of reasons.  Firstly it is labelled ‘Fred Call’, suggesting, as does the inscription, that he had adopted his second name in preference.  Secondly he appears to be wearing a clerical collar, and his jacket could well be something other than POW issue.

Thirdly the inscription under it appears to read ‘Yours sincerely G Fredk. Call, British missioner PoW, (F?)elsenkirchen-i-W’.

If the ‘F’ is correct then it could be the Felsenkirche, a famous attraction, a church built into the side of a rocky outcrop near Idar-Oberstein in south-eastern Germany, not too far from either camp.

But this is just speculation.  After his release and return to England I have found no further record either of Fred or of Gertrude, beyond the fact that he was placed on the reserve list on 18th October 1919.

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.

Arthur Axe – schoolmaster, musician, football coach, Pal

Arthur Cecil Axe, Private 15/1282, 1st Leeds Pals

Arthur Axe was baptised at Holy Trinity Heworth, near York on November 14th 1886. His father, Henry, had been an army Colour Sergeant in the Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment), and Arthur was the youngest of eight children born to Henry and his wife Mary. The children’s birth places attest to the family’s movements.  Thomas, the oldest, was born in Canada (c. 1866), William in Liverpool (c 1869), Emily in Portland (c.1871), Albert in India (C 1875) while Louis (c.1880), Ada (c 1881), Joseph (c 1884) and Arthur were all born in York where in the 1891 census Henry is described as Pensioner Paymaster Sergeant, 3rd West Yorkshire Regiment.

Arthur attended Heworth Church Elementary School and the Yorkshire Gazette (20th Feb. 1892) lists him amongst the prize winners presented by  the Dean of York . The Church of England Sunday School which the children attended also lists him amongst the prize winners (second in his class, Ada first in hers!) (Yorkshire Gazette 23rd December 1893). His musical gift is apparent in the report of his taking part in a concert in 1889 (York Herald 7th Jan.) when he was a pupil at Archbishop Holgate’s School in York.  By 1901 Arthur was living at 17 East Parade York and was an apprentice organist. He is known to have played the organ in York Minster.

Arthur joined the staff of St John’s College, Hurstpierpoint, Sussex, in 1908 as Director of Music. He was responsible for Chapel music and composed settings of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis. He composed music for the Shakespeare plays performed during his years at the school.  He also helped to organize “Literary and Musical Evenings”, when he opened the evening with a piano solo.  This was described in the School magazine in October 1914: “Mr Axe opened proceedings with a Beethoven Sonata, but it is getting hard to find an epithet for the indispensable and always pleasant item.” Music was not his only role. He also coached the 1st XI football team.

Arthur enlisted in the Pals in 1915 but his service records have not survived. He was one of many talented young men serving in the battalion but was undoubtedly more gifted musically than most. He accompanied items at a concert on board  HMT Ascania en route for France in 1915 and he and Band Master Garside gave a “humorous recitation entitled Noise and Nonsense.”

Private Arthur Axe was initially posted missing after the first day of the Battle of the Somme but a letter received by his brother Thomas from a fellow soldier Private H Evans reads, “Your noble brother succumbed to a wound in the thigh. I went over the top with him and he was quite cool. We had got about 20 yards when Arthur received the wound.  I tried to bandage his thigh, but I had to press on.  A bullet broke my leg when I had got about ten yards from him.  I lay there all day and at night, with a great effort, I crawled back to our lines.  I passed Arthur on the way back and saw that he was dead.”

He is buried in Serre Cemetery No I (War Graves Commission). His headstone reads “Deep In Our Hearts His Memory We Cherish”.

 

Researcher Jane Luxton

With thanks to Mary-Louise Rowland, deputy Archivist at Hurstpierpoint College. www.hppc.co.uk

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Roy Brown – almost unknown

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Roy Brown, Private 15/106, 1st Leeds Pals

Photo courtesy of York Army Museum

Very little is known about Roy Brown, and very little documentation has survived.  Even the photo taken of him in prison camp is incorrectly labelled as ‘Reg Brown’. (York Army Museum).  Fortunately his POW records are more forthcoming. (Prisoners of the First World War).

Roy was born in Knaresborough on 3rd May 1895 so when the war started he was 19, and he obviously wasted no time in volunteering, having the number 106, meaning that he joined possibly on the first day of recruiting.  On the list of volunteers his address is given as 2 Seaforth Avenue, Harehills, the same as was given on his POW forms in 1917 for his mother.  Unfortunately she is named only as ‘Mrs Brown’, with not even an initial, and so far nothing has shown up on any census.

Having joined Roy was posted to D Company, but no specific job is indicated.  He would presumably have gone to Colsterdale for his training, then Ripon and Fovant, before sailing for Egypt.  His Medal Card shows that he landed on 6th December 1915. (Ancestry).  In March the battalion sailed back to France to be ready for the Big Push.  As a private Roy would get little or no specific mention in the records.  We don’t know if he took part in the 1st July attack on the Somme, but there’s no reason to suppose that he didn’t.  He was certainly part of the Pals’ attack on 3rd May 1917 during the Battle of Arras, because he was captured, unwounded, at Gavrelle.  Initially he was moved round from one camp to another, being in Dülmen on 23rd June, Burgsteinfurt on 16th July, Limburg on 11th August and Münster on 8th November 1917.  There he appears to have stayed, for the next twelve months, until the war ended.

He must have been released and repatriated fairly quickly as he was back in England to be transferred to the Reserves on 13th March 1919.

He was subsequently awarded the 1915 Star, for his service in Egypt, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. (Ancestry).

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.