Corporal 15/93 1st Leeds Pals
1890: John Ernest Bland, a tailor’s cutter, married Marianne Gregg in Tadcaster, and the following year they had their first child, born in Garforth and christened Benjamin Clifford Wadsworth, but always known as Clifford. In fact dropping the first name seems to have been a family trait, with father being known as Ernest, and even mother shortening hers to Annie. They went on to have six more children, but only five survived. (Find My Past 2015)
1891: At the time of this census Ernest and Annie were living in South Milford, but
1901: by this census they had moved into Leeds, and were living at 48 Garton View.
1911: The family was now living in Trowbridge, Wiltshire. Clifford was now a stockbroker’s clerk, working in Park Row, and so had been left behind. He was consequently lodging with William and Ruth Potter, of Osmandthorpe Hall.
1914: Clifford was nearly 23 when war was declared, and was an early volunteer, as his number, 93, clearly shows. He was just the sort of man the Pals were looking for, middle class, educated, a white-collar job, and it is quite possible that he was part of a group from his office that went to the Hanover Square Recruiting Office to enlist. This was the essence of Pals’ Battalions. He was posted to B Company, 6th Platoon, 6th Section.
His service records are missing, but he probably followed the same pattern as the Pals generally, going for initial training at Colsterdale, Ripon and Fovant.
1915: In December he probably went with the battalion to Egypt, but before that, in March, he went home on leave, and married Lillian Brownridge in Leeds (Free BMD 2015). They had just over a year of married life, before
1916: the battalion was sent to France, ready for the Battle of the Somme.
On 1st July Clifford went over the top, and was not heard of again. He was reported missing, and on 15th July Lillian appealed, in the Yorkshire Post, for any news of him (Milner p.160). But in vain.
His death was ultimately confirmed, but his body never found. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial and also on the Stockbrokers’ Memorial in Leeds Town Hall. When the war was over he was awarded the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal (Ancestry 2015).
1919: In September Lillian remarried, to James Wilson, and they lived at 16 Ivy Street, Victoria Avenue, East End Park, Leeds (Free BMD 2015)(Find My Past 2015).
Researcher: Peter Taylor
- All opinions and inferences are the researcher’s own.
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