Private 28446 2nd Leeds Pals

1890: Squire Hill was born in Thornton, Bradford, to Robert Hill, a farm labourer, and Mary Hannah Bailey. He had two older sisters, Mary Eliza, born 1882, and Alice, born 1886. The 1911 Census states that there had been six children, one of whom had died, but there is no sign of the other two in the last three censuses. It is possible, however, that there had been a previous Squire, who died, as Robert and Mary claimed to have been married for 29 years by 1911.

1891: In 1891 the family were living at 6 Black Dyke Lane, Thornton, but by

1901: they had moved to 173 Crossley Hall, Thornton Old Road, Bradford, where they stayed, certainly until 1915, so presumably after his marriage Squire continued to live with his parents. (Find My Past 2015)

1911: He married Edith Annie Abbott on 28th October, and they had two children, Evelyn, born 1913, and Joy, born 1914. On the 1911 Census his occupation was given as Drayman for a Soap Works, possibly the Springfield Soap Works, or the Whitehall Soap Works in Leeds run by Joseph Watson. When he enlisted it was given as teamer, still a driver of horses, or moulder, two different occupations. (Find My Past 2015)

1914: When war was declared Squire was probably 24.

1915: He enlisted on 12th December, in 19th West Yorkshire Battalion, which was a reserve battalion, and his height was measured at 5ft 2ins, weight 119 lbs. He was held in reserve until

1916: 13th April, at which point he was placed on home service until 23rd July, when he was sent to France, and posted to 17th Battalion, which was originally a bantam battalion, 2nd Leeds. All of this may explain why he did not enlist any earlier. Officially at 5ft 2 he was below the minimum height requirement for the army at the start of the war, and only when bantam battalions were introduced did he become eligible. He remained in France until 17th April 1918, but these two years were quite eventful.

1917: On 16th March he appears to have been gassed, and was hospitalised, where he was also found to have impetigo, scabies and eczema. From 29th September to 9th October he was on leave in England. On 7th December he was posted to 15th Battalion, the Leeds Pals. He was a member of A Company, No.4 Platoon, No.1 Section.

1918: On 13th April he was wounded, ‘superficially’, in the left arm, and once again hospitalised. He was sent back to England on 17th, and spent the period from 18th April to 25th May in the 4th Southern General Hospital, Devonport, which suggests that the wound was more serious than the word ‘superficial’ would imply. Whether it was at this point that his life went wrong, or whether it had started earlier, is not clear, but he over-stayed his hospital furlough, from 31st May to 16th June, and was fined 12 days’ pay. On 15th July he actually deserted, and was absent until 3rd September when he was arrested in Bradford by the civil authorities. He was tried by District Court Martial on two charges, firstly Desertion while on active service, and secondly losing by neglect his equipment, clothing and regimental necessities. He was found guilty on both charges and sentenced to 84 days detention, subsequently reduced to 42 days, and served at the Detention Barracks, Stafford. Whilst all this was happening, and this may offer a possible explanation, on 13th August an affiliation order was granted, against him and in favour of a Florence Elizabeth Copestake, of 13 Drewton Street, Bradford, for a child born on 15th February 1919, which suggests what he may have been up to during his furlough overstay the previous May. On 26th August an order was made for a stoppage of 6d a day for an illegitimate child, as per the magistrates’ order.(Find My Past 2015)

1919: He was demobilised on 5th November 1919, and awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal. (Ancestry 2015)

1953: He may have died in September. (Free BMD 2015)

Researcher: Peter Taylor

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