Francis McManus – A Leeds Bantam


Francis McManus, Private 17/105 2nd Leeds Pals

On 24 November 1896 Francis McManus was born at 28 Council Street Leeds to Luke and Sarah McManus.  He was the youngest of three children behind elder sister Catherine and elder brother John.

The 1911 Census reveals Francis’ family living in Hatfield Street Leeds.  The eldest daughter Catherine was now a boot maker, her younger brother John (known as Jack) was a cloth finisher like his father and Francis was an iron driller at the age of 14.  There was also a 3 year old daughter Norah.  On the Census form is the note that 10 children had been born into the family between 1888 and 1911 but only these 4 had survived by that date.  Norah died later that year.  Council and Hatfield Street were demolished but their outline can still be seen on overhead imagery.

Francis failed to enlist on the outbreak of war In August 1914 – he was turned away due to age and height.  However, on the 8th December 1914 when Mr J E Bedford the Lord Mayor of Leeds raised a Bantam battalion of The West Yorkshire Regiment – the 17th (Service) Battalion The West Yorkshire Regiment – Francis must have been one of the first to enlist because his personal Army number is 17/105. 

Following training throughout 1915 from Ilkley to Salisbury Plain, on 14th January 1916  Francis wrote his Will leaving everything to his Mother Sarah.  This is the only surviving artefact belonging to Francis I have so far been able to find.

On 31st January 1916 the Battalion embarked for France on the SS Duchess of Argyll.  From 1 February onwards they began work up training in and out of the front line.

On the 27th March 2016 the Battalion went into the line between ARMENTIÈRES and LAVENTIE – the PETILLON Subsector of the line.  On the 29th March 1916   Captain Hepper’s Diary[1] records that: …“8.30 am.  The enemy have just sent over some rifle grenades, I hate the things.  We are busy retaliating.  I bet the old Hun is chuckling up his sleeve as all ours are falling short and ten out of the fifteen are duds. Bless the munitioneers or perhaps it may be the damp ground.”  However, the Battalion’s War Diary for 29th March 1916 records:

“4 Lewis guns forward in battle emplacements, 2 used as moveable guns.  Some interchange of rifle grenades.  Unfortunate accident with rifle grenade by which 1 man killed and 2 wounded.  Some shelling by enemy of CELLAR FARM and DEE POST.  Patrol went out from left Coy (Z Coy).  Water too deep to allow of useful information to be gained.  Snipers very active all along the front.  They have a loophole in nearly every bay and move position when firing and thus difficult to locate.  Night passed quietly.  Much work done.”

WW1 Soldiers’ deaths are rarely ‘named’ but according to the West Yorkshire’s Regimental History Francis McManus is the only recorded death on 29th March 1916 so must have been the man killed by the ‘unfortunate accident’ with the rifle grenade; clearly not all were duds.  He was probably dead before 9.00 am.  Corporal Sheard, a Battalion Medical Orderly, recorded in his journal[2] that the casualties that day had been caused by; ‘…one of our rifle grenades bursting.’  (It is interesting that there is no mention of how Francis died in the Regimental History’s Casualty Lists.)  He is recorded as ‘Killed in Action’ on his Medal Record Card, in Leeds in The Great War and on the Medal Roll, but other documents, (his overseas Death Certificate, Effects Record and The Leeds Roll of Honour), speak of his ‘accidental death’.

On the 18th April 1916 in The Times Newspaper’s ‘Roll of Honour’ Francis is listed under ‘Accidentally Killed’. 

Francis was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.  He is buried in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery at Rue-Petillon, FLEURBAIX, Plot 1, Section N, Grave 6.

Researcher:  Andrew Greenwood

[1] Captain Hepper’s Diary as an officer in the 17th Battalion is a most useful source of background information on the Leeds Bantams.

[2] Held by the Imperial War Museum.

Please Note:

  • All opinions and inferences are the researcher’s own.
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John Sydney Ewart – a Derbyshire Pal

John (Jack) Sydney Ewart, Corporal 15/314, 1st Leeds Pals

Cpl. John Ewart at Headingley, 1st June 1915

John Sydney Ewart, known to the family as Jack, was the son of William Ewart and Emily Shephard, who had married in Sheffield in 1876.  William was born in Kirkcudbright, and was a draper, and subsequently a traveller, in that trade.  John was the eighth of nine children.  He had five older sisters, Edith, Marion, Jane, Alice and Janet, and two older brothers, Samuel and William.  The youngest child, Charles Reginald, was the grandfather of Brell Ewart, who provided much of this information.


All the children were born in Chesterfield, where the family lived, at a number of addresses over the years, and which was presumably William’s base for his travelling.  Apart from this little is known about John’s early life, but by 1911 he was lodging in Bradford, where he had a job as a costing clerk for a newspaper publisher. (Census records)


In 1914, when war was declared, John was 22, and lost no time in volunteering.  With a number like 314 he must have signed up in the first few days.  He joined the Leeds Pals, which suggests either that he had moved jobs or was so anxious to sign up that he didn’t wait for the Bradford Pals to be formed.  It is also possible that he was influenced by the fact that his grandmother had been born in Leeds.  Whatever the reason, he was a Leeds Pal.  But unfortunately his service record has not survived.


Like the rest of the Pals he would have done his early training at Colsterdale, before moving on to Ripon and finally Fovant in Wiltshire.  From there, in early December 1915, the Battalion sailed for Egypt, where they were to guard the Suez Canal against a possible Turkish attack.  This did not materialise, and in March 1916 they sailed again, this time for France, and training for the Big Push.


The Battle of the Somme began at 0730hrs on 1st July 1916 when the Leeds Pals, along with a number of other Pals battalions, including the Bradford Pals, went over the top, with the intention of capturing the village of Serre.  But it was not to be.  The majority were either killed or wounded, but John survived.  There is no reason to suppose that he wasn’t in that attack.


On 4th August the survivors were moved to a new position at Festubert, where they took over some of the front-line trenches.  These did not form a continuous line but a series of ‘islands’, and it was while manning these islands that they were attacked.  After morning ‘Stand Down’ on 20th August the Germans began shelling the trenches, but what no-one realised was that they were shelling their own wire, to make three gaps leading to the British lines.  Just after evening ‘Stand Down’ they attacked, and although they were beaten off the Pals suffered casualties.  Two officers and six other ranks were killed and two officers and seventeen other ranks wounded.  Among the dead was John Ewart. (Milner p.170/1)


John was awarded the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. (Medal Card)  He is buried in Le Touret Military Cemetery, Richebourg L’Avoue, together with Lt. Tom Applebee, and Privates Harold Ramsden and Harold Griffiths. (CWGC website)

Visiting John Ewart's grave

John’s grave, visited by his niece and great-nephew, June Dorothy Ewart and Brell Ewart.






His older brother William Shephard also joined up, but not, apparently, until 1918.  Initially he was to go into the RGA, but was transferred to the RAMC.  He survived the war and was able to return to his wife Eliza. (Find My Past)

His younger brother Charles Reginald served in the Royal Scots Fusiliers, and also survived.

Researcher: Peter Taylor, with information from Brell Ewart, great-nephew

Please Note:

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Walter Withell – a happy ending?

Walter Withell, Private 15/1001, 1st Leeds Pals

Walter Withell 1914

Walter Withell was born in Leeds on 28th November 1886, the second child of Walter Ranson Withell, a warehouseman for a wholesale druggist, who had married Margaret Ellen Chapman five years earlier.  He had an older brother, William, and a younger sister, Maud. (Find My Past Census Records)


When he left school he became an errand boy, but in 1901 was taken on as an apprentice by John Curtis & Son, cabinet makers of Leeds, at their shop on the corner of Wade Street and Wade Lane. (Find My Past Army Service Record)  This he completed in 1908, and on the 1911 Census he is given as a cabinet maker at a camera works.  In 1901 the family was living at 8 Belle View Grove, Leeds, having moved there from 98 Rosebank View.  By 1911 they had moved again, to 6 Belle View Grove, and were still there in 1914, when Walter joined the Pals. (Army Service Record)


But before this Walter had met a girl, Ethel Gibson, who lived with her family, a widowed mother, one older brother and three younger sisters, in Lower Headingley.  She was just a year younger, and an assistant teacher for Leeds. (Census Records)


When war was declared Walter was 27, and he wasted no time in enlisting.  His attestation form show him enlisting on 13th September 1914, his age being given as 27yrs 10mths, his height as 5ft 4.5ins, so he just qualified there, and his weight 9st 2lbs.  He had brown hair and blue eyes. (Army Service Record)  According to the Nominal Roll he was posted to C Company, No.10 Platoon, No.3 Section, but the photo of him taken towards the end of 1914 lists him as No.9 Platoon.  This was taken at Colsterdale, where the Pals had gone for training, and from where Walter wrote to Ethel.  At least 13 of the postcards he sent have survived.


On 26th May 1915 Walter and Ethel were married at Queen Street Congregational Chapel in Leeds, witnessed by Walter’s parents, and Ethel’s mother and two sisters, Hilda and Pauline. (Find My Past Marriage Certificate)


Six months later the Pals were off to Egypt, where they stayed until March 1916.  Then they sailed for France, where they were to take part in the Big Push, the Battle of the Somme.  Walter appears to have survived the first day of the battle, but on 2nd July he was hit by a bullet in his left thigh.  The following day he was hit by shrapnel in his right thigh, and evacuated to hospital at Le Havre, and from there back to England.  His wounding was reported in the Yorkshire Evening Post of 11th July.  Presumably his bullet wound was not too severe if he was still in the line the following day, or perhaps he was just unlucky, but either way his wounds together proved serious, and on 26th November 1916 he was discharged as being no longer fit for war service.  He was awarded a pension of 12/6 a week, conditionally for six months.  In May 1918 he received the King’s Certificate to go with his discharge, and later the 1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. (Army Service Record)


In 1939, when a register was prepared for the Second World War, Walter and Ethel were living at 16 Regent Terrace, Leeds, together with Walter’s father, now a widower and long retired.  Walter was a foreman woodworker, making scientific instruments, (Find My Past 1939 Register) and, it appears, working for A Kershaw and Sons of Leeds, who made photographic and optical instruments, and cinema projectors.  When he retired, perhaps in the early 1940s, he moved to Whitby, where it is thought he lived in the Oak Road area.  He became involved in the Whitby Photographic Society, and for a number of years up to his death in 1962 was its chairman.  In his memory the Walter Withell Memorial Trophy was given, and is still presented annually. (Whitby Photographers, by Ruth Wilcock, Towlard Publications 2011)


Researcher: Peter Taylor

Please Note:

  • All opinions and inferences are the researcher’s own.
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John Stewart Morton – died a corporal

John Stewart Morton, Corporal 15/664, The Leeds Pals

Morton, John Stewart

John Stewart Morton was born on 15th April 1892, the son of Edward Percy Morton, who had married Florence Armitage in South Shields in 1888, where their first two children were subsequently born.  Kathleen Elsie was born in 1890, and was followed by John, who was known to the family as Jack.  There were three more children, Doris, Dudley and Margery, all born in Manston.  But of the five only four survived.  It seems likely that Dudley died, as he does not appear on the 1911 Census, though both Doris and Margery do.  By this time the family had moved to Crossgates. (Find My Past census records)

Edward Morton worked in the tailoring trade.  On the 1891 Census he is listed as a tailor’s cutter, but by 1901 he had become a clothing manufacturer, and was a partner in the firm of Morton and Joynt Ltd, based in Leeds but with at least one other branch, as it is listed in the Glasgow Trade Directory for 1931.

In 1907 John went to Leighton Park School, and stayed until the following year.  This was, and still is, a Quaker school, with a pacifist ethos, but this did not prevent John from ultimately joining up.  He played for the 2nd XI football team, but nothing else is recorded for his short school career. (Information provided by school)

On leaving school in 1908 John went into the family firm, being sent first to Messrs. Forsyth of Glasgow to gain experience.  Perhaps the family firm had not branched out at this point, or perhaps he needed a wider experience.  He appears on the 1911 Census as an Assistant Manager (Wholesale Tailoring), and had he survived the war he would have become a director of the company.

At the start of the war in 1914 John was 22, and he wasted no time in volunteering for the Pals.  His low army number shows this, and the roll of applications has him applying to join on 3rd September, with his medical nine days later.  His address was given as ‘Brentwood’, Roundhay.  He was posted to C Company, No.11 Platoon, No.12 Section. (Application Roll, Leeds City Library)

Unfortunately his service record has not survived, but the school records indicate that, after initial training at Colsterdale and Fovant, he went with the battalion to Egypt, and from there to France.  At some point during this period he was promoted, reaching the rank of Corporal, having twice refused a commission. (Information provided by school)

On 11th March 1915, at South Milford, he married Margaret (Peggy) Mary Meech, only daughter of Thomas Cox Meech, barrister at law, parliamentary journalist and author of a number of novels under the name Paul Urquhart.  He was later named as an executor of John’s will. (Western Gazette, Yeovil, 26 March 1915, and information from school)

On 1st July 1916 John was part of the first wave of Pals to go over the top at the start of the Battle of the Somme, and became one of the almost 20,000 killed on that day.  He is buried in Serre Road Cemetery No.3, Puisieux.  He was subsequently awarded the 1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. (Ancestry Medal Card)

Of his sisters, Elsie trained as a VAD, and married an American.  Margery also married and was the grandmother of Nigel Denison, who has supplied some of this information, while Doris never married, but had two fiancés killed in the war.

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.

Orriel (Orrie) Briggs – briefly a Pal

Private 15/87, The Leeds Pals
Commissioned Yorks & Lancs Regiment, 4/06/15
Attached Somerset Light Infantry

1888: On 27th August Orriel was born in Headingley, Leeds, the first child of Charles William Briggs, who had married Sophia Cox in Leeds the previous year. They went on to have three more children, John in 1893, Lilian in 1896 and Frank in 1898. It is not clear where the name Orriel came from. (Free BMD website)

1891: On this census the family was living at 16 Norwood Terrace, Headingley, together with Charles’ widowed mother Elizabeth. Charles was listed as a commercial traveller. The 1911 Census specifies this as in the Chemical manufacturing. (Census Records)

1901: The family was now at 21 Chestnut Avenue, Headingley, without Elizabeth, who had presumably died at some point between the two censuses. Also between these two dates Orriel must have started primary school, because in 1901, at the age of 13, he started at Leeds Modern School, (Memorial Book) where he stayed until

1903: He was now 15, and joined his father’s business of Dyewares and Chemicals, later travelling for them. He was also a member of Leeds Yarnbury Rugby Union Football Club, and played in the Yorkshire League.

1911: This census shows the family at 19 Chestnut Avenue, Headingley, presumably just a move next door. Orriel was now listed as clerk to a fire appliance manufacturer. (Census Records)

1914: War was declared by Britain on 4th August, and one month later, on 4th September, Orriel enlisted in the 15th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment, The 1st Leeds Pals, as Private 15/87. He took his medical on the 10th September 1914, but was only a Pal for a relatively short time, (Find My Past website)

1915: as he was commissioned in the 10th Service Battalion, the Yorks and Lancs Regiment, on 4th June. He would have done his initial training at Colsterdale, but was not with the Pals long enough to go to Egypt. In September he was posted to France, and in December he was wounded. There is a letter extant written on Christmas Day by the sister at No.2 CCS, informing his mother that Orriel was in hospital suffering from shell-shock.

1916: On his recovery he was sent to Ripon to be adjutant at the Training Camp there. Beyond this his military career during this period is not known, as his records are missing.

On 20th August Orriel married Edith May Longfield, at St Michael’s Church, Headingley. (Free BMD website)

1917: In December Orriel was back in France, this time attached to the 8th Battalion, the Somerset Light Infantry, again as adjutant, but with the rank of acting captain.

1918: There are various letters written by him from France at different times during this year, the last being written to his father on 1st November. Three days later, on 4th November, he was killed in action, and the remaining letters are of condolence to his widow, now living in Great Yarmouth. (All letters listed on eBay)

Orriel was buried in Romeries Communal Cemetery Extension, Romeries,
Departement du Nord, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France. He is also commemorated on the memorial in the Church of St Margaret of Antioch, Cardigan Road, Headingley. (CWGC website)

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 Conyers – hell for leather


Lance Sergeant 15/222, The West Yorkshire Regiment, 1st Leeds Pals

William Conyers was born in Bramley in September 1888, the first child of John Dunderdale Conyers, who had married Elizabeth Holt the previous year. They had five children in all, the others being Alfred Holt, born 1890, John Dunderdale, born 1891, Emily, born 1893 and Harold Walker, born 1895. (Free BMD website)

John the father was a one-time city magistrate, and well-known in the city as part of the leather and boot and shoe manufacturing combine that was the extended Conyers family. John was owner of the Waterloo Tannery in Bramley, while other family members owned shops in Leeds where they made and sold footwear. Joseph had a shop at 38 Boar Lane, and Thomas one at 22 Vine Street. (Hetherington p.18)

On the 1891 Census John and Elizabeth were living at Holly House, Town Street, Bramley, with their first two children.

By 1901 they had moved to 86 Westover Road, Bramley, and had added John, Emily and Harold to their tally, but William was not with them, having been sent to board at Ashville College, Pannal. As a family they were clearly quite affluent, but this may also indicate how much more difficult public transport was at that time. Commuting from Bramley to Pannal on a daily basis would be no real problem today. (Census Records)

In December 1910 John senior died, at the age of 59, (Free BMD website) so on the 1911 Census Elizabeth appeared as head of the family, along with four of her children. William is listed as a mechanic. (Census Records)  Alfred is missing, but where is not known.

In 1914, when war was declared, William was 25, and was one of the first to volunteer in Leeds. He must have joined the Pals before the end of that September. His service record is missing, but his medal card shows that he followed the standard pattern for the Pals’ Battalion, and landed in Egypt on 22nd December 1915. By March 1916 they were in France, ready for the Big Push. (Medal Card)

William was one of the Pals who went over the top on 1st July 1916, and one of the many who did not come back. Initially he was posted as missing presumed dead, but his body was later found and buried in Serre Road Cemetery No.1. (CWGC website)  He is also named on the family gravestone in Lawnswood Cemetery. (Hetherington p.19)

His three brothers also joined up, but were lucky enough to survive, Alfred in the ASC, and Harold in the RAMC. John may have joined the West Yorkshire Regiment but I have found no confirmation as yet. (Ancestry website, Find My Past website)

William was subsequently awarded the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. (Medal Card)

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.

Herbert Gladstone Pickles – only lucky once


15/721 Sergeant, 15th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment, The Leeds Pals

Herbert Gladstone Pickles was born in Leeds in 1886, the second child but first son of Charles Henry Pickles, a wholesale stationer and newspaper distributor, and Annie Clayton, whom he had married four years earlier. (Free BMD website)

Charles was a strong supporter of Herbert Gladstone, youngest son of WE Gladstone and an MP for one of the Leeds constituencies.

Herbert had an older sister, Lillian Beatrice, born two years before, a younger sister, Gertrude Emily, born in 1889, and two younger brothers, Frederick Clayton, born 1890, and Arthur George, born 1901. (Census Records)

On the 1891 Census the family was living at 13 Victoria Terrace, Kirkstall, and were still there in 1901. By 1911 they had moved to 14 Springfield Mount, just round the back of the University. Sadly by this time the two girls had both died, Lillian in 1905 and Gertrude in 1909. Herbert and Frederick were now working for their father in the family firm, Chas Pickles & Co. Herbert was also a keen sportsman, and played for the Headingley Rugby Union Football Club.

In 1914, when war was declared, Herbert was 28, and volunteered for the Pals straight away. His army number shows he had joined before the end of September. Unfortunately his service record is missing, so we only have the basic facts.

In September 1915 Herbert married Elsie Whitham.

On 22nd December 1915 the battalion arrived in Egypt, ready to guard the Suez Canal. But the threat from the Turks never really materialised, and early in 1916 that duty was taken over by troops from the Indian Army, and the Pals sailed for France, arriving at Marseilles in March. From there they went by train to Northern France, to prepare for the next big battle, the Somme.

Herbert was lucky, for although he took part he survived when the battalion was almost wiped out. But the next time that happened he was not so lucky.

At Gavrelle, during the Arras offensive of May 1917, when the Pals were almost wiped out again, Herbert was posted missing, and on 5th May he was officially ‘presumed dead’. He is commemorated on the Arras Memorial and also that in Lawnswood Cemetery. (Hetherington p.21)  He is listed as son of the late Charles Pickles, of Oxford House, Horsforth, who had died in September 1919, and husband of Elsie Drury, who had remarried, to Ernest Drury, in September 1921 and was living in London. (CWGC website)

He was subsequently awarded the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. (Medal Card)

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.

Thomas Herbert Leason – maybe a Pal

Corporal 1041 The West Yorkshire Regiment

Later commissioned 2nd Lieutenant 9th Battalion KOYLI 2/07/15

1890: William Herbert Leason, a domestic coachman, married Dinah Waterworth, in Scarborough, in September.(Free BMD website) Dinah was from Ganton, York, and by

1901: the family was living in York, at 15 Compton Street. They had two sons, Thomas Herbert, born in Ganton in September 1891, and John William, born in Ganton two years later.(Free BMD website)

1911: On this census the family is shown at Hall Lodge, Cookridge Horsforth, Adel cum Eccup, Yorkshire. Presumably William was employed there as a coachman.(Census records)  Thomas, meanwhile, after two years at Leeds Training College, had returned to Horsforth National School as an assistant master.

1914: When war was declared Thomas was 22, and would appear to have volunteered fairly early, probably in the early part of 1915. His service record is missing, and it is not clear from his army number which battalion he was in, though a newspaper article published at the time of his death states that he had originally joined the Leeds Pals (Saville p.42). His medal card shows that he served in France, but no date is given.

1915: However, on 2nd July he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the KOYLI, and a little over a year later, on 16th September,

1916: he died of wounds and was buried in Dartmoor Cemetery, Becordel-Becourt, Somme, France. He is also named on the Horsforth Cenotaph and on a memorial stone in Horsforth Cemetery, where he is given as the son of William and Dinah Leason, of The Lodge, Cookridge Hall, and his age given as 25.

He was subsequently awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, and his parents are listed on the Medal Card as
Father WH Leason esq. of Poets Place, Long Row, Horsforth, Nr Lancs (sic)
Mother Mrs WH Leason, of 1 King’s Mead, Wakefield Road, Pontefract, Yorks
Whether there is any significance in the two separate addresses I don’t know, but William was presumably still working.(Medal Card)  It may be that one was a tied cottage, or even a retirement cottage.

Researcher: Peter Taylor

Please Note:

  • All opinions and inferences are the researcher’s own.
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John Gilbert Vause


Lieutenant and Acting Captain, 15th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment, 1st Leeds Pals

John Gilbert Vause, known as Jack, was born in Leeds in December 1892, the third and youngest son of Frederick William Vause, a shoddy manufacturer also born in Leeds in September 1858, and his wife Sarah. On the 1911 Census Frederick stated that they had been married for 26 years, which would date their marriage to 1885, but the only record of a Frederick William Vause marrying a Sarah is in December 1875 to Sarah Harrison, at which point Frederick would have been just 17, not in itself a problem, but the 1881 Census has him as single and still living at home with his parents. (Census Records, Find My Past)

Whenever they married they had five children, four of whom survived, presumably Harold William, Frederick, John Gilbert and Dorothy F, as they are named on the various censuses. On the 1891 Census they were living at 175 Cardigan Road, Headingley, by 1901 they had moved to 34 Clarendon Road, by 1911 Airedale House, 65 Clarendon Road, and in 1916, when John was killed, their address was given as ‘Meadowfield’, 32 Clarendon Road.

Father Frederick worked for the family firm of Thomas Vause & Sons Ltd. which was in Farrar Yard, off Low Road, and he was obviously doing well as John went to the Leeds Grammar School, from 1903 to 1910, where amongst other things he was a member of the OTC, a pursuit he also followed at Leeds University, where he was a student in the Textile Department. Another interest was rugby, he being a member of the Headingley Rugby Football Club.

John joined the Leeds Pals as a Lieutenant very early on, appearing in a photo of their first officers taken at Colsterdale in September 1914. He was posted to D Company as a platoon commander, and he was also appointed Musketry and Sniping Officer. After training he went with the Pals to Egypt, arriving on 22nd December 1915. There he would have stayed until March 1916, when the battalion moved to France ready for the Big Push. When it came he was an acting captain, but with so many others of the Pals he was killed on the first day, 1st July 1916, age 23, and has no known grave. His name appears on the Thiepval Memorial, the University Memorial, and also on the family memorial in Lawnswood Cemetery.

Initially he was thought only to be missing, but as his obituary shows, this later proved not to be the case:-

There is, after all, sad confirmation of the death of Lieut. J.G. Vause, the son of Mr. F.W. Vause, of 32 Clarendon Road, Leeds. Lieut. Vause was officially reported missing by the War Office, but a private in his platoon, who is now lying wounded in the Third Western General Hospital, at Newport, gives particulars of the manner of his death. Lieut. Vause was first hit in the elbow just as he led his men over the parapet. He went on however and after having his wound bound up, reached the barbed-wire entanglements in front of the German trenches which his platoon had to take. He was hit a second time in the thigh, and, with the only remaining soldier in his platoon by his side, he lay in a trench under a terrific bombardment. His companion, in describing their situation says: “We lay there talking about Leeds and discussing the possibilities of getting home again. Lieut. Vause told me that he had been recommended for his third star (i.e. promotion to captain), and how he was very much ‘up’ about it.” Some time later the gallant officer was again hit, first on the chin and then in the back. He made the remark: “This has just about finished me off,” and then died shortly afterwards. His companion lay with two shattered legs for 36 hours before being rescued.
(Yorkshire Evening Post 11/07/1916)

He was awarded the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Another memorial to him takes the form of a scholarship, set up by his father, though I have not yet discovered why it should be a medical award:-
School of Medicine Scholarships
Intercalating Scholarships 2015-2016
Each year the School of Medicine (SoM) makes several awards to Leeds medical students undertaking an undergraduate intercalating programme at the University of Leeds.
John Gilbert Vause Memorial Scholarship for Clinical Sciences
The Scholarship is in memory of Lieutenant John Gilbert Vause of the 15th West Yorkshire Regiment who died in the First Battle of the Somme in the Great War.
Rules for award:
• £1000 awarded to the highest ranking student on BSc Clinical Sciences (Medical Imaging)
• £1000 awarded to the highest ranking student on BSc Clinical Sciences (Molecular Medicine)
• £1000 awarded to the highest ranking student on BSc Clinical Sciences (Cardiovascular)

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.

James Henry Waring, DCM


L/Corporal 40183, 15/17th West Yorkshire Regiment, The Leeds Pals

James Waring was awarded the DCM, gazetted on 3rd September 1918. The citation reads as follows:

40183 Private JH Waring (Ingleton)
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. Under an exceptionally
heavy artillery and machine-gun barrage this man dressed and attended to
the wounded, running from one to the other and succouring in all about
fifty. When wounded in the head he carried on until he dropped from
exhaustion and loss of blood. After his wound had been dressed he had to
be forcibly prevented from returning to the line. (London Gazette, 3.9.18)

Assuming that James Henry Waring was from Ingleton then the following scenario is possible.
He was the son of Henry Waring, labourer on the highways, and Mary Agnes Duckett, who had married in Settle in March 1884.
They had three children, William Thomas, John and James Henry, who was born in Settle in 1893. (Census records on Find My Past)

In 1901 the family was living in Rock Cottage, Ingleton, and in 1911 they were still there, apart from James, who was now at Fell End, where he was the cow boy, a servant to the Capstick family. William, meanwhile, had become a rural postman. (Census Records on Find My Past)

It looks possible that he waited to be conscripted, as he has a late number and is listed as 15/17th Battalion. The DCM citation suggests that he may well have been a stretcher-bearer.

He was discharged to Class Z on 23rd February 1919, and was subsequently awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal.

In 1920 James may have married Mary A Robinson, in Settle. (Free BDM)

Researcher: Peter Taylor

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