Rothwell Courier and Times, 1915
CHILDREN’S PANTOMIME AT OULTON. “BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.” 2 January.
The tenth annual children’s pantomime at Oulton was produced during the weekend, and in the interpretation of “Beauty and the Beast” the scholars of Oulton St. John’s School gained great credit for themselves, while Mr E. Boothroyd and his capable staff of assistants have achieved another triumph in the training of the children.
Commencing on Boxing Day, when a matinee took place, the pantomime had a four days’ successful run, concluding on Wednesday night. All the performances have been well attended, and after all expenses have been met, a substantial sum should be left to divide between the school library and the Belgian Refugees’ Fund.
The well-known fairy story was charmingly told by the young people, and some very good and suitable songs (including a patriotic number of two) were submitted. For instance, in the fourth scene “A Laundry,” in which the merchant Cassim’s fine daughters were reduced to the straits of washing clothes as a means of existence, a clever dialogue gave rise to the fitting song, “Your King and country wants you.”
The part of “Beauty” was ably taken by Lily Rayner, who displayed no nervousness as she went about her duties in the Cassim household. Her singing was sweet, and the audience listened eagerly to her songs, which were “Red, red, rose” and “I sing because I love to sing.” The part of the “Beast” was taken by Edna Jones, who played the part of “Dick Whittington” last year in such a pleasing manner. Several songs fell to her lot, the best being “There sits a bird on every tree.” Her other songs were “Little grey home in the west,” “Only a flower,” “Sleep, softly sleep,” and “Home.” “Beauty’s” sisters – “Angelina” and “Ruby” – whose fine notions received a rude shock, were Ivy Mitchell and Mildred Nettleton, and their acting was admirable. The role of Cassim – a merchant who loses a fortune but plucks a rose with startling effect – was portrayed by George Storey, who contributed the song “The Boy Scout,” and he also sang the duet with “Beauty” “At the call of duty.” Much fun was caused by Mary and James (Enid Morley and Ralph Storey), servants to the “Beast,” and they proved “rather a knowing pair,” particularly in the ditty “What can the matter be.”
Among the immortals were the “King of Evil Power,” Maurice Wrigglesworth; “Silvery- beam” (queen of the fairies), Mary Massey, who was attended by the following as subjects: – K. Armitage, A. Colley, C. Mirfin, and K. Smith. Other fairies were – Fairy Snowdrop, E. Gale; Fairy Daffodil, E. Wilson; Fairy Violet, H. Wrigglesworth; Fairy Daisy, C. Holstead.
There were seven scenes, and the scenery was cleverly arranged under the direction of Mr William Miller as stage manager. Mr J.W. Morley again conducted, and Mr Walter Poole accompanied the songs and choruses on the piano.
A STOURTON MAN AT THE FRONT WELL SUPPLIED WITH FOOD AND CLOTHING. 2 January.
In an interesting letter Private C.S. Finker, of the 1st Norfolk Regiment (Transport), of the Second Army Corps, in France, whose home is at 20, Ida Crescent, Stourton, says: “We have not had such a very bad Christmas; we have plenty of most things we need in the eatable line, and also we have a good supply of clothes, wraps, tobacco, and cigarettes. We are well off for them – thanks to our good friend in England who are looking after us well out here. The only thing we are short of here is a good football. We have been very unlucky as regards getting one. Most regiments have two or three. I love the old game, and we get a bit of time of spare in between the rounds. The weather here is very cold, and I can assure you if we had a football or two to kick about we should soon get warm. We are all fairly healthy out here, but ready for home as soon as possible. The weather has been very wet and muddy. Roads and fields are no worry to us now – we are getting used to it – but it is very bad getting heavy stuff about. We live well. Our daily rations consist of bread, biscuits, bacon, cheese, jam, and butter occasionally, and we have preserved meats of all descriptions, but of late we have had beef (fresh); so, taking it all through, we have nothing to grumble at in the eating line.
We don’t seem to move very much. It is a case of slow but sure with us. The Germans are a hard nut to crack; taking all into consideration, and the odds against them, they are no mean foe and not to be trifled with. We were all very sorry to hear of their barbarous attack on Scarborough and other places, but I think the people can rest assured that our Navy will avenge all that at the first opportunity – which I don’t think will be very long in coming. I hope the young men of Leeds will respond to the call, as we can do with them out here. We keep on having the old “Jack Johnsons” dropping round us, but we have got used to them now. They are not much good – only for knocking houses and churches down; they can do plenty of that.”
OULTON AND WOODLESFORD AFFAIRS. TEMPLE NEWSAM TOWN-PLANNING. HEALTH OF THE DISTRICT. 16 January.
The monthly meeting of the Hunslet Rural District Council was held at the offices, Leek Street, Hunslet, on Thursday afternoon – Mr T. Thomas (Chairman) presiding. The other members present were Messrs P.S. Marsden (vice-chairman), G. Srmitage, D.W. Hargreaves, W. Verity, and J. Flanagan, with the Clerk (Mr W.B. Pindar), the medical officer (Dr J. Buck), the sanitary inspectors (Messrs W. Whitehead and P.C. Higgins), and the surveyor (Mr J. Nuttall). The treasurer was reported to have a balance of £1,512 2s. 2d. in hand.
TEMPLE NEWSAM TOWN-PLANNING. The Council had before them an order and a map marked No. 5, relating to the Templenewsam Town Planning Scheme. The Clerk stated that the map had now been made right and would, if the Council affixed its seal ro it, be submitted to the Local Government Board.
Mr Verity: Is this the final plan? The Clerk: No, it is not the final plan, as a plan which would be the final one will have to be made showing the owners’ plots. The one which we now have before us governs the scheme. All that is wanted is a resolution approving of the fixing of the Council’s seal. A resolution was accordingly passed. The Clerk stated that the resolution brought the scheme to a final stage, and it would now have to come before the Local Government Board who would hold a further inquiry into it when they would either approve or amend it.
A RESIGNATION. A letter was read from the County Council giving notice that Mr B. Wood Higgins, of Oulton, had resigned his position on the Rothwell Local Pension Committee, and asking that the Council should elect another member in his place. It was resolved that the question of appointing someone to the vacancy should be adjourned until the next meeting of the Council.
HEALTH OF THE DISTRICT. The medical officer reported that since the last meeting there had been registered twenty-three births, of which number Oulton and Woodlesford had contributed thirteen, Templenewsam eight, and Middleton two. Six deaths had occurred – five in Oulton and Woodlesford, and one in Middleton. The births compared very favourably with the deaths. During the same period five cases of infectious disease had been notified. Of these four were scarlet fever – three in Oulton and Woodlesford and one in Templenewsam, and one case of diphtheria in Oulton and Woodlesford.
For the time of the year, said Dr Buck, the health of the district was very good, although in Oulton and Woodlesford whooping cough and measles were prevalent. The report was considered highly satisfactory. The Local Government Board gave notice that the Milk and Dairies’ Act, passed in 1914, would not come into operation until October 1st, 1915.
MR WHITEHEAD’S REPORT. Mr W. Whitehead reported that during the year he had inspected four canal boats. The Clerk stated that it was not meant that the sanitary inspector had only inspected four boats. He had inspected several, but he had only been on four. Three of these were satisfactory but the fourth was unsatisfactory from the standpoint of cleanliness.
TEAM LABOUR. In his report Mr Nuttall drew the attention of the Council to the question of team labour, and the difficulty of getting horses for carting purposes. He asked the Council to again consider the matter as he anticipated more difficulty in the spring. The Chairman: Are we going to consider it in March. The Clerk: No, in February. The matter was left over until next month.
PRIVATE STREETS. A resolution was passed taking over the private streets at Woodlesford. Dr Buck said in connection with the work of Mr Nuttall at Woodlesford, a great improvement had been noticed since the wet weather commenced.
WATER SUPPLIES. The Clerk reported that the agreement with the Leeds Corporation for a water supply at Crossgates would terminate on September 30th. A letter had been received from the Town Clerk that it was not proposed to renew the agreement.
The water inspector reported that the consumption of water at Middleton was 17,000 gallons per day as compared with 12,000 for the corresponding period of last year. At Oulton and Woodlesford the supply was satisfactory, the consumption being 63,000 gallons against 62,000 gallons last year. The inspector also reported that the alterations to the reservoir at John O’Gaunt’s, Rothwell Haigh, had been completed.
The Clerk reported that he had received complaints from Mr W. Dodgson, Holmsleigh, Woodlesford, regarding the water supply to his house. The water, it was stated, had been cut off without any warning having been given. The Clerk said it was due to the alterations at the reservoir, and Mr Dodgson had been informed of the fact.
PATENTS. 16 January.
Patent list compiled by John E. Walsh, chartered patent agent, of 25, Royal Exchange, Boar Lane, Leeds and Crossley Street, Halifax. Applications – G. Stringer, Oulton, improved mechanical appliance for throwing shells, bombs, grenades, and the like: and Alfred Edwards, Leeds, improvements in sulphuretted hydrogen recorders. Patents accepted – Tom Roberts, Castleford, improvements in screw stoppers for bottles; and F.M. Dossor, Doncaster, improvements in seed cleaning and separating machines. Patents sealed – R. B. Kettlewell, Harrogate, improvements in typewriters; and J.W. Rhodes, Leeds, improvements in mattresses, bedding, etc.
OULTON AND WOODLESFORD AFFAIRS CEMETERY BOARD. COMPLAINT AGAINST DISTRICT COUNCIL. THE LIGHTING OF THE AREA. 23 January.
A meeting of the oulton and Woodlesford Parish Council was held at the Woodlesford Council School on Tuesday night – Mr H. Parkin (Chairman) presiding. The other members present were Mr B. Wood Higgins, Mr T. Hurdus, Mr W. Poole, Mr T.H. Myton, Mr W. Smith, Mr E.A. Raynor, Mr J. Robinson, and W. Holt, with the Clerk (Mr T.A. Coope). Mr Higgins thanked the Council for their kind expression of sympathy in his recent illness.
Referring to a letter addressed to the Hunslet Rural District Council about the lighting of the district, the chairman asked is the lighting had improved. A letter had been received, he said, from the Clerk to the Hunslet Rural District Council, which stated that the Council had experienced great difficulty with the street lighting during the past two months due to the alterations being carried out by the Gas Company at their works. An improvement had now been effected.
Mr Higgins: The light has not been any better and will not be better until they abolish the mantles which are now being fixed on the lamps. The burners are supposed to burn three feet of gas per hour, and the reason they are put on is to accomplish that, but evidently they are not sufficiently large to permit enough gas to come through to give light. I am told that a sort of crystal forms on the burners which puts the light out.
A lengthy discussion took place on the question of representation on the Rothwell Joint Cemetery Board, the members of the Council taking exception to the action of the Hunslet Rural District Council in not taking them (the Parish Council) into consideration when appointing representatives. While the Parish Council have a right to be represented on the Joint Cemetery Board the Rural District Council have elected two of their members to represent the interests of Oulton and Woodlesford. It was suggested that the Clerk write to the Hunslet Rural District Council calling their attention to the recommendation passed by the Parish Council on the representation on the Burial Board on June 9th, 1913.
The Clerk stated that the letter containing the recommendation had been ignored by the District Council. Mr Robinson: How would it be to write to Rothwell about the matter? Mr Myton: My contention is that the District Council have no right to take the powers out of our hands. If we have powers we are quite capable of dealing with them as they are. The Clerk: The Board has already been formed and we are represented by two District Councillors.
Mr Myton: We have two representatives whereas we should have three.
The Chairman: Who are the representatives? The Clerk: Mr G. Armitage and Mr D.W. Hargreaves. The question was asked as to what were the terms of the recommendation of the District Council, and the Clerk read from the resolution as follows: – “That we recommend the Hunslet Rural District Council to allow the Parish Council to nominate three members of the Parish Council to form part of it for the working of the scheme.” Mr Myton: And it was to be like that on the advice of Mr Dodgson (the Clerk of the Cemetery Board), and we have been ignored.
The resolution drawing the attention of the Hunslet Rural District Council to the recommendation of the Parish Council of June 9th, 1913, was moved by Mr Myton, and seconded by Mr Poole, the members all voting in its favour. Mr Smith drew attention to the condition of the road and the causeway at the top of St. John’s Yard, Oulton, during wet weather, and a resolution was passed asking the District Council to make some improvement. The next meeting was fixed for Tuesday, March 16th, at Oulton, when the annual parish meeting will be held at eight o’clock.
WOODLESFORD MINER’S TRAGIC DEATH. DROWNED IN THE CANAL.
RISK TAKEN TO SAVE A MINUTE. 30 January.
An Inquest was held at the Two Pointers’ Inn, Woodlesford. On Thursday morning by the West Riding Coroner (Mr P.P. Maitland) on the body of Walter Britton (54), a miner, living at 24, Church Street, Woodlesford, who was drowned in the Aire and Calder Canal during the dense fog on Monday morning.
Evidence of identification was given by a son of the deceased, Alfred Britton, of 6, Gillett Lane, Rothwell, who explained that his mother was too ill to attend the inquest. Witness said his father worked at the Saville Pit, belonging to Messrs Briggs. As far as he knew, deceased left home to go to work about 4.30 a.m. on Monday.
The Coroner: It is rather early. Had he a long way to go? Witness: Yes, he had a long way to go. But they don’t begin until six o’clock? – He always liked to be down at the pit in good time. When did you first hear about this? – I heard about 8.30 a.m., that he was drowned. Monday was a very thick morning? – Yes. Did he usually go to work along the canal bank? Was it his way to go? – It was the nearest way. Witness explained that the miners who used the towing path had paid a certain sum for so doing, but he could not say whether they did so now. The Coroner: Does anyone know whether they pay now?
Mr W.G. Thompson, who appeared to represent the Aire and Calder Navigation Company, said it was a privilege given to the miners, who had paid a certain acknowledgement – about fourpence a year. That had now been stopped. The Coroner: Are they trespassing now if they use the towing path? -Yes, to a certain extent. I suppose they have got used to using the path? – Yes. Can you give any explanation why it was stopped? – I believe it was the engineer who had it stopped owing to the damage which was done to fences, etc.
Walter Websdale, miner, of 3, Beecroft Yard, Woodlesford, said he worked at the Saville Pit. He was in the habit of going to work along with the deceased, whose door he had to pass in order to go to work. On Monday morning he met him at his door about 4.30. The Coroner: Which way do you go? – We go down Fleet Lane and join the canal bank at the Lomonroyd Lock. We reached the lock about five o’clock. The Coroner: Do you cross the lock? – No, we walk along the towing path. Witness said that as they got to the lock hill the deceased said to him, “We shall have to make to our left, as there are some stones and a heap of sand near the railings.” He (deceased) made a turn and “popped” in and that was the last he saw of him. They could not see the sand, but the deceased had come that way the week before. The Coroner: You could not see owing to the thick fog? – Yes. Was he in front of you? – Yes, about three or four yards. How did you hear he was in the water? – I heard a splash and he shouted, but I could not say whether he was then in the water or was just falling in. What did you do then? – I called to my two sons, who were a few yards in front, and they came back. We then called up the lock-man. Did he come? – Yes. I shouted to him to bring a lamp and a hook. What then? – We tried to find deceased with the hook, but we could not see him. The lock-man then went across and brought a rake, but we could not get hold of anything, and the lock-man said it would be no use doing anything until it got light. Did you hear him shout after the first time? – No. Did you stay until the body was found? – Yes, until about eight o’clock. All that time we were using drags. Had he shifted? – No, not much. You used to pay something for the privilege of using the towing path? – Yes, we used to pay about threepence or fourpence a year, but during the last two years we have paid nothing. Do you save anything by using the path? – about a minute. You won’t go that way again. You are trespassing as well as risking your life. – Some say we are trespassing and some say we are not. The Coroner: I can tell you that you are breaking the law, as it is private property; it is just the same as travelling on the railway without a ticket. Witness: We have used it for forty years.
James Branford, carpenter in the employ of the Aire and Clader Navigation Company, and living at the Lemonroyd Lock, was the next witness, and deposed as to the recovery of the body. The Coroner: Can anyone tell me where this man was drowned. Was it at Methley or Oulton? Witness: We call it in the Methley district, but one end of the lock is in Methley and the other in Oulton. A juror: In which part of the lock was the body found then? Witness: It was found in the middle of the lock. The juror (to the Coroner): You will want two registers. The Coroner remarked that it was necessary for him to know definitely, as he would have a difficulty in registering the deceased. He deputed Sergeant Metcalf to make enquiries.
In answering a question put to him by the Coroner, the witness Branford said the sand heap was close to the railings and clear of the towing path. A verdict of “Accidentally drowned” was returned. The Coroner remarked that it had come out in evidence that the men had no right to use the path, and it was very unwise to do so in a thick fog, especially if it was only to save a minute. An expression of sympathy with the relative of the deceased was made by Mr W.G. Thompson.
CORRESPONDENCE. OULTON AND WOODLESFORD. AN APPEAL. 6 February.
To the Editor. Sir, May I appeal through the columns of the “Rothwell Courier and Times” to the people of Oulton and Woodlesford, for offers of hospitality for Belgian refugees. My committee have received a very urgent appeal on behalf of these poor unfortunate people (most of them of the superior tradesmen class or destitute gentlefolk who have exhausted their resources), and who are arriving in this country at the rate of thousands per week. Any offer of hospitality will be gratefully accepted. Yours, etc., P.C. HIGGINS, Hon. Sec. Woodlesford, February 4th, 1915.
THE WOODLESFORD MOTOR SMASH. INQUEST AND VERDICT. 20 February.
Mr P.P. Maitland held an inquest at Dewsbury Infirmary yesterday on John Smithson (30), Barker’s Buildings, Heckmondwike Road, Dewsbury Moor, who died at the Dewsbury Infirmary on Saturday from injuried received the same morning. He was struck by a barrel from a motor-waggon owned by Messrs Bentley’s Yorkshire Breweries, Woodlesford, which ran away down Leeds Road and crashed into the Town Hall.
Thomas William Blackburn, butcher, 61, Leeds Road, said that when the motor- waggon passed his shop, he heard a loud grating noise, which continued. The speed of the waggon up to reaching his shop was quite ordinary, but afterwards it increased in speed, and witness saw it pass between two waggons about 120 yards below his shop.
John Waring, living at Westtown, said he was coming down Leeds Road when the waggon passed him at great speed and collided with a telegraph pole on the left-hand side of the road. Two or three barrels were knocked off and rolled down the road. One of the barrels burst. Witness noticed the driver, who was at his wheel.
Harold Fox, teamer, said the motor-waggon caught the back of his cart, and he was thrown onto the causeway edge. Witness was not injured. When he got up he saw Smithson lying in the gutter, and his dog was lying dead a little higher up. The road was very greasy.
Joseph Sunderland, 6, Askern Place, Hunslet, the driver of the waggon, said he had driven the vehicle since he was employed by Messrs Bentley’s, at Whitsuntide. The waggon weighed about 3 tons 10 cwt., and he had never had any difficulty with it. He reported to the engineer that the foot brake required new parts a week last Thursday. The engineer looked at it, and witness went the same day to Messrs Grace and Sutcliffe, of Keighley, for new parts, but they had none in stock. Witness continued to drive the waggon up to last Saturday, and the foot brake could not be used. He relied on the engine and the hand brake. He thought it was quite safe, or he would not have taken the waggon out. He only used the foot brake in traffic, and he did not think he would have to use it going down Leeds Road, until the lorry shot forward.
On Saturday he had 21 barrels on the waggon. The waggon came down Leeds Road all right, until about half-way down, when the engine slipped out of gear, and the vehicle shot forward. He applied the hand brake, but it did not hold the waggon, which got out of control altogether. He steered straight on, and could not sound the horn because his hands were occupied with the brake and the steering wheel.
He passed the horse and cart at the bottom of the road, and only remembered the waggon turning round and bumping. His feet were fast in the steering wheel, and his head was on the causeway, after the collision, and his mate released him.
The Coroner: If the foot brake had been in order, don’t you believe this accident would have been avoided? Witness: No, I don’t, sir.
George Henry Sowden, director of Messrs Lacy (Limited), engineers and carriage builders, Dewsbury, said he inspected the motor-waggon last Monday. The foot brake drum was broken, and had been broken, apparently, for some few days. It was rendered useless. The back axle was broken, and also one of the shoes operating the brake drum of the off- side hind wheel. That probably occurred on the day of the accident. The drums were worn, but not excessively.
The cause of the accident was the breaking of the off-side brake shoe. From the evidence of the driver, it appeared that he went down part of the hill using the engine only as a break, and when it flew out of gear he evidently applied the side brake quickly, and caused undue strain on it.
The Coroner: From a common sense point of view, would you have driven that motor waggon out in that way, with that load, with no foot brake? Witness: No, sir, I should not. Why: for fear of an accident? – For fear of an accident. The main cause of the accident is the too sudden application of the hand-brake? – That is my assumption.
The jury returned a verdict that Smithson died from injuries caused accidentally by the motor waggon running away downhill, causing the beer barrels to fly off and one of them to strike him, owing to the driver, through an error of judgment, having too suddenly applied the hand brake, which broke. The jury added a rider that they considered the motor waggon ought not to have been allowed out with the foot brake useless.
OULTON AND WOODLESFORD VOLUNTEERS. PUBLIC MEETING. MR RIDYARD’S OPTIMISM. 13 March.
A meeting to consider the formation of a detachment of the Volunteer Corps which has been formed for the Rothwell district was held in the Oulton Institute on Tuesday evening. Mr J.W. Ridyard presided over an attendance of about seventeen.
The Chairman said it was somewhat disappointing to see so small a company present. The meeting was the outcome of one held at Rothwell about a fortnight ago to consider the desirability of forming a volunteer corps. A good deal of business was done, about 23 persons being present. The whole question of a volunteer corps was considered at some length, rules were drafted at a subsequent meeting, and they had asked himself and Mr W.P. Peters to be on the committee. As a result of that he told them that for himself personally he did not feel that it was incumbent upon him or anyone else to be walking two or three times a week to Rothwell either for practice or for the purpose of parades. To him it seemed “off the map,” having to walk four miles in addition to what they were going to walk when they got there. It was, therefore, decided that they should try and form a section at Oulton and Woodlesford. He felt sure in his own mind that the men of Oulton and Woodlesford would be in sympathy with the movement, and that they would be able to form a larger section down there than at Rothwell. What gave him that impression he could not say. At any rate, he had a favourable impression. There had been sufficient correspondence in the papers not only in regard to the formation of volunteer corps, but with regard to their official standing. To him it seemed that one of the greatest drawbacks to the scheme was that the Government had failed so far to give volunteer corps official recognition, although they had gone so far as to draft rules upon which the corps should work. That was not enough. Men today liked to have some degree of sureness. They liked to know what they were doing and what they could be called upon to do – what benefit was going to accrue not only to themselves, but to the Government, and because of that they found the men treading very charily. Recruiting had been at a discount in Leeds because the Government had failed to give recognition and he saw that only about 1,900 had joined in Leeds.
Mr W.P. Peters gave an outline of the objects of the corps and read rules which form the basis of those of the Rothwell Corps.
Mr Ridyard said there was one set rule which was a very important one to his mind – that whether or not the Government gave recognition they could not give financial help. The corps must be entirely self-maintained and a uniform might possibly be allowed, but it would have to be one which was not a regulation one of any of His Majesty’s Forces. In the meantime they would be allowed a badge about five inches in width, with the initials G.R. upon it.
Mr Tannam, who stated he had had experience as an old Volunteer, said that at a place like Oulton and Woodlesford they ought to have a volunteer section. If properly organised they ought to get at least fifty or sixty men. He believed a miniature rifle range would be of great use to s district like theirs and no doubt it would help to get members. He also put forward the suggestion that the meeting be adjourned until a little later when they might get some influential people of the district to help them financially. He was of the opinion that it would be a success if they used their own personal influences.
Mr Peters said they had not expected a large meeting but if they only got about twenty present it would be a nucleus.
Mr L. Lockwood raised the question as to the cost of a detachment. They were bound, he said, to have the question put to them when trying to get men to join what the cost would be, and if they were to get a range, as Mr Tannam had suggested, it would cost money. He also favoured putting off the meeting until a little later, so that they could make the thing known.
Mr Ridyard said it would be better to propose something definite as he did not believe in putting things off. The best way to advertise it would be by letting people know that something definite had been done.
The Rev. W.R. Capel Cure remarked that he thought it unwise to defer the matter as probably most of those present were keen.
Mr Peters said that all who were eligible ought to join as the time was a crucial one in the history of the nation. He pointed out that they could do a great deal in the case of an invasion in relieving men who had been specially trained for service. The Germans he did not think would come if they thought that there were about two million men who were drilled in musketry training even though they were over 38 years of age.
A vote was taken on a resolution to form a corps, and the result was practically unanimous. The Vicar said he thought the Corps might use the yard of the St. John’s School for the purpose of drilling, and he would bring the matter before the managers. It was decided to ask the Oulton Institute Committee to allow them the use of the Harold Hall on Wednesday evenings from 7.30 to 8.30. The first drill was fixed for Wednesday next, March 17th. Mr Tannam was appointed instructor. The meeting closed with a vote of thanks to the chairman, proposed by Mr W.P. Peters, and seconded by Mr L. Lockwood.
MINER KILLED AT WOODLESFORD COLLIERY. HAD PREVIOUSLY WORKED AT GARFORTH. AN ERROR OF JUDGMENT. 13 March.
A fatal accident occurred at the Water Haigh Colliery, Woodlesford, on Friday evening, a Leeds miner named John William Lister, of 10, Compton Avenue, Dewsbury Road, being killed by a fall of roof whilst working in the Beeston seam. The inquest was held in the Oulton Institute on Monday afternoon by Mr P.P. Maitland (the Coroner).
Messrs H. Briggs and Sons Ltd., were represented at the inquiry by Mr D.W. Hargreaves, manager. Mr A.L. Flint, Inspector of Mines, was also present.
The widow, Annie Lister, who identified the body, said that the deceased was 42 years of age. He was a miner but had only worked at the Water Haigh Colliery about a fortnight. He seemed well pleased with his work. Prior to going to Woodlesford he had worked at Garforth.
Willie Tranmore, 173, Jack Lane, Hunslet, a filler at the Water Haigh Colliery, said that on Friday he was filling for the deceased, commencing about 3.30 p.m. It was his first day of working with the deceased. Before starting, Lister examined the roof, which was supported by bars and props, with his pick, and then continued getting coal until the time of the accident, which occurred just before six o’clock.
Witness was filling at the time and was about a yard and a half away from Lister. There was no warning – no bump of any description, a stone and a quantity of “muck” falling across the working place. Tranmore said he was struck by debris and knocked down. On getting up he could see nothing of the deceased, as he was buried. He shouted but got no reply, so he went to his brother who was working about fifty yards away, for assistance. Tranmore said he was unable to say how long the deceased was under the fall, as he himself was a “bit knocked up,” and, after looking for the manager, he put on his clothes and left the pit. During the time of working the deceased had put up a bar but he was unable to say at what distance the last timber was away from the coal face.
Answering the inspector, witness said he had worked as a filler for two years. The Coroner (to witness): Have you read the timbering rules? – Witness: I have looked through them. Then you don’t really know them? –-No. Don’t you think they are rather interesting seeing that they are there for men to take precaution? – Witness: Yes.
George Tranmore, of Beecroft Yard, Woodlesford, said he had worked at the Water Haigh Colliery for three years. He was in charge of the place where the deceased was working, and he examined the roof about 3.20 that afternoon. It was in good condition.
Questioned as to the timber supporting the roof, witness said that when he was first there the nearest bar to the coal face about two-and-a-half feet away. After the accident the nearest was about four feet, which was more than it ought to have been. He heard the fall from his working-place, but thought at the time that it was just a fall of coal. After being called to the spot by the last witness he found Lister buried and a prop had been brought down in the fall. It took the twenty minutes to get the deceased extricated, and he was then dead. He had been buried with his head between his legs. In his opinion, witness said the fall had been caused by a bump, but he believed that had another bar been put up nearer to the coal face the “fall” might have been prevented. The deceased was a comparative stranger, but they had not had any fault to find with him.
The Coroner: If you had gone a few minutes before the accident and seen the distance between the last piece of timber and the coal face, what would you have done? – Witness: I should have set a prop.
In advising the jury, the Coroner said that the deceased seemed to be an experienced and careful workman, but he had been guilty of an error of judgment. They all made mistakes, however, but this was a sad and unfortunate accident. He advised them to return a verdict that Lister had been accidentally killed by a fall whilst at work, having, through an error of judgment, not put up sufficient support to the roof. The jury returned a verdict in accordance with this direction.
A SOLDIER’S LETTER. 17 April.
Oulton men who have joined the Colours have found real friends in the Vicar and his wife, the Rev. W.R. and Mrs Capel-Cure, who have from time to time, written to them, and most of the men have gladly acknowledged this kindness. The latest latter received by Mrs Capel-Cure from the trenches comes from Private Clifford Whitehead, who went out with the first Batt. West Yorks. Regt. He writes as follows: “I received you letter in the trenches on Easter Sunday. I was glad to receive it. I came out of the trenches last night (Easter Monday). I was sorry to hear that the Vicar has been ill and I hope he will soon be well. I expect you will have had a very quiet Easter. On Easter Monday it rained all day, and if you had seen us when we came out you would have thought we were tramps, as we were clayed up and wet through, but it is all in a day’s work. Please remember me to Mr Pringle and all the choir boys, also remember me to Mr Sharpe. I would be pleased if you would send me a few Woodbines, as I cannot buy them out here. We have been having very nice weather up to Monday, and then it spoiled itself by raining. Well, we are all hoping to be back in England by the end of July – anyway, let us hope so. While we have been in the trenches this last time, that is four days, we have only had three killed. So you see how careful the men are.”
(Clifford Whitehead was born in Oulton in 1892 and grew up in a house on Quarry Hill. His father, Frederick William Whitehead, was a road labourer for the council. Before the war Clifford worked in one of the local quarries and as a coal miner. In 1917 he married miner’s daughter Clara Kilburn at the Primitive Methodist chapel in Rothwell. She was employed as a munitions worker. After the war they had several children and lived at Mill Hill near the centre of the town.)
A BRAVE ROTHWELL SOLDIER’S END. LEAVES WIFE AND FIVE YOUNG CHILDREN. SAD NEWS RECEIVED AT WOODLESFORD. 17 April.
A pathetic letter, received on Monday morning by Mrs William Blacker, 11, Airedale Grove, Woodlesford, broke the sad news of the death of her husband at the Front. The deceased was a Rothwell man and was 35 years of age. During his early manhood he had served in the Militia, and on the outbreak of war he enlisted in the 2nd West Yorks. He leaves a young family of five children, the eldest being six years of age and the youngest a baby only eight weeks. Much sympathy is felt for the young widow.
A comrade of the deceased wrote as follows: “It is with profound regret that I have to give you details of your husband’s death. We were in billets having a rest from the trenches about 11 a.m. on April 6th. A German shell dropped near our billet, and fragments flew everywhere. He had just got seated in an easy chair with his back to a window when the shell came. A piece went in his back and came out above the left breast. He went unconscious and died in three minutes, so you see ‘in the midst of life we are in death.’ The same shell killed three, wounded six, and buried one beneath broken glass and bricks. We buried him at 7 p.m. on the same night in the village cemetery in a corner at Fleiabaix, three miles from Armentieres. They say he had a good funeral. The shell was one of thirty-four. The remainder did nothing, only knocked a house or two down.
“We had been pals and mess chums, etc., all the winter. I do miss him now. Three of us, married, made it up, if any of us got killed, that we should write to their wives. It fell to me to write to both of the others. We were I the cemetery at 10.30 the same morning looking at half-a-dozen soldiers’ graves. He said, “Come on, I reckon nothing to looking at graves.” Little did we know he was to be buried there eight hours after. Had he followed my wish and looked at the graves he would have been living to-day. Ten minutes before it happened he said “When the war is over we will have a good week’s holiday together.’ He was going to bring his wife and children to may place for two days, and we had to visit him. Two minutes before it happened he said ‘When we get to —– I will post the Princess Mary’s gift and watch.’ The watch is German; he got it from a wounded German Sergeant for carrying him to safety. I took them from his pocket, also a knife and a cap badge of another regiment which he was going to have made into a brooch for you.
“He was a brave soldier, fearing neither man nor woman, and did great work in the Neuve Battle. It’s a hard world and wicked. This might be my last letter, we never know.”
A STOURTON MINER’S END. HIT ON THE FACE BY COAL AT WOODLESFORD A SINGULAR CASE. 29 May.
An Inquest upon Jowett Walker, whose death was reported in this journal last week, was held in the Stourton Wesleyan Schoolroom on Friday morning by Mr P.P. Maitland (Coroner). The deceased, who was 42 years of age, was a married man and lived at 1, Springfield Street, Stourton. He had been a miner and was latterly employed by Messrs Briggs at their Woodlesford pit. Mr Dennis W. Hargreaves, manager at the Water Haigh Colliery (Woodlesford), attended, on Messrs Briggs’ behalf, and Mr Danby, Coal Mines Inspector, was also present at the enquiry.
The widow, Elizabeth Ann Walker, was called, and said she had been married twenty-three years. Her husband, who had been a collier all his life, was a strong, healthy man. For the past two years he had worked for Messrs Briggs, at the Water Haigh Pit, Woodlesford, and prior to that he had worked for Messrs J. and J. Charlesworth. He had worked regularly. On Wednesday, May 12th, he left home shortly after half-past one o’clock to go to work on the afternoon shift, returning home about 11.30 p.m. on his bicycle. He remarked that he had got a “bat” in the face and added that it had given him ——-. His face, said the widow, was not cut but his upper lip and one side of his face were slightly swollen. The next morning the swelling had increased, and he stayed in bed until close upon dinner time, when he got ready to go to his work as usual. Before going, he said that he could do with breaking a shift, but it could not be done. He left the house at the usual time, and at night when he came home again he said that he could have done with coming out of the pit in the middle of the shift, as he had not been able to do much. Witness said that deceased would not have gone to work, but as it was the holidays the week after, he had gone to get something for the children. She believed that he had reported the matter that day at the pit. On Friday morning, about nine o’clock he went to Dr Hawkyard and returned with some cotton wool, which he had got from the druggist. The doctor told him to foment the swollen part, and this he did. However, he did not take to his bed until Saturday. He was unable to heat any food, and lived practically on fluids. He died quite suddenly on Wednesday afternoon. Up to the time of his death he kept losing consciousness, but, added witness, “I could not get to know from him how he had happened the accident as he seemed too impatient.”
James Thorpe, of 6, Kitchener Street, New Woodlesford, said he was a filler at the Water Haigh Pit, and had “filled” for the deceased for about three months. On Wednesday, May 12th, he was working as usual with him and nothing happened until about 6.30 p.m. About that time the deceased was on his knees getting some coal, when a piece flew out and struck him in the face close to the upper lip, and on the right side. It seemed to give him pain, and he remarked that it had given him —–. Witness said he saw no blood upon the deceased’s face. He did not report the matter to the deputy until the next day when his lip was swollen.
Dr Hawkyard, Leeds, spoke to making a post-mortem examination. He described him as a strong, healthy man, and said he could not recollect having attended him before the accident. On Friday morning the deceased came to his surgery and saw his (witness’s) assistant, but on the following day a message was sent round asking for the doctor to call. Witness attended himself on Saturday afternoon, when the deceased complained of a great deal of pain in the right side of his face, which was very much swollen and inflamed. There was a contusion wound on the inside of the right upper lip.
The Coroner: Was he suffering from blood poisoning? Witness: Yes, but it was purely local when I first saw him. However. Resumed the doctor, he made no improvement, the swelling spreading, and on Wednesday morning he saw he was dying. The post-mortem was carried out on Thursday evening. Dr Hawkyard commented that the deceased had a very bad set of teeth, but all the organs were healthy. Death was due to septicaemia following the wound on his lip.
Mr D.W Hargreaves asked the doctor if he believed the wound in the lip to have been caused by the teeth. Dr Hawkyard replied that in his opinion the wound had been caused by the coal hitting the deceased in the face and bringing his lip into contact with his teeth, but the teeth had nothing to do with the condition of the wound.
The doctor explained that so quickly did the bacilli gather and multiply in the case of such a wound, and so quickly were they dispersed over the system that it would have been difficult to have arrested the poisoning. This concluded the medical evidence, and the Coroner was summing up when a juror suggested that the deputy to whom the deceased made his complaint should be called.
Mr Maitland remarked that they had had all the evidence which was likely to assist them, and the duputy could only tell them what he had been told as he was not there to see the accident. The juror who made the suggestion stated that his idea was that they would hear what he had been told and so corroborate the story.
Albert Caine, Park View, Woodlesford, was tehn called, and he said he was a deputy at the Water Haigh Pit. On Wednesday, May 12th, he saw the deceased at his working place twice, but he made no complaint. On Thursday, about 5.30 p.m. he visited the place when the deceased said “You had better look at my face, Albert, I had a blow after you went through yesterday.” Witness said he looked and saw that the right upper lip was swollen but he could see no cut.
The Coroner: Did you give him any advice? Witness: Only I told him to bathe it when he got home. A verdict to the effect that death was due to septicaemia, caused by being accidentally struck with a piece of coal while at work, was returned.
RECRUITING MEETING AT OULTON. VICAR AND GERMANY’S STRENGTH. A SCHOOLMASTER’S EXPERIENCES IN GERMANY. 19 June.
Recruiting efforts are again being made in the Rothwell district, and an open-air meeting, when an appeal was made to the young men, was held at Oulton on Friday night. There was a good audience, which was addressed by Major Smith, who is the recruitng officer for the Pontefract area; the Rev. W.R. Capel-Cure (Vicar of Oulton), who presided, and Messrs Britton and Wilson, both of Normanton. Prior to the meeting the members of the Rothwell Volunteer Training Corps (including the Oulton and Woodlesford section) paraded in Oulton and Woodlesford.
The Rev. W.R. Capel-Cure said that perhaps one thing which had got into the way of men doing their obvious duty as much as anything had been the great misunderstanding on the subject of numbers. Some people had almost pitied Germany, but when they came to look at the facts at the beginning of the war they found Germany facing her Western enemies – France, Belgium, and ourselves – in the majority of nine to six. There had been a preponderance of strength on the German side, and while they had a nation putting ten per cent. into the field, that was, practically speaking, every single man, there they found but one tenth per cent of the men of England. That was, of course, getting better. However, they did not know how things were going on as it was being kept back by the press. They did not know how near they had come to disaster on many occasions.
Mr Britton (headmaster of the Normanton Grammar School) said the first observation he had to make was that it seemed strange that they could find it necessary, after ten months of this most awful war, to hold recruiting meetings, or to do anything at all to persuade people to do what they could in these times. Even yet, the British nation, or s greater part of it, did not fully realise what this war meant to them. Perhaps they had a certain excuse because living in this island they did not see anything of the war. He did not think they had got over their original feelings that Germany was not up to much – that things in Germany were made in Germany. They sneered at the phrase. They had called them German sausages, and said that Germany was not up to much in any way. They had, however, underestimated them. They had also underestimated Austrian and Turkish strength. They had under-estimated German militarism and the financial strength of Germany. He had often heard it said that Germany could not carry on the war for any length of time for want of money. They had also under-estimated her industrial strength. She had been deliberately preparing for war for thirty years. But there was something more serious than munitions. That was the extraordinary spirit of union which now obtained in Germany. He knew a great deal about Germany. He had been locked up there when war broke out, and the one impression he brought back with him, and which would outweigh everything else was the extraordinary enthusiasm which at the present moment exists in Germany, and had existed since the outbreak of war. On the Saturday night when war was declared, between Germany and Russia, the town of Hamburg, where he was, was the scene of the most extraordinary enthusiasm. Later, war was declared by Great Britain, and they were out under military supervision – to put it nicely. (Laughter). He, however, got back and found, to his amazement, that people in prominent positions, who ought to have known very much better, were saying that we were not fighting Germany but that we were against the Prussion military caste, and that German people did not want war. The Prussians might have started the war, but the position, vile as it was, had sunk down from the Kaiser to the ranks of the lowest in South Germany, and they were up against that spirit, which they could not afford to belittle. Happily it was not too late to rectify these mistakes. They had been, as the previous speaker had said, in peril of having been defeated. He was no pessimist because he believed they would win. (Cheers). They thought they were fighting civilised people, but according to the Bryce report they were not fighting people who were civilised, for they read of children being bayoneted and women being barbarously treated. Anyone who knew the facts of these cases was bound to come to the same conclusion. Then they must remember that the German fleet still existed; it was not defeated. It was in hiding, but it was there, and they were not safe from invasion. The war, they must not forget, was very near to home. A friend of his at Dover had told him that they could hear the shells at Dunkirk, and also at Ypres when the wind was in that direction. They had been laughing at Zeppelins, but they must take them seriously. They had also been laughing at the German “hymn of hate.” It was a hymn written by a German expressing the views of Germans of England. As long as they were top dog they could laugh at hat but he would infinitely prefer to die than be compelled to lift his hat to the German flag or an officer in England. It was up to them to prevent anything like that happening. He was certain that every man could find some way by which he could help this country. Those who were able should join the Army, and those who were too old should join the Volunteer Corps, which would be of use. He thought the position very serious, and the unquestionable hiding which the Russians had been getting was, he was bound to say, a very serious thing from every point of view, because it was going to liberate more men to be sent to the Western Front, and the next few weeks would be very trying, and they would want all their national strength to bear them up. Everyone who could must try and do it quickly. It was the only way of stopping the war. The only way was to give the Germans and her allies a sound good hiding. (Applause). A disaster of the greatest magnitude would be to give up too soon and to have a patched up peace when in perhaps ten or fifteen years they would have to do it again, and perhaps by themselves. They must finish it now. They were fighting for everything they held dear. It was everybody’s war. Did they suppose that if Germany was top dog they would be treated as German working men. They would, indeed, have a miserable existence. Would England be treated lightly? Not likely.
Mr Wilson said that he never thought that he would be addressing recruiting meetings at the age of between sixty and seventy. He was there because he believed that England needed every ounce of strength they could put into win this battle. He was not going to ask them to do anything which he was not prepared to do himself. He was going to ask mothers and fathers, and also young men, to play their parts. They might turn round and ask him what about his own. He had three sons, two already serving and the third, a boy of fifteen, was training in the Volunteer Training Corps/ He knew it might mean a wrench to them. He knew what it meant when the lad came home and said, “Father, I think it is time that I did my bit for you and mother, and brother and sister, and for others in England.” He had been proud of his son before that, but he was ten times more proud when he saw him dressed in khaki, and ready to fight for his King and Country. They had, he said, a big job before them. They had done well in Woodlesford, he believed, and they had done well in Normanton – where they had sent between a thousand and fifteen hundred. (A voice: “What about Oulton?”). “Well, I hope you have done better than Normanton,” he said. (Laughter). The job was great not because the who had gone had not done their best, it was because they were in need of help, and it was for them to think about it – whether they were going to stick at home and get behind mother’s apron or not. In the Old Book there was a King who said “Oh for the wings of a dove.” It was because his conscience hurt him. They would perhaps someday be the same if they did not go and help those who were fighting for love of the nation and fighting for their home. Those at home were not doing their duty, and they could not run away from it. He was told that a lot more miners could be spared if only all would work regularly. It was not a time for them to neglect their work. He wanted them to put all their time in and spare two or three men who were able. The man who was making money while the lads were doing their share for the country was worse than a German. (Hear, hear). He was told that 75 per cent. of the men who had enlisted were married men. That ought not to be. It was not because they were cowards – miners were not cowards. If they did not do their duty they would regret it as sure as night follows day.
Major Smith said that in Pontefract officers were continually hearing from brother officers in the trenches, and in every communication the words were almost inevitably the same. Only a short time ago an officer wrote to a friend in barracks giving particulars of “a little affair,” as he called it, where they had gained a small success, but, added the officer, if they had only had five men for every three, the small success would have been a great success. That had been the story since the beginning of the war so far as the British were concerned. Referring to the brutalities of the Germans, Major Smith said that they felt disgusted with their enemies. Didn’t they think, he asked, that people who were guilty of such should be punished? But who was to do the punishing? In conclusion, he said that it was the most serious crisis the nation had ever faced. It was a war between great principles – between great ideals. Their ideals as Britishers might be summed up in the words that they were lovers of fair play. What was the ideal of the enemy? It was brute force. He hoped that as a result of the meeting they would have a large number of recruits from Oulton and Woodlesford. The meeting closed with the singing of the National Anthem.
PRISONERS ESCAPE FROM LOFTHOUSE PARK. HOW TWO MEN GOT AWAY. 3 July.
The “Frankfurter Zeitung” quotes from the “Aftonblad” of Stockholm an account from Lieutenant F.N. Wiener, an Austrian officer, of his experience in escaping form the internment camp at Lofthouse Park.
Lieutenant Wiener, who had settled in America, was on his way to Austria when captured by a British warship and brought to Kirkwall, being subsequently interned at Lofthouse with a German naval officer of the name of Alfred Klapproth. These two officers decided to escape together. Their first plan, to dig a subterranean passage to freedom, had to be abandoned as it took up too much time, so they resorted to other tactics.
They ordered sporting costumes from the camp tailor in order to appears as British as possible. They were also able to procure gold to the extent of £30. Then they asked to see the censor, knowing that he would not be in his house at the time. “From the censor’s office,” he proceeds, “we went to the guardroom, and I was able, thanks to my perfect command of English, to give the impression that we were British officers. A few generalities about military matters to the men on duty completely dispelled any lingering suspicion they may have had, and we succeeded in escaping without molestation. After climbing a park wall about eight metres high our first objective was Leeds, the nearest big town. There we bought two first-class tickets to Manchester, without, however, making use of them, but travelled instead by third-class to Liverpool. Of course we were industriously searched for in Manchester, and thus gained valuable time.
We went to London from Liverpool, but did not venture to stay in a hotel, fearing discovery. We spent a week living overnights in restaurants, night cafes, and dancing saloons. Meanwhile we read with much satisfaction reports of our escape in the papers.
As my description in these reports stated that I spoke English with an American accent, we now spoke only French, and gave ourselves out to be Frenchmen. Incidentally we dropped the commander of the camp a postcard stating we were no longer speaking “American” but French.
After various vain attempts to secure a passage on a cargo boat we were finally able to steal on board the Danish steamer Tomsk where we hid in one of the holds crushed between bales and boxes without food or drink. We spent four dreadful days and nights until we reached Copenhagen, where we again made passing acquaintance with a prison. My companion has already gone to Germany, and I propose going on to Austria as soon as I am able to complete certain personal affairs.
A WOODLESFORD MINER’S LETTER. LIFE AT THE FRONT. 3 July.
Rifleman J.W. Bickerdyke, of the 8th West Yorkshire Regiment (Leeds Rifles), has sent two interesting letters to his family, who reside at 14, Royal Terrace, Hunslet Carr. One addressed to his mother and father reads: We get plenty of grub, as, indeed, we did in England, but it is rough food, you know. We stay about a week at a time in the trenches and then have about a week’s rest. We generally billet in barns and sleep sometimes on straw, but occasionally on boards. Taking it on the whole we are very comfortable.
We have a bath at —– every time we come out of the trenches, and so have a jolly good swill. We have lost one or two good lads going in and coming out of the trenches.
The firing line runs in a semi-circle and we are the central point, so that we receive fire from three sides. We have not seen any gas yet; if we do we are well equipped for it, having two respirators for each man and a helmet. So I don’t think they will hurt us.
There will be plenty of ripe apples and plums here shortly, and we may pelt the Huns with them. We get about 30 cigs a week issued, and all kinds of smoking tobacco. I have lost the crucifix of my rosary beads now, and as I got a souvenir in the shape of a little tin Bible I have fastened it on to the end of them.
That was a sad affair of the east coast, but you needn’t be frightened. I don’t think they will ever reach Leeds. If they do, though, go into the cellar; don’t start running about the streets and then you will be quite safe.
Bickerdyke writes as follows to his sister: Just a line to let you know I am all right. We are now having a well-earned rest. Our battalion came out of the trenches last Thursday night. For the last seven weeks we have not been far from the firing line. We are about three miles away now.
“A” Company of our battalion saw a grand sight last Wednesday. There was a German aeroplane up between our trenches and the Huns’, and all at once one of our airmen darted from behind a cloud and dropped a bomb on him, and he dropped like a stone. Our airmen are very brave men.
We had a very few casualties this time in the trenches. We have had to be in by eight o’clock every night, and we generally have a silly hour till nine o’clock (lights out).
Last night we had a couple of good comedians on and about half-a-dozen mouth- organs for a band. I am sending you a French rose that a young woman gave me. I asked her for a souvenir, and she gave me this rose.
You can send me a mouth organ if you like. Well, I think that is all this time. We have to fall in at 9 a.m. this morning. We are going to have a little route march just to keep us fit. Bickerdyke, who is 21 years of age, was employed as a miner at Woodlesford at the outbreak of war.
A WOODLESFORD SOLDIER’S END. DIED IN GERMANY. 10 July.
Official confirmation has been received of the death from typhoid fever on May 15th at Neiderzurhen, Germany, of Private James Hildred, whose home was at 2, Farrar lane, Low Road, Hunslet. Private Hildred, who was attached to the 1st West Yorkshire Regiment, and 29 years of age, enlisted in the Army many years ago. Prior to being called up on the outbreak of the war he was a miner at Messrs Briggs and Company, Woodlesford. The dead soldier, after being wounded in the head in the battle of the Aisne on September 22nd, was taken prisoner and subsequently sent to Germany.
In several communications he never stated that he was ill, and the news of his death came as a great shock to his wife. On one occasion, however, he mentioned that he was dirty; in fact, filthy, this being the same with everyone of them in the camp. How long Hildred had been ill no one knows, but in a letter to Mrs Hildred Sergeant T.A. Dolan, of the Royal Scots, himself a prisoner in the same camp, states that everything was done for her husband while he was ill, and he died peacefully.
Mrs Hildred stated that since she learned that her husband was a prisoner in Germany she had regularly sent as much as 5s. worth of food to him, but not until March did he acknowledge the receipt of a single parcel.
WOODLESFORD AND WHITWOOD COLLIERIES. ELEVEN HUNDRED MEN ENLIST. 14 August.
The annual meeting of Messrs Henry Briggs, Son, and Co., Ltd., colliery proprietors, was held at the Hotel Metropole, Leeds, on Thursday afternoon, Mr W.G. Jackson presiding over a good attendance of shareholders.
In moving the adoption of the report and balance-sheet – particulars of which have been published – Mr Jackson said the difficulties consequent on the war and the absence of so many of their employees on active service had resulted in a considerably reduced output. The firm had in every way encouraged their men to enlist, and 1,171 of their men, or 201⁄2 per cent. of the total number, were with the Colours. He thought they would agree that ws very creditable indeed. (Hear, hear).
Then the time came when they were called upon to maintain the outputs of their pits. The most obvious method of doing this was to decrease the amount of preventable absences from work, and he was glad to say the men had responded well to their efforts in that direction. The amount of absence underground had been reduced from 15.89 per cent. before the war to 11.29. There was still plenty of room for improvement amongst the men employed on the surface. The absenteeism underground from every cause, including sickness and illness, was now only 9.75, which he thought exceedingly satisfactory. They could feel satisfied if an equal pitch was reached on the surface.
The Government’s system of licences for the export of coal had been the cause of some difficulty. The trucks and compartments that went to Goole filled with coal got delayed there for the want of the necessary licence, and the result of the trucks not being returned was that the pits had had to stand, because they had nothing in which to put the coal. They were, however, now doing better in this respect.
The cost of production had also been greatly increased, owing to the increased wages of miners, the 151⁄2 per cent., war bonus, and the decreased output of coal.
The firm had subscribed £10,000 to the War Loan, and given their employees every facility for subscribing also. The Deputies’ Thrift Fund had subscribed £2,368, and 1,168 workmen had taken up, in sums varying from £5 to £25, a total of £6,415. They were paying in sums from 1s. weekly and upwards, and the money would be deducted from their wages.
The firm was also doing “its bit” in shell making. Within the last week they had received the first delivery of steel bars which were cut up in their workshops into lengths of about 41⁄2 inches. The steel then went back to be pressed into the rough forms of shells, and, on being returned, they were turned and bored by their workmen, which was as far as they went with them. They hoped to do a fair amount of this work, and he also thought they would do it very well, too.
Touching upon the prospects of the coming year, Mr Jackson described them as very hopeful, providing things remained as they were. The 151⁄2 per cent. war bonus was, however, a serious factor, as it represented, in their case, between £60,000 and £70,000 a year.
The report and balance sheet, which provided for payment of a dividend of £2 5s. per share on the “A” shares, and £1. 10s. per share on the “B” shares (free of income-tax), making with the interim dividend a return for the year of £3 per “A” share and £2 per “B” share, were adopted unanimously.
GARDEN FETE. 14 August.
In aid of the Oulton War Fund a garden fete was held in the grounds of the “Woodlands,” Oulton, the residence of Mr J. Farrar, J.P., on Wednesday afternoon. The promoters suffered two disappointments. The first was the inability of Mr Walter Hargreaves, C.C., to be present to perform the opening ceremony, and the second was the unfavourable weather, showers falling which caused the company to run for shelter on more than one occasion. However, Mr Farrar, with his usual kindly consideration, threw open his house and garage, so that there was no unpleasant experience of getting wet. The attendance was pleasing, being greatly augmented in the evening. The wounded soldiers from Swillington Hall and Temple Newsam had been specially invited, and arrived in motors, the part from Temple Newsam being accompanied by Lady Dorothy Wood. The soldiers made themselves at home amongst the company, who found the antics of the “Tommies” vastly amusing. The hoop-la stalls, cocoa-nut shies, Aunt Sallies, clock golf, and the game of ringing by means of hoops members of the German Imperial family, all received unstinted patronage. Tea was served in the grounds, and altogether a delightful time was spent. In the evening Corporal Holmes, V.C., M.M., was present, and addressed the gathering. The arrangements for the fete were ably carried out by Mr P.C. Higgins (Hon. Sec.), Mr A. Sharpe supervising the arrangements in the grounds and Miss Laverack the tea.
WOODLESFORD. LANGUAGE. 14 August.
Harry Hopkinson, a miner, of Woodlesford, was summoned at the Skyrack Court on Tuesday for having used abusive language at Woodlesford on Tuesday, July 27th. P.C. Abbott spoke to hearing the defendant make use of the language complained ot in White Street, about 9.55 p.m. Defendant, after being told he would be reported, was taken away by his mother. A fine of 6s. was imposed.
JOSEPH’S WORDS. 14 August.
At the Leeds West Riding Petty Sessions on Tuesday Joseph Henry Hopkinson, of Woodlesford, was summoned for having used abusive language. Defendant denied the offence. P.C. Abbott stated that about 9.45 p.m. on Tuesday, July 27th, he was in Midland Street, Woodlesford, when he heard the defendant using obscene and abusive language. A crowd of people quickly collected. When spoken to he replied “You have not heard me swear.” Witness said he was about half-a-mile away when he first heard the disturbance. A fine of 2s. 6d. was imposed.
CORRESPONDENCE. HOUSING AT OULTON-WITH-WOODLESFORD. 14 August.
Sir, I notice in your issue of July 31st that the miners have sent a complaint to the Executive of the Yorkshire Miners’ Association at Barnsley about the exorbitant rents charged to them at Woodlesford and district. One would naturally have thought this would be a most inopportune time to take advantage of the scarcity of houses, when all sections of the community are expected to show their patriotism by making some sacrifice for the benefit of the country.
The miners, in my opinion, are a great deal to blame for the lack of houses in the district, which is the chief reason why greedy property-owners have been able to raise the rents to the extent they have. Had the workers of Oulton-with-Woodlesford elected two working-men with progressive views who were very anxious and determined to carry out to the utmost the powers of the Housing Acts, the Hunslet Rural District Council would have been compelled by the Local Government Board to build a number of houses two years ago in this district.
There is practically no limit to the power of the workers if they will only use it in the right direction. Your readers who read the reports you gave when the question of house building at Woodlesford was before the Hunslet Rural District Council will know that it was a statement made by Mr Hargreaves, to the effect that the Colliery Company were going to build a large number of houses which really prevented the local Government Board from forcing the hands of the Council and compelling them to build a number of working-class houses. I should be very sorry to see the district become controlled by the colliery company; we have seen enough of mining village tyranny in Yorkshire in the past. I hope the day is past when during labour disputes, the capitalists have power to turn the workers from their houses.
If a man can borrow money to build houses with, and make a profit on the transaction by letting the houses to the workers, surely the District Council can borrow the money which is required, especially when we realise that local authorities can borrow at a far cheaper rate than any private individual can, owing to the security required. A couple of years ago the Local Government Board were anxious to help Councils to build where there was a great scarcity of houses such as there was in this district. Had we elected two progressive representatives to the District Council we might have had a large number of houses erected by the Council before the war. Yours, etc., THOMAS HENRY KILLINGBECK, 38, Church Street, Woodlesford.
OULTON SOLDIER’S EXCITING EXPERIENCES IN THE TRENCHES. 21 August.
Lance-Corporal C. E. Britton (Oulton), in the course of an interesting letter, says: “ All went well until Tuesday after breakfast, bar just a shell or two and a bit of rifle fire. Some of us were asleep, having been awake all night. All at once the trenches shook just like a bit of indiarubber, then a loud report, and on looking up I saw tons of dirt going up. Of course, this was just against our fire trench. I was in the second line of trenches, and I got close to the side of the sandbags. I thought my time had come. There were eight of us in one traverse, and two were in the dug-out when the mine went up; one got out safe, and the other was just coming out when about half-a-ton of dirt came on him, breaking a bayonet in two, one part going into his hand and a piece of stone dropping on his head. Then the order came to open rapid fire, as the Germans were ready to charge. I fired 100 rounds, but there was no charge, so we started to build up the parapet after looking to the wounded, which were about 20, some not so bad. A few had to come out suffering from shock. I was terrified for a minute or two myself. By what we heard after, the German got the worst of it.
“All was quiet for that day and I was not sorry. On Wednesday all was well up to about half-past four. Some of the old hands said it was too quiet fro their liking. Then they started with the aerial torpedo. This has about 200 pounds of explosives in it, and by what they say costs close on £200 to fire. We had 16 altogether, but they did no damage to our trenches. Of course, they had to bring some of them out of our firing trench – that is the first line. The best of it is you can see these coming, and we run either to the left or right and lie flat down. They bury themselves about six feet in the ground and then explode, lifting all up with them. The worst of it was that after they fired one of these they would send a “whiz bang,” as we called them; it is a kind of shell that spreads all about after the style of a jumping cracker, and as we were crouched together it was bad.
“Our artillery soon got the range and then there was no more of these things. It was lucky we kept our heads and ran the right way. No one was injured. With night came their trench torpedoes. Another shell of theirs is considered the worst of the lot. You have to be on the alert to see it with the fuse burning on the tail of it. It drops straight down, and if it happens light in a trench it is blown up for about 30 yards. All this was in two days. Then we came down into the support trench, and I was not sorry either. One of the battalions that came out with us would not take the trenches over. They said they were not strong enough to do so, so the party that was in had to stay, having been 14 days. Our General commended us for sticking it, and said we had had a worse time than anybody in the Division. I was glad when we came out for a rest and a wash, not having had one all the time.”
HUNSLET RURAL DISTRICT COUNCIL. HOUSING CONDITIONS AT WOODLESFORD. TWO EMPLOYEES ENLIST. 28 August.
The monthly meeting of the Hunslet Rural District Council was held at the Offices, Leek Street, Hunslet, on Thursday afternoon, Mr T. Thomas (Chairman) presiding. The other members present were Mr P.S. Marsden (vice-chairman), Mr W. Verity, Mr J. Flanagan, and Mr D.W. Hargreaves, with the Clerk (Mr W.B. Pindar), the sanitary inspectors (Messrs W. Whitehead and P.C. Higgins), and the surveyor (Mr W. Nuttall).
HEALTH OF THE DISTRICT. Dr J. Buck being away, sent his report, which showed that during the past month fifteen births had been registered – ten in Oulton and Woodlesford, four at Templenewsam, and one at Middleton. Three deaths were reported – all from Oulton and Woodlesford. Only one case of infectious disease – scarlet fever, occurred during the month at Oulton and Woodlesford, and was removed to hospital. The doctor’s report was considered very satisfactory.
HOUSING AT OULTON AND WOODLESFORD. A letter was read from the Oulton and Woodlesford Parish Council enclosing the following resolutions: “The Parish Council of Oulton and Woodlesford are anxious to know the state of the proposed housing scheme for Oulton and Woodlesford, as the need is getting more acute for a reasonably-rented house for the working population of the district.” The Clerk said that he had put the matter immediately after the medical officer’s report, as he thought the doctor was the officer to report upon it. Mr W. Verity: Adjourn it to the next meeting, as the representatives of Oulton and Woodlesford are not here.
The Clerk: The difficulty is to get a house at a reasonable rent. If you have to borrow money at 41⁄2 per cent. there can be no such thing as cheap houses. I suggest it be left until the medical officer is present. The Chairman: I believe we promised to consider the building of houses in Oulton and Woodlesford. Mr P.S. Marsden: Didn’t Messrs Briggs say they were going to build?
The Clerk: They said they were going to build a few. Dr Buck’s last report on the matter was that the pressure was not so great at present. The Chairman: It must be serious or else the Parish Council would not write. The Clerk: If you cannot borrow money for building you can at least consider what you will do as soon as the state of the country permits it. You could consider a scheme, you could consider plans, and the costs and estimates, with a view to taking action as soon as the time is suitable. Mr Marsden: On the other hand, you want to encourage private enterprise. It was decided to adjourn the matter for a month. During the discussion Mr Hargreaves was not present.
EMPLOYEES ENLIST. Mr G.W. Steel, who wrote informing the Council that he had joined the Colours for the period of the war, reported that the consumption of water for the month was 85,000 gallons per day compared with 66,000 gallons last year. The supply at Middleton was also good. An application was received from Mr H. Burnett, Oulton, for the appointment as temporary water inspector during Mr Steel’s absence, and, after consideration, he was appointed to act when called upon. In addition to Mr G.W. Steel, it was reported that one of the roadmen, named E. McWilliam, had also enlisted.
THE NATIONAL REGISTER. Reporting upon the work in connection with the National Register, the Clerk said he had dealt with nearly five thousand forms – twenty-two hundred related to males and twenty- six hundred to females. Al the forms appertaining to the males had been classified and coded, and half of them copied on to the pink forms. Another 149 forms had had to be sent to other districts and 370 certificates had been issued. So far the work had been carried out satisfactorily.
VARIOUS. A letter was read from the engineers in charge of the extension of the Halton sewage works thanking the Council for their kind remarks regarding the quality of the work done, and paying a tribute to the help rendered by the Clerk. The circular letter from the Local Government Board urging the strictest economy in expenditure by all local authorities was read. The Clerk reported that he had received a copy of the Board of Trade regulations regarding the Leeds tramways so far as they affect Halton, limiting the speed on the Selby Road to sixteen miles an hour, and down the steep gradient to ten miles an hour. The Clerk also reported that he had engaged Mr W.H. Schofield, of Osmondthorpe, as assistant clerk.
OULTON. WHAT A SOLDIER SAYS. 28 August.
In a letter Private W. Britton (Oulton), of the South Wales Borderers (Pioneers), in France, says: “I wish the young men of England would take an example from the French in fighting for their country, as you can hardly find a young man in any of the places we pass through.”
OULTON CHURCH. 28 August.
The church, which has been cleaned during the past week, has had the roof windows darkened as a precautionary measure against raids. On Sunday morning when the church was re-opened a military service was held, the members of the Rothwell and Dictrict Volunteer Training Corps holding a parade.
PRIVATE NETTLETON BEATEN. 28 August.
On Saturday at the military sports at Headingley fourteen teams turned out for the two Miles Company Team Race, won by the D Company 18th Battalion Manchester Regiment. Several well-known runners participated in the event, including Private F.H. Reay, the English International runner, of the D Company, 18th Battalion Durham Light Infantry. He took the lead after the first mile, and kept in front until about five hundred yards from the finishing point, when he was passed by Private P. Nettleton (Oulton), of the A Company,15th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment, who lost ground in the last hundred yards, and was beaten by five yards by Private A. Scott, of the D Company18th Battalion Manchester Regiment.
A WOODLESFORD MAN’S DUEL WITH A GERMAN. “TURNED HIS TOES UP.” 28 August.
Rifleman Jack Flockton, of the 1/8th West Yorks. Regiment (Leeds Rifles), who has been “Somewhere in France” since April last, writing to his parents, who live at Alma Hill, Woodlesford, states: I was dreaming about you all at home as I snatched a few hours’ sleep in my dug- out in the trenches. Sometimes it is a bit awkward. You start to write a letter or make yourself a meal and when you get nicely interested in what you are doing – “bang!” and you get covered with dirt and your tea and letter are spoilt. But I gave them a warm time of it this morning as they got one of our chaps through the head. I set about them all the length of the parapet.
I had a proper duel with a German. I got a chance and let go at him. They had had a go at me, and then I pumped five rapid at him. He quietened for a bit, but very shortly afterwards he let go from another place. Ripping the sandbag close to my head. I then moved a bit further up the trenches, and on looking over saw him gazing in the other direction, so I cautiously put my rifle over and “let go the painter.” I have heard nothing from him since, so I think he must have “turned his toes up.”
Lance-Corporal W. Edmunds, who is well-known in the Thwaite Gate and Stourton districts, working at the Thwaite Gate Forge before he joined the Colours, has been seriously wounded, but is now going on well in hospital in France. Writing to a brother in Leeds, he says: “The doctors and nurses here are fine. They look well after you. I can tell you the hospital is a grand concern, and we want for nothing – in fact, they are feeding me on chickens to get my strength up. So when you have anything to spare, don’t forget the Red Cross.”
OULTON OFFICER MISSING. 4 September.
Some further news has come to hand regarding Second-Lieutenant Davenport, of the 9th West Yorkshire Regiment, who was reported as missing during the fighting at Gallipoli on 9th August. His father and mother, who live at Oulton, have received two letters from members of the battalion, one from Major A.H. Cuthell, the commanding officer, and the other from his company sergeant-major, F. Slimmon, whose mother lives at Main Street, Carlton, near Rothwell. Writing on 20th August, Major Cuthell says Second-Lieutenant Davenport’s company were holding some high ground, when they were attacked at dawn by a very strong body of Turks. “I hear,” he adds, “that he was wounded, but can get no further information. He was a very popular officer, and an excellent soldier, and we miss him very much.” In a letter dated four days earlier, however, Sergeant Major Slimmon says the young officer was wounded in the left thigh and left foot. “Sergeant Clayton,” he adds, “dressed one of his wounds, when Lieutenant Davenport requested the sergeant to leave him and save himself.” Sad to relate, Major Cuthell was killed two days after writing this note to Mr and Mrs Davenport. He was 36 years old, and the only son of Lieut.-Colonel and Mrs Cuthell, of Goldhill Lodge, Farnham. He served with the West Yorkshires in the South African War. In another column the fact of the gallant officer being missing is reported.
VICAR OF OULTON AND DARK CHURCHES. “DARKNESS PREFERABLE TO BOMBS.” 11 September.
Commenting on the darkening of the church windows as a precaution against air raids, the Vicar of Oulton (the Rev. W.R. Capel Cure, M.A.), writes in the parish magazine as follows: “Some may perhaps be wondering why we have made the church so dark. The reason is this. The police have told us that the top windows throw out much too bright a light, and so, for a time, we reduced our light to one fourth its usual brightness. The result was, people said (and I do not wonder) that they could not see. But with winter coming on I thought we had better try something else. So we are trying covering the windows with a green blind paper. Has anyone any better suggestion to offer? I should be glad to arrive at something which, while not throwing out too much light at night, would give us a little more light in the daytime. But, after all, many churches are always as dark as we are now, and, I any case, darkness is preferable to a bomb thrown from a kindly Zeppelin.
WOODLESFORD AND ROTHWELL SOLDIERS’ LETTERS. MINER WOUNDED AT THE DARDANELLES. 11 September.
Mrs A.E. Woolford, of 41, Northfield Place, Rothwell Haigh, near Leeds, is proud of the fact that she has two sons serving in the Navy. Fred Woolford, Able Seaman, now on H.M. Hindustan, has written to the Carlton Committee thanking them for a parcel he received on August 27th. He adds: It was indeed a surprise to me to be the receiver of such a parcel. Believe me, it touched me very much to think we have someone at home who remembers us while we are doing our bit. The underclothing will be very handy this coming winter if it is going to be like the last one.
Woolford also draws attention to the usefulness of the socks and cigarettes he has received, and remarks that nothing can beat them. The youngest of the two brothers, James Woolford, is only 16 years of age. He joined the Navy since the outbreak so war as a signaller.
Private E.L. Myers (8th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers), who resided at Woodlesford before joining the Army, has been wounded in the Dardanelles, and is now in hospital at Bristol. Myers was formerly employed at the Temple Newsam pits, and enlisted in December. Writing to his brother Robert, the well-known Bradford Northern football player, who is also an ex-Leeds policeman, and resides at 51, Rosebank View, Burley Road, Leeds, he says that he was wounded by shrapnel in the left side whilst taking part in an attack on the Turkish tranches on August 19th.
“We had to lie in bed coming from the Dardanelles,” he says, “as we felt the cold.” Private Myers says he met several old friends in Gallipoli, and adds: “We had a hard time but are some of the lucky ones.” Another brother – Ernest – is an A.B., serving on H.M.S. Barham. He formerly worked in the same pit as Myers.
FIRST OULTON MAN TO FALL. DEATH IN ALEXANDRIA. 25 September.
News has reached Oulton of the death of Private Thomas William Wass, his parents, who live in Midland Terrace, Oulton, received the sad intelligence in a letter from the War Office. The deceased, who was only eighteen years of age, enlisted for the period of the war in the 2nd Field Ambulance of the Royal Navy Division, and left England about March 8th. The War Office notice shows that the death, which followed an attack of dysentery, occurred on August 21st, at Alexandria.
A sad feature, which the relatives very much feel, is that after going to York to join his company they never saw him again, and up to the time of his leaving England he never had a day’s leave. However, his letters were always most cheerful, and the last of the kind was despatched on August 5th, when he wrote saying that he expected to move shortly. He is the first Oulton lad to lose his life while serving his country. Prior to enlisting he was employed by the Gaumont Film Company.
A WOODLESFORD MAN’S LANGUAGE. “ONLY SHOUTING FOR MY WIFE.” 25 September.
On Tuesday at the Leeds West Riding Petty Sessions George Page, miner, of Woodlesford, was summoned on two instances for having used abusive language.
P.C. Abbott stated that about 2.15 a.m. on Sunday, September 12th, he was on duty in Clement Street, Woodlesford, when he heard the defendant, who was in his house, 3, Clement Street, shouting at the top of his voice and using abusive language. The door was slightly open and lights were in several of the houses in the street. The officer went to him and told him he would be reported. Defendant said “I won’t be here on Monday.” The second offence related to later in the same day. About 9.45 p.m. witness was again in Clement Street, when he saw the defendant standing in the doorway of his house and using abusive language. On going to him defendant said “I am only shouting for my wife to get my supper.” There was a crowd of people in the street. Defendant appeared to be slightly under the influence of drink. Fines of 6s. in both cases were imposed.
ROTHWELL SOLDIER DESCRIBES BATTLEFIELD SCENE. HOW ENGLISHMEN DIE. 9 October.
In a letter home, Private W. Britton, of the South Wales Borderers, whose home is in Commercial Street, Rothwell, describes the following scene on the battlefield: “Just as the grey dawn was breaking a comrade, who was wounded, asked his mate to lay down his rifle for him, and after his mate had done so he pulled him down by his side in time to hear him say “Bill, I am on the road now. I can hear someone sounding the great challenge – ‘Halt! Who goes there.’ With a tremendous effort the wounded man staggered to his feet, and in a terrible voice shouted with almost superhuman strength – ‘An Englishman who did his duty.’ Could one ever forget a scene like that? The grey dawn breaking in the east, and over all an ineffable peace seemed to reign. The only sound to be heard was an aeroplane that was just going over our lines and the drone of the propeller.
“This is how an Englishman meets his death. Similar scenes take place day after day along the line. I say to those around my native village – have you not a single friend who has fallen in this Armageddon – a brother, a cousin, or a very dear friend whose blood calls on you to avenge his death? Isn’t your conscience shattered with the vision of the hundreds of wooden crosses which lie scattered all over France? Are you not afraid that the spirit of your dead brother will rise up and call you coward.”
AN OULTON CASE. 30 October.
Mr Badeley, joint manager of Bentley’s Yorkshire Breweries, Ltd., writes with reference to the report of a case at Oulton Education Committee, in which it was stated a drayman employed at Woodlesford Brewery received 22s. a week and a small bonus. Mr Badeley says the man’s earnings average for the past six months 36s. 9d. per week. Our reporter took the statement at the Education Committee meeting as it was made.
“TIME OF THEIR LIVES. A BAYONET FIGHT.” 30 October.
Private Walter Harland, of the 10th Battalion K.O.Y.L.I., Whose home is at Oulton, near Leeds, writes to his brother, Mr George Harland, of 29, Leicestershire Street, Pepper Lane, Hunslet, as follows: Just a few lines in answer to your letter of the 13th. I am pleased to say that I am feeling a lot better, but I can still taste the gas in my mouth, especially after I have had a hot meal. I have spoken to the doctor about it, and he says it will wear off in time. We had a very stiff three days about three weeks ago when the advance started. We got there a few hours before the charge started.
Early in the morning our artillery started blazing away harder than ever, shells were flying in all directions, and they were doing good work amongst the German trenches. When the shells burst you could see Germans flying sky high. Then the order came to charge. We ran as hard as ever we could to keep up with the others, but the Germans retired so quickly that we had to stop exhausted.
The day after we took our turn in the firing line. There was a heavy artillery fire all night, and we had no chance of sleeping. When it quietened down we got the order to prepare to charge. At a given signal our chaps “went over the parapet” and shouted as if they were at a football match. The Germans started blazing away at us with their machine-guns and rifles. My pal was knocked down before he had advanced far.
When we reached the German trenches we had the time of our lives – a bayonet fight. The Germans saw they were beaten, and threw down their rifles and begged for mercy. I had the misfortune to get fast in the barbed wire. I was hung there about five minutes, and I think myself lucky that I am alive now. It was on the Monday that I got gassed. I think I shall be able to have my Christmas dinner at home. Prior to joining the Colours, Harland was employed at the Woodlesford Colliery.
(Walter Harland was born in 1895, the son of miner Thomas Harland. The events he describes in his letter probably took place during the assault on Loos which started on 26 September 1915 shortly after the 10th Battalion K.O.Y.L.I. arrived in France. Before the end of the war Walter was promoted to sergeant. In 1917 he married miner’s daughter Evelyn Birkin from Woodlesford. She was born in 1897 and they would have known each other since childhood as both families lived in Beecroft Yard in Woodlesford. After the war Walter and Evelyn had two daughters and in 1939 were living at Jean Avenue in Halton. Walter was 82 when he died in Leeds in 1977.)
OULTON INSTITUTE. 20 November.
An interesting addition to the Oulton Institute is a framed roll of honour, which contains the names of seventy-nine members, past and present, who are serving in the Forces, wither the Army or Navy. The roll was presented to the Institute by Mr G.M. Abbey and has a place in the billiard room.
WOMEN’S WORK. 20 November.
An exhibition of garments in connection with the Ladies’ Working Party is to be held in the Institute on December 6th. Since the ladies got to work on the outbreak of war, over 1,800 garments have been made and despatched for both soldiers in hospital and on active service.
AN OULTON MAN’S LETTER. SAYS GERMANS ARE COWARDS. 20 November.
Private J. Studd, B Company, 10th Batt., York and Lancaster Regiment, who, prior to the war, lived with Mr E. Forrest, The Hollins, Oulton, and is now in France, writes to the “Courier” as follows: “I was working at Woodlesford at the outbreak of war, and I heard the country was in need of help, so I answered the call, and I wish all young men would do the same. I have been in the trenches three times and am returning to them again. I have been only eighty yards away from the German trenches, and I think they are as much afraid of us as we are of them – that is tit-for-tat.
“I think all men ought to answer the call, as we all want to beat the Germans before the winter sets in. It is not bad in the trenches when it is warm, for there are places to sleep in and fires. We sing and whistle all day long, for we are safe enough in the trenches, it is only when we are relieving each other that there is danger.
“Shells drop just behind us, and for a few minutes we cannot see anything for earth. A man must not put his head above the trench or he os soon spotted by the Germans, who are very big cowards.”
ROTHWELL CASE AT LEEDS ASSIZES. SERIOUS CHARGE AGAINST A MINER. A WOODLESFORD GIRL’S EVIDENCE. ACCUSED ACQUITED. 4 December.
At the Leeds Assizes, held in the Leeds Town Hall on Tuesday Alfred Wilkinson (22), a miner, living at 9, Butcher Lane, Rothwell, was brought before Justice Sankey in the Crown Court on a charge of assault upon Sarah Elizabeth Jones, a domestic servant, living at Woodlesford. Prisoner, who was represented by Mr Charles Mellor, pleaded not guilty. Mr J.A. Greene prosecuted for the Crown.
In placing the facts before the jury, Mr J.A. Green said the prisoner was charged with assaulting Sarah Elizabeth Jones, a girl of seventeen. The facts were a little unusual, requiring careful treatment at their hands. The girl at the time was in service at Rothwell, and on the Sunday night in question – September 26th – shewent home to her mother’s house at Woodlesford where she spent the night. It appeared that about 9.30 the same night she was out with a young man named George Harcourt Lunn, a girl friend being with a friend of Lunn. They went down a lane leading off Oulton Lane. and while there the prisoner came up and said he was a detective and was going to give the girl in charge. Thereupon Lunn, who apparently knew the prisoner, and knew he was not a detective, went away, so he said, to get assistance, leaving the girl with the prisoner. It appeared from the girl’s statement that the prisoner dragged her into a field, threw her down, and attempted to commit the offence. She began to scream, and her screams were sufficiently loud to attract the attention of Mr Baldwin, the licensee of the Bowling Green Hotel, which was close by. Mr Baldwin, along with a man named Dixon, went into the field, hearing the girl scream all the time, and actually found the prisoner lying in a certain position with the girl seeking to effect his purpose, and they had to pull him off by main force. The girl did not, it seemed, make a complaint at the time, and they were allowed to go away. When the prisoner was arrested he made a somewhat curious statement – “I made a mistake. I got hold of the wrong girl.” Mr Mellor, said counsel, would submit there was consent, and they (the jury) would have to take it into consideration whether she gave consent to these acts being done to her.
The girl, Sarah Elizabeth Jones, was then called, and said that on Sunday, September 26th, she was going home to her mother’s house – 4, Airedale View, Woodlesford. About 9.30 she met a young man named George Harcourt Lunn, and they went down a lane leading from Oulton Lane. While standing in the lane with Lunn a man (the prisoner) sprang out of the hedge, and got hold of her arm and said he was a detective and was going to give her in charge. She made no reply. Lunn went away, and the prisoner dragged her up a field for about fifty yards, laid her on the grass and interfered with her clothing, and attempted to commit an offence. She screamed, and two men came up and knocked the prisoner off. Her girl friend then came up, and one of the men went down with them as far as the road. She then went home.
Cross-examined by Mr Mellor, the girl said that when she screamed she called for Alice. Mr Mellor: What is the place called? Witness: I don’t know. Mr Mellor: Oh, yes, you do. It is a place where young ladies and young men walk about. Isn’t it? Witness: Yes.
Mr Mellor: Your young man knew the man who came up and knew he was not a detective? Witness: Yes. Mr Mellor: Hasn’t your mother got on to you for not being in early? Witness: Yes. Mr Mellor: What had you on that night? Witness: A raincoat.
Mr Mellor: Did you think it was likely to be a stormy night? (Laughter). No answer was given to the question.
Mr Mellor: Nothing was the matter with your clothing? Witness: No. Mr Mellor: And you were able to go to work next day as if nothing had happened? Witness: Yes.
Mr Mellor: And nothing had happened? No answer. Mr Mellor: You are as well to-day as ever you have been? Witness: Yes.
Mr Mellor: You have heard of hedge-creeping? Witness: Yes. Mr Mellor: It is when young people follow up young gentlemen and ladies to catch them, and you were caught that night? Witness: No. Mr Mellor: Did you think the “detective” was a hedge-creeper? Witness: No. Mr Mellor: Did you tell your mother what had happened when you got home? Witness: No. Mr Mellor: You did not say anything about it until Thursday when the policeman had been round to your house.
George Harcourt Lunn (22), a blacksmith’s pick sharpener, of Rothwell, said he had known the girl Jones about a fortnight. On the night in question they were standing talking on a path leading off the Oulton Lane, when the prisoner came up out of the hedge. He came up in a rough manner, used violence, and caught hold of the girl’s arm and said, “I want you for a few minutes to have a few words with you.” He also said, “Do you know I am a detective and am going to give you in charge?” Witness said that prisoner then told him “to go about his business,” and he went. On looking round, as he went, he saw three other fellows in the hedge. He went for assistance, but found none and went back again to the place, but all was quiet and he went home.
Mr Mellor: Did you shut your eyes? (Laughter). Witness: No. Mr Mellor: You are a brave young man? Yes, I am. Mr Mellor: Had you paired off? Witness: Yes.
Mr Mellor: Did you kiss her? Witness: (emphatically) No.
Mr Mellor: You wouldn’t do such a thing? Witness: I should if I felt I wanted to. (Laughter). Mr Mellor: It did not occur to you to go to the Bowling Green Hotel for assistance? Witness: I had no chance. Mr Mellor: The place is called the “Rabbit Trap,” and boys take girls there to kiss. Have you tried to enlist? Witness (feeling in his pockets): Yes, but…… Mr Mellor: They would not have you if you told them you had run away.
John Henry Baldwin, licensee of the Bowling Green Hotel, Rothwell, said he was in the hotel about 9.30 p.m. on Sunday, September 26th, when he heard screams and someone shouting “Alice.” He got a man named Dixon to go with him, and they crossed two fields, where they found the prisoner and the girl. The spot was about 250 yards away from the hotel. The prisoner’s clothing was untidy. The girl never spoke.
Mr Mellor: If you thought it was serious, you would have held on to the prisoner? Witness: Yes. Mr Mellor: The girl said nothing? Witness: No, only walked away. Mr Mellor: You simply thought the young people were misbehaving themselves and you told the young man he ought to be ashamed of himself? Witness: Yes.
George Dixon, miner of Oulton, said he was in the Bowling Green Hotel when the last witness asked him to go with him. They crossed two fields, and as they went they heard screams. They found the prisoner as described by the last witness. He (Dixon) got hold of prisoner’s legs, and Mr Baldwin his shoulders, and pulled him away. Prisoner’s clothes were disarranged. The girl said nothing, and he saw her and her companion “Alice” as far as the main road. Questioned by Mr Mellor, witness said they did not detain the prisoner. Mr Mellor: It is a funny place where you come from. Here you find a man interfering with a girl and you do nothing and let the man go. Witness: I thought the girl was old enough.
P.C. Coldwell spoke to arresting the prisoner on Thursday, September 30th. When the warrant was read over prisoner replied “I made a mistake. I got hold of the wrong girl.” He apprehended the prisoner as a result of an information laid by the girl’s father.
This concluded the evidence for the prosecution, and Mr Mellor called Wilkinson to give evidence. He said he had worked at the Rose Pit, Rothwell, for eight or nine years. He did not say he was a detective. He said nothing, but got hold of the girl by the arm. The boy left her. He had known Lunn all his life. He put his arm round the girl and did not drag her into the field. They walked some distance. She made no resistance when he put his arm round her waist. He laid her on the grass and attempted to commit an offence. She did not cry “Alice” until she saw the two men coming. She made no resistance in any way.
By Mr Greene: He saw three others near the hedge, but they were not with him. He had had a drop of something to drink the same night it happened. Mr Mellor the addressed the jury, and asked them to say the prisoner was not guilty.
In summing up, the Judge commented upon the girl’s story as to her clothing not being torn or disarranged, and the fact that she had been dragged fifty yards, and that she made no complaint to her parents. Could they believe such a story? A verdict of “Not guilty” was returned, and Wilkinson was discharged.
AN OULTON SOLDIER’S LETTER. IN THE FIRING LINE. 25 December.
Writing to a friend at Oulton, Rifleman Walter Atha, 1st – 7th West Yorks., who is in France, and whose home is in Primrose Yard, Oulton, says he is having it rough where he is, having to stand up to his knees in water in the trenches both day and night. However, he and his company do well for food. Speaking of the time when they come out of the trenches for a rest, he says it is almost as bad as being in the trenches, because they go out at night and work until late the next morning.
“During that time,” he says, “we are under fire all the time, and it is not nice, I can tell you. Then we have the ration parties. You carry the rations on your back and nicely get on to the road, when all at once the machine-guns are on you. We have to drop down flat in the mud and water, and I have seen occasions when we have been lying down for a half-hour at a time. We have to go right by the enemy’s line with the rations, but we seem to be the luckiest platoon going. “I wish,” he adds, “that some of the boys were out here. They would open their eyes.”
OULTON MEN’S SERVICE. 25 December.
There was only a moderate attendance at the men’s service at Oulton St. John’s Church on Sunday afternoon. The Vicar of Whitkirk (the Rev. E. Wilson), was announced to take the service, but he had to postpone his visit, sending in his place, the curate (the Rev. Mr Pitcher).
OULTON INSTITUTE. 25 December.
The Christmas billiard handicap, which has provided plenty of interest at the Institute, will be decided on Friday night. The finalists are Mr Wilfred Whitehead and Mr Roland Higgins. The game is 100 up, Mr Whitehead receiving 15. Although te number of entries has not reached that of previous years the total of sixty-four is very satisfactory, as so many of the members are away either fighting or in training. The Institute has contributed well to the Army.
AMBULANCE WORK. 25 December.
The ladies of Oulton are enthusiastic ambulance workers, an don Wednesday last seventeen members of the village class took their third examination, with a view to obtaining the St. John medallion. Dr T.R. Taylor, of Methley, was the examiner. On the previous Wednesday the members had a social amongst themselves in the ladies’ club room at the Institute. Songs, pianoforte solos, and duets, recitations and games were indulged in. During the evening Dr Buck, who had given the three courses of lectures ti the class, was presented with a very pretty reading lamp. The presentation was made by Miss Bell, hon. Secretary.