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Echoes of the past: Remembering the Brighouse men lost during the Somme

10:00 Saturday 02 July 2016

As we approach the centenary of the Battle of the Somme it is a time to reflect on what happened all those years ago. The Battle of the Somme took place between July 1 and November 18 1916 – a period of time that saw 420,000 British casualties, 200,000 French casualties and 420,000 Germans. There were more British soldiers killed on that first July morning than there was during the whole of the Battle of Waterloo.

Brighouse and it surrounding communities, like almost all others, was to lose many of its young men during that five months. The first day on the Somme ( July 1) was the worst day in the history of the British army, which had c. 57,470 casualties. The British troops on the Somme comprised a mixture of the remains of the pre-war regular army, the Territorial Force and the Kitchener Army, which was composed of Pals battalions, recruited from the same places and occupations

On November 3, 1918 a memorial service took place at St Matthew s Church, Lightcliffe and of the 46 men being remembered many of them had been killed at the Somme. Some of those being remembered at the memorial service were not all killed at the Somme, They included:

Rev Alban Bodley Mace, CF, October 3 whilst acting as the Chaplain at Salonica.

Rev Mace was the Curate of Brighouse and had earlier been the Curate at St Matthew s during 1910. Whilst at Lightcliffe he was lodging at one of Crow Nest Cottages and was 31 years old when he died. He was nephew to Sir Algernon and Lady Janet Firth. On May 5, 1918 a special service was held at St James Church to dedicate a stained glass window in his honour. Sgt Harry Stuart Riley, July 23, of the Lancashire Fusiliers and lived at Ripley Street, Lightcliffe; Corporal Joe Willie Shaw, October 8.

Second Lieut John Andrew Benjamin Jolley, October 13 and Corporal Fred Booth, October 26. Private Harry E Minnet was one of those killed on the first push on July 1, he was a member of the Royal Fusiliers and lived at George Street, Hipperholme. Pte Reginald Naylor, July 18; Pte Bertram Wood September 4 ; Pte Aaron Sucksmith September 4 of the Durham Light Infantry, 27 years of age, who lived with his parents in St Giles Road. Pte Thomas Stocks, September 18 Gordon Highlanders, from 22, East Street; Pte Richard Greenwood, October 3.

Sgt Horace Shaw, September 3 and Corp Herbert Aspinall, September 3.

Sgt Harry Stuart Riley 23 July of the Lancashire Fusiliers and lived at Ripley Street, Lightcliffe; Corporal Joe Willie Shaw, October 8. Second Lieut John Andrew Benjamin Jolley, October 13.

The brave Sunderland heroes who died in the bloodiest battle ever seen

As the 100th anniversary of the start of the Battle of The Somme draws ever closer, we continue our look at the Wearside heroes one of the bloodiest battles in history. There are many local connections to the battle including the Sunderland men who gave their lives.

One of the most infamous days in British history saw the first day of the Battle of the Somme where tens of thousands of allied troops were killed or wounded in a mass advance on the German lines.

Keith Gregson, archivist

Today, we continue our look at the men linked to Sunderland Cricket and (Rugby) Football Club, who saw action on the Somme with the help of club archivist Keith Gregson. l John Maurice Foster, born in 1890, was the son of a pianoforte and music shop merchant.

The family lived in Park Place East, apparently, for most, if not all of his life, and Jack was an Ashbrooke member in 1914 when army was placed on his club record. In 1911, he was working as a draper s assistant. He was gazetted as 2nd lieutenant in the 4th Gordon Highlanders (Territorial) in June 1915 and was killed in action on July 23, 1916.

His name appears on a casualty list for November 1916 as previously reported missing now reported killed . He is buried at Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval. His name appears in the register of effects which indicates that the sum of just over 60 was handed over to his family in February 1917. l William Worthington Wilson was the son of a master mariner and went to Bede School. In 1911, he was living in Azalea Avenue and was an apprentice marine engineer by the time he was 18.

His 21-year-old sister was head of the household. He enlisted in September 1914 when he was 21 himself and told the Forces he was an engineer who wanted to join a Durham force. John Byrne was the recruiting officer and placed him in the 18th DLI, also known as The Durham Pals. He noted that he had already served in the DLI 7th volunteers.

William was part of the Expeditionary Force in Egypt from December 1915 to March 1916 when he entered the Western Front. At first, there was some doubt over what happened to him. His family feared he had been injured. A 1916 telegram thought that he was wounded and was there any news yet of him.

In fact, he had been killed in action on the first day of the Battle of the Somme and was in D Company. He was a lance sergeant at the time, having served as a corporal and lance corporal during 1915. His service record has survived. By the time his parents picked up his medals after the war, the family had moved to Liverpool.

l Arthur Osborne Bell lived in Chester Road, Sunderland and Ashwood Terrace. Born in 1896, he was the son of an assistant overseer whose job would have been to look after Poor Law affairs in one of the local parishes. He was a scholar at 14 and in 1913, he paid his membership to Sunderland Cricket and Football Club.

He went to Bede School and was still a student when, at the age of 19 years and seven months, he enlisted. But he had a special request. He expressed a willingness to join the Durham County regiment. This was in October 1914, so it is likely that he lied about his age. He served in the 18 th DLI/Lord Durham s/Durham Pals and spent some time in Egypt at the end of 1915 and beginning of 1916.

He was killed in action on the first day of the Battle of the Somme and was in D Company the same company as William Worthington Wilson. His service record has survived and his effects were returned to the family in October 1916. His father applied for and received his medals in 1920 (he just qualified for the 1915 star). His father received just over 3 in 1916 and 7 and 10 shillings in 1919.

Keith would love to hear from more people whose ancestors served their country in the First World War.

If you can shed more light on them, including those at the battle of The Somme, contact us and we will pass on your information. Email [email protected]

The British Army captain who helped found the Irish Citizen Army

One of the most unlikely characters to become involved in the revolutionary period in Ireland was an Antrim born Protestant. Given that his background was one steeped in the British Army and the Anglican Church it is a remarkable rejection of his ancestral heritage that Captain James Robert Jack White went onto become one of the co-founders of the Irish Citizen Army. Jack White also had a direct link to Derry in the years directly before the Easter Rising of 1916.

Jack White was born on May 22, 1879 at Whitehall, Broughshane, County Antrim. An only son, he initially followed in the footsteps of his father, Field Marshal Sir George Stuart White and was educated at Winchester before moving on to the Royal Armyrats © Military College at Sandhurst. Aged just 18 White saw service with the 1st Gordon Highlanders in the Boer War and won the Distinguished Service Order (DSO). In 1901, The London Gazette ran the following citation explaining why he had won the Armyrats © military accolade. It said: James Robert White, Lieutenant, The Gordon Highlanders. For having, when taken prisoner, owing to mistaking advancing Boers for British troops, and stripped, escaped from custody and run six miles, warning Colonel de Lisle, and advancing with him to the relief of Major Sladen s forces.

The British Army Captain Who Helped Found The Irish Citizen Army

Captain Jack White in later years.

It was whilst in South Africa that he began to develop his dislike of the British ruling classes. At the battle of Doornkop during the Boer War he was one of the first to go over the top. It is said that he looked back at saw a 17-year-old soldier shaking with fright in the trench. When another officer shouted shoot him , White aimed his revolver at the officer and told him, do do and I will shoot you. Jack White however continued his Armyrats © military career and between 1901-1905 he served as aide-de-camp to his father who had been appointed as Governor of Gibraltar. He here met Mercedes Mosley who came from a Gibraltar business family and who was a Catholic. Despite objections from both families the couple married and his Armyrats © military career then took him to India and Scotland. However, in 1907, disaffected with the British Army and its colonial role he resigned his commission and in the following few years he lived in a commune in England as well as travelling to Bohemia and Canada.

By the time he arrived back in Ireland, Sir Edward Carson s campaign against Home Rule was taking off. Carson had founded the Ulster Volunteer Force who were threatening war against England if any measure of self-determination was granted to Ireland.

The British Army Captain Who Helped Found The Irish Citizen Army

A commemorative stamp of Jack White.

Jack White organised on of the first Protestant pro-Home Rule meetings in Ballymoney to galvanise Protestant opinion against the Unionist Party and against what he termed its bigotry and stagnation that by proxy associated Ulster Protestants with conservatism. It is worth noting that another speaker at that meeting, from a similar background was Sir Roger Casement. As a result of the Ballymoney meeting White was invited to Dublin to meet with James Connolly. Impressed by the struggle to win recognition for trade unions and resist attacks on workers by William Martin Murphy and his confederates. Having converted fully to the principles of socialism he offered his services to the Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU) at Liberty Hall in Dublin and spoke on union platforms with people such as journalist Francis Sheehy-Skeffington, Bill Haywood of the Industrial Workers of the World and James Connolly as well. In 1913 it was Jack White who proposed the formation of a workers militia to protect picket lines from assaults by the Dublin Metropolitan Police. The idea of a Citizen Army under his training was enthusiastically accepted.

It s appearance, White later recalled, put manners on the police.

The British Army Captain Who Helped Found The Irish Citizen Army

ICA men on guard at Liberty Hall.

At this stage he put his services also at the disposal of the Irish Volunteer Force (IVF) as he asserted that a stand had to be taken against British rule by a large armed body of people. Under the direction of the IVF leadership, Jack White was then despatched to Derry. For this brief period in 1914 he was the Commander of the Volunteers in

Derry City and Donegal. Whilst in Derry City he lodged at a house on East Wall, but his trip here was ill-fated. The Volunteer brigade in Derry had a substantial number of members who, like himself, were ex-servicemen. When he tried to spread the ideals behind worker s unity the Derry men dismissed him as merely someone who only sticking up for his own , i.e. Protestants. Disheartened by the failure to create unity in Derry, Jack White returned to Dublin.

When Connolly was sentenced to death after the Easter Rising, White went to South Wales in an attempt to bring the miners out on strike to save his life. His thinking was that disruption to coal production during World War I would bear enough pressure to stop Connolly s execution. However, his action resulted only in three months imprisonment. Ironically, he was transferred from Swansea jail to Pentonville prison in London the day before the execution of Roger Casement for treason in bringing in German guns to Ireland for the Easter Rising. It is said that when Casement was hung he was within earshot.

The British Army Captain Who Helped Found The Irish Citizen Army

Members of the Irish Citizen Army on the roof of Liberty Hall.

On his return to Ireland during the War of Independence, White found himself politically isolated. The fervent nationalism of those years had long supplanted any notions of socialism formulated by Connolly and included in the 1916 Proclamation. He briefly flirted with the newly formed Communist Party of Ireland but never actually joined. He returned to England and joined the anti-parliamentary communist group, the Workers Socialist Federation which was founded by Sylvia Pankhurst.

In 1934, a special convention was held in Athlone attended by 200 hundred former IRA members, socialists, communists and trade unionists. They resolved that a Republican Congress be formed. At its forefront was Donegal republican Peadar O Donnell and this movement, well to the left of the IRA, was based on workers and small farmers. White joined immediately and organised a Dublin branch solely made up of ex-British servicemen. The Congress later split between those who stood for class independence and thought intent only on a worker s republic and those, led by the communists who wanted an alliance with Fianna Fail to reunite the country. After the bulk of the first group walked out, most of the joined the Labour Party, but White remained within the depleted ranks of the Republican Congress. In the late 1930s he served as a medic with the Red Cross during the Spanish Civil War and it was here he made contact with the anarchist CNT-FAI. Returning to London from Spain he worked with Spain and the World, a pro-libetarian propaganda group active in Britain in support of the Spanish anarchists. Here, he met his second wife, Noreen Shanahan, the daughter of an Irish Government official. They had three children, Anthony, Alan and Derrick. He had one child, Ave, from his first marriage.

in 1938, the family returned to White Hall in Broughshane, White having inherited it after the death of his mother three years earlier. His return home was prompted by having to provide for his family. He received a regular income from the rent and sale of lands attached to the estate and also from his efforts as a journalist. Captain Jack White made a brief return to the public eye during the British General Election campaign of 1945. Proposing himself as a republican socialist for the Antrim constituency, he convened a meeting at Broughshane Orange Hall to outline his views. A journalist noted that during the meeting White commanded a rich vocabulary of language directed at a wide variety of targets that included Adolf Hitler, Pope Pius XII, Lord Brookeborough and Eamon de Valera. However, the journalist also recorded that White reserved special contempt for the Orange Order and the Unionist Party for the control they exercised through the Northern Ireland Special Powers Act. In 1946, White died from cancer at a Belfast nursing home and was buried at the family plot in the First Presbyterian Church at Broughshane after a private ceremony.

His youngest son Derrick was later a prominent member of the Scottish Nationalist Party and then the Scottish Socialist Party.

The British Army Captain Who Helped Found The Irish Citizen Army

James Connolly.

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