Friday 25 May 1917
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FOR KING AND COUNTRY
L-R: Pte Sam Durham, Duke of Wellington’s, 14 Church Street, Windhill, accidetally injured: Pte Charles Vevers, New Street, Windhill, Killed in Action; Pte Willie Hall, 9 The Bank, Eccleshill, pneumonia
Second-Engineer J W Knowles, of 17 Moorside Terrace, Eccleshill, has had a very fortunate escape from being blown up or drowned for on Sunday, April 22nd, his ship was mined and cut in two. Seen on Saturday, he looked not worse for his recent adventure and the power of his handshake suggested no weakening of his nerve. He said that the vessel he was on was one of our merchant ships which was being convoyed with nine others into a certain English port and his vessel was ninth in line. Immediately in front of them was a Spanish vessel and other neutral vessels were in the group. They were well in the fairway when, without the slightest warning, their vessel was cut clean in two by striking a mine.
He was below at the time and had to wait until the steam had somewhat cleared to tell where he was and how to get out. He was able to seize some of his belongings and then make his way on deck. Bulkheads Most fortunately for all the crew, when the vessel parted, the vacuum made by the explosion was the means of drawing the two parts together and the air-tight bulkheads helped to keep the shattered vessel afloat for some time before she sank, V-shaped to the bottom.
The other vessels came crowding round to render all the assistance they could and every member of the crew was saved, though one man had to swim for his life. The harbour officials were extremely kind and it was a stroke of good fortune that they were all saved Engineer Knowles was in Australia on the outbreak of war but came over to England at the call of duty that he might become an air pilot. He paid the usual fee of £100 to learn the business and after getting well on the way, the medical men discovered that his heart was not strong enough to stand the strain of flying and consequently he entered the merchant service as an engineer. After a short rest, he is expected to go to sea again.
“They were well in the fairway when, without the slightest warning, their vessel was cut clean in two by striking a mine.”
Rejected flyer escapes from sinking merchantman
Despite having lost his speech and being confined to hospital with a septic thumb and an abscess in the neck, Pte J W Beaver’s letter home shows he was in good spirits after reading about Saltaire’s winning start to the cricket season. I have a copy of the Express for May 4th by my side and I have been reading the cricket news. I am proud to see the good old club is keeping its end up and prouder still to see that they have taken a rise out of Windhill. My word, all the blinds would be down in Windhill last Sunday! I see you have got that good bowler ‘Slack’ again in the fold and that smart young batsman, Scofe Swithenbank in his usual form – a regular ‘woodman’, and without Barnes the team wouldn’t be worth a ‘Feather’ for however ‘Well’er’ team plays, there’s bound to be a ‘Barker’ ready to ‘Whitle’y’ it to pieces, but I’m not one to ‘Clem’ praise as a punster, so I must close after ‘Sedg-wick-ed’ attempts.
I am struck off our team’s list against the Huns, having had to retire hurt by a full-pitched one which knocked me absolutely speechless and now I am passed as unfit for further service at the Front. I have not yet got my speech back but am improving. I think should be better if I could get home for a few days and see a right good match or better still, take part in one. Scorer But it is not my luck as four days at home are all I have had since I came out in August 1915. And those were in January, 1916, when I came three days late for my father’s funeral. I hope I shall be able to see a match this summer in good old Saltaire Park. Once more wishing the old Club every success and the same to all its players and members and not forgetting the Secretary. What about the scorer? Is it Bob Gill yet? Please send me a full list of players.
Cricket news cheers severely damaged soldier
Sapper Ralph Booth (above), who enlisted in the East Lancashire Royal Engineers soon after the outbreak of war, was eventually sent to Egypt and saw considerable service there before moving on to France. Although Sapper Booth has lived in Manchester for many years, he was born in Idle, is connected with several Idle families and is well known to many people in Idle, Greengates and District. He is the younger brother of Mr Ted Booth of Simpson Green, Idle, who is connected with the Express. The photograph was taken while Sapper Booth was in Egypt.
Sapper with Idle roots
L Cpl Ernest Fletcher, West Yorkshire Regt, son of Mr Charles E Fletcher of Argyle Villa, Scarborough and formerly of Ashfield House, Thackley, is reported missing. Lieut Ernest W Pearson – son of Mr Walter Pearson of Town Lane, Idle – writing to Mr Fletcher, says: “It is with many regrets that I return your letter addressed to your son, L Cpl E Fletcher. He is posted to us as missing since May 3rd, which day was one of great battle. “He was in my company and I may tell you he was a rattling good fellow, well-liked by all who came into contact with him. As an NCO Lewis Gunner he knew his job. “I can only say how sorry we are to lose him. I am not able to tell you where at present but it is in the place where a great struggle is going on. The regiment has won for itself a great name over here, thanks to all the brave fellows who died so well.
“I do not wish to state definitely as yet but there is a possibility of him being a prisoner of war. I am rather hoping so because we cannot afford to lose such fellows as he. I shall communicate with you as soon as I can gain definite information on him.” L Cpl Fletcher is brother of Miss Nellie Fletcher of Pellon Terrace, Town Lane, and Mrs Laurie Obank, Corona Terrace, Thackley. Gallantly attacking Mr Albert Crowther of Blakehill Cottage, Bradford Road, Idle, has received the following letter from Lieut-Col A C Croydon in reference to his son, Lieut Ernest Crowther.  “I very much regret having to inform you that your son, Lieut E Crowther, of this unit, is reported missing. He took part with the regiment in an action on the 3rd May and when last seen was gallantly attacking an enemy strong point with a number of his men.
“I should like to inform you that your son was one of my best officers, always keen, energetic and fearless in his work, and was one of the true type of British officer. “I sincerely hope that he is a prisoner in the hands of the enemy as he was believed to have been wounded, and that he will return safely to you at the end of hostilities.” Lieut Crowther has been awarded both the DCM and the Military Cross.
Two men missing since the great battle on 3 May
How our gallant boys at the front try to overcome difficulties, make the best of their hardships and learn to adapt themselves to peculiar surroundings and yet enjoy life, may be gathered from their letters. The following was sent by Driver F Light to his parents who live in Northgate, Baildon. Driver Light has been almost two years in France with his brigade and says: “The weather is still of the best. We are still out, resting, and we are having a really good time. No suet “Yesterday the boys were out and as I was mess orderly I had to prepare the meals and clean the billet up etc. “We had got some flour given – enough to make a pudding – but as I could not get any suet, I went and got six fresh eggs and three bottles of milk and made some pancakes. “They turned out ‘extra’ and I put some of the moist sugar on the top. When I set them out on the table upon the boys’ return, you should have seen them smile. “We had fried steak too and I was going to make some ‘Jonathan’ (thick gravy) but the time would not permit me to do so and we had a cup of tea as a final course. Like brothers “After dinner I went to the cookhouse and asked what there was for tea. ‘Figs and bread’ was the reply so I got the figs and stewed them and made some custard to help them down. You may imagine we had a good day of it. “There are sixteen of us and we are like brothers to one another. We have been together all the time since we came out. “I don’t want you to let everybody know about this or they might be jealous of us and want to come out here, thinking we are getting better fed than you people in England But it’s up to ourselves to make the best of our circumstances.”
You should have seen the smiles when I served up pancakes
Mr William Peart of Oxford Street, Clayton, has received official notification that his son, Pte John Peart has been killed in action. Pte Peart, who was only 23 years of age. Along with four other comrades he was returning from the trenches with their machine guns when an enemy shell came over and killed Pte Peart and two others of his comrades. The deceased soldier was a young man of considerable promise. He was an excellent football and cricket player, having assisted the village teams in both sports. Prior to joining the army he was employed as a drawing overlooker by J Benn & Co of Oak Mills.
Sportsman killed by shell
POW rumours unfounded
Rumours have been prevalent that L Cpl George Henry Clegg, of 22 Amelia Street, Saltaire, who was killed on July 1st, is a prisoner of war. These rumours are unhappily entirely unfounded. Mrs Clegg is in possession of the official notification of her husband’s death. L Cpl Clegg was 28 years of age and a GNR employee at Windhill.
Cpl Enos Walton of 811 Harrogate Road, Eccleshill has been wounded in the right hand and is now at a Birmingham hospital. He is a member of the congregational Sunday School and was gymnastic instructor to its club before joining the army.
Gymnast wounded
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