Friday 25 May 1917
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Mr and Mrs Lee of 41 Barrett Street, Shipley, have now received official notification that their eldest son, Rifleman Fred Lee (19), who was reported missing on September 3rd, 1916, has been included among the list of the killed. Mrs Lee received a communication from L Cpl J W Sanderson, in hospital in Lancashire, who wrote: ‘I am sorry to say there is no possible doubt as to your son’s fate. I knew Fred and liked him too well to make any mistakes. Pluck ‘He had only been with us about three weeks but he was already a favourite with all ranks. He was chosen for the important duty of despatch carrying on account of his pluck and intelligence.
‘In September, when he was killed, I remember he had been ordered to stick to Lieut Woodhead, of Bradford, and if we had captured the German position it would have been Fred’s duty to carry messages from that officer to the commander of the battalion. ‘Lieut Woodhead had his leg badly shattered by a shell and I heard he was struck again later and killed. Your boy appeared to have been caught by a shell when we were about halfway across to the first German trench. ‘That was where I found him as I made my way back after getting a machine gun bullet through the hip. Both his arms had been blown off. Had I not been so badly crippled I would have tried to get his body to bury it.
‘There were only about six survivors out of the two hundred men that formed his company and these were all more or less wounded. We were making an attack on a fortified village. Billiards ‘Please accept my heartfelt sympathy in your grievous loss. Your son was a brave soldier and liked by everybody who knew him. I can imagine his parents were fond of him.’ Rifleman Lee attended Shipley Church School and was a member of the Wesleyan Reform Sunday School. He was a well-known local billiard player. After he had left for the front his parents received a medal won by him in connection with the Baildon St Peter’s billiard team. He was employed in the grocery department of the Windhill Industrial Co-operative Society.
‘Missing’ soldier confirmed as killed in action
Not by any means the least of the many war tragedies are those in which the hopes of a promising married partnership have been dispelled at the outset by the loss of the husband in his country’s cause. Such a case formed the subject of a service conducted on Sunday evening by the Rev H Taylor at the Saltaire Road Primitive Methodist Chapel, Shipley. The service, which was of impressive simplicity, was to the memory of L Cpl William Harold Speedie (29) of 19 Maddocks Street, Shipley. L Cpl Speedie was living in Oak Lane, Manningham, when he joined the forces. Intervals of consciousness Not long ago he was married to Miss Belle Naylor, 19 Maddocks Street, obtaining special leave of absence from military duties at West Hartlepool for the purpose. Shortly after marriage he was ordered abroad and had only been away a few weeks when he was seriously wounded. He was conveyed to a French hospital, the matron of which wrote Mrs Speedie to visit him. She arrived in France to find her husband badly wounded and unconscious. She remained several days and during intervals of consciousness he recognised her. She was with him when he died on May 4th and was present at the military funeral the following day.
Killed just weeks after his wedding
Saturday morning’s post brought to the home of Mr and Mrs John Gregory of 76 Victoria Road, Saltaire, the sad intimation that the youngest of their four soldier sons, Sgt Norman K Gregory (24), West Yorkshire Regt., had been killed in action Capt W Ashforth, the officer in charge of the company in which Sgt Gregory was serving, writes that the latter was killed instantly whilst on duty in the trenches. Capt Ashforth speaks of him as a splendid soldier and NCO. Severe fighting Sgt Gregory joined the forces at the outbreak of the war and had been through a good deal of severe fighting. In civil life he had a large circle of friends who will be sorry to hear that he made the supreme sacrifice. Before joining the colours he was in the service of Messrs Driver Bros, of Silsden and formerly was with Messrs Chase Semon and Co, Bradford. An elder brother, Cpl Gilbert Gregory, of the same regiment, has twice been wounded.
Saturday post brings dreaded news
Pte Joe Hopkinson of 8 Wellington St, Eccleshill, who has been home on leave after 12 months service in France, told a few of his interesting experiences to our reporter. His regiment, the Duke of Wellington’s, had done some hard fighting and had lost a lot of their men. He had been wounded twice by shrapnel, one wound being on the right upper wrist and the other in the leg. Warfare took curious turns at times. He was once in the trench to the right of an outward bend of another section of their line. This forward part was heavily shelled with all kinds of explosives but not a single shell or shot was sent against them. Their regiment had been up against the Prussian Guards, who were exceptionally big men, but even these did not care to meet the bayonet, for those who had not surrendered when they saw the cold steel coming had fled like hares to other parts of their lines in the rear. Hopkinson remembered very distinctly entering a German trench with a bombing party. They were told by the officer to bomb a dug-out and after the bombs had been flung in the officer though that was sufficient.
They were going away thinking nothing could live after that when out popped four Germans. They were taken prisoner and put in charge of a Scotchman and sent to the rear but none of them were ever seen after. As they proceeded up the trench he was struck by the size of one dead German for he must have been over seven feet when stood up. In one of the wards of the hospital where he was sent after being wounded, there was a German who was 6ft 5in in height but the dead German he saw in that trench had all the appearances of being a bigger man than the one in the hospital ward. Taking aim On one occasion they were passing up a German trench that had just been captured. The German dead and wounded were still in it and when they had gone past some of the wounded, one of them deliberately took his rifle was on the point of taking aim at them when one of their fellows, who was just entering the trench, saw what the Boche was up to and stopped his little game for ever. You’ve got to keep your eye on the Germans, even when they are wounded.
Wounded man reveals dangers of the trenches
Capt Albert Rhodes, Royal Field Artillery, the youngest son of the late Mr Thomas Rhodes of Hall Royd, Shipley and of Mrs Rhodes, now of Bingley, has been slightly wounded. He enlisted as a trooper in the Yorkshire Dragoons in September 1914 and in July of the following year obtained a commission in the RFA. He was given a captaincy on the day he was wounded.
Promoted and wounded
Preacher’s grandson KIA
Pte Edward Cockshott of 29 Ash Grove, Greengates, a great grandson of the late, well-known local preacher, John Preston of Yeadon, has been killed in action in France. He was 33 years of age and joined the 5th King’s Shropshire Light Infantry in February 1916. He was an old scholar of the Greengates Wesleyan Sunday School with which church the family are still connected.
L Cpl Jesse Firth, Northumberland Fusiliers, son of Mrs Jabez Firth of 40 Albion Road, Idle, has been killed in action. The deceased soldier was a native of Idle but at the time he joined the forces – in August of last year – he resided at Barnsley. By trade he was a baker and he served his apprenticeship with Mr R Sparks. At one time he was associated with the Boys’ Brigade in which Capt John Garnett, of Cavendish Road, still takes a deep interest and with which have been trained many local lads who are now serving their king and country. In this organisation, L Cpl Firth proved himself to be exceedingly smart and attained non-commission rank. He was 28 years of age and had been married for about a year.
Boys’ Brigade lad killed
Railway worker killed
Another of Shipley’s heroes to give his life in his country’s cause has been Rifleman William Hodgetts, King’s Royal Rifles, who has died as the result of wounds. Rifleman Hodgetts was 21 years of age, unmarried and prior to enlisting in August 1914, resided with his mother at 3 Jane Hills, Shipley. Thackley Tunnel He was employed by the Midland Railway Co at Thackley Tunnel as a platelayer. Wounded on April 23rd in the chest, after attention, he was brought to England and placed in the Dorset County Hospital where he died on May 22nd. Thrice previously he had received wounds. Rifleman Hodgetts was a member of the National Union of Railway Workers. He was a quiet, well- respected young man and a member of the Shipley Trades’ Hall.
To Windhill’s Roll of Honour has to be added the name of Cpl James Charles Pearce of the RFA, who has died of wounds. Cpl Pearce was a reservist and at the outbreak of war was employed by Messrs G Hodgson Ltd, the power loom makers, Frizinghall works. He was married and lived at Wrose Hill Terrace, Windhill. His widow, who is left with two children – the elder 8 years – received word on Friday that he had died in hospital in France as a result of wounds to the spine.
Father of two dies
Cpl George William Booth, who joined the Bradford Pals two years ago last January and has gone through 13 months of strenuous service in France, was wounded in both legs on May 1st. He is 23 years of age and is the son of Mr Joseph L Booth, the well- known superintendent of the Bolton Wesleyan Sunday School. The wounded soldier was employed by his father as a joiner and resides at 2 Ivy Place, Idle Road, Bolton.
Wounded in both legs
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