Friday 2 February 1918
Home Page Home Page Home Page Shipley Times & Express base page Shipley Times & Express base page Shipley Times & Express base page
Amongst the English prisoners of war recently repatriated from Germany is Pte J W Roper, who has returned to his home at 5 Rosslyn Terrace, Valley Road, Shipley. Before the war he was employed as a fireclay miner by John R Fyfe & Co of The Shipley Firebrick Works. Being a reservist he was called up to his regiment, the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, on the outbreak of hostilities. Although he did not see a great deal of the fighting, he was engaged in some of the worst, for it was in the retirement from Mons that he was taken prisoner, on 26th August 1914. He was in the same company as Sgt Major William Booth, brother of Mr J J Booth and Mr T A Booth of Idle, who is  still a prisoner of war in Germany. Half-dozen camps In the three years and more of his captivity he has been interned in some half-dozen different camps. He states that after their capture, the men were sent off in cattle trucks, fifty or more of the wounded soldiers being packed in a truck like sardines. He was himself fortunately not wounded but the wounded men, he says, received no medical attention until they arrived at the Doebritz Camp and many were not treated for their wounds for a day or two after that. At that anxious time there appears to have been a representative of practically every regiment of the British Army in the Doebritz Camp.
One of the Hussars men died in the camp three days after arrival and it is suggested that his life might have been saved had he promptly received proper treatment. The accommodation at first consisted mainly of horse tents into which the prisoners were huddled. The men were very verminous (our informant used a different word), having had no change of clothing for a considerable time. From Doebritz Pte Roper was sent to ‘Hungry Hill’ – an ominous name. Half a loaf of bread, which he described as being ‘like putty,’ and some hot coffee, without sugar or milk, formed the morning ration, varied by rice or meal; sometimes it was only coffee and that, being made of acorns, was very bitter, with nothing to eat. Meat Pte Roper says that in 1914 and 1915 the Germans had the food but they refused to give it to the prisoners. Eventually the prisoners were put on two meals a day, one taken at 6
o’clock in the morning and the other about 4 o’clock in the afternoon. He states that he often saw meat go into the kitchen but he never saw it again. His presumption is that, after making the soup, the meat was divided between the Russian prisoners and the Germans themselves. About 2,000 Russian prisoners arrived at the end of October 1914. Food parcels Had it not been for the parcels of food received from England, says Pte Roper, he and his fellow prisoners would not have been able to live. As it was he suffered seriously, became very much depressed and completely lost his health. “It is up to every working man or gentleman,” he observed with much feeling, “to help as much as possible to raise funds to provide food for my pals out there who are prisoners of war. “I am going to try to do the best I can for them now that I have got home.” Asked what kind of work the prisoners were put to, Pte Roper said at first it was mainly the building of huts for the men to live in. Afterwards they were put on road making and tree felling. The working hours in winter were from 8 to 4 and I summer from 6 to 7. For the work inside the camp, no pay was received but when on land work, 3d a day was allowed. Punished The men often objected to the work, of course, and when they protested they were punished by being tied by hands and feet to a pole for two hours at a stretch. In September 1915 Pte Roper was transferred to the camp at Dyrotz which he describes as the best camp he was ever in. Since then,  however, they have all improved and are run on practically the same lines. The prisoners are now treated with less harshness in the camps than they were in 1914 but outside the camps the commanders are still often very severe. Other places in which our informant spent some time were the camp at Cottleus, in Brandenburg, and the Gordon Hospital in the same district. He was ill in hospital for five months and it was because his condition was so bad that he was included amongst the prisoners to be repatriated. They first went to Holland, he says, and were extremely well treated by the Dutch people during the five days they remained in that country. “I do not think our own people could have done more for us,” he remarked, “than the Dutch folk did.” The journey from Rotterdam to Boston and thence to Shipley proved uneventful.
Pte Ernest Kell of the Duke of Wellington’s Regt, younger son of Mr and Mrs R Kell of the Old Hall, Esholt, was one of the 320 prisoners of war who were repatriated a few weeks ago. Pte Kell was amongst the first to join the colours in the groups first called up under the Derby Scheme and after training on Salisbury Plain and in Suffolk, went out to France over a year ago. After experiencing much severe fighting he was missing from 3rd May last. The anxieties of his parents were relieved somewhat when they received a letter from him about six weeks later informing them that he was suffering from wounds, a broken leg, and was a prisoner. Pte Kell was formerly employed in the office at Esholt Hall under the Bradford Corporation. He is now a patient at the St George’s Hospital in London. His brother, Pte George Kell, is on active service in German East Africa with the Frontiersmen Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers having been there since July 1916. Pte Roper before and after internment
Repatriated soldier in London hospital
PoWs only survived thanks to food parcels
Pte Wilfred Lee, son of the late Mr Benjamin Lee of Apperley Lane, Idle, has just been home on leave from the front. Pte Lee joined the colours soon after the war broke out and he has served in France for a couple of years. He has had a rough time of it and has often been at close quarters with Fritz. His impression of the Hun as a fighter is not a high one and he declares that when cornered, the Kaiser’s henchmen will not stick it long. His friend, Sec-Lieut Arthur Barker, son of Mr Tom Barker of Greengates, was also home for a few days and the two spent their ‘holidays’ together.
Sec-Lieut Barker volunteered at the same time as Pte Lee and was much distressed when not accepted. Later he joined the Garrison Artillery and commencing as a gunner, he has worked his way up until at Christmas he was granted a commission. He is in training in a home camp but expects having shortly to go to the front. Captain Alfred Pilley, West Yorkshire Regt, of Capel Street, Calverley, son of Mr and Mrs Seth Pilley, Prospect House, arrived home from France on Monday night for a few days’ leave. He is enjoying very good health and is in the best of spirits.
Enjoying a brief spell at home on leave
Seaman William N Drake, who was on board one of His Majesty’s ships recently torpedoed and sunk, is reported missing. His parents who reside at Hatfield Road, Eccleshill have been notified to this effect from the Admiralty Office.
Torpedoed sailor missing
Battery Sgt Major Percy Teale  of Greengates has been in hospital in Egypt suffering from dysentery. The gallant Sgt Major has been in the Army 11 years, enlisting when 17 years of age. Youngest sergeant He was the youngest sergeant in the Royal Horse Artillery, reaching that rank when 19 years of age, an accomplishment in peace time to be proud of. We understand he has been offered a commission.
Commission on its way
Pte Harold Gregson of the West Yorkshire Regiment died in France recently. Pte Gregson’s home was at 12 Nelson Street, Green Lane, Baildon and many letters of condolence have been received by his widow. Joining up on 7th October 1916, Pte Gregson enlisted in the West Yorkshire Regiment and after training at Clipstone, went out to France in January of last year. He died from nephritis on 9th January 1918. Previous to his enlistment, Pte Gregson was in the employ of Mr W Wallace of Threshfield, as a painter and decorator.
Death of a decorator
Pte Edward Dixon Hall of 7 Victoria Road, Eccleshill, has died in France from pneumonia. He had been on active service for five months and has been buried near Poperinghe. His regiment was the Leeds Rifles and he was formerly employed at W J Whitehead’s Mill, Laisterdyke. He leaves a widow and two young children. Tramways Gunner Ingham Crossley of 353 Idle Road, Bolton, and of the Royal Field Artillery, was killed in action on 22nd December 1917. He had served in France twelve months and was 31 years of age. He was a much respected member of the Bolton Wesleyan choir and Young Men’s Class and previous to enlisting, worked for the Bradford City Tramways for five years.
Two more local men die for the cause
Mr and Mrs Nelson of 28 Airedale View, Leeds Road, Eccleshill are proud that their son Cpl Alfred Nelson of the West Yorkshire Regiment, has been granted a Certificate of Merit for distinguished conduct in the field and devotion to duty. He has been in France 19 months and though he has been through some stiff fighting, he has suffered nothing worse than being slightly gassed and a fractured ankle. He is 23 years of age nad was formerly employed at Holly Park Mill, Calverley.
Certificate of Merit
Newsagent’s son joins up  day after 18th birthday
Frank Senior, youngest son of Mr John Senior, by far the olest newsagent in Shipley, was 18 years old on Sunday and joined up on Monday. Church choir The young recruit has done good service as superintendent of the junior department of the Windhill Parish Church Sunday School, as a member of the Church choir and deputy organist. He is an enthusiastic amateur dramatist and has served as secretary of the Shipley Thespian Society and as a prominent member of the Windhill Church Amateur Dramatic Society.
A Shipley soldier, writing his thoughts on the war proposed that ‘the causes of war are threefold but practically one in principle – jealousy, ambition and greed. ‘But the real name of them all is Capitalism. All the wars of history are in the final issue, capitalist wars. Mire ‘The present conflict, which is such a reflection on our Christian civilisation and which has dragged half of humanity into the mire, is the result of the greed and ambition of the German race to extend their empire and to rule the world with Prussian militarism.’
Capitalism is to blame
Read more about 8 February 1918 Read more about 8 February 1918 Read more about 8 February 1918