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Born: 24 November 1881, Undercliffe
Died: April 1951
Address: 25 Charnwood Road, Eccleshill
Parents: Thomas & Elizabeth
Spouse: Edith, nee Jackson
Occupation: Labourer, Tunwell Mills
Rolls of Honour:
Children: Richard
Regiment: 1 West Yorkshire
Herbert Clifford
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Herbert Clifford was born 24 November 1881 in Undercliffe, the son of Thomas, who died when Herbert was still a child, and Torquay-born Elizabeth who according to the 1911 census had ten children, six of whom were still living. On 2 April when that census was taken Herbert, his mother and two lodgers were living at 38 Tower Road, Eccleshill but four months later, on 12 August 1911, he married Edith Jackson, who was living at 7 Charnwood Road. The newly weds moved into 25 Charnwood Road. The first we read of Herbert’s war experiences comes in the Shipley Times & Express on 20 November 1914. On September 22, Pte Herbert Clifford of the 1st West Yorkshire Regt was reported missing. It was only recently, however, that his wife, who resides in Charnwood Road, Eccleshill, received a letter informing her that he was a prisoner. He had been wounded in the battle on the Aisne and captured and is now in camp near Cassel in Germany. In his letter he says: ‘Don’t bother about me, for the Germans are very good to us, but we are under strict orders. ‘If we do as they tell us they treat us well. All the same I wish the war was over and then I should be at liberty to come home. We passed through some pretty towns to get to this place.’ Previous to being sent to the front, Pte Clifford was the means of a Germany spy being captured at Cambridge. He was on the reserve when called upon to fight in France, having served his time with the Regular Army and completed eight years of foreign service. Mafeking He went through the South African War and was severely wounded at Mafeking and made a prisoner by the Boers. For this campaign he received the Victoria medal with the bars for Cape Colony, Orange Free State and Transvaal, and the King’s medal with the bars for South Africa 1901 and South Africa 1902. He is a first-class marksman having held the distinction in his regiment for six years in succession. An ‘all round’ cricketer, he has secured several prizes with both bat and ball. On 11 June 1915, the paper reported: The many friends of Pte Herbert
Clifford of Charnwood Road will be sorry to hear that he is lying seriously ill in a German hospital, suffering from an internal complaint. His wife received word to that effect from the War Office this week. Pte Clifford fought with the 1st West Yorks in the Aisne battle and was wounded and captured, being afterwards interned in the concentration camp at Cassel. In the brief messages sent home he has repeatedly said they were treated well if they were obedient to orders but the requests for money and food were suggestive of pressing needs. Edith received a photo from Herbert which the newspaper published on 5 November 1915 with this story: Mrs Clifford of Charnwood Road, has recently received a photograph of her husband who is a prisoner of war and interned in Trieppenubungsplatz camp in Germany. He has been in this camp over 12 months for he was wounded and captured in the battle of Aisne on September 22nd of last year after a night’s fighting. While interned he has been operated upon in hospital for hernia. Another significant fact is that he ‘scales’ 28lb less than formerly. Singing He conducts the singing at the services held on Wednesdays and Sundays but is completely ‘fed up’ with camp life. Only one other Englishman is allowed to be with him in the same hut, the other prisoners being Russian and Frenchmen. In consequence, conversation is very limited but he speaks of the Frenchman as a ‘rare good pal.’ There are so many prisoners in the camp and the food supply is inadequate to meet the growing demand. There are constant requests in his letter for food,
clothing, money and cigs. Pte Clifford was on the reserve when war was declared. He had served 8 years in the regulars and had been stationed in India… He is also an ‘all round’ cricketer, having won prizes with both batting and bowling. Football is another favourite recreation. Collection Herbert hadn’t been forgotten by his workmates as the Shipley Times & Express reported on Christmas Eve 1915 On Saturday morning a collection was taken at Smith & Hutton’s Tunwell Mills to provide a suitable Christmas gift for Pte Herbert Clifford who has been a prisoner of war in Germany for over twelve months… In his brief letters home he made frequent requests for money, food and clothing so his former workmates decided to give him some assistance. Every department in the firm generously contributed and the amount raised was £2 1s. It was a gesture that clearly moved Herbert whose response came on 4 February 1916. A letter has recently come to hand from Pte Herbert Clifford who is interned as a prisoner of war in Germany. The letter was written in reply to one sent, notifying him of the generosity of his former workmates at Tunwell Mills, Eccleshill. He said: ‘I need not tell you what a welcome surprise your letter brought to me for you can easily imagine how pleased I was to receive it. ‘I am not taking the opportunity of thanking all those at the factory for their kind assistance and would like to thank them personally but that not being possible, please tell them I thank them for the bottom of my hear for their kindness to me in my hours of trouble. ‘I suppose, as your letter suggests,
that I shall find the old firm a bit different when I get back which I sincerely hope will not be long now. ‘I am pleased to be able to say that I am enjoying the best of health.’ That is the last we hear of Herbert until 27 December 1918 when we learn: Pte Herbert Clifford, West Yorkshire Regt, who has been a prisoner of war for over four years, arrived home on Saturday. Though bronzed by exposure, he has lost about four stone in weight and says he dare not yet attempt to eat a proper meal. He was wounded after the fight at Mons when he fell into the hands of the Germans. During his captivity in Germany he was in three camps and at one of them there was a too frequent use of both the sword and the bayonet to be pleasant. Cabbage water They received very little food and it was poor stuff at that. Cabbage water for soup, scraps of tinned meat and only a little bread were the main rations. In fact, had it not been for the parcels from home, many of them would have had a poor chance of standing out against their comparative neglect. Pte Clifford was operated on for appendicitis while at one of the camps and the doctor who performed the operation was undoubtedly a clever man but the poor fellows who were afflicted with fever had to get through as they could or go under. On 11th November they were allowed to leave the prison camp and after paying a visit to the town, they eventually boarded a train which took them to Rotterdam. Much needed shave Here they were treated with every kindness. A splendid meal was awaiting them, hot baths were ready and a new suit provided, also a much-needed shave. They were then taken on board a steamer for ‘Blighty.’ As they came across the North Sea, submarines, destroyers and other fighting craft blew their sirens and gave them a hearty greeting. From records on Ancestry we find that Herbert and Edith had at least one son, Richard, born 24 December 1920. When the 1939 Register was taken the family were living at 160 Lumb Lane, Bradford. Herbert is a school caretaker and Richard a commercial motor driver. Herbert died in April 1951.
Herbert (left) with his Russian and French PoW pals