Month: March 2012

RMS Cumberland – Postcard #19

Here is a very battered , torn and creased postcard which has been in my family for almost 70 years.  The card shows RMS Cumberland at Barrow in Furness

There is no publisher or printer information.

The postcard was sent from Barrow on 13 July 1942 to my grandparents, Mr & Mrs J Dawson, 7 Ellis Street, Brinsworth, Rotherham, Yorkshire.

Unfortunately I have no idea who sent the card. You will see that there are only some initials to indicate who wrote to my grandparents – they could have been friends or relatives, I simply don’t know.

The message says

Dear A & J

Everyone landed here OK and quite happy to be together. Sorry to say it looks like rain but hoping for better weather later as  the tide goes out.

All the best.

C. G. TD & MO

The message is intriguing. And I also wonder whether or not the RMS Cumberland is more important to the story than just appearing on the front of the postcard.

Does the use of the word ‘landed’ suggest that perhaps they travelled to Barrow in Furness on the RMS Cumberland?  Does the phrase ‘quite happy to be together’ suggest that before they arrived in Barrow then they were not together. Does ‘everyone’ mean a larger group of people than just C. G. TD and MO?

I did wonder if ‘they’ had been evacuated from Rotherham – but then I thought Barrow, with its shipyard, was probably not a place people were evacuated to. However this link on Wikipedia – Barrow Blitz – suggests that the last bombs of the blitz fell on Barrow in January 1942 and the last air-raid siren was sounded on 25 March 1942.

Also further research suggests that Rotherham did not loom large on German maps and only suffered two serious raids – both in August 1940. Maybe C. G. TD and MO came from somewhere else.

Anyway, I could go on trying to imagine the story behind the message on the postcard, but I need to just accept it as a piece of family history and leave it there.

Military Monday – William Dawson (1880-1939)

William Dawson is my great grandfather’s cousin. Our common ancestors are my 4x great grandparents John Dawson and Ann Watson.  He was born in Cowling, West Yorkshire on 9 October 1880 to parents Matthew Dawson and Ann Brigg.

William married Lucilla Whitaker on 29 February 1912. They had two children

• Matthew – born 19 September 1912

• Mary – born 9 March 1914

On 28 May 1918 William enlisted in Halifax at the age of 37 years 213 days. He was assigned to the 6th West Riding Regiment. At the time of his enlistment he was working as a ‘warp dresser’. His service number was 52089.

According to his service papers on www.ancestry.co.uk William left for France on 12 October 1918. He returned to England less than six weeks later on 20 November 1918 having received ‘gun shot wounds’ to both his thighs.

William was finally discharged on 6 May 1919 under King’s Regulation 392 (xvi) being no longer physically fit for war service.

The extract below indicates the degree of William’s disablement – and I think it says 38%. There are also some details of his pension and it looks like he was awarded £0.8s.3d per week from 7 May 1919 to be reviewed after 52 weeks. Also an allowance of £0.3s.6d per week for his two children from 26 May 1919.

William died about twenty years later – his death is registered in Q3 of 1939.

World Poetry Day

Today is World Poetry Day so I thought I would share  two poems for all my fellow genealogists.

Your Ancestors

If you could see your ancestors all standing in a row,
Would you be proud of them?  Or don’t you really know?
Strange discoveries are often made, in climbing the family tree.
Sometimes one is found in line who shocks the progeny.

If you could see your ancestors all standing in a row,
Perhaps there might be one or two you wouldn’t care to know.
Now turn the question right about and take another view.
When you shall meet your ancestors, will they be proud of you?

Author Unknown

Dear Ancestor

Your tombstone stands among the rest; neglected and alone.
The name and date are chiseled out on polished, marble stone.
It reaches out to all who care; it is too late to mourn.
You did not know that I exist; you died and I was born.

Yet each of us are cells of you in flesh, in blood, in bone.
Our blood contracts and beats a pulse entirely not our own.
Dear Ancestor, the place you filled one hundred years ago.
Spreads out among the ones you left who would have loved you so.

I wonder as you lived and loved, I wonder if you knew
That someday I would find this spot, and come to visit you.

Author Unknown

Edisford Bridge – Postcard #18

This is a postcard of Edisford Bridge, near Clitheroe in Lancashire.

The card is from the Valentine’s Series and was printed in Great Britain. It is postally unused and in good condition. There is no date but there is a serial number – 62116.

Research on the Internet suggests that the photograph was registered in 1909 but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the postcard dates from the same period. My feeling is that it might be a more modern reproduction.

In any event I purchased the postcard because of the location. I know that when my parents were ‘courting’ they used to go to Edisford Bridge.

Edisford Bridge incorporates the structure of a five arched bridge possibly dating from 1339. Today the bridge has nine spans and is considerably wider than the original. It is thought that a timber bridge had been constructed on the same spot even earlier.

Edisford – “the nobleman’s ford” or Anglo-Saxon nobleman – was the scene of an 1139 battle, where King David of Scotland’s army fought and defeated the less numerous Lancastrians.

The bridge is located about a mile west of Clitheroe Castle and is the subject of a noted painting by Turner.

For bridge enthusiasts here’s a link to more information – Transport Heritage.

Here’s the painting by Turner c.1799

I’ve never been to Edisford Bridge – I will have to put it on my ‘to do list’ – maybe this summer.

Military Monday – Watson Emmott Dawson (1887-1944)

Watson Emmott Dawson is my 1st cousin 3x removed.  Our common ancestors are my 4x great grandparents John Dawson and Ann Watson.

Watson was born in Cowling, West Yorkshire, on 24 June 1887 to parents Thomas Dawson and Jane Emmott.

On the 3 April 1917 Watson went to Halifax and enlisted in the 4th West Riding Regiment.  His service number was 205100.

Just fifteen weeks later, on 18 July 1917, Watson was discharged from service with a £50 gratuity. He was described as being ‘physically unfit’.

Watson was admitted to the Wharncliffe War Hospital in Sheffield on 30 May 1917 for assessment. Unfortunately the written transcript is not very clear. But I can make out some of the words and phrases.

His behaviour is described as ‘childish’ and it is also reported that Watson believed that he was ‘the King of Greece’.

The Medical Board report cites the reason for his discharge as ‘imbecility’. It goes on to say that the condition originated at birth and was ‘not the result of or aggravated by ordinary military service.’

I feel sad for Watson. Whatever the circumstances here he was most probably ill and went through a difficult experience.

Watson lived until the age of 57. His death is registered in Q4 of 1944.

Dick Hudson’s – Postcard #17

This is a postcard from my own collection.

The picture is of the locally famous Dick Hudson’s in Eldwick, near Bingley, West Yorkshire.

The postcard has some damage to the corners and the back, mainly from being stuck in an album and then removed. Any publisher information is obscured by the damage to the back of the card.

You can see below that the postcard has been postally used. The date is 9 March 1917. I would guess that the card has been sent to a young man fighting in WW1, although there is no postal address.

The text on the card is:-

Dear Fred

Packed your parcel tonight and hope you get it in good condition. The weather is still very winterly and bitterly cold. Had snow all the week. Hope you are keeping well considering state of affairs.

The rest of the text is not very clear. It certainly mentions father and mother but I’m not sure if it was sent by Fred’s parents or if the sender is just mentioning them.

Dick Hudson’s itself has no family connection at all. The pub is still there and I have visited several times.

Since the 17th century there has been a traveller’s tavern on what was an old pack horse trail from Bingley to Ilkley. The original tavern called ‘The Plough Boy’ was at a former farmhouse at Rattle Bank on the Otley Road. However following construction of a new road the liquor license of the old pub was transferred to a Mr Tommy Anderson at Highgate Farm – the site of the present day pub.

Back in 1809 the farm and the public house – now called ‘The Fleece Inn’ became the property of Thomas Hudson in whose family they remained until 1895. Thomas passed on ‘The Fleece Inn’ to his son Richard in 1850 and he stayed as landlord for nearly thirty years. It was during ‘Dick’s’ stewardship that the tavern became so popular with Airedale’s urban workers resulting in the more familiar name of ‘Dick Hudson’s’.

Two other members of the Hudson family subsequently ran the pub following the death of the celebrated Dick Hudson in 1878.

Towards the end of the 19th century an Austrian business man became proprietor of the inn and had great plans to commercialise the site with fountains and pleasure gardens . None of these plans came to pass but in 1900 the old farmhouse and tavern were demolished and replaced by the present day building. The first landlord of this new inn was Mr J Newsome who was succeeded by his brother in law in 1913.

If you ever happen to be in the area it’s well worth a visit – Dick Hudson’s

Military Monday – Harry Dawson (1895-1954)

Harry Dawson is my great uncle – he was my grandfather’s brother.  He was born on 25 March 1895 in Keighley, West Yorkshire, to parents James Dawson and Emma Buckley.

I recently found Harry’s naval records on The National Archives website – before then I had no idea at all that he had served in the navy during WW1.

This is my first attempt at interpreting naval records so I am not very confident at deciphering the information.

It looks like Harry signed up on 24 June 1914 for  five years service.  Until 22 October 1914 he served on / at Victory II.  From the research I have done I understand Victory II was the Crystal Palace / Sydenham training base.

His next posting was to the Lion class battlecruiser HMS Princess Royal on 23 October 1914.  Harry served on this ship until 31 May 1919.  This means that he would have fought in some of the major sea battles of the time – Battle of Dogger Bank and Battle of Jutland.

HMS Princess Royal (courtesy of Wikipedia)

From 1 June 1919 to 24 June 1919 he served on the Edgar cruiser HMS Crescent.  He was then back to Victory II until he was ‘demobbed’ on 26 July 1919.

When ‘demobbed’ Harry was transferred to the Royal Fleet Reserve.

His service record shows that he then served between 12 April 1921 to 7 June 1921 at Victory II.

Harry Dawson - Navy Record

Cowling – Postcard #16

This is a postcard from my own collection – one I have recently bought.  The view is of Keighley Road, Cowling, with the old Co-op building on the left hand side.

If you are a regular reader of my blog you might remember that the village of Cowling is an important part of my ancestral roots.  The village falls under North Yorkshire County Council.  But the Royal Mail post code is BD22 which means it is a North Yorkshire village with a West Yorkshire post code.

I prefer to think of it as being in West Yorkshire.

Anyway, I digress.

The postcard is part of The Wrench Series with the number 6679 and was printed in Saxony.

I understand the company was established as E Wrench in 1900 at 20 Haymarket, London, and soon moved to Arthur Street, London.  It then became E Wrench Ltd in 1902.   The company held a large percentage of the postcard market in the early 1900’s.  In 1904 the name changed to Wrench Postcards but they soon ran into difficulties and closed sometime between 1904 and 1906.  The main problems appear to have been caused through exclusively selling its own cards.

The card has been postally used as you can see below.

It was posted in Cross Hills on 11 December 1903 and sent to Miss M H Smith at 19 Mosley Street, Nelson, Lancashire.  The postcard was sent by someone described as her ‘better haaf’ with ten kisses.

I was interested to find out what became of Miss M H Smith so I checked the 1911 census and found her still living at 19 Mosley Street, Nelson.  Her full name is Martha Hannah Smith and she is 25 years old, which means she was born about 1886.  Her place of birth is given as Colne, Lancashire.  The census shows her as being single and living with her parents Holmes and Betty Smith.  Also at home are two siblings, a sister Sarah Jane aged 32 and a brother Albert Edward aged 18.

I was left wondering what happened between Martha and her ‘better haaf’.  I decided to do a bit more research.

I found a marriage for Martha H Smith in Q1 of 1916 in the Burnley registration district.  She married Francis C Smith.  So a good start, the marriage is in the right area at least.

I also found a death record for Martha H Smith in Q3 1966 in the Worth Valley registration district.  She was 80 years old when she died – which means she was born in 1886.  Could this be the same person I wondered.

Worth Valley district covers the town of Keighley which is not a million miles from Cowling, Colne and Nelson.  It was common for people to move across the Lancashire / Yorkshire border – between Cowling and Colne – to live and to work.

So while I can’t be 100% sure I really feel that this is the Miss M H Smith who received the postcard in 1903.

Military Monday – Clifford Dawson (1900-1953)

Clifford is my 1st cousin 2x removed – he was my granddad’s cousin.  Our common ancestors are my 2x great grandparents John Dawson and Ellen Gawthrop. Clifford was born in Keighley, West Yorkshire, sometime in Q3 1900 to parents Joseph Dawson and Elizabeth Hannah Barrett.

Clifford enlisted in the army on 2 August 1918 and was called up for service on 27 August. His age is given as 18 years 24 days and his occupation is described as ‘iron turner’. He was assigned to the 53rd Durham Light Infantry. His service number was 113260.

Details of Clifford’s war activity are unclear. But I have been able to discover that he was stationed in Cologne, Germany during 1919. I know this because I have information about two misconduct charges in his service records on www.ancestry.co.uk.

On 16 May 1919 he was charged with ‘neglect of duty including a dirty locker’. I can’t make out the punishment for this offence.

Three months later on 24 August 1919 he was charged with being ‘late on dinner parade’. Clifford’s punishment for this was ‘3 days C B’ – confined to barracks.

Clifford was demobilized on 24 March 1920 and transferred to the Class Z Reserve.

Class Z Reserve was authorised by an Army Order of 3 December 1918. There were fears that Germany would not accept the terms of any peace treaty, and therefore the British Government decided it would be wise to be able to quickly recall trained men in the eventuality of the resumption of hostilities. Soldiers who were being demobilised, particularly those who had agreed to serve “for the duration”, were at first posted to Class Z. They returned to civilian life but with an obligation to return if called upon. The Z Reserve was abolished on 31 March 1920.

Sunday Snap – Nurse or Maid?

This is another photograph from my own collection. Continuing a theme that I seem to have been following recently it is another group image.

When I first looked at the photograph I was convinced they were nurses, possibly in the grounds of the hospital where they worked. The more I have studied the image I am less certain.

I now wonder if they could be domestic servants – house maids, kitchen maids and cooks.

Why do I think that, well:-

• the woman in the middle of the back row appears to be wearing a chef’s hat

• the woman on the right side of the middle row seems to be holding what looks like cleaning materials

I have a couple of other photographs of this same group and although you can’t make it out very well the woman front right is holding a tennis racket. I suppose it is possible that hospital’s had tennis courts but I think it is unlikely.

I’ve seen my mum today and she can’t shed any light on the photograph at all. We have plenty of domestic servants in our family tree so I am assuming that perhaps one of the people is an ancestor.

But as with many of the photographs in my collection it will probably forever remain a mystery. As piece of social history maybe my descendants might find it as interesting as I do.