Family history

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.

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.

Military Monday – Arthur Dawson (1879-1944)

Arthur Dawson is my 1st cousin 2x removed – our common ancestors are my 2x great grandparents John Dawson and Ellen Gawthrop.

Arthur is the brother of Prince Dawson and John Dawson – his parents are John Dawson and Elizabeth Bradley. He was born 18 July 1879 and lived at Steeton with Eastburn about three miles from Keighley, West Yorkshire.

Before I found his WW1 service records I knew that Arthur married Lily Cockshott sometime in Q2 1906 and their marriage is recorded in the Keighley registration district. They had one child – a son, Eric born in 1909.

Arthur enlisted on 30 August 1916 in Keighley and was assigned to 7th West Yorkshire Regiment. His service number is 238029. He was 37 years old. At the time of his conscription he was living at 19 School Street, Steeton with Eastburn. His trade is given as ‘mason’.

The enlistment documents also show that Arthur had previous service in the Royal Engineers.

His service papers provided confirmation of the date of marriage to Lily – 10 April 1906. They also give Eric’s date of birth as 21 October 1909 – so more information for my tree. However his service record through up a bit of surprise. There is another son shown – Alan with a date of birth of 3 March 1911.

I have the 1911 census record for Arthur, Lily and Eric – but no Alan.

I have been able to find a birth for Alan Dawson at the right time and in the right location but no trace of him in the 1911 census. So, I searched for a death and found a record for Alan Dawson who died in Leeds in 1977 with a date of birth given as 3 April 1911.

Could this be the answer to my conundrum?  Maybe 3 March 1911 was incorrect. The 1911 census was undertaken on the night of 2 April 1911. So Alan could have been born the following day and that is why he is not recorded. I’m happy with this solution and have now added Alan to my family tree.

Anyway, back to Arthur and his war service.

It seems that Arthur was at home until 3 January 1917. The following day he embarked for France, returning home again after 105 days on 18 April 1917. There is reference to him serving in the Royal Defence Corps (RDC) – the role of this regiment was to provide security and guard duties inside the United Kingdom.

Arthur was finally discharged on 23 March 1919.

Sunday Snap – Holiday Photo’s

Summer holidays when I was a young boy were taken at British seaside resorts. We regularly went to Blackpool and Cleethorpes for a week.  I also recall going to Great Yarmouth and Scarborough.

We stayed in a traditional seaside guesthouse for bed, breakfast, dinner and evening meal.

So a typical day – depending on weather – would include time on the beach, donkey rides, going to amusement arcades, rides at the Pleasure Beach or fun fair, and wandering around the town. In the evening parents might go to see a show at the theatre. I have memories of my dad taking me / us to a local cafe for a mug of Horlicks before bedtime.

One of the traditions at the end of the week was for a group photograph to be taken of all the people staying at the guesthouse. Here are two taken sometime during the 1950’s

On this one I am sat with my mum – second from the right (marked with a x). My dad is on the back row – again marked with a x.

On this next one I am stood in the middle in front of my mum. My grandma is next to us but I don’t who the young lad is in front of her. My granddad is third from left on the back row and my dad fifth from the left.

I don’t know for sure where either photograph was taken – I’m sure my mum might remember if I ask her. I think we went to Great Yarmouth with my grandparents so I guess the photograph just above could be from that holiday.

Does anyone else have similar memories of going on holiday and having a group photograph taken at the end of the week?

Military Monday – Tom Hurtley (1897-1977)

Tom Hurtley is my great uncle – my grandmother’s brother.  His birth is registered in the September quarter of 1897 and he is the sixth of seven children born to James Hurtley and Ellen Paley.

I have been lucky enough to find what remains of Tom’s WW1 service records on www.ancestry.co.uk but sadly the quality of them is not very good.

Tom enlisted in February 1916 and in August he was appointed to the West Riding Regiment.  His service number was 203517.  Occupation at the time of enlisting is shown as ‘cowman’ – he worked on his father’s farm at Town Head, Cononley, West Yorkshire.

The ‘medical history sheet’ shows that he was examined in Halifax, West Yorkshire on 19 August 1916.  He is said to be 5 feet 5.5 inches tall and weighing 117lbs.  His physical development is described as good.

According to the ‘military history sheet’ Tom was at home from 19 August 1916 to 13 December 1916.

He embarked on 14 December 1916 heading to France.  The next piece of information I can find is that Tom appears to have been awarded the Military Medal for ‘bravery on the field’ – the date looks to be 4 October 1918 – see what you think below.

The extract above also shows that he was wounded on 11 October 1918.

Tom was finally ‘demobbed’ on 26 October 1919.  However, like many of his comrades he was retained in 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.

Tom married Ada Binns sometime in the September quarter of 1922.  They had one daughter, Ellen, born in 1923.

I remember as a young boy visiting relatives in Cononley with my parents in the early 1960’s and can recall meeting Tom and Ada.  Little did I realise at the time how much there was to admire about Tom and his bravery.

Tom died in 1977 aged about 80.

Military Medal

Military Monday – Jim Hurtley (1887-1947)

Jim Hurtley is my great uncle – he is my grandmother’s brother.  He was born about January 1887 to parents James Hurtley and Ellen Paley.

In the 1901 census his occupation is given as ‘bobbin turner’ and in 1911 he is described as ‘manager at hay and straw merchant’.  At the time he was living in the village of Cononley near Skipton in Yorkshire.

Jim married Jessie Leeming on 28 March 1910 and their daughter Alice was born on 20 September the same year.

When the war came he enlisted in the army at Keighley, West Yorkshire on 9 December 1915 at the age of 28 years 11 months.  His occupation at the time is given as ‘warehouseman’.  His service number is 185500.  I’m not sure what happened over the next ten months because the next piece of information shows that he had a medical examination in Halifax, West Yorkshire on 14 October 1916 and was appointed to the Royal Regiment of Artillery on 18 October 1916.

Details of Jim’s area of action are not recorded in any great detail.  I do know that he embarked from Southampton on 17 May 1917.   He then embarked from another port (record unclear) on 27 June 1917 and landed in Alexandria, Egypt on 6 July 1917.

Jim was wounded in action on 9 March 1918 but he ‘remained at duty’.

There is no more information about his service until he embarked from Port Said on 30 January 1919 to return to England.  He was discharged from the army and issued with a ‘protection certificate’ and certificate of identity on 10 February 1919.  However, like many of his comrades Jim was retained in 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.

In 1921 Jiim received his British War and Victory Medals.

Jim and Jessie had two further children – Jim (born about September 1920) and Phyllis (born about September 1924).

Jim died at the age of 60 in 1947.