On a recent visit to Cononley village looking for ancestral graves at St. John’s church we photographed Cononley Institute and War Memorial. I have one relative named on the memorial – Jack Hurtley Thompson who I previously wrote about here.
Because Cononley had such a big part in my dad’s early life – he was evacuated there to stay with his aunts and uncles during WW2 – I decided I would try to write a brief biography of all the people named on the War Memorial.
For my research I used various online resources. The most valuable being Craven’s Part in the Great War. This website has details of all the local people who lost their lives in WW1 including photographs, family information, military records and newspaper articles.
I also used information from:-
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Find My Past
IN GRATEFUL REMEMBERANCE OF THE CONONLEY MEN WHO HEROICALLY GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR GOD, KING, AND COUNTRY
George William Gott (1893-1918)
George was born in Cowling, West Yorkshire – his birth is registered in the September quarter of 1893. His parents were James William Gott and Sarah Ellen Heaton of Gill Top, Cowling. He had a younger brother, Samuel John born in 1900.
In the 1911 census George was living as a boarder at 18 Aireview, Cononley – the home of Hannah Wormwell, a widow. He was working in the printing trade as a compositor.
George enlisted in Keighley, West Yorkshire on 10 December 1915 and his service number was 17994. He was initially assigned to the Army Reserve and was eventually mobilised on 22 January 1916 as a Private with the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment.
He was posted to the 9th Battalion of the West Riding Regiment and on 1 September 1916 George embarked for France as part of the British Expeditionary Force. He returned to England on 5 December 1916.
Six months later George was posted to the 2nd Battalion, West Riding Regiment and embarked from Folkstone on 10 June 1917 arriving in Boulogne the same day. Shortly after arriving in France he was posted to the 1/4 Battalion, West Riding Regiment on 27 June 1917.
During October 1917 George was admitted to hospital at least four times with a condition described on his medical card as I.C.T. – which I understand is “inflamed connective tissue”. This was a condition experienced by many soldiers due to the amount of marching done and the poor weather conditions experienced for long periods in the trenches.
On 13 April 1918 George was reported missing – presumed to have died in service.
There is a manuscript note in his service records saying that George was “buried in isolated grave at roadside, 1.5 miles west of Loker, 2.25 miles north of Bailleul.
According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website George is now buried at Mont Noir Military Cemetery, St. Jans-Cappel, France.
Harry Grimston (1882-1918)
Harry was born in Pateley Bridge, Yorkshire – his birth is registered in the June quarter of 1882. His parents were George Grimston and Louisa Dale. He was one of eight children born to George and Louisa.
In the 1911 census Harry was living as a boarder with his uncle and aunt, Tom and Annie Petty, at Longroyd Farm, Earby, Yorkshire. He was working as a stone mason.
Sometime in the March quarter of 1916 Harry married Hannah Green in Keighley, West Yorkshire. They had two children – Alex and Nellie.
Harry enlisted in the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment in Cross Hills, West Yorkshire – he was a Private in the 2/4th Battalion and his service number was 267211.
He was killed on 24 May 1918. According to reports in the local newspapers at the time, Louisa received official notice that Harry had been killed by the bursting of a shell on a dugout in which he and another man were sleeping. At the time Louisa was living at Aireside, Cononley.
Harry is buried at Bienvillers Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.
Hannah Grimston remarried in 1927 to James P Madden. She passed away in 1964.
Basil Spencer Jennings (1890-1915)
Basil was born on 12 April 1890 to parents Jonathan Sutcliffe Jennings and Hannah Mary Spencer. He was baptised on 22 Jun 1890 at St. Mary’s, Riddlesden, near Keighley.
In the 1911 census Basil was living at home in Keighley with his widowed mother and his brother and sister, Roland Spencer and Doris Spencer. He was working as a clerk.
When war broke out Basil was in Morocco. He immediately returned home end enlisted in the King Edward’s Horse cavalry regiment. He subsequently transferred to the infantry and was given a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant with the 14th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment.
Basil went to the Dardanelles in 1915. He died at Suvla on 7 November 1915 from wounds received trying to save one of his men. He is buried at Hill 10 Cemetery in Turkey.
Cyril Lee (1891-1917)
Cyril was born on 26 September 1891 in Cononley to parents Frederick Lee and Miriam Fitchett. He was the second of seven children.
In the 1911 census Cyril was living at Aire View in Cononley with his widowed mother and his siblings. He was working as a weaver.
On 16 November 1914 Cyril married Lily Dobson at St. John’s church, Cononley. His occupation on the marriage certificate is shown as “Sergeant in Army”. They had a son, Denis, born 13 February 1915.
Cyril was the first Cononley boy to voluntarily enlist from the village in September 1914. He served in the 2nd/6th Battalion of the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment and was quickly promoted to Sergeant.
Cyril took part in the charge at Bullecourt on 3 May 1917 and was seriously wounded. Because of heavy bombardment by the German lines he was left out in the open for four days and five nights before he could be rescued to a dressing station. Sadly it proved necessary to amputate his right leg, but unfortunately on account of the long exposure pneumonia had set in, and he died on 15 May 1917.
Cyril is buried at Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.
Lily didn’t marry again and she passed away on 28 December 1979.
Norman Muller (1886-1918)
Norman was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire on 4 January 1886 to parents George Herbert Muller and Josephine Wadsworth. He had one older brother, John.
In the 1911 census the family were living at 28 Park Grove, Frizinghall, Bradford. Norman was employed as a salesman of cotton, silk and worsted yarns.
On 30 January 1915 Norman married Doris Spencer Jennings at Saints Philip and James, Clifton, West Yorkshire. They had one daughter, Josephine in 1917. Doris is the sister of Basil Spencer Jennings mentioned earlier in this post.
At the time of his marriage Norman was a Captain in the 6th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment (the Bradford Rifles). His father, George Herbert, was at the same time commanding officer of the 16th (Bradford) Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment. His brother John, was also a Captain in the Bradford Rifles.
Norman was invalided home a couple of times and returned to the front line. In Spring 1918 he was sent back to France for the last time. On 28 July 1918 Norman was leading “C” Company 8th Battalion (Leeds Rifles) in the battle for the capture of Montaigne de Bligny when he was killed in action.
Norman is buried at Chambrecy British Cemetery, Marne, France.
Doris never remarried and she passed away on 4 September 1969.
Tom Millward (1897-1917)
Tom was born at Glasshouses near Pateley Bridge, Yorkshire in 1897 to parents Joseph Millward and Sarah Ellen Ingleby.
In the 1911 census Tom is living at Aireside, Cononley with his widowed father and nine siblings. At the age of 13 he is working as a millhand doffer.
Tom enlisted for military service on 7 January 1916 and was initially assigned to the Army Reserve. He was mobilised and posted on 29 August 1916 as a Private in the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment. His service number was 6231.
Tom was hospitalised with illness in March 1917 while serving with “A” Company, 1st/4th Battalion of the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment. He died on 18 March 1917 as the result of blood poisoning which started in his right arm and quickly spread to his shoulder and back.
He is buried at Calais Southern Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.
John William Rogers (1895-1917)
John was born in Lothersdale, Yorkshire to parents Thomas Rogers and Martha Stansfield – his birth is registered in the December quarter of 1895.
In the 1911 census John is with his father Thomas and brother, Lowess, at Grove Street, Earby, Yorkshire. He is employed as a cotton weaver.
John married Christiana Collins sometime in the June quarter of 1915 – the marriage is registered in Skipton, Yorkshire. They had one daughter, Ivy.
John was a Private in the Northumberland Fusiliers – his service number was 29/595. He went missing on 9 April 1917 while serving with the 21st (Tyneside Scottish) Battalion. He is commemorated on the Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.
Fred Spencer (1887-1918)
Fred (Frederick) was born at Kirk Sandall, near Doncaster to parents Francis Spencer and Alice Speak. His birth is registered in the June quarter of 1887.
In the 1911 census Fred is recorded at Mountain House, Queensbury, near Bradford. He is a boarder in the home of Amelia Davoren. He is employed as a warehouseman. In the same census his parents and two sisters Alice and Sarah are at Springbank, Cononley.
Fred served in the 62nd Battalion of the Machine Gun Corps. with a service number of 142556.
He was killed in action on 9 April 1918 and is buried at Bienvillers Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.
Charles Stoddart (1879-1915)
Charles was born in Bramley, Leeds, West Yorkshire to parents Thomas Laycock Stoddart and Sarah Ann Gaskell. His birth is registered in the December quarter of 1879.
In the 1901 census Charles was living at Sun Street, Cononley with his widowed mother and siblings. He was employed as a stone mason. In the 1911 census Charles was still working as stone mason but was now in Fleetwood, Lancashire.
During WW1 Charles served as a Private in the 2nd Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers – his service number was 2635.
Charles was killed in action on 7 July 1915. He is buried at Talana Farm Cemetery, West Vlaanderen, Belgium.
Percival George Scott (1888-1919)
Percival was born in Leeds on 21 May 1888. His parents are John Rhodes Scott and Susannah Quilter Witham. He was baptised on 17 June 1888 at St. Clement’s church, Sheepscar, Leeds.
Sometime in the September quarter of 1909 Percival married Isabella Grace Scott – the marriage is registered at Skipton, Yorkshire.
In the 1911 census Percival and Isabella are living at Watkin Street, Colne, Lancashire. Percival is employed as a platelayer with the Midland Railway Company. The couple moved to Cononley in April 1914.
During WW1 Percival served in the Royal Navy Sick Berth Reserve (RNSBR).
Before the war Percival was a member of the Colne Branch of the St. John Ambulance Association, and the day following the declaration of war he received a telegram to report to the R.N.S.B.R. Hospital at Chatham. He proceeded there at once, and two months later he was transferred to Shotley Hospital, Harwich.
He remained at Shotley Hospital until his death on 31 March 1919 after an operation for appendicitis.
Percival is buried at St. Mary’s churchyard, Embsay, near Skipton.
Isabella never remarried and she passed away in 1976.
Harold Edward Shingler (1893-1918)
Harold was born in Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire on 24 April 1893 to parents William Shingler and Sarah Jane Stevenson. He was baptised at St. Paul’s church on 17 May 1893.
In the 1911 census Harold is living at Water Street, Stoke on Trent with his widowed mother and three other siblings.
Sometime around 1912 Harold moved to Cononley to work as an electrical engineer for Messrs. Horace Green & Co.
When war was declared Harold enlisted for service in Keighley in September 1914. Just over a year later he embarked for France on 16 November 1915 as a Rifleman in the Kings Own Rifle Corps. His service number was C/802. He served in “D” Company 16th (Service) Battalion (Church Lads Brigade) attached to the 33rd Division.
Harold was killed on 12 October 1918. It is believed his body lay on the battlefield until 26 October on which day it was interred between the villages of Montay and Neuvilly. He now buried at Montay-Neuvilly Road Cemetery, Nord, France.
Ernest Speight (1893-1918)
Ernest was born in Leeds on 23 December 1893. His parents are Samuel Speight and Susannah Stead Clark.
On 29 May 1915 Ernest married Matilda Berry at St. James church, Bolton, Bradford, West Yorkshire. Ernest’s occupation on the marriage certificate is given as Railway Porter. Before enlisting for service Ernest was employed as a porter at Cononley railway station and he and Matilda were living at Aire View in the village.
Ernest joined the Navy on 19 July 1917 as an Ordinary Seaman – his service number was J/73844. He served on board HM Trawler Gambri – a Grimsby trawler requisitioned by the Admiralty in April 1917 and converted for minesweeping.
On 18 January 1918 the Gambri struck a mine three-quarters of a mile off the Royal Sovereign Light Vessel, Sussex and sank with the loss of twenty-one men. Mines had been laid in the area earlier that day by the German submarine UC71 (Ernst Steindorff).
Ernest is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Hampshire.
Robert Coates Walker (1898-1917)
Robert was the son of Charles Walker and Mary Elizabeth Coates. He was born in Cononley in 1898 and baptised at St. John’s church in the village on 10 July 1898.
In the 1911 census Robert, his parents and siblings are living at Prospect House, Cononley and Robert is still at school.
Robert enlisted in February 1916 and was posted to the Training Reserve Battalion at Hornsea, Yorkshire – his service number was 37118. He was subsequently transferred to the 16th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers.
Robert was killed in action on 14 September 1917. He is buried at Coxyde Military Cemetery, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium
Willie Webster (1895-1918)
Willie was born at Harden Kelbrook, Yorkshire in 1895 – his birth is registered at Skipton in the March quarter. His parents are Hartley Webster and Agnes Whitaker.
In the 1911 census Willie, his parents and sister Ellen Elizabeth are living at Moor Top Farm, Cononley. Willie is working on the family farm.
Willie enlisted with the 90th Battalion Training Reserve in January 1917 – his service number was 41534. Subsequently Willie served as a Lance Corporal with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, “D” Company 2nd Battalion, 36th (Ulster) Division.
Willie died from gas poisoning in France on 21 March 1918. He is buried at St. Souplet British Cemetery, Nord, France.
Harry Wilson (1895-1919)
Harry was born at Bolton Abbey, West Yorkshire to parents Nathan Wilson and Sarah Naylor. His birth is registered at Skipton in the March quarter.
In the 1911 census Harry, his parents and five siblings are living at 11 Skipton Road, Cononley. Harry is working as a weaver.
Harry enlisted with the 1/5th Battalion Duke of Wellington’s West Yorkshire Regiment in December 1915. He was sent to France in April 1916. After wounded in the battle of the Somme and at Passchendaele he and spent some time at home. Harry was also gassed at Nieuport while serving with the 2nd Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment.
He survived the war and was demobbed in March 1919. Very sadly the awful effects of the poisonous gas eventually took its toll on Harry’s health. He died on 1 December 1919. He is buried at St. John’s church, Cononley.
Thomas Clifford Whiteoak (1894-1916)
Thomas was born in 1894 in Lothersdale, Yorkshire to parents Alfred Whiteoak and Margaret Ellen Boocock. He was baptised on 24 June 1894 at Christ Church, Lothersdale.
In the 1911 census Thomas, his parents and sister Olga Mary are living at Wedding Hall Fold, Lothersdale. Thomas is working on the family farm.
Thomas joined the Duke of Wellington’s West Yorkshire Regiment on 26 January 1916 and was drafted to France in June 1916 – his service number was 242230. Thomas was a Private in the 1st/5th Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment when he went missing, presumed killed in action, on 3 September 1916.
Thomas is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.
Geoffrey Basil Beck (1925-1944)
Geoffrey is the son of Ivy Blanch Beck. He was born 19 April 1925.
In the 1939 Register Ivy and Geoffrey are living at 43 Skipton Road, Cononley. Geoffrey is working as an unpacker in a mail order office.
Geoffrey served with the 43rd (2/5th Bn. Gloucestershire Regiment) Regiment Reconnaissance Corps, R.A.C. – his service number was 14660651.
He was killed on 24 June 1944 and is buried at Hermanville War Cemetery, Calvados, France.
Jack Hirst – I haven’t been able to find any biographical information yet.
Sam Law (1918-1944)
Sam was the son of John Law and Lily Garnett. He was born on 11 May 1918.
In the 1939 Register Sam was living with his widowed mother at 2 Aireside Terrace, Cononley. He was working as a shop assistant in a grocery store.
Sometime in the December quarter of 1943 Sam married Frances Mary Higgins.
Sam served as a Sergeant in the 6th Battalion of the Green Howards (Yorkshire Regiment). His service number was 4392414.
He was killed on 27 July 1944.
He is buried at Hottot-Les-Bagues War Cemetery, Calvados, France.
George Alfred Mattock (1918-1940)
George was the son William A Mattock and Annie Cooke. He was born in 1918 and his birth is registered in the December quarter at Skipton.
In December 1937 George successfully passed exams set by the Chartered Institute of Secretaries for centres in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Presumably he had been looking forward to a career in that sort of work.
In the 1939 Register William and Annie and their daughter Mary are living at 91 Beech Mount, Cononley.
George was a driver with 59 Field Company Royal Engineers. His service number was 2193183.
He was killed on 29 May 1940 during the Dunkirk Evacuation and is commemorated at the Dunkirk Memorial, Nord, France.
Leonard Peel (1918-1940)
Leonard was the son of Thomas Ernest Peel and Annie Hey. He was born in Cononley on 23 September 1918.
In the 1939 Register Leonard and his parents are living at 48 Main Street, Cononley. Leonard is employed as a costing clerk in the office of a textile firm.
Leonard served as a driver with the Royal Army Service Corps – his service number was T/113850.
He was killed on 23 May 1940 in the days leading up to the Dunkirk Evacuation. Leonard is buried at La Basse Communal Cemetery, Nord, France.
Jack Hurtley Thompson (1921-1941)
Jack is my 1st cousin 1x removed. His parents are Alfred Clark Thompson and Rhoda Hurtley. Jack was born in 1921 – his birth is registered at Skipton in the June quarter.
He joined the Merchant Navy and was serving on the British motor tanker Arthur F Corwin as a 5th Engineer when it was sunk on 13 February 1941. Jack is commemorated at the Tower Hill Mmemorial, London.
Jack (John) Throup (1920-1942)
Jack was born in 1920 to parents Lewis Throup and Lilian Blackman. His birth is registered in the December quarter.
In the 1939 Register Lewis and Lilian are living in Cononley with some of their other children.
Jack was an Able Seaman with the Royal Navy – his service number was D/JX240005.
I have established that Jack died on 9 January 1942 while serving on SS Rembrandt. The Yorkshire Evening Post of Thursday 26 February 1942 reported that Mr & Mrs Lewis Throup had received information that Jack had been accidentally killed.
Jack is buried at Alexandria (Hadra) War Memorial, Egypt.