Leeds

Military Monday – John Robert Arthur Steel (1886-1916)

John Robert Arthur Steel is the husband of my 3rd cousin 2x removed, Elsie Dodgson.

Elsie was born in 1888 to parents Charles Henry Dodgson and Charlotte Mary Stark. Our common ancestors are John Dawson and Ann Watson, my 4x great grandparents.

Elsie married John Robert Arthur Steel sometime in the September quarter of 1914 in Leeds, West Yorkshire. They had one child – Constance, born on 1 February 1916.

John Robert Arthur Steel had been born towards the end of 1886 in Hunslet, Leeds.

When war broke out he enlisted for service with the Prince of Wales’s Own (West Yorkshire) Regiment and was assigned to the 15th Battalion with a service number of 15/1181.

John was killed in action on 1 July 1916 – only five months after the birth of his daughter. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France – the largest Commonwealth Memorial to the missing in the world.

The following information is taken from the Commonwealth war Graves Commission (CWGC) website.

The memorial commemorates more than 72,000 men of British and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave, the majority of whom died during the Somme offensive of 1916.

On the high ground overlooking the Somme River in France, where some of the heaviest fighting of the First World War took place, stands the Thiepval Memorial. Towering over 45 metres in height, it dominates the landscape for miles around.

On 1 July 1916, supported by a French attack to the south, 13 divisions of Commonwealth forces launched an offensive on a line from north of Gommecourt to Maricourt. Despite a preliminary bombardment lasting seven days, the German defences were barely touched and the attack met unexpectedly fierce resistance.

Losses were catastrophic and with only minimal advances on the southern flank, the initial attack was a failure. In the following weeks, huge resources of manpower and equipment were deployed in an attempt to exploit the modest successes of the first day. However, the German Army resisted tenaciously and repeated attacks and counter attacks meant a major battle for every village, copse and farmhouse gained. At the end of September, Thiepval was finally captured. The village had been an original objective of 1 July.

Attacks north and east continued throughout October and into November in increasingly difficult weather conditions. The Battle of the Somme finally ended on 18 November with the onset of winter.

In the spring of 1917, the German forces fell back to their newly prepared defences, the Hindenburg Line, and there were no further significant engagements in the Somme sector until the Germans mounted their major offensive in March 1918.

Following lengthy negotiations about the site, construction at Thiepval began in 1928 and was finished in 1932. Foundations were dug to a depth of 30 feet, uncovering wartime tunnels and unexploded ordnance.

The Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916.

The memorial also serves as an Anglo-French Battle Memorial in recognition of the joint nature of the 1916 offensive and a small cemetery containing equal numbers of Commonwealth and French graves lies at the foot of the memorial.
Notable commemorations include cricketer Kenneth Hutchings, writer Hector Hugh Munro, also known as Saki and Cedric Dickens, grandson of novelist Charles Dickens. There are also seven holders of the Victoria Cross.

On 1 August 1932, Prince Edward, Prince of Wales unveiled the memorial. Albert Lebrun, President of France and Sir Edwin Lutyens, the memorial’s architect, attended the ceremony which was in English and French.

Each year on 1 July a ceremony is held at the memorial to mark the first day of the Battle of the Somme. On 1 July 2016, to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, thousands of people attended a special ceremony including members of the British Royal family, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, and French President François Hollande.

Behind the memorial is the Thiepval Anglo-French Cemetery. The cemetery contains the graves of 300 Commonwealth servicemen and 300 French servicemen. The majority of these men died during the Battle of the Somme, but some also fell in the battles near Loos and Le Quesnel.

Thiepval Memorial

Thiepval Memorial

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Elsie Cracknell (1915-1981)

Elsie Cracknell is my 4th cousin 1x removed. Her parents are William Henry Cracknell and Lily Eastwood. Our common ancestors are Anthony Mason and Mary Brayshaw, my 4x great grandparents.

Elsie was born in Leeds, West Yorkshire, on 5 May 1915. She never married and passed away in 1981 – her death is registered in the December quarter.

In 1919, at the age of 4, Elsie was involved in a car accident. I found the following newspaper report in the Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer of 29 April 1920.

Elsie Cracknell - Yorkshire Post & Leeds Intelligencer 29 April 1920.png

A TAXI-CAB’S EXCESSIVE SPEED

CHILD SERIOUSLY INJURED: £100 DAMAGES AWARDED

At Leeds County Court, yesterday, before his Honour, Judge Parfitt, K.C., Frederick Snape, a taxi-cab proprietor, of Wetherby, was the defendant in an action for damages for £100 in respect of injuries suffered by Elsie Cracknell, aged 4, the daughter of a mechanic, living at 8, Bayswater Street, Roundhay Road, Leeds. The child was knocked down in March of last year by a taxi-cab, owned by the defendant, and driven by Charles Henry Patrick, a youth of 18. The child sustained a depressed fracture on the left side of the head, just above the ear, her left arm and leg were injured, and she was an inmate of the Infirmary for two months in consequence. The plaintiff’s case, which was conducted by Mr J A Greene, was that Patrick was driving a taxi from Leeds towards Roundhay at a very rapid pace. Near Spencer Place an outward tramcar was standing, and Patrick, seeing people getting on and off the car, instead of slackening speed, merely sounded his horn, swerved round the tramcar and knocked down the child, who was a little higher up the Roundly Road. Patrick was driving so quickly that after he had knocked the child down his car ran about 20 yards before bring brought to a standstill. This version was bourne out by several witnesses.

Mr T P Perks appeared for the defence, and the driver of the taxi declared that the child rushed out of Spencer Place in front of his car, which he had not time to pull up. He stoutly denied that there was any tramcar near Spencer Place, and said he swerved in order to try and miss the child. He was travelling between 12 and 15 miles an hour.

His Honour held that the car was being driven at an excessive speed under the circumstances, and there would be judgment for the full amount claimed, with costs.

This was before the NHS in the UK – so I wonder what the cost of treatment and two months in the Infirmary would have been.

Sunday’s Obituary – Phyllis Emma Paley (1916-1922)

Phyllis Emma Paley is my 2nd cousin 2x removed. Her parents are John Robert Paley and Beatrice Bailes. Our common ancestors are William Paley and Mary Blackey, my 3x great grandparents.

Phyllis was born in Leeds, West Yorkshire, her birth being registered in the September quarter of 1916 under her mother’s name of Bailes.

I found the following article in the Dundee Evening Telegraph of 19 July 1922.

Phyllis Emma Paley - Dundee Evening Telegraph 19 July 1922.png

DROWNED IN SEWAGE TANK

Council’s Insufficient Safeguards for Children

Phyllis Emma Paley (5), Wigton, near Leeds, went into the field to gather flowers. Two hours later she was found dead at the bottom of a sewage tank, the property of Wetherby Urban District Council.

At the inquest Mrs Beatrice Paley, the mother, said the child left the house about 8.30, and when she did not return by ten o’clock witness went to look for her. The door in the boarding that surrounded the tank was open. By means of a fork, John Paley brought up the body from the bottom of the tank.

Paley said that he had been cutting grass round the tank on the same evening, and noticed that the door was open. He shut it and held it fast with a stone used for the purpose. There was also a bolt, but it did not fasten properly. The child had been with him on previous occasions when he was working near the tank, and he had told her not to go near it.

Dr Tempest said the child could easily have removed the stone that held the door. Death was due to suffocation, caused by drowning.

The Coroner, in returning a verdict of “Death by misadventure,” said that though he would say nothing about the legal position of the Wetherby Council, it seemed to him quite clear that sufficient precautions had not been taken to prevent children from going, out of curiosity, inside the enclosure. “It is no use saying the children ought not to go inside these places, because we all know that they will do so.”

I did wonder why the only newspaper report I have been able to find was from a Scottish newspaper and that there doesn’t appear to be any report in the local Leeds papers.

Sports Centre Saturday – Barbara Dale Snape (1919-2001)

Sports centre Saturday is a daily blogging prompt used by many genealogy bloggers to help them post content on their sites, talk about family members’ love of sports or athletic endeavours.

Barbara Dale Snape is my wife’s 3rd cousin 1x removed. Their common ancestor is Martha Espley, my wife’s 2x great grandmother.

Barbra was born in Leeds, West Yorkshire on 24 December 1919 to parents Frank Snape and Susan Dale.

I recently found the following article from the Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer of 2 March 1942.

Barbara D Snape - 2 March 1942

Inter-University Women’s Boat Race

Cambridge beat Oxford by three lengths in the inter-University women’s boat race at Oxford on Saturday. A Leeds student and former head girl of the Allerton High School, Barbara D Snape, was a member of the winning eight. It was the second time she had shared in the success against Oxford, for she stroked the London University women’s crew which defeated Oxford last year. She graduated at Westfield College (evacuated to Oxford) and is now training for the Diploma of education at Cambridge.

There will be another post about Barbara in a few days.

Thriller Thursday – Robert Hurtley

Robert (Frank) Hurtley is my 2nd cousin 2x removed. He was born in 1877 to parents Robert Hurtley and Mary Holdsworth.

Robert Hurtley (the father) was a butcher and cattle dealer in Leeds.

Trawling through the newspaper archives on Find My Past it was good to find a positive story about one of my ancestors for a change!!

Here is an article from the Yorkshire Evening Post of 11 May 1893.

Yorkshire Evening Post 1893

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History – Home

This is the fourth challenge in a weekly series from GeneaBloggers called 52 weeks of personal genealogy and  history, suggested  by Amy Coffin,  that invite genealogists to record memories and insights about their own lives for future descendants.  Week 4 – Home

I was born in 1953 and by the time I left home twenty years later I had lived in five different houses.

I was lucky my parents moved to Yorkshire shortly before I was born – if they had left it much later I would have been born in Lancashire.  They moved to Leeds and rented a house in the same street as my dad’s parents.

Stipendiary Street

We lived in the Burmantofts area of the city in a small back-to-back terrace house, number 26 Stipendiary Street.  There was one room and a kitchen downstairs and two bedrooms upstairs.  There was no bathroom or indoor toilet.  In the photograph our house was number 26 – the house on the very right of the picture.

Just next to the house is a small gate which leads to a shared toilet.  I was too young to really remember this house but my mum tells me that there were two toilets in the small yard.  Each toilet was used by two homes.

Stipendiary Street is no longer there.  The area was cleared and some high rise local authority flats (apartments) were built in place of the terraced houses.

Sometime around late 1957 or early 1958 we moved closer to the city centre.  My dad became manager of the Wellington Inn public house on Wellington Road.  We lived here for about 18 months.  My brother was born in the pub in November 1958.  Rumour has it that at the tender age of five or six I used to sneak behind the bar and steal bottles of Babycham.  Sadly the pub was demolished during the time when Leeds was undergoing major redevelopment and the building was in the way of a new road layout.

Dickens Street

We left the pub and moved about a mile up the road to the suburb of Wortley.  Number 8 Dickens Street was another back-to-back terrace house.  There was one room downstairs and two bedrooms upstairs and no bathroom.  Again the toilet facilities were down the street.  My mum says that she didn’t like living in this house at all – in fact I would probably say she hated it.  So this was only ever going to be a temporary stop along the way.  Dickens Street and the surrounding area was flattened by the bulldozers and new homes were built there.

Roseneath Place

Around 1961 / 1962 we moved to 13 Roseneath Place – probably about another mile away and still in Wortley.  This house was a bit bigger – still a back-to-back terrace and the toilet was still down the street – but we had further to walk this time.  The house had one room and a kitchen downstairs and two bedrooms upstairs.  But we also had a cellar and a large attic room.  We lived here until the summer of 1965.  As with all the previous homes this one was also demolished for a new housing development.

Our next house was 39 Benson Gardens in the suburb of Wortley.  This was the first house my parents bought, all the previous ones were rented.  Things were looking up for us by now and we had an indoor toilet and bathroom.  There was one room and a large kitchen downstairs and three bedrooms.  We also had gardens to the front and back of the house.  We also got our first telephone and car while living here.

I left home in 1973 and moved to Bradford about nine miles from Leeds.

My parents moved house again in 1980.  They bought a semi-detached home in Wortley and settled down at last.  My mother still lives in the house and my brother and sister also live in the same suburb with their families.

I moved back to Leeds in 1992 and live in another suburb about four miles from the rest of the family.