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Covering the villages of Wilsden and Harecroft


A Sentence of Six Months’ Imprisonment

At the West Riding Assizes, at Leeds, on Tuesday, before Mr. Justice Shearman, Hannah Mary Donaldson (37), of Wilsden, Bradford, pleaded “Guilty” on three charges of perjury. As the defendant in an action at Sheffield in 1916, she swore that she had a share, value £11,000, of the estate of the late William Bateman, the yearly income from which was between £480 and £520. On March 15, 1917, in Bradford, in her preliminary examination in bankruptcy before the official receiver, she stated that under the will of her grandfather, William Bateman, she had received since the age of 21 the sum of £300 a year, and also she was entitled to £3000 under the will. … Mr Simey, [for the prosecution] said that the prisoner’s past dealings revealed a course of systematic swindling for years. She lived by answering advertisements, matrimonial or for a housekeeper, getting hold of foolish men, telling a story about her grandfather’s estate and inducing them to lend her money. She had been doing that for fifteen years.

Inspector Bates, of Bradford, said the prisoner was born at Wilsden. Her father, the late Joseph Hardy, was at one time a manufacturer, but he failed and eventually became an old-age pensioner. In her younger days the prisoner was a teacher at Bingley. Then she went out housekeeping for men usually in good positions. She had two children, one born before her marriage and one after. In 1909 she married a Mr. Donaldson, and contracted debts which caused his failure. Donaldson found that her statements concerning her well-to-do father were false, and they parted.  Mr. R. A. Shepherd, who appeared for the prisoner … [said] that he had very grave doubts whether she was responsible for her answers [in court]. Mr Shepherd laid emphasis on the fact that the creditors had not been injured by the misrepresentations, which, he suggested, were the result of an obsession that she had a fortune. It was a stupid story that she told. It was easily ascertainable that her grandfather, who was called Bateman, died in a workhouse, and that her father died in a workhouse. Her mother was insane for two or three years before she died.

The Judge said he had no doubt that the prisoner had desired to live luxuriously, and had carried on the life more or less of an adventuress. But she had not been indicted for fraud, and he had no right to punish her for what he suspected her of doing for a considerable time because she had eventually done something else. What she had done was to make wildly irresponsible and ridiculous statements as a judgement debtor. She must have known she was committing perjury. It was said in her favour that she put it right, but it was obvious that she only put it right by some other equally wild and untrue statements.

Sentence of six months imprisonment was passed.

- Keighley News, 20th July 1918

 17th July – Just after midnight, in the cellar of a house outside the Russian town of Yekaterinburg, the deposed Russian Tsar Nicholas II was murdered by a group of Bolshevik revolutionaries. Nicholas’ wife, Tsarina Alexandria, and his five children Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia and Alexei, as well as four family retainers were killed alongside him. The killings were so badly botched that most of the victims survived the initial hail of more than seventy bullets (in part thanks to the jewels that they had sewn into the linings of their clothing) and were killed instead by bayonets. The bodies were then hastily buried in an unmarked grave. The royal family remained undiscovered until 1979, and their discovery was not then made public until the fall of communism. Two remaining bodies were discovered in 2007, finally putting an end to decades of rumours and fraudulent claims that one of the daughters of the family had survived in exile.    


The Royal Family pictured in 1913 or 1914. Picture via Wikimedia Commons



14th July – A huge German offensive was launched against French 12th July – On the Western Front, British troops used a new form of gas warfare for the first time. It was a railway train whose carriages were loaded with gas cylinders that could be brought up the front by narrow gauge railway, then pushed manually to within a quarter of a mile of the front. In the first attack at 1.40am on the 12th July, more than 5,000 gas cylinders were deployed simultaneously in this way. According to a British corporal, “the dense grey cloud made an awe-inspiring sight as it rolled steadily forward, widening as it went. We watched as it poured over our own front lines and continued across No-Man’s Land. Such a threatening cloud as this we had never before witnessed. Over the enemy lines the gas belt spread wider and wider, engulfing them from sight”. Several hundred German casualties were reported. Another, anonymous, member of the gas companies wrote a poem about their work

Science of the ages, the highest art of man,

Degraded and prostituted, that Man should take the van,

Whilst Empire, Justice, Freedom slumbered.

Then chemist, student, artisan answered Duty’s call;

Our arms, our arts, our poison fumes

Gained Liberty for all

and American held sectors. However, the timing of this attack had been revealed by several German prisoners-of-war, and, as a result of this intelligence, Allied artillery had been able to bombard the crowded German front-line trenches and staging areas for almost an hour before the German’s own artillery barrage began. The German barrage was formidable, with more than 17,500 gas shells (over thirty-five tonnes of explosives) being fired at a relatively small area. This artillery barrage was wasted though, as the French General staff had constructed a line of decoy and dummy trenches. The German attack rolled over these false trenches, killing the few troops stationed there (described as “suicide troops in all but name”) – but when the attack reached the real lines, the Germans found them almost untouched by shellfire, and heavily defended by French and American soldiers. After four days of brutal fighting, leaving carnage along the lines and severe casualties on both sides, the French launched a massive counter-offensive along a 27-mile front. 2,000 heavy artillery guns were in action, along with over 200 tanks. The German line was driven back four and a half miles, 20,000 German prisoners were captured, and 400 heavy guns were taken.


 From Keighley News







“WAR WEAPONS EFFORT” – The “War Weapons” effort which is to be made next week at Wilsden, in connection with Bingley, has already made a start. The village of Wilsden is asked to contribute £6000 [Over £350,000 in 2018], which will be equal to two aeroplanes and one gun, and the weapons represented by this sum are to be named after the village of Wilsden. The Wilsden committee (Mrs. Marquis, the Rev. F.C. Rollin, and Mr. S.H. Rawnsley) are using all their efforts to make next week a success. On Thursday night, as a preliminary, the Morton Banks Hospital Band gave a concert in the cricket field, with a programme of instrumental and vocal music. Mr. John Downs, of Thornton, occupied the chair, and a collection taken at the gate amounted to £6 in aid of the band. The speakers during the concert were the Rev. F.C. Rollin, Mr. Norman Hackett (Bingley), Private Macmillan (Morton Banks Hospital), and the Chairman (Mr. Downs). Mr. Rollin, in the course of his speech, surprised the audience, which was very good, by remarking that already nearly £4000 has been promised towards next week’s effort.

  • Keighley News, 6th July 1918