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Covering the villages of Wilsden and Harecroft
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The Lady Challenger

That the war question must take precedence over all others in the election is recognised even by the lady challenger, who has come down from London to test the right of women to stand for Parliament. She puts the vigorous prosecution of the war first and foremost in her programme. The special claims of women are accorded a second place. Under the circumstances it is not easy to see what useful purpose can be served springing on the public such a novelty as a female candidature. On the contrary, it would be apt to give rise to misapprehension. One thing certain is that German commentators, if they give any attention to the matter at all, would interpret it as an evidence of social unsettlement and sex antagonism in this country. They would be quite incapable of grasping those fine points of constitutional law which Miss Boyle is so desirous of settling. As for the people at home, they would be likely to look upon such a candidature as rather in the nature of an untimely curiosity. It would not be regarded with the seriousness and concentrated attention which might be looked for were the “test” delayed until more normal conditions prevail.

The Law and Lady Candidatures

As to whether or not, if Miss Boyle persists in offering herself for nomination, her nomination will be accepted, that is a question which is still exciting a good deal of speculation. All that can be said is that the legal rulings so far are all against the recognition of women as Parliamentary candidates. In what is perhaps the best-known work on election law it is clearly laid down that “by the custom of England, and by reason of their sex, women are not eligible to serve in Parliament”, and it is further stated that “if a woman were to be nominated as candidate the votes for her would be thrown away. The fact of her disqualification would be notorious, and every man would be presumed to know the law. At the General Election of 1885 Miss Helen Taylor tendered her nomination to the returning officer for Camberwell, and he rejected it, and his rejection was not questioned in a court of law”.
 Keighley News, 6th April 1918

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Sources

Keighley News Archive (accessed via Bradford Libraries website)



March 28thGeneral Gough, commander of the embattled British 5th Army, was relieved of his command, and left the front the following day. Prime Minister Lloyd George made much in the House of Commons of Gough’s failure, and that of his army, to halt the German advance. The public was satisfied at the thought of an incompetent general and poor troops being the cause of such a huge retreat as had happened in the previous week. The nature of the German assault and the ferocity of the British response, as well as the lack of manpower at the front, were all overlooked. Yet Gough and the Fifth Army had turned the tide. On the 30th March, British, Australian and Canadian troops successfully counter-attacked, recapturing Moreuil Wood. The Germans were only eleven miles from Amiens, but they would not reach the city. In places the Germans had advanced up to forty miles, over-running all the gains made by the Allies at the Battle of the Somme, and capturing 90,000 prisoners and 1300 artillery pieces. But the German losses had been extremely high, and the impetus of their attack had been lost.

Wilsden

The Gift of the Royd House Estate

Mr. Fred Ambler, of Bradford … on behalf of himself and his brother, Mr. George S. Ambler [gifted] the Royd House estate at Wilsden for public purposes… The gift had been made in memory of their late father, Mr. Samuel Ambler, and of their mother, who were, as they point out, “for so long intimately associated with the village of Wilsden and deeply interested in its prosperity and welfare” for the use and benefit of the inhabitants of Wilsden as a public place of pleasure, rest and recreation. Their desire is that the Bingley District Council shall take possession of the estate, and bring it into use, so far as possible, at as early a date as convenient, so that their mother may have the pleasure of seeing the accomplishment of their purposes… It is suggested that the house should form the home of the free library and a reading room, as well as be a place of rest; that the gardens shall be maintained with the exception of a portion to be laid out as a bowling green; and the remainder of the property – which consists of two small fields – shall be adapted for the purposes of a recreation-ground. The total area of the 8,016 square yards. At the present time there is a recreation-ground for the children in another portion of the village, but notice has already been received from the landlord terminating the tenancy of the Council at the beginning of February next year.

                                                                                     - Keighley News, 30th March 1918

Harry Collins

Pte. Collins, Harry.  30/369     1st/5th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers.

 




Harry was born at Clayton, Bradford, the son of Ada and Samuel Collins, a railway plate layer, he had two older sisters, Gertie and Minnie, and a younger brother, Dickie. The family moved to Denholme when Harry was very young and subsequently to Wilsden. After the war Gertie and Minnie lived at Albert Street.

Harry died in the Battle of Amiens on 31 March 1918, aged 20.
 The great German Spring Offensive had started ten days previously. The British Army was short of men and ration cards were being introduced at home, but American soldiers were on their way.  German High Command was convinced that with one last great effort before the re-inforcements arrived, victory could be theirs.
During the first three days of the offensive, the British troops were forced to withdraw 15 miles after months, if not years, of stalemate. A second German Attack was launched on 28 March. The order to defend to ‘the last round and the last man’ had never been more apposite. By 5 April it became clear that the line would hold, but at great cost, between 21 March and 5 April  22,000 men were killed, about 72,000 had been captured and 66,000 were wounded.

Harry is commemorated on the memorial to the missing at Pozieres, Panel 16 to 18.




This Week in 1918

21st March – In the early hours of the morning, the Germans launched a huge offensive on the Western Front, aiming to drive the British from the Somme, the French from the Aisne, and to threaten Paris. With Germany now at peace with Russia, the German forces no longer had to be split across two fronts and the efficient German railway system quickly brought men and guns from the east to the west. The German General Ludendorff had managed to give the impression that his attack would come much further south than it did – British and French forces were caught off balance, with divisions massed in the wrong places, and the brunt of the German attacks falling on the depleted and understrength British Fifth Army. The attacks began with a five-hour artillery bombardment – over 6,000 German heavy guns and over 3,000 mortars were involved, firing both conventional ammunition and up to two million gas shells to incapacitate the Allied defensive artillery. The German attack was hugely successful – on the first day, they advanced in places up to 4 and a half miles, taking 21,000 British prisoners. The German superiority in numbers was telling – a British regiment fought to the last man at Manchester Hill but was annihilated; several villages along the lines were obliterated as the British forces defended their positions. On the second day of battle, the Germans made further advances. Of 22 British tanks deployed to counter-attack, 16 were destroyed. On the third day of the battle, three specially made German artillery pieces began to bombard Paris, seventy-four miles away, causing 256 casualties. British forces retreated to the Somme, causing the Kaiser to remark from Berlin that ‘the battle [is] won, the English utterly defeated’. Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister, sent an impassioned plea to the American President Wilson, asking him to ‘drop all questions of interpretation of past agreements and send over infantry as fast as possible’. The President, without consulting Congress or even his cabinet, authorised the full deployment of the American army in France into mixed brigades with the British and French forces. German forces crossed the Somme on the 24th March, threatening to split the British and French forces – by the 25th March the Germans had captured as many as 45,000 British and French troops, and were still advancing, aiming to cut the British off from both the French army and the channel ports. But despite the seeming German advantages, they were becoming disheartened by the level of stubborn resistance put up by the British forces, and the British willingness to counter-attack, even in retreat. One British Captain sang a hymn to steady his nerves as he led his twenty men in just such a counter-attack – when he and his men approached the Germans in front of them, the Germans surrendered.

Sources

Gilbert, M First World War

 

John Edmondson

Pte. Edmondson, John    41409  6th Battalion  Leicestershire Regiment.

 
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John was born at Victoria Street, Wilsden on 30 November 1898, the son of Rawnsley and Violetta Edmondson. He had a younger sister, Frances, and two much younger brothers, Fred and Norris. The family moved to 49 Lane Side before the birth of Frances.

John was apprenticed to a Plumber when he was called up in February 1917, just after his 18th birthday. He was transferred to the Leicestershire Regiment with Herbert Clark, also listed on Wilsden’s cenotaph, their enlistment numbers were only 99 apart.

 John died, aged 19, on 23 March 1918,  the third day of  Operation Michael, the German Spring Offensive in which Luddendorff planned to smash through the line held by the exhausted and depleted Allies before further re-inforcements, including the Americans who had finally entered the war, could make their way to the Western Front. In a desperate defence which went on until April 5th 22,000 British and Allied soldiers were killed. John Edmondson was just one of them

 John’s body was never recovered and he is commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial, France. He never got to meet his little brother Norris, who had been born just 18 days earlier, nor a younger sister Elsie who was born in 1921.


Herbert Wright

Capt. Wright, Joseph Herbert   (Military Cross)      8th Battalion  Gloucestershire Regiment.

 
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Herbert was born at Ling Bob, Wilsden, youngest of four children of Ann and David Wright. He had two older brothers, Pickles and Enoch and a sister, Mary. Enoch died in 1895 aged 24 and their father died two years later when Herbert was 13. Herbert and Mary continued to live with their widowed mother, who kept a grocers and drapers shop at Ling Bob, while they studied to become elementary school teachers Eventually Mary gave up teaching to marry Wilsden’s G.P. Dr Marquis. Herbert took up a place teaching Science at Cinderford Higher Elementary School, a secondary school and centre for training elementary school teachers, which opened in 1910.

He joined up shortly after war was declared, starting as a private, probably alongside some of his former pupils, in the Gloucester Yeomanry and was promoted through the ranks to Captain. He was wounded in the Battle of the Somme, July 1916 and was awarded the Military Cross in the New Year Honours of January 1917. On 7th June 1917 Herbert was wounded again at Messines.

  Bradford Weekly Telegraph  13 June 1917;   - “Captain J.H. Wright of the Gloucestershire Regiment, only son of Mrs Wright of Wilsden and brother-in-law of Dr Marquis of Wilsden, has been admitted to hospital abroad suffering from a severe gunshot wound in the left eye. He has been at the front for two years and was wounded in the Somme fighting on July 3 last year. About a month ago when home on leave he received the Military Cross from the King. The award of the distinction was announced among the New Year Honours and it was given for his work on the Somme. He was formerly a science master at a school in Cinderford, Gloucestershire.”

Though almost certainly blind in one eye, Herbert recovered enough to be sent back to his battalion in

France. He was killed in action at Velu Wood in the First Battle of Bapaume on 25 March 1918,  aged 33, and is listed on the Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.  Bay 6.

Herbert is also listed on the Cinderford cenotaph.