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Covering the villages of Wilsden and Harecroft


Arthur P. Johnson

Pte.  Johnson,  Arthur Preston    62734  9th Battalion King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry


Born in Scarborough in 1900, Arthur was the son of Lily and Joseph Johnson, a traveller in the cigar and cork trade. He had three younger sisters, Joyce, Lily and Sheila. In 1911 the family was living at 33 The Norr, Wilsden.

Arthur enlisted in Keighley in November 1917 just after his 18th birthday and was originally no. 5/93858 in the Training Reserve Battalion.

Bradford Weekly Telegraph;   “Pte. Arthur P. Johnson (18) King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, son of Mr and Mrs J.T. Johnson, Coplaw Farm, Wilsden has been killed in action. He joined up in November of last year.”

 Arthur was killed in action on 26 August 1918,  aged 18, and is commemorated on the

Vis-en-Artois Memorial    Panel 8.  This memorial is found on the road from Arras to Cambrai.

After the war, Arthur’s parents moved to 14 Windy Grove, Wilsden.

 Arthur Mehew

Cpl. Mehew, Arthur    3/10683     9th Battalion Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment)


Arthur was born in Wilsden, the eldest son of Robert Mehew, a house-painter and Mary Mehew, a worsted weaver. He had a younger brother, Charles and an older half-brother, Ralph. The family lived at Flax Hall, Wilsden, but their mother, Mary, died in 1903.

Arthur enlisted in August 1914 as soon as Britain declared war on Germany, he made it nearly all the way through but was killed in action on  27 August 1918  aged 23 and was buried in the

Adanac Military Cemetery, Miraumont, Somme, France.  Grave No. VIII. B. 12

Bradford Weekly Telegraph;  -   Corporal Arthur Mehew, West Riding Regiment, son of Mr Robert Mehew of 18, Flax Hall, Wilsden, was killed in action in France on August 27th (1918). He joined the army on August 10, 1914, and went to the Dardanelles the year following, and afterwards to Egypt, and later served on the western front. He was 23 years of age and formerly worked at Drake’s Foundry at Great Horton. He has two brothers serving, one (Charles William) in the Army Service Corps in Palestine, and the other (Ralph) in the West Yorkshire Regiment. 

On August 21st, General Byng’s Third Army attacked north of Albert along a fifteen mile front. The Australians, under General Rawlinson, attacked south of Albert together with the Canadians. As the two armies met and became one long front, the town of Albert was taken back from the Germans. Gradually and inexorably the German line retreated. On 26 August the line of attack lengthened northwards beyond Arras as the British First Army joined the attack.

“The Germans were still falling back on the Line as the British Third and Fourth Armies slowly forced shut the door which had been flung open by Ludendorff’s ‘Michael’ attacks in March; and during the last week in August the pressure was maintained, heavy and unrelenting. From German accounts, each day was ‘spent in bloody fighting against an ever and again on-storming enemy, and nights passed without sleep in retirements to new lines’. By August 29th, Byng’s Army was past Bapaume to both north and south...and Rawlinson’s Australians reached the Somme below Peronne.....From Arras in the north to Noyon in the south the battle raged as day succeeded day.”

‘1918 -  The Last Act’ by Barrie Pitt

This was the start of what later was called the ‘Advance to Victory’. Veterans like Arthur were few by now and the war was being fought by 18 and 19 year old soldiers, who had been called up as soon as they were old enough. They were full of confidence but the casualties were huge on both sides.






21st August - The Second Battle of Bapaume

British and New Zealand forces went into action against German forces holding the French town of Bapaume – which had been a British target on the first day of the Somme in 1916. The attack was designed to keep up the pressure of the Allied attacks on Amiens that had begun to stall in the face of the German defence. Though the battle was successful for the Allies, advancing over 20 miles and capturing 8000 prisoners, there were over 11,000 casualties, falling heavily on the three New Zealand divisions that led the attack.



New Zealand troops passing through Bapaume after its recapture. Image via Wikimedia Commons


Editor’s note: Pre 1930’s, the swastika did not have any of the later associations with the horrors of Nazism, and was a commonly used symbol, appropriated from the Hindu symbol for luck.
  • Keighley News, 17th August 1918

Abram Ackroyd

Pte. Ackroyd, Abram    62221   ‘C’ Coy  30th Reinforcements, 1st Battalion Canterbury Infantry Regiment.   New Zealand Expeditionary Force.


Abram Ackroyd was born on 3 April 1888, third of six children;  Hannah, Alice, Abram, Ethel, Philip and Arthur. His parents were Mary and Jonas Ackroyd of Rose Cottage Farm, Wilsden.  At the time of the children’s births, Jonas was a blacksmith with his brother, John, at the smithy in Wilsden but he later became a farmer.

Abram lived in Wilsden until 1911 when, at the age of 22, he emigrated to New Zealand in search of a better life in the New World. He became a dairy farmer in Te Pu, Rotorua.

By mid May 1917, the Allied troops had made their most significant advances in the two and a half years of war so far, despite heavy casualties in the Battle of Arras. Abram joined up on 7 July 1917, he had not married and had no dependents.

The 1st Canterbury Regiment embarked on the ship ‘Corinthic’ from Wellington, New Zealand and arrived at Liverpool on 8 December 1917. By the end of February 1918 his regiment was on the Western Front near Rouen.

By the end of July 1918, the German Army was being driven back across a good deal of the Front.

“On August 7 French, British and Dominion troops prepared for a new assault on the Western Front which was to begin the following day....The attack was to be the first of what [French General] Foch called his ‘liberating attacks’ against the new German line, aimed at driving its defenders back along a fifteen-mile front....The Battle of Amiens was a turning point, the Canadians advanced six miles, taking twelve villages, 5,000 prisoners and 161 guns...Australian troops were also successful that day, taking seven villages, nearly 8,000 prisoners and 173 guns.”

‘First World War’ by Martin Gilbert

In the next few days Luddendorff and the German High Command lost confidence in there ever being a German victory and started to plan the terms on which the war could be ended. Although Luddendorff within a fortnight was feeling more bullish, the beginning of the end was in sight.

On 15 August 1918, Abram was severely wounded in the face, arm and leg and though he was operated upon, he died two days later on 17 August 1918 at No. 56 Casualty Clearing Station, Rouen, aged 30.  He was buried at Bagneux British Cemetery,  Gezaincourt.  Grave Ref.   IV.C.30.   Abram is also listed on the Rotorua cenotaph in New Zealand.

Percy Binns

Lieut. Binns, Percy   2nd Battalion  25th Reinforcement  Australian Imperial Force.


Percy was born on 27 January 1892 at Binns Fold (named after his family), the second of four children of Aethelbert and Ann Binns. He had an older brother, Arthur, and two younger sisters, Louie and Edith. Aethelbert was Wilsden’s Printer, Stationer, Post Office and publisher of the ‘Wilsden Almanac’.  Ann was a Professional Photographer.

Percy went to Wilsden Board School, he was an intelligent boy and won a place at Keighley Grammar School.   In 1907, when he was 15, the family emigrated to 12 Belle Vue Parade, Cornelian Bay, Hobart, Tasmania, the name of the house was ‘Birchlands’ – a little reminder of Wilsden.

Percy became an Advertisement Writer, then a Sub-manager in a Department Store.

He signed up for the Australian Army at Sydney Showground on 12 May 1916 and spent a year in Australia training with the A.I.F.

The 2nd Battalion 25th Reinforcements embarked at Sydney on H.M.A.T. A20 ‘Hororata’ on 14 June 1917, disembarked Liverpool 26 August 1917 and reached the Front on 5 January 1918. They served in and out of the trenches all through the Spring and Summer of 1918. The 2nd Battalion took part in the Allied offensive east of Amiens on 8 August 1918. Percy Binns was killed in action five days later at the age of 26.

The report of his death said;

“The above-named Officer was killed in action whilst on patrol at ‘Creepy Wood’, East of Harbonnieres at about 2.30p.m. on 13th August last. Whilst on patrol with a N.C.O. and a couple of men he encountered an enemy strong-post heavily manned. He immediately gave the order to charge, and when about two yards from the Strong Post he was hit in the face by a revolver bullet, death being instantaneous. Owing to extremely intense rifle and machine gun fire, also heavy shelling, the party was unable to recover his body. About fifteen minutes later another party went out in search of the body, but were unsuccessful. Lieut. Binns was not buried by this unit.

The unit was relieved on night of 14th August, by the 15th and 49th Battalions.”

Percy’s body was never found and he is commemorated on the Villers Bretonneux Memorial (The Australian National Memorial) Panel No.31. He is also remembered with a tree on ‘Soldiers Walk’ in Hobart, Tasmania.


Fred Hardy

Pte. Hardy, Fred   46432   15th Battalion   Durham Light Infantry


Born in Wilsden in June 1899, Fred was the son of Hannah and Joshua Hardy of Norr Green, Wilsden. He had an older brother, Tom, and two older sisters, Ada and Mary. They lived at 10, New Brighton, Cottingley at the time he enlisted in Bradford in November 1917. He had previously been employed as a Dyer at Lister’s Manningham Mills.

Originally in the 4th Btn. Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regt)  No. 91965, Fred was transferred to the Durham Light Infantry in June 1918.

Fred was killed in action on 15 August 1918, aged 19, and is listed on Special Memorial 8 in the Serre Road Cemetery No. 1, Somme.

A disproportionate number of Wilsden’s casualties were killed on the Western Front during the months of August and September 1918. The Allies were making significant gains during this time, which would later be called the ‘Advance to Victory’ but at great cost to the young men who had been conscripted into the Army when they turned eighteen.  Between 8 August and 26 September 1918, the British lost 189,000 men, a large proportion of them youths of eighteen or nineteen.