In Spenborough there are 58 War Graves, 28 from WWI and 30 from WWII all of which are tended by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Thinking about how the Branch could mark the centenary of the start of WWI on 4 August 1914, it has been suggested by Charlie Turpin (Branch Historian) that we become involved in the CWGC "Adopt a War Grave" scheme.
The scheme involves:
- Cleaning headstones
- Clearing the immediate grave area
- Monitoring war graves
- Commemorating at Remembrance Time
We now have permission from CWGC to undertake this work and we feel that it would be an ideal time in which to get local schools involved, since all schools in the UK have been requested to mark the occasion.
Charlie Turpin has done a great deal of research on each of the WWI soldiers buried in Spenborough, as may be seen on the Roll of Honour for WWI. It is felt that this information may be of interest to the schoolchildren as part of their WWI projects.
The state of a particular grave, that of Cpl George Carter, can be seen on the photographs below and his story indicates why we should continue, even some 100 years afterwards, to respect their memory and burial place.
More details will be published as the project progresses.
Corporal 4-1962 George Carter
1st/4th West Riding Regiment
Died of Wounds 23 January 1917 age 23.
George was born in Cleckheaton in 1894.The 1901 census shows the family living in Roberts Square, off Tofts Road. The family consisted of father Edward, mother Mary, 5 boys and 2 girls. By 1911 the family occupied the George and Dragon Pub in Westgate.
George enlisted in the Cleckheaton Territorials 10 days after the outbreak of war in 1914. Prior to enlistment he was employed as a mechanic at Charles Hirst’s Exchange Mills.
He went abroad with his Battalion in April 1915 and survived the serious fighting at Ypres and on the Somme. A letter from his Officer Captain Mowat states that on 21 November 1916, whilst out of the firing line at Humbercamps in Northern France, George was taking part in bombing practice when he was severely wounded in the left shoulder by an exploding grenade. Initially he was treated in France but was transferred to the Bristol GeneralHospital for a further operation. A letter to his mother from a nursing sister dated 26 December stated he was a little better and brighter and had taken some bread and butter and milk and Bovril. He was subsequently visited by his mother but on 19 January a further letter stated his condition had worsened and had become serious. He succumbed to his injuries on 23 January two days after a visit by two of his brothers and an uncle.
His body was brought home and he was interred at CleckheatonOldCemetery on 6 February with full Military Honors including a horse drawn gun carriage and buglers. A Commonwealth War Graves Headstone was erected over his grave in the late 1920’s.
Mrs Carter, by then a widow living at Marshfield Terrace off Pyenot Hall Lane, had already lost a son Tom who was killed in the battle of the Somme in 1916. Another son William was wounded five times but survived the war.
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AUSTRALIAN SOLDIER FAR FROM HOME
I had often wondered who the Australian Soldier buried in a First World War Grave in Liversedge Cemetery was so I decided to try and find out more about him.
I had assumed he had been wounded in France and had died in one of the local war hospitals, probably Staincliffe.
The Australian War Memorial in Canberra has records on all Australian Servicemen and the staff there are only too willing to help with enquiries. His record shows :-
SAMUEL WALLACE SHEARD
Service no 22154, 3rd field company Australian Engineers.
Born 16 Jan 1898 Mosman, Sydney, Australia.
Occupation – Fitter.
Wage 6/- (30p) per day of which he elected to send 2 shillings home to his mother, save 1/- and keep 3/- to spend. (The British Tommy was only paid 1/- per day).
Next of kin – mother Mrs M Sheard, Mandalong Road, Mosman.
Died from pneumonia in MillbankHospital, London on 20 October 1919. Buried LiversedgeCemetery.
Samuel joined the Australian Army on 12 November 1917 age 19 and after training sailed for Europe in March 1918 on the troopship Persic. He will have fought in the major battles of the last 6 months of the war but at the end of the war he decided to stay on and volunteered for the Graves Registration Unit, a unit which scoured the battlefields searching for and registering the thousands of bodies scattered all over the Western Front. He died almost a year after the end of the war from pneumonia but the most likely cause was the influenza epidemic sweeping Europe at the time.
So how did he come to be buried in Liversedge rather than a cemetery near to where he died in London ? There was no report of his death in the local press, the Australian record keepers had no answer neither did the Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site. I asked the Commission if they would delve into their original records from the 1920’s and they found that there was mention of an aunt, Mrs Priestley living in Liversedge. I then searched through old Spenborough Guardians and finally found an article about his funeral at Liversedge and the mourners included members of the Sheard, Priestley, Bedford and Walker families plus a Mr Joseph Hayes from Australia. It can only be assumed that his mother back in Australia requested that her son be buried in a cemetery near to where his English relatives lived. His grave, just like over one and a half million others, is maintained to this day by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Samuel's grave in Liversedge Cemetery behind which stands a gravestone commemorating some members of the Priestley family.
Charlie Turpin - May 2013
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