1914, 12 September – Batley News

Here is the latest selection of pieces from the Batley News, concerning men from St Mary’s. I have put their names in bold. I have also included some snippets about the local textile trade’s help with the war effort. As ever, spelling and punctuation is as per the newspaper.

Michael William Manning, one of Michael and Mary Eliza Manning’s sons, sent an update on life at Walmer Naval Reserve Camp.


The following letter has been received by the parents of Mr. M. W. Manning, who is at the Naval Reserve Camp at Walmer, Kent:

“From where I am I can look right into France. It is only across the water 21 miles away. We can see high chalk cliffs, hills, and trees and shrubs. We shall receive two months’ training, then we shall go across the briny Channel. We can see destroyers, war ships, hospital ships and prizes brought in. We are under martial law and on war footing. We have five meals a day, good beds, easy drills, in fact, the very best of times. If it were not we were so near the war I would tell you a lot more, but have no more time left now.”

And, following on from last week, there was also further news of another of the Manning boys – Cecil.


There are three local men on H.M.S. Berwick, which recently had a brush in Indian waters with the German cruiser Karlsruhe, which fled precipitately and sought shelter in a neutral port. The local bluejackets are Petty Officer Charles Holt (Batley Carr), and Able Seamen Farrar Hill (Soothill) and Cecil Manning (Carlinghow).

The Berwick is a first-class battle cruiser which has been at Jamaica, and before the outbreak of the war was engaged in watching Mexican operations during the revolution.

Writing on August 9th, Able-Seaman Hill (who is the son of Mr. Farrar Hill, of Brown Street, Soothill), states: – “We are having a bit of trouble with the Karlsruhe and Dresden – two German battle cruisers – and I think we could ‘see them off’ if we could see them.

“We are all clear for action and ready to ‘let fly’ at the first German we see. We sleep at the guns all night, and we don’t do any work during the day, so as not to be taken by surprise. I suppose you heard of the Amphion being blown up by mines, but don’t think we shall get blown up. If we do happen to see a German and have an engagement – we shall get a medal!”

Under the date August 22nd, young Hill – he is only 17 and has been in the Navy two years – writes: “I suppose you will get to know a lot about the war. Well, we don’t get to know much about it except by wireless. You have no need to worry about me, as we are all prepared for the Germans……

The letter from Farrar Hill, although not from St Mary’s, details what life was like for Cecil Manning on board H.M.S. Berwick. And a sad postscript, Farrar Hill did lose his life on 31 January 1918 serving on a submarine, HMS E/50. It is believed to have struck a mine in the North Sea.

To end with, this edition provided several news in brief items highlighting the booming textile industry and the part it played in supplying the military. It includes an item of clothing synonymous with the uniform of the British soldier

Cheerful news about prospects of work in Batley! The Mayor prophesies good trade for two-thirds of the 9,000 local textile workers.


As khaki cloth cannot be made quick enough to clothe the King’s fast-growing Army, the military authorities are buying a good blue serge.


Khaki stockingette for soldiers’ puttees is made in Batley.

Note stockingette was the spelling used by the paper for stockinette.