1914, 14 November – Batley News

This week’s Batley News contained little direct St Mary’s news. I’ve selected a couple of pieces – one general, the other more speculative.

The first is a poem. The local mills were already working flat out in the production of Khaki for the War. This is something alluded to in the Batley Medical Officer’s report of 1914. Many women were involved in the production. This poem, written in dialect, is an evocative link to the period and accent of our Batley ancestors. The spellings, including inconsistencies with Khaki, are as per the original document. Try reading out loud to fully experience the Yorkshire accent!


When will it be ovver – this “Kahki boom”
That keeps soa bizzy each mule an’ loom?
We’ve time for nowt throo’ t’ week’s beginnin’
But ding dong at it, weyvin’ an’ spinnin’.

When we get hoam throo’ t’ mill at neet,
Ahr legs are tired, an’ t’ same ahr feet,
Goin’ an’ comin’ is all i’ t’ dark –
In fact, ahr life’s nowt but bed an’ wark.

Noa time to wesh, noa time to mend,
To cooart a bit or see a friend!
Noa time for nice long country walks,
Or sweet an’ preshus mid-week talks.

Week-neet events at skooil or t’ church
Are nah by us left in the lurch.
As for needle-wark or fancy sewin’,
We want no such, after t’ long day’s tewin’.

T’ wark is hevvy an’ t’ haars are long,
An gives ‘em “gyp” wot are not strong;
Soa t’ strong mun do ther levil best
To give t’ wake fowk a timely rest.

We’re in for feightin’ withaht mich daht,
An’ sum stiff wark ere we get aht,
But ivvery weyver ah’m sewer is willin’
To tew for “t’ lads” while t’ foe ther killen’.

We all mun wark to clooathe an’ feed
T’ wives an’ t’ bairns wot are i’ need.
Then hooap an’ trust it willn’t be long
Ere they come hooam wi’ t’ victor’s song.


The papers were full of news about recruitment drives. This week’s paper included one from a local soldier of the 1st/4th KOYLI. The name, W. Barber, is a possible match for one of the St Mary’s man. But there are doubts – the address of Dickinson Terrace is not a match. However, I have included the letter as a possible to follow up. And it does show one angle of the appeals for more men to come forward and enlist.

Local K.O.Y.L.I.’s Appeal for Recruits
Home Defenders as Honourable as Foreign Service Men.

Private W. Barber, Dickinson Terrace, Batley, supplements our recent notes about the Batley and Dewsbury K.O.Y.L.I. men by writing to the “News”:-

As is pretty well known, we are at Gainsborough now, having left Sandbech Park on rather a rough day for marching, but on our way the village people threw apples and cigarettes to us, and we sang ragtime songs to keep us going – in the absence of a band. We are in good billets, with working people. We have to tidy our own rooms every day, and keep ourselves tidy, too, for no man has to come on parade without his boots and buttons cleaned, or punishment is meted out for it. No fires are allowed for us. What I should like to hear is this – that all lads who have not joined the Colours are going to do so at once. A lot of footballers in Batley and Dewsbury could join if they had to give their mind to it. The war is not over yet, and now is the time for publichouse fighters to show their skill. If a man doesn’t want to volunteer for foreign service, he can volunteer to protect his own door. Plenty of men are wanted now, and when the war is over they will be looked upon as being equally as good as those who go abroad. If ever the Germans happened to get into England they would get a reception if all our young blood was trained.

There is a great improvement of physique and health in our men under training. As to discipline, the British Army is noted for the way in which it goes into battle. Without discipline they could not have system, and to get discipline they must be strict.

And now, in conclusion, “England expects every man to do his duty. God Save the King.”