1914, 21 November – Batley News

This week’s Batley News once more was thankfully brief on news on the St Mary’s front – only one piece with a direct link to the men on the War Memorial. I have also included one general news item: Rumours of intemperance in women. Spellings and punctuation are as per the newspaper.

The first snippet is news from a French resident to his nephew, St Mary’s parishioner Walter Hughes.

Carlinghow Resident Receives a Descriptive Letter.
“They Could not Find my Wine Cellar.”

A story of German wanton destructiveness is told by Mr. James Karney, of Senlis (northeast of Paris), in a letter to Mr. Walter Hughes, Coalpit Lane, Carlinghow. The writer had to flee before the German advance in the early stages of the war, but later he was able to return home. The “News” was able to publish a striking and exclusive story of Mr. Karney’s thrilling experience some time ago, and he now writes:-

Just a few lines, hoping they find all friends in good health. As for us, we cannot grumble, considering how we have been going on during the last two months. Everybody here has been very lucky, as those German brutes did not burn any houses, though they knocked a lot down. In the Main Street which goes down from my place there are only six houses left standing. In addition, the Germans took everything they could – wine, meat, bread, cigars and linen.

From my place they took two blankets, some silver jam-spoons and candles. I suppose they could not find my wine-cellar or they would have emptied that, too.

It is something awful to see the fields behind my house. You can see dead animals everywhere. The Germans left about 20 dead men around Senlis, and the French left some also. They were just covered over with anything the soldiers could find. I had a walk round the battlefield, but I don’t want to see it again.

We were very lucky to get away as we did, for the Germans were here two days after we left. There were a great many English soldiers in Senlis for a few days, and it was they who advised me to go away, as the Germans were following them up. So I took their advice and went.

I hope the war will soon finish, for it is terrible to see the poor wounded that go by here.

Discussion took place around the hours for drink sale, and whether closing should be 9pm or 10pm. Some felt that 10pm would give a chance for a bit of enjoyment at night, especially for those working until 8pm. It was also felt that men could conduct themselves fairly well if there was not too much red-tape. Discussion then turned to women.


Allegations have been floating around that some Batley women have not wisely used their allowances, as wives of soldiers and sailors, but the opinion of the Chief Magistrate, who as president of the Prince of Wales Fund (local branch) is naturally keenly interested in the matter, is that the number of offenders is as low as five per cent. “Granted,” as he says, “that is too much, but is shows that most women are good. We always hear more about the bad ones, than the good ones. Batley is not so bad, and we are a long way better off than some towns over this trouble. The allegations about Batley wives are not true. Here and there are women who drink: they drank before the war, not because of the war; and there are not more than 11 of them in the whole of Batley who have acted improperly, although over 500 men have been sent away.”