1914, 28 November – Batley News

This week’s Batley News had a varied content in relation to St Mary’s, covering news from those serving in the military, as well as from more locally within the parish. I have put in bold the names of those men from the parish who were with the military. Those names in bold and italics are possibles, but await final confirmation. Spellings and punctuation are as per the newspaper.

And despite the war, thoughts were turning to Christmas. This week’s paper was packed with seasonal adverts. I have included a selection of these to give a hint of home front life.

Refugees from Belgium continued to arrive in town, a further 18 were welcomed on Saturday. This meant the town now had about 50 Belgian refugees. Based on vacancies at various existing houses, and recently made offers of accommodation, it was felt the town could accommodate 12 more. The latest arrivals were:

• At Woodhall (9). – Lucien Soumagne (40), nickel-plater, of Antwerp; his wife Marie (43); children, Jean (19), Lucien (16), and Edgard (3).1 Arthur Jonssen (46), painter and decorator, Jemeppe, near Liege; his wife, Lambertine (39), and daughter Ida (11); also his brother, Arnold Jonssen (44), painter and decorator, of Jemeppe.
• Byron Street (2). – Rose Van Tongelen (21), domestic, Antwerp; and Mathilde Peeters Dekleyn (31), Antwerp, wife of a commercial traveller.
• Kelvin Grove (3). – Francois Carte (32), carpenter, Meusen, near Malines; his wife Petronelle (28), and boy (4).
• Primrose Hill (4). – Edmond van de Poel (28), sculptor, Malines; his wife Eugenie (25), and children Louisa (8) and Andre (5).

Donations to Batley’s Belgian Fund continued to pour in. The total raised to date was £262 17s 16½. This week’s contribution listings included one from St Mary’s RC Church, amounting to £4 16s 4d – the fourth from the parish.

A class for Belgian children was now well-established at St Paulinus RC School in Dewsbury. Attended by 15 scholars, their Belgian teacher was Miss Callens, who herself had arrived in the country only recently. The Tramway Company provided free travel for those children living a distance from school.

And on the subject of schools, Batley school holidays for 1915 were fixed. They are not to quite the same timetable as today, with a long six week summer holiday. For elementary schools the holidays were set as follows:

• Off till Monday, January 11.
• Tuesday, February 16 (afternoon).
• Thursday, April 1, at 12.0, to Monday, April 12.
• Friday, May 12, at 12.0, to Monday, May 31.
• Thursday, July 22, at 12.0, to Monday, August 16 (provisional).
• Thursday, September 9, at 12.0, to Monday, September 20 (provisional).
• Monday, November 1.
• Thursday, December 23, at 12.0, to Monday, January 10, 1916.

Special holidays were also set for individual schools. For St Mary’s these were linked to the religious calendar, with the children being off on Thursday, May 13 (Ascension); and Tuesday, June 20 (Saints Peter and Paul).

Local Feast dates were also noted as follows:

• Dewsbury Feast is on the Saturday on or before July 25.
• Birstall Feast is the Wednesday on or after August 17.
• Batley Feast is the Saturday on or before September 17.

Several parishioners with the military featured. One snippet concerned Richard Carroll Walsh (or Carrol Walsh as per the newspaper report). Serving with the Royal Naval Division, he had won the Gold Sovereign prize in the 17 October edition of the newspaper for his eye-witness account of the retreat from Antwerp. His whereabouts was now uncertain.

In his most recent letter, Seaman Carrol Walsh, Brownhill Road (now with the Royal Marines), advises his people not to write until he can let them have a definite address.

The Manning family were anxiously awaiting an update from their son, Michael William Manning. Captured during the Antwerp retreat, he was now a Prisoner of War in Germany.

Carlinghow Family Very Anxious.
Upper Batley Man All Right.

For about two weeks nothing has been heard of Seaman M. W. Manning, whose last message showed him to be a prisoner of war at Doberitz, Germany. According to a recent paragraph in a daily paper, the prisoners there are having black bread (manufactured from potatoes), cabbage water, etc. The relatives are alarmed at this statement, and further news is eagerly anticipated.

On the other hand, Mrs. Cawthorne, Upper Batley, has received several messages from her husband, Private F. Cawthorne who is a parishioner in Germany, saying is being well treated and his wounds are healed. He asks for money and comforts.

Two other contrasting health updates read as follows:

Driver Michael Rowan, R.F.A., is at home, Woodwell, recuperating after being wounded.


Gunner M. Philips, R.F.A., writes to his wife (at Dark Lane, Batley): “November 17th, I am in the pink.”

Meanwhile another soldier tried to reassure his family.


Private Joe Hart, 3rd K.O.Y.L.I., with the British Expeditionary Force, writes to his mother in Ward’s Hill – “Sorry I could not write before, but we have been too busy, We landed in France, after being in the train nine hours, and 36 hours on the boat. The weather out here is absolutely rotten. It is raining every day, and it does not forget to rain too! I don’t think the war will last very long at the rate it is going on. Cheer up – everything will come right in the end.”

Maybe this optimism in the early months of the war, combined with the approach of Christmas, contributed to the semi-normality of seasonal preparations. The Batley News was filled with adverts from local shops promoting their Christmas wares. But even here, there as a nod to events over the Channel.

Also at home, some parishioners were up before the local court in Batley. This included a bunch of soldiers, absent without leave. This was a very common occurrence, with a changing parade of soldiers appearing week in week out before the court. So this will be the first of many such listings. There is also one soldier facing the more serious charge of desertion.


Batley Court – Monday.

Michael Leach, miner, New-Street, Batley for being drunk and riotous in Upper Commercial Street, Batley, on the 14th inst., 10s and costs. The Mayor: You are getting near to the stage of being sent away to a home, so pull up, my friend.

ARMY OFFENDERS. – Oswald Grogan, tram conductor, Hanover Street, Batley, charged with deserting from the 2nd K.O.Y.L.I. at Ferriby, near Hull, told a policeman he ran away to see his mother because the Colonel refused to give him permission. His uniform was at a village near Ferriby Camp. – Joseph Walton, labourer, Cross Bank, admitted absenting himself from the 3rd K.O.Y.L.I., at Ferriby. Ptes. Edwin Heaps, Henry Fisher, Arthur Grace, Thomas Brennan, John H. Fox, Sam Heaps, Thomas O’Hara, Jos. Ed. Munns, Wm. Ed. Munns of the Miners’ Battalion, Farnley Park, Otley, when accused of absenting themselves without leave, pleaded guilty. All the 11 men were detained to await escorts.

I have included 18-year-old Oswald Grogan because, although he is primarily linked with neighbouring Ossett and St Ignatius Catholic Church, and is on their and Ossett’s War Memorial, it appears at the point of this court appearance he had recent local connections with a Batley address. This is in the St Mary’s parish catchment area. I have therefore made a judgement call – that he was a Catholic who had lived, however briefly, in the parish area in around the period leading up to the war. It illustrates how nuanced a parish study can be.

Immediately upon his return to the Army under escort, Oswald was tried by court martial and convicted of desertion. His sentence of 12 months detention was remitted by nine months, and he went on to serve with the 2nd Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment in Mesopotamia, rank Lance-Corporal, where he died of wounds on 9 April 1916.

Finally, news of premature local deaths was not confined to those on military service. Amongst this week’s death notices was one relating to the demise on 24 November 1914 of 16-year-old Thomas Caine, son of Henry Caine, of 9 Borough Road. An inquest report gave further details, – though his name here was spelled Cain and address was stated to be 9, Fleece Street.2

Batley Hurrier Who Worked Despite An “Enormous Tumour.”
Coroner and Doctor Surprised.

Coroner Maitland held an inquest on Wednesday on Thomas Cain (16), hurrier, 9, Fleece Street, Batley, who died on Monday after a long illness necessitating several operations. He was injured at West End Colliery in October, 1911, and was treated at Batley Hospital, being discharged apparently cured. He returned to work, but a malignant tumour developed some weeks afterwards, and he was alternately at work and at the Hospital until early this year, when his condition became hopeless. The Coroner described his action in continuing to work whilst in so much pain as extraordinarily plucky.

Mr. W. N. Wild (Messrs. Day and Yewdall, solicitors, Leeds) represented West End Colliery Co., and Mr. T. H. Brierley (manager) attended to show sympathy with the relatives. Mr. Allen Hudson (Cross Bank) watched for the Yorkshire Miners’ Association.

Henry Cain (deceased’s father) said that before his accident in October 1911, the boy was quite healthy. He explained to witness when brought home from the pit that a full corve3 with which he was travelling left the road, and he was jammed between a corner of the corve and one that was following. His groin and back were bruised, and he was taken to Batley Hospital, where he stayed four weeks, being then apparently all right. Three weeks afterwards he recommenced work, and appeared well for a month.

Then, however, a lump began to grow in the groin, and although the youth worked for seven more months he had finally to go to the Hospital, where the growth was removed. He left the Hospital again just after Christmas, 1912, and worked until the following August, having then to undergo another operation because the lump returned. A third operation was performed on December 30th last, and after the lad’s discharge from the Hospital on February 24th he attended as an out-patient, receiving regular X-ray treatment until he became bedfast a few weeks ago.

The Coroner: Do you think the injury at the pit was the cause of his trouble?
Witness: Yes.
Was it neglect on the part of anyone in the pit? – No, sir; I think it was a pure accident from what I have heard.

John Mullins, bye-worker, 9, Leeds Road, Birstall, said the affair was quite an accident.

Dr. John Steward (Soothill) explained that there was an extensive bruise in the lower part of the abdomen when the lad was first admitted to hospital. There was a large fusion of blood, but it cleared up so far as one could see, and the patient was discharged. Cain was brought to witness a year later with an enormous tumour in the groin (at the point where the injury had been), and witness removed it. The tumour weighed about 2lb., and showed it was of the malignant order. How the lad worked so long with it was a wonder to the witness. The youth was discharged, apparently recovered, and returned to work, but in September and December, 1913, witness had again to operate on him for the removal of growths in the same place.

When the lump again returned it was found impossible to operate further, owing to the growth reaching into the main artery of the leg. To alleviate his suffering, however, Cain received X-ray treatment under Dr. Hooton for some months. A post-mortem examination revealed a mass of cancerous growth. Death was due to exhaustion from sarcoma of the abdominal wall, due to the injury accidentally sustained at the pit.

A verdict to that effect was returned, and the Coroner commented on the extraordinary pluck of the boy in working whilst suffering as he did.

It illustrates just how precarious life was, and how industrial accidents were commonplace, especially for those working in the coal mines. And at what a young age boys still began working in the pits.

1. The Soumagne family will feature in another piece about the parish during this period in due course;
2. Both Fleece Street and Borough Road were in the Skelsey Row area of town. The Batley Cemetery burial registers give his address as 9, Fleece Street, Skelsey Row;
2. A corve was the container used to transport coal from the face to the surface.