1914, 5 December 1914 – Batley News

After the bumper crop of St Mary’s related pieces in the 28 November 1914 paper, this week was lighter on news. The picric acid explosion at Henry Ellison’s chemical works at White Lee dominated the pages. Causing widespread devastation at White Lee, Healey, and across the Spen Valley, the blast killed 10 men, injured many more, and was heard as far as 50 miles away. William Sykes, amongst the injured, never fully recovered and died later in 1915. His son Sam Sykes, killed in January 1916 whilst serving with the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, was amongst those who had an association with St Mary’s and is not on the church War Memorial.

As before, I have put in bold the names of those men from the parish who were with the military. Spellings and punctuation are as per the newspaper.

During masses the previous Sunday Catholic parishioners across the Heavy Woollen District, including St Mary’s, listened to the words of Leeds Diocese Bishop Joseph Cowgill via his Pastoral Letter. The message contained the following words:

There will be little sign of joy in the homes of men during the coming Christmastime, for peace has fled from the land. On all sides will be heard the cries of sorrow and distress; and death and suffering and famine and all the horrors of bloody strife will darken the nations’s life with a shadow as thick as night. And it will almost seem a mockery to speak of peace on earth and goodwill to men, when there is no peace, and hatred has taken possession of the souls of men. Have we gone back got the ages of barbarism that men, women, and children should be slaughtered for no other purpose than than an innocent and peace-loving people should be terrorised into submission to the will of another? Is Christianity of so little avail that in this year of grace, after twenty centuries of divine teaching, justice, and honour, truth should disappear before the principle that might is right, and everything must give way to human ambition and love of worldly power? It may seem to be so, but we have confidence in the providence of God, and know that in the end His will will prevail. Therefore, we have no misgivings as to the results of this inhuman strife.

Following hot on the heels of these words and St Mary’s RC Church’s 4th donation to the Belgian Fund of the previous week, there now came a 5th parish contribution – this time amounting to £3 12s 10d.

In sad news, and a reflection of the sickeningly high infant mortality rates of the period, the death notices included on 28 November that of 6-month-old Nellie McQuinn. She was the daughter of Simms and Agnes McQuinn of 18, Villiers Street.

On a positive note though, the Manning family finally received news about one of their sons:

Carlinghow Sailor’s Location Unknown.

Mr. Cecil Manning (son of Mr. and Mrs. Mannings [sic]. Blocks, Carlinghow), now serving on H.M.S. Berwick, has sent to his parents the following message, which, being the first for about two months, has relieved great anxiety:-

I am still in the land of the living – in the best of health, and hope you are the same. I have nothing to write about, as I do not know whereabouts we are. We are having lovely weather – it is raining 20 hours out of the 24.

And to end with, a couple of Christmas adverts from this week’s newspaper – both with a wartime flavour.