1914, 7 November – Batley News

Here are a selection of articles and snippets from this edition of the Batley News, relevant to the St Mary’s men and parish. I have put in bold the names of those from the parish. I have also included an advert from the same edition of the paper, to give a Home Front flavour.

First of all two local Catholic priests were in the news, and not for their clerical duties. Author G. K. Chesterton based his amateur detective character Father Brown on the Heckmondwike parish priest Father John O’Connor. On 2 November Father O’Connor visited Batley library to give a talk.

Father O’Connor, of Heckmondwike, made a welcome reappearance in Batley on Monday – so welcome that he was asked to become an annual visitor to the Half-Hour Talks at the the Library. He spoke as one having authority when discoursing about his personal friends, Chesterton and Belloc. First with flashes of wit, then with beautiful excerpts from passages charged with literary glory, he charmed the audience. And not the least interesting personal detail that he recalled was Hilaire Belloc’s descent from a Gomersal family on his mother’s side.

Meanwhile over in Batley Working Men’s Club the 10 Belgium men refugees were treated to a night of entertainment on Wednesday 5 November. Father Carr of Batley Carr, widely known amongst Roman Catholics for his musical excellence, was amongst the performers.

Other foreigners in Batley included a visitor to the Delaney family, as follows:

Driver W. McLaughlin of the Canadian Army Service Corps, who came over with the second batch of Canadians to fight for the Motherland, paid a surprise visit to his aunt, Mrs. Delaney, Taylor Street, Batley, to-day. A Scotchman of magnificent physique he is a native of Glasgow, who migrated eleven years ago, and since that time has travelled far and wide in Canada.

It is over 20 years since he was last in Batley, and the manner of his coming to-day was interesting – he arrived at 5 a.m. by horse-cab from Leeds. He paid 10s. for the ride, compared with 30s. quoted by a taxi-driver.

Driver McLaughlin’s cousin, James Delaney, went on to serve with the Royal Field Artillery. Though he survived the War, his service had a significant future impact on him. His biography is here.

The wife of one of the St Mary’s soldiers was in Batley Court today. According to the report:

Mrs. Mary Ann Cafferty, Coal Pit Lane, Carlinghow, was find 5s. and costs, for using bad language. – Inspector Ripley said an Army Council order warned wives of soldiers that they might lose their allowances unless they conducted themselves properly. As defendant had £1 separation allowance and 7s. 6d. from Batley War Relief Bureau it behoved her to behave better.

The case illustrates the type of offence which could land you in court in this era, and the harsh penalties that wives of soldiers could face if found guilty. Far more punitive a punishment than a man might face for the same offence.

Another wife of a St Mary’s soldier received news that her husband was in hospital.

Mrs. M. Rourke, 15, North Street, Cross Bank, has received an official communication from the Infantry Record Office at Hamilton that her husband, Private M. Rourke, No. 6093, Royal Scots Fusiliers, has been admitted to hospital at Port-le-Grand, suffering from bronchitis.

Since the middle of October she has received no letter from him, and is naturally very anxious about his condition, though the official communication states that any news about his health will be immediately passed on to her.

Although the family surname here is spelled Rourke, he appears (along with his brothers) on the St Mary’s War Memorial as Michael Groark. Extracts of a letter from him appeared in the 24 October 1914 edition of the paper.

News also reached the Manning family about their son Michael, a relief in one way but in another this too fetched a whole new raft of anxieties.

One in Holland; another in Germany.

Two Carlinghow Marines are prisoners of war – Seaman P. Sykes (Victoria Street), in Holland, and Able Seaman M. W. Manning [?] in Germany….

Able Seaman Manning is at Doeberitz, in Germany, and is also supposed to have been captured after the fall of Antwerp, as that was his destination when he left England. His parents have a postcard:- “I am well and happy, and hope to come home to you soon. You can send some cigarettes, parcels and letters, but write nothing particular. I have no wounds, so don’t trouble.”

Although Seamen Manning’s father and mother are British subjects, the whole family spent about 19 years in Germany, when Mr. Manning’s vocation necessitated his living there. Six out of a family of seven children were born there, Seaman Manning among them. Consequently, the relatives are able to understand an official German footnote stating that he is a prisoner of war and that the communication has passed the hands of a war official.

Michael Manning

Meanwhile in England, the local Territorials, the 1st/4th KOYLIs – of which several of the St Mary’s parishioners were with – had been on the move.

Settling Down Comfortably at Gainsbro’.
“They are Doing us a Treat.”

“A really decent lot of chaps” is the popular verdict in Gainsborough regarding the troops now billeted there – including the Batley and Dewsbury Territorials, who recently removed from Sandbech Park. The good opinion the townsfolk have formed of the troops appears to be thoroughly reciprocated by the “Tommies.” Whenever they are questioned, “Are you comfortable in your billets?” the reply is invariably the same – an emphatic affirmative. One group gave their opinion in these words: “They are doing us a treat; all our chaps say the same; we’ve only got to behave ourselves and we shall find we have fallen on us feet.”

But what do the ladies think – those upon whom troops are billeted? “It’s a pleasure to have them,” remarked one good lady. “They don’t give us the least trouble,” commented another. “They would do all the work of the house if we’d let them,” said a third.

Other expressions of opinion were equally pleasant and pithy: “They are so appreciative and grateful for all we do for them. Already we feel as though they had been with us for weeks. Whatever shall we do when they go?” “Just like our own family,” etc., etc. In a word, it seems to be a unanimous opinion that the soldiers are keenly anxious to repay the little attentions of those upon whom they are billeted.

In view of the lack of entertainment houses at Sandbech Park, it is not surprising to hear that Gainsboro’s picture palaces are been largely patronised, but arrangements are on foot to provide other evening amusements. Big smoking concerts are to be arranged in the public buildings, in addition to facilities provided in Messrs. Stoles and Harrison’s rooms and elsewhere.

The other day Trinity F.C. turned over some of their Northolme football ground to the military, and a match was played to provide funds and comforts for the troops at the Front. Some really interesting play was seen, particularly on the part of the officers. The match was only arranged overnight, but there was a good sprinkling of spectators

A large number of people watched the troops start for the route march on Saturday, and also assembled for Church parade next day when the men proceeded to places of worship of various denominations.

There is no doubt that the presence of the soldiers has “wakened the town up” considerably, and that people as a whole are delighted to have them. More pleasant news could scarcely be put before the relatives of Batley and Dewsbury men, and we should be glad to publish further good and cheerful reports.

But pleasant news about the KOYLI’s stay in Gainsborough would not always be forthcoming.