1915, 11 September – Batley News

Whilst this week’s Batley News contained news about war graves for the fallen, a minimum wage for women and the start of Batley Feast and seaside holidays, there were also several pieces which directly referred to St Mary’s parishioners.

As usual I have put in bold the names of those connected to the parish who served with the military. And, as ever, the spelling and punctuation matches that of the newspaper.

The family notices contained three parish deaths, including one war related, as follows:

KILGALLAN. —On the 4th inst., aged four years, Ellen, daughter of Thomas Kilgallan, 34a, New Street.

MARA. —On the 4th inst., aged 30 years, Michael Mara, 7, Yard 7, Wellington Street.

GRIFFIN. —Killed in action at the Dardanelles, aged 25 years, Private James Griffin, 6th Batt. York and Lancaster Regt., husband of Louisa Griffin, of Barnsley, and son of Herbert and the late Mary Griffin, of Batley.

More of James Griffin below.

The additional details of James Griffin’s death read:

“Hell Let Loose” at the Dardanelles
(Special to the “News.”)

Mrs. Marsden, 11, Holland Street, Batley, has received an official communication stating that her nephew, Private James Griffin, 6th York and Lancaster Regiment, has been killed at the Dardanelles. A native of Albion Street, Batley, Private Griffin was 25 years old. He was brought up by his aunt from an early age. He had been married three years, and his wife and child reside at Barnsley.

For some time the soldier lived at Pit Lane, Carlinghow. He was well known in Batley. He enlisted shortly after the outbreak of War, and went to the Dardanelles in July. His last letter to his aunt, dated July 28th, contained the following:—

“I am in the Dardanelles somewhere. I am quite well. I have not been in the trenches yet, but do not think I shall be long now. I can hear the guns going off. It is a very hot climate here. There are one or two Batley lads here out of another lot. I cannot get writing paper; it is very scarce here.”

The severity of the fighting in which Private Griffin’s regiment has taken part is illustrated in a letter from Sergeant Precious, a Barnsley man with the 6th York and Lancaster Regiment, who describes August 6th as being hell let loose.

“It simply rained shrapnel on us,” he says, “and we have suffered, but the Turks suffered trebly. The Yorkshire lads have been complimented for their gallant conduct. We keep pegging away at the enemy.

“Shells are flying over thick as I write, but we are all in good spirits and determined to wipe the Turks out. Give our best wishes to all in Barnsley, and let them know that some of our best blood is no more, and we are seeking revenge.

“All who are able to come out should do so and help us in the trenches.”

News reached Batley of the DCM awarded to Thomas Foley, the first Batley man to receive the distinction during the war.

A Batley Man Who Gave his Life to Help Wounded Comrades
Medal Sent to His Parents

Particulars have been received of the gallant deed which won the Distinguished Conduct Medal for Private Thomas Foley, son of Mr. and Mrs. John Foley, 86, New Street, Batley. The brave warrior, who died from wounds received in performing the heroic act, was the first Batley man to win the coveted distinction. The official report, which has been received by Mr. John Foley, together with the medal, runs:—

“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty, notably on the night of March 7th, 1915, when he went out in front of our trenches to bring in some stretcher-bearers who had lost their way. Subsequently he went out three times under heavy fire to bring in wounded men, and although wounded more than once himself, he continued to carry out this duty.”

With the official report was a letter from Major C. Parr, who wrote as follows:—

“With reference to your letter of the 31st August, I beg to enclose the Medal for Distinguished Conduct for your late son, No. 7114 Private Foley, Cheshire Regiment. In forwarding the medal I trust you will allow me to add my sympathy in the loss of your son, and trust that the decoration for his gallant conduct may be some consolation in your trouble.”

The medal bears Private Foley’s name and regiment.

Private Foley joined the Army at 18 and saw service in India and the South African War. A reservist, he was working in Canada when the war broke out, and immediately returned to this country to rejoin his regiment. He was wounded on March 9th, and died in a Boulogne hospital two days later.1 Whilst congratulating Mr. and Mrs. Foley on the distinction accorded their brave son, Batley folk generally mourn with them in their loss.

Finally for this week, and on a lighter note, Michael Walsh – the father of Richard Carroll and Stephen – was in court.

Wore his Son’s Uniform to Settle a Dispute.

Michael Walsh, millhand, Brownhill, was summoned for wearing a naval uniform without permission. He pleaded not guilty.

Constable McQueen stated that on the 23rd inst. he saw defendant wearing the uniform of a private of the Royal Marines. He had a straw hat on. Witness followed him across a field towards his home. When asked why he was wearing the uniform Walsh replied, “The uniform belongs to my son, and I only put it on for a bit of fun.”

Defendant stated that he and his two son enlisted, and he was discharged medically unfit in November, but had received notice to report himself. One of his sons was in France and the other in the Dardanelles. The uniform in question was sent home by one of his sons, and the reason he put it on was in consequence of a dispute as to whether he or his son was the taller. He merely put on the clothes to settle the dispute.

The Chairman said the Bench considered that defendant had acted with no wrong intent, but impressed upon him that it was very dangerous to wear His Majesty’s uniform when he was not serving. As the Magistrates thought he had no wrong intention the case would be dismissed on payment of costs.

From the description above, this was Richard Carroll Walsh’s uniform.

1. The date an hospital in this section of the report are incorrect. See Thomas Foley’s biography for details.