1915, 18 September – Batley News

This is a round-up of pieces from the Batley News this week relating to the parishioners of St Mary’s. 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 one death linked to the parish.

CAIRNS. —On the 15th inst., aged 49 years Michael Cairns, 1, Spa Street.

More parishioners appeared in court this week.

Batley Court – Wednesday

Four absentees, Sidney Green, 3rd/4th K.O.Y.L.I., Back Birch Street, Carlinghow; George Mutton, 3rd/4th K.O.Y.L.I., Back Upton Street; Thomas Cafferty, 3rd/4th K.O.Y.L.I., Ambler Street; and James Phillips, 12th K.O.Y.L.I., Fleming Street, were remanded for escorts. Mutton, when apprehended, said he had lost his railway ticket, and Green told the Bench his wife had not been well, and he was going back the day the policeman saw him.


…Jane Cooney, Cross Cobden Street, Batley, for having been drunk and riotous, was fined 14s.

There was one potential enlistment at Batley, that of Hugh Gavaghan, a bricklayer’s labourer from Batley, who joined the Labourers’ Battalion.

The Delaney family were pleased to welcome one of their sons home. A ship’s steward in the merchant navy, he spoke to the newspaper:

Impressions of Canadian Attitude on the War.
A Submarine Sighted.
(Special to the “News.”)

Mr. William Delaney, Taylor Street, Batley, who has spent many years at sea as a ship’s steward, visited his home last week-end after making several voyages from England to Canadian ports. He has crossed the Atlantic over a hundred dimes, and some of his experiences have previously been published in the “News.”

Mr. Delaney had several good opportunities of observing the temper in which our Canadian brethren regard the war. In Montreal and Quebec he stayed for several days, and he was impressed by the Canadians’ grim determination to help the Motherland to the fullest possible extent in the successful prosecution of the war. There, he told a “News” representative the hard business of the war is regarded very seriously, and all eligible young men are expected to respond to the call to the Colours.

“After the harvests have been got in,” he added, “there will be no work for any young men in Canada, except in the Army.”

The Batley steward could tell some good stories of the sea if he were permitted to do so. He mentioned that his ship was never chased by a submarine, but on one occasion they noticed a U boat some miles astern.

When in London last week Mr. Delaney shared in the reception accorded the crew of the ill-fated Hesperian, which was torpedoed by the Germans after their empty promise to the United States not to attack passenger boats without warning.

Mr. Delaney was in Australian waters when war broke out, and the ship on which he was then carried troops from the Antipodes to Egypt for service against the Turks.

Edward Leonard, recuperating at home on leave from the Army, recounted his experiences in an interview for the newspaper.

Batley Rifleman Saved From Serious Injury by His Braces
(Special to the “News.”)

After being wounded in the arm, Rifleman Edward Leonard (1st/8th West Yorkshire’s), North Street, Cross Bank, Batley, is enjoying a few days’ leave at home, and to a “News” representative who had a chat with him he told some interesting stories. Before the war he was a clerk in the service of Messrs. Bodenheim and Carlebach, Dewsbury, and he enlisted in September, proceeding to the Front in April.

Recounting the story of his injury, Rifleman Leonard said it occurred in the hottest part of the line. The Allies’ trenches were in some parts only 15 yards from the Germans’. The rifleman was sent out of the first line into the reserve trenches with a message, and after delivering it he was sitting smoking, when he was shot, apparently by a German sniper. The bullet entered the right arm above the elbow, and, passing through the sleeve, went into his tunic pocket. There, fortunately, the bullet struck the buckle of his braces, rebounded through the sleeve, and, glancing down his arm, buried itself at the bottom of the trench.

It was certainly a lucky escape. The gallant young fellow, however, recalled a more miraculous escape from injury by one of his companions. About six men were in a dug-out during a bombardment, and a shell burst directly above it, causing it to collapse. Five of the men were dug out dead or seriously injured, but the sixth man, strangely enough, did not receive a scratch. With the exception of a shock he was none the worse for his adventure.

The soldiers, Rifleman Leonard stated, get quite used to seeing aeroplanes over their trenches. He once saw two of our aeroplanes bring down a German airman, The German came over the British lines, and our two airmen ascended to encounter it. One engaged the German’s attention, whilst the second climbed much higher, and eventually dropped a bomb on the enemy machine, setting it on fire.

“It was an impressive sight,” added the Batley soldier, “to see the German aeroplane coming to earth on fire. The pilot made frantic efforts to get back to his own lines, but failed. When he knew he had no chance of descending safely, he jumped out of the machine, and was killed outright.”

Rifleman Leonard was never called upon to take part in a bayonet charge, but he has seen soldiers returning victorious after capturing enemy trenches.

“It was amusing,” he remarked, “to see them return carrying souvenirs of all descriptions. Some of the fortunate could be seen displaying a greatly coveted German helmet, whilst others had revolvers and other things.”

The soldiers [sic] recounted a somewhat alarming incident in which he and others were concerned whilst carrying ammunition to the trenches. The first line of British trenches was a line which had been captured from the Germans, and the Germans’ first line was the line which had formerly been their reserve trenches. The first line and supports bring always connected by communication trenches, the British and German trenches were in touch with each other. As the party of West Yorkshires were carrying ammunition to the first lines they lost their bearings owing to the intense darkness and the bewildering network of zig-zag trenches. For some time they kept on in the hope that they would find their bearings, but soon it became apparent that they had passed the British line, and were in the communication trench leading to the Germans. It was an alarming position, but the party, by beating a quick retreat, were able to reach their own trenches.

On another occasion, whilst carrying trench mortar shells to the first line, the party was overtaken by a cloud of poisonous gas, and had to retire, leaving the shells in the trench to be brought up later.

Rifleman Leonard has seen a good deal of the work of the German gas shells. When these explode the fumes smell like almonds, but grow stronger and stronger, until they are intensely bitter, and burn the eyes and prevent the victim from drawing his breath. The victim begins to sweat and choke, and is eventually overcome.

“When it comes to a fair fight,” the Batley rifleman concluded, “the Britisher is easily superior.”