1915, 20 November – Batley News

This is a round-up of pieces from this week’s Batley News 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 local police news included:

Batley Court – Monday
Ellen Griffin, East Street, Batley, for using obscene language, fined 7s. 6d.

The death notices had three relevant to the parish:

BOTTOMLEY. —On the 12th inst., aged 3 years, Joseph, son of John W. Bottomley, 8, Churchfield Street.

RUSH. —On the 12th inst., Mary, aged 10 months, daughter or M[?] Rush, 20, Villiers Street.

KENNY. —On the 15th inst., aged 14 months, Thomas, son of Thomas Kenny, 23, Cooper Street.

Mrs Bridget Hughes was the recipient of a couple of letters published in this week’s paper. The first was from Private Bernard Gallagher.

Merry Batleyite Loses Jack Boots – 10 Sizes too Big

Private Bernard Gallagher, of Cobden Street, Batley, who is at the Front with the Batley Territorials (1st/4th K.O.Y.L.I.) writes to Mrs. B. Hughes, Coalpit Lane, Carlinghow:—

It has been both painful and laughable this last week. I am O.K. Rain has poured down, and at the time of writing there is plenty of sludge and water. Recently I was told off to go down with a message to one of our captains in the reserve trenches. Of course, I put on a pair of jack-boots (you know what sort I mean, about 10 sizes too big), and I got half-way there when I fell in a big hole full of sludge. I tried to get out, but I couldn’t without leaving the boots, and at the finish I had to leave them.

You ought to have seen me go down the rest of the journey without any boots on at all! Well, when I got back I laughed till I couldn’t laugh any longer. I was like one of the Batley Corporation sludge carts. But I can tell you I was thankful I got back safe, because rain still poured down, and I was afraid of cramp in my feet. I got through safely though, and in less than 24 hours from now I will be like a new soldier with all my new things on. I shall soon be getting my fur coat now, as half our lot has got them.

And from her brother she received the following:

French Resident’s Letter to Carlinghow

Writing from Senlis (France) to his sister, Mrs. B. Hughes, Coalpit Lane, Carlinghow, Mr. James Karney says:—

We can still hear the cannon roar, and we sleep with one eye open in case of danger. I see the enemy have paid another visit to England by the air. What brutes they are! They have no pity for anyone. We are sure to “get them” even if it takes a long time.

There were two parish war deaths too – Private Thomas Donlan and Private Martin Carney.

Two More Batley Soldiers Killed.
Soothill Wood Employee’s End.
Sergt.-Major Killed Same Day.

Yet another name has to be added to the list of local Territorials killed in this war, as news of the death of Private Thomas Donlan, of 9, Hume Street, Batley, was received from a companion on Saturday.

Private Donlan was 20 years old, and the son of Mr. and Mrs. C. Donlan, Batley. He was a member of Batley Territorials (1st/4th K.O.Y.L.I.), and previous to the war was a hurrier at Soothill Wood Colliery. He had also worked at White Lee Colliery.

At the outbreak of war he went into training with his battalion and went to the Front with them soon after Easter. His letters were always cheerful.

Major H. Moorhouse writes: It is with extreme regret I have to write to inform you that your son, No. 2084 Private Thomas Donlan, of the Battalion under my command, was killed in action on the 10th inst. He was shot through the head by a German sniper. Please accept my heartfelt sympathy in this your sad bereavement, which I am sure must come as a great shock to you, but there is some consolation to be found in the fact that your son was a brave lad and died nobly fighting to uphold the honour of his King and Country. He is buried in a military cemetery just behind the firing line, alongside some other of his fallen comrades, and the place is marked with a cross.

His companion writes to the parents:— “I have some bad news for you. Poor Thomas was hit in the head last Wednesday morning. Poor lad, he died almost at once, as it was an explosive bullet and it shattered his head. We in his platoon are very sorry, and we shall miss him very much. I expect John (his brother) won’t know, as he has gone down the line sick. Thomas is buried behind the trenches along with Colour-Sergt. Major Pollard, who was killed the same day.”

A Brother Sent Down the Line Sick
Another comrade writes: —I am very sorry to have to tell you that Private Thomas Donlan has been killed. He got hit in the head by a sniper on Wednesday morning about 10 o’clock. I was stood by his side when he was hit, and my pal held him while I ran for the stretcher-bearers, but he was dead when we got back. He did not suffer any pain. He is buried in a little cemetery behind the firing line, and I will look after his grave while we are in this part of the line. There is not a lad in the Company who is not sorry, for he was cheerful and one of the best lads in the Battalion. We were only about 50 yards from the Germans when he got hit.

Another Batley Territorial Victim
One of Three Soldier Borthers

Private Martin Carney (29), another Batley Territorial, was killed the same day as Private Donlan. His widow received first intimation on Tuesday, in a letter from Private Michael Kennedy (deceased’s companion). On Thursday morning, Major H. Moorhouse, second in command of the Territorials, wrote confirming the sad news, and saying, “I regret to inform you that our husband, No. 3419, Private M. Carney, of the battalion under my command, was killed on the 10th inst. He was shot through the heart by a German sniper.[”] The officer expresses the profound sympathy of himself and the battalion; and the public, too, will sympathise with the widow, who is left with three young children.

Private Carney joined the Territorials after the outbreak of the war, and up to that time was employed at West End Colliery as a bye-worker. He also worked for some time at Shaw Cross Colliery. He went to the Front with the first batch of Territorials, last April.

In his last letter he told his wife he had applied for leave, and a field-card stating he was in good health was received the day before his death.

He was associated with St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, Cross Bank.

The deceased soldier has two younger brothers, Privates George and Michael Carney, training with the K.O.Y.L.I. They are all sons of the late Mr. and Mrs. John Carney, formerly of New Street, Batley.

As a footnote, it is worth pointing out that the biographies of Thomas Donlan and Martin Carney address some of the discrepancies in facts surrounding them and their deaths.

Although in Birstall St Patrick’s parish now, Thomas Knefsey – the brother of War Memorial man Patrick Naifsey (Memorial spelling) was in the news.

Private Thomas Knefsey (also of the York and Lancasters), who joined the Army with Private Mullins 12 years ago, and has been with him at the Front during a large part of the campaign, is at his home in Geldard Road, Birstall, on his sick furlough.

Finally there was news of a wounded parishioner, Private John Lyons:

Batley and Birstall Chums Wounded in Big Advance

Two local comrades were wounded in the recent British advance, viz., Private John Lyons, New Street, Batley, and Private Joseph Hopkins, Coach Lane, Birstall, who were employed at White Lee and West End Collieries, respectively, before their enlistment immediately after the outbreak of war.

The couple went to the Front in September with one of the K.O.Y.L.I. battalions, and were back in England 20 days later.

“I didn’t think we should be back so soon,” Private Hopkins declared. “I meant having a good spell out there.”

The main British advance took place on the Saturday, and the local men’s battalion went forward the following day. Both spoke of the large numbers of dead Germans they passed in the advance. Each man was wounded in his left arm by shrapnel! —at the foot of Hill 70; and they were able to walk back to the dressing station.

On returning to England the Birstall man was sent to a hospital at Woolwich, whilst his Batley chum was treated in a Warrington hospital.