1915, 21 August – Batley News

This is a round-up of this week’s pieces from the 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.

There were two parish-linked death in the family notices this week, as follows:

HUNT. —On the 16th inst., aged 11 months, John, son of Michael Hunt, 6, Back Crescent Street.

GRIMSHAW. —On the 17th instant at 56, Richmond Street, Batley, Colour-Sergeant John Grimshaw. Will be interred at Batley Cemetery on Saturday next, August 21st, leaving the house at 2.30. Friends please accept this (the only) intimation.

John Grimshaw converted to Catholicism only days before his death. The paper gave more details about him as follows:

The late Col-Sergt John Grimshaw, of Batley, who died on Wednesday, was one of the town’s notabilities. He possessed two treasures – the Afghan medal and clasp, and the Indian campaign medal and clasp. He served in the Army 27 years, and afterwards instructed the old Batley Volunteers. A military funeral is being arranged for to-morrow, and Major Smith, (Pontefract) is being asked to send a firing party and band for the ceremony.


Rejoined the Army at 58 When Present War Broke Out

After spending 27 years in the Army, Colour-Sergt. John Grimshaw (59), of 56, Richmond Street, Batley, passed away on Tuesday. He was a native of Twickenham, and gave many years to the Army, serving in India for some time. On coming to Batley, he acted for a long time as drill instructor to the old Batley Volunteers, and on his retirement from that office in 1900 he was presented with a smoking cabinet by his companies.

When war broke out he offered his services to the Government, and was accepted as drill instructor. For some months he was with the 9th K.O.Y.L.I. in the South, but just before Christmas he was seized with the illness which has brought about his demise.

The funeral to-morrow will be marked by military honours.

The paper carried more news about the death of Robert Randerson:

Teacher, Footballer and Soldier
The Late Captain R. Randerson, Batley’s Popular Sportsman

Widespread sorrow has been expressed at the sad intelligence announced las week at the death of Captain Robert Randerson, of Batley – a member of the teaching profession, a great footballer, and a gallant soldier. His death in the Dardanelles closed the life of one who has frequently been referred to as “Gentleman Bob.” If one word were applied to the popular footballer more than another, it was the word “gentleman.” He lived and played up to the fullest meaning of that grand old word, and few men will be missed more than “Bob” Randerson.

Enlisting on there outbreak of war as a private, he was the first Northern Union footballer to win a commission, and his further promotion to the rank of captain was the signal for much gratification throughout Yorkshire. A pattern of good conduct on the football field, handsome in appearance, of excellent physique, and a splendid teacher, his demise removes from the Heavy Woollen District one whose manifold examples commends itself to the rising generation.

News of the death of John Collins reached home. Baptised at St Mary’s, he was the brother of James Collins.

Tells Dewsbury Woman How Her Husband Died
Member of Batley Carr Irish National League

News has been received in Dewsbury of the death in France, on July 31st, of Private John Collins, whose wife resides at 20, Back Lawson Street, Eastborough, Dewsbury. The official notification states that Collins died from wounds received in action.

The widow has since received a communication from a Catholic priest, attached to the Casualty Clearing Station as an interpreter, saying:-

“As much as possible I attend to the spiritual needs of the Catholic soldiers who pass through our hospital. I am sorry to tell you that I met your husband, who was wounded in the chest and stomach. He had already been confessed and anointed by a Catholic priest. I spoke to him and asked him to accept the will of God whatever it may be. He had much trouble to breathe, but God wished to receive him in Heaven and to give him the reward which he gives to those who make their duty heroically…I buried him in the little English cemetery which is near the Hospital. I beg you to accept my sympathies.”

Private Collins, who was 26 years of age, was a Reservist in the West Yorkshire Regiment, and served seven years. Before the war he was a miner at Normanton. He is a respected member of the Irish National League at Batley Carr.

Although not St Mary’s, there was news of Patrick Naifsey’s brother Tom (note the spelling used in the article is Knefsay).

Birstall Soldier’s Charmed Life
Always Prays Before a Fight

Private Tom Knefsay (York and Lancasters), Geldard Road, Birstall, who, except for a brief furlough recently spent at home, has been at the Front since the beginning of the war, bears a charmed life. He has often been in hot actions, but has so far escaped unscathed. In a letter received by Councillor Flynn (Birstall) this week, Private Knefsay writes:-

I have just come out of a great battle. We took three trenches from the Germans, and they won’t forget it for a long time; but we lost a lot of our regiment. The General gave us great praise for the way we charged the Germans.

I have great confidence that I shall come out of all the battles safe, because I offer myself to God before I start. I will bring you home a few Belgium coins for your watch chain. I hope to get home to return thanks to you and the Irish National Club for the way you entertained me on furlough.

The Irish National Club entertained Private Knefsay to a concert during his recent visit home.

Further enlistments were reported at Batley. I have extracted the St Mary’s linked ones, as follows:

This Week’s Additions

George Westbury (29), byeworker, K.O.Y.L.I.

Two other men, now living in Batley Carr, did have previous St Mary’s connections, via marriage and/or baptism of children.

Timothy Conner (42), navvy, Labourers’ Battalion, R.E.
Wm. Henry Cairns (42), navvy, Labourers’ Battalion, R.E.

Two others, now living in the Heckmondwike Catholic parish (St Patrick’s as it was at the time), had similar past St Mary’s links:

James Avison (45), navvy, Labourers’ Battalion, R.E.
Anthony Caden (42), stone miner, Labourers’ Battalion, R.E.

Bridget Hughes, mother of Walter Hughes, received a letter from her brother living in France:

Too Thickly Strewn With Dead.
Aisne Resident’s Letter to Carlinghow

Another interesting letter has been received from Mr. James Karney, Senlis, Aisne, who writes to his sister, Mrs. Hughes, Coalpit Lane, Carlinghow: —

We can still hear those awful cannon – they don’t seem to move from where they have been this last six months; but I don’t think the Germans can last much longer, as they are losing a lot of men daily. Perhaps the enemy mean to hold a corner of France until the harvest is finished, as everything is getting scarce in Germany, so they will take all the flour back with them. We shall be having a good crop of wheat in France this year – the best for a long time; but there are places where it is impossible to plough the ground, as there are so many bodies buried – just covered over. We shall be lucky if we don’t have a pest next year, as we are close to where a big battle was fought, and the dead will poison the ground. I shall never forget what I saw last year; it was awful.