1915, 22 May – 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 death notice column had the following parish deaths:

KING. —On the 15th inst., aged 68 years, Ann King, White Lee Road.

NEWSOME. —On the 17th inst., aged 44 years, William Newsome, Russell Street.

McMANUS. —On the 18th inst., aged nine months, Katherine, daughter of James McManus, 38, Peel Street.

More details about the death of Ann King came in the form of an inquest report.


A White Lee woman’s sudden death was investigated by Deputy-Coroner Howarth on Monday afternoon. Deceased was Mrs. Ann King (68), pedlar, widow of the late Peter King, wool washer, White Lee Villa. She was apparently quite well on Thursday of last week, and was found dead in bed the following day.

Evidence of identification having been given by deceased’s son, John William King, 37, Victoria Street, Carlinghow.

Alice Frith, a neighbour, wife of George Frith, fettler, said she assisted Mrs. King at home. On Thursday morning deceased, who appeared quite well, was about the house as usual and actually prepared for washing. Later , she told witness she had fallen against the sink, and showed bruises on her left arm. She went to bed and seemed all right, as she did again next morning, when witness called at 9.30. When she called again about 11.50, however, Mrs. King complained of pain internally. Her breathing was rather heavy, but she appeared to be better soon, and would not hear of a doctor being called. Witness again went about 3 o’clock and found Mrs. King dead in bed.

Dr. H. Keighley (Batley) said the bruises mentioned by Mrs. Firth were quite superficial and had nothing to do with death. A post mortem examination revealed that death was due to heart failure from acute bronchitis.

A verdict of “Death from natural causes” was returned.

News also began to filter home about the death of one of the St Mary’s soldiers, Moses Stubley.

Batley K.O.Y.L.I. Man Who Was a Good Comrade

It is feared that Private M. Stubley, Birch Street, Carlinghow, of the 2nd K.O.Y.L.I., has been killed in action. Unofficial messages to that effect reached his relatives last week, and a further letter this week confirms the sad news, but the War Office official intimation has not been received.

Lane-Corps. J. H. Johnson, a comrade, writes under date May 10th:—

Just a few lines explaining why I am sending back your letter addressed to Private M. Stubley. Well, I am sorry to inform you that he got killed in action, and it is my orders to open all his letters and return them to the senders. (Of course, they are not read). I and all the chaps in this section send our deepest sympathy to you and all his relatives in your bereavement. We were all sorry to lose such a good comrade. Anything you wish to know, I will try to the best of my ability to inform you about.

A letter from Stephen Walsh, the brother of St Mary’s man Richard Carroll Walsh, also featured this week.


Driver Stephen Walsh, with an Ammunition Column at the Front, writes to his father, Mr. Michael Walsh, Brownhill Road, Batley: —

I would like you to send me the “Birstall News.” We were digging in the trenches one night just behind the firing line, when the Germans got their eye on us and started firing. They shelled us all night, but we managed to scrape out of it, and were not in the least alarmed. Guns are thundering all along the line, and the enemy have been using poisonous gases on our troops.

The Batley Cricket, Athletic and Football Club’s annual meeting referenced those players serving. News of Jack Tindall’s death hit the club hard. The newspaper report of the meeting went on to mention St Mary’s men Robert Randerson and Jimmy Lyons:

A number of our players (both cricket and football) felt called upon to sign on for the more important struggle. Randerson was the first N.U. player to receive a commission. This honour has been claimed by others, but it belongs to Lieut. Randerson and the Batley Club. Other players who have joined are Drummond, Debney, Hodgson, Tindall, Newsome, Crossland, Catherall, Haley, Robinson, Mullins, Thresh, Dixon, Sykes, Hy. Boynes, Cocking, Lyons, Thurmand, Bowers, Kilner, and Percy Wood.

Private Joseph Hart, who had an association with the parish, being baptised there as a child, was mentioned in a letter from Sapper G. Rhodes.

Batley Sapper Tells of K.O.Y.L.I.’s Being Gassed
Tin Whistle Artiste Wounded

Sapper G. Rhodes, 2nd K.O.Y.L.I., gives a thrilling s account of happenings at the Front in a letter to a lady friend in Ward’s Hill, Batley:—

Let me know if you hear anything from Joe Hart. I read his letter in the “Batley News” about the “Homeland” music on the tin whistle, and I can tell you it was the best bit of music I have heard. The poor fellow that played it has got wounded.

This lot is worse than hell. Just tell Joe we are at Hill 60 again, and our lot has had another awful “do.”. . I expect you will have heard about the Germans sinking that big ship of ours?1 It is a shame what they are doing. They are giving us snuff with the gas which they are using.

I have seen the sight of my life while out here. One we had to go up a railway side to the trenches, and all the way along were dead bodies. It is enough to make a man go mad, to think of it. I was burying a lot of Halifax lads, putting about 35 in one grave, and it nearly made me cry to think the poor fellows had been gassed by the Germans.2 I am very lucky to have got through so far without a scratch, and I hope I shall pull through. This Hill 60 battle is the worst affair since the war began.

Finally for this week, there was a letter from a group of 1st/4th KOYLI soldiers. One is probably Willie Barber. There are other Irish Catholic names featured in the piece (specifically McManus and Macnamara), for which there are options. I will try to pin them down as my research continues.


Dear Mr. Editor, —We are six merrie Batley lads, and during our stay in the trenches the “News” was brought to us. We were delighted to receive it, and the letters from our Company fellows were very interesting. Some were perfectly true, but to one in particular I wish to draw your attention. It is from a sergeant, who hints it may be the men’s own fault if they are wounded or killed, Some poor fellows have the misfortune to be hit because it is a man’s duty to look over the parapet during the night, though during the day they generally look through the periscope.

It is our fault, if we are ordered by our officers to let the Germans have some rapid fire? For we have then to fire over the top.

However, I am pleased to say we are all keeping champion. I hope this will come to the notice of the parents of the poor lads who have been killed or wounded whilst doing their best for their king and country. —Yours truly. —(Privates) J. McManus, J. Ryder, J. Macnamara, E. Pegg, A. Waite, and W. Barber. —France, May 16th, 1915.

1. This is likely to be as reference to the Lusitania;
2. The 2nd Duke of Wellingtons suffered heavy losses in a German gas attack on Hill 60 on 5 May 1915. 15 officers were casualties, 10 of whom were killed, died of wounds or were missing. They were also reduced to 150 other ranks. Presumably it is the burial of men from this incident which is referred to here.