This is a bumper 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.
One parish death appeared in this week’s Death Notice column. It read:
BUTTERFIELD. —On the 2nd inst., aged 47 years, Isaac Butterfield, 37, Cobden Street.
Although this relates to John Collins of Batley Carr, John and his family were originally from St Mary’s parish. His younger brother James Collins is commemorated on the St Mary’s War Memorial.
ACTS OF BARBARISM.
Batley Carr Catholic and the Huns.
Priest Killed Whilst Saying Mass.
Father Carr (Batley Carr) has received a striking letter from Private John Collins, 1st West Yorkshire’s, who has been at the Front since last September. Private Collins belongs to a Batley Carr (Thomas Street) family with a fine record of patriotism. His father Pte. James Collins, is with the K.O.Y.L.I., one of his brothers, Michael (1st West Yorkshires) is a prisoner of war at Doeberitz, and another brother, Joseph, is with the Territorials.
Writing on Whit-Sunday from “somewhere in France,” Private John Collins says:-
Dear Father Carr, – Just a few lines, hoping to find you in the best of health, as this leaves me at present. I am getting on fine in spite of all the hardships which I can safely say we went through during the winter months. These times make me realise what life really is. I’ll admit I took things very easy under the circumstance whilst in civil life in Batley Carr, but I shall only be speaking the truth when I say that I thought my time on this earth had come to an end a few times since I came out here last September, and I have said my prayers above once both night and day.
When we came into action first about eight months ago we arrived at a certain place in motor-cars. The Germans were at the other end of the town, and at that time in large numbers. I cannot describe the affair as it really was, but we drove them out of it. I lost three stone, as I did not eat anything for a week. It was a fine introduction we got to the Germans, and no “kid.”
We have a decent number of Catholics in our regiment – about 150 – and we were all at Mass this morning. We have our own priest attached to the brigade, and a very nice priest he is too. A fortnight ago we went to Mass at a church a few miles from here, and to the trenches in front the same night. On Tuesday following the Germans shelled the church and blew it to ruins, killing the priest belonging to the parish whilst he was saying Mass. We passed the church coming out of the trenches the following week. And what a wreck it was! To think that we were all in it hearing Mass the Sunday before, with the priest giving us his blessing, and now the priest has been killed and the church has disappeared – nothing but ruins.
It is such actions as these that make one realise what warfare really is – all losses, nothing at all to gain by it. Then we think we are living in a civilised world. Such actions are unworthy of the name. The actions of the Germans at the present time, what with gas, vitriol throwing, and such things, are the acts of barbarism, and more than any human being can fathom. Their hatred of us is enormous.
Dear Father Carr, I will close my letter with respects to your and also the Sisters of the parish. I hope, with the help of God, to be able to come back once more to good old Batley Carr.
A more general piece now, about the 1st/4th KOYLI’s first experience under fire. A number of St Mary’s men served with the battalion.
THE K.O.Y.L.I.’S WHITSUNTIDE FIGHT
Captain J. P. Critchley’s Description
Men Undismayed by Three Nights of German Fire
How Miners Stuck to Their Work
Captain J. P. Critchley in a letter to Mr. G. R. C. Fox (Staincliffe) sends a thrilling account of the work of our local Territorials whilst under fire for the first time at Whitsuntide:-
I should like to tell you that the Battalion has distinguished itself during the Whitsuntide holidays.
On Friday night a party of officers crept out in front of the trench, went towards the German lines, and laid out a line of trench within a hundred yards of the Germans. The following night two of our Companies, my own and Major Chadwick’s, climbed over our parapet, and, armed with rifle, spade, and pick, crept up to the line and started to dig. Of course, so many men attracted the enemy’s fire, and we had to keep watch whenever a flare-light went up, and fall flat on our faces, as it was immediately followed by a sharp burst of rifle fire.
Undismayed, the job was continued; and after doing the same for three nights – Capt. Taylor’s and Capt. Chadwick’s Companies also taking part, and having losses each time owing to machine guns being turned on – we dug a line of trench and captured a front of 400 yards in length and 100 yards deep, besides which we made the line so that it was safe to hold and tenable.
The General in command of our Army Corps, and also our own General in command of the West Riding Division, congratulated the Battalion most heartily on its work, which has been a great success.
It was the first time our lads had ever been under fire; and although we had casualties, the miners of Batley, Dewsbury, Normanton, and Wakefield stuck to their job and worked for their lives.
If only the local people could have seen the lads when they returned in torn clothes, minus hats, and covered all over with wet clay and mud, still cheerful and willing, they would realise firstly what war is, and secondly how ably our local towns were represented, and thirdly they would try to send out more to help.
Linked to this was a letter of lauding the work of the Territorials.
PRAISE FROM HIGH QUARTERS
“Gallantry and Precision” of the 4th K.O.Y.L.I.
Or readers will read with profound satisfaction the following letter which Captain L. Mainwaring Taylor addresses to us for the benefit of the K.O.Y.L.I. Territorials’ friends:-
British Expeditionary Force,
May 27th, 1915.
To the Editor of the “News.”
Dear Sir, — I am sure that your readers, many of whom have relatives and friends serving in this battalion, will be glad to know that during the fighting between 22nd and 25th May the Battalion was fortunate enough to receive the following message from the General Officer Commanding the Fourth Army Corps: —
“The G.O.C. 4th Army Corps asks that his highest appreciation should be conveyed to the officers and men of the 4th K.O.Y.L.I. of the gallantry and precision with which the operations were carried out.”
I am, Sir, yours faithfully,
L. M. TAYLOR, Capt.
There was more news about Private Joe Hart, who had a childhood link to St Mary’s, though was subsequently associated with other religious denominations.
Private J. Hart, who has been wounded at the Front and is now in hospital at Liverpool, writes to his mother in Ward’s Hill, Batley:-
“My wounds have healed now, except one, so I am looking forward to the other one closing soon.”
There was some Court news about Private John Murray.
At Batley Borough Court, on Monday, Private John Murray, Victoria Street, Carlinghow, absentee from the 9th Batt. K.O.Y.L.I. since May 25th, was remanded to await an escort. He said he had two daughters ill.
Finally for this week’s news round-up, there was another letter home from James Karney, a resident in Senlis, France, to his nephew Walter Hughes.
HIS HOME WAS LOOTED.
SENLIS RESIDENT’S LETTER TO CARLINGHOW.
Mr. James Karney, an Englishman at Senlis, Aisne, who writes another interesting letter to his nephew, Mr. Walter Hughes, Coalpit Lane, Carlinghow, resides behind the present firing line, but when the German hordes were on the advance early in the war he had to leave his house and fly. His residence was looted by the enemy, but the tide of battle turned, and the Germans were driven back, and he has been enabled to return home. He says:-
We are not very grand just now, as we have been so upset by the war. We can still hear the cannon night and day, and it is something awful to hear them. What sort of cannon they are I don’t know, but they make my place shake, though so far away. We see a good many wounded going through here to Paris.
When will it finish? That is what everyone wants to know. But I hear the English are giving it them right and left, and the cannon we hear are theirs. Good luck to them. The French people don’t know what to think of them. When they were here, the English kept half of Senlis in food. I had a few Tommies here to dine with me, and they were so pleased to find someone who spoke English.