1916, 18 March – Batley News

Two pieces appeared in 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.

A meeting of the St Mary’s branch of the National Catholic Benefit and Thrift Society included details about its soldier members:

Thrift Society’s Remarkable Record
Eleven Killed, Five Wounded, One D.C.M. and Over 120 Others Enlisted

The fourth annual meeting of the St. Mary’s (Batley) Branch of the National Catholic Benefit and Thrift Society was held in the I.L.P.1 Institute on Monday. Mr. John Deasy, G.P., presided, and Mr. A. Cox in his annual report as secretary said the year 1915 proved the best, with regard to finance, administration, and conduct of members since the inception of the Insurance Act. One feature was the considerable decrease in the number of claims for benefits from women members — a fact, he observed, which proved that the trade of Batley was good, and also that the members were more accustomed to the provisions and regulations of the Act. With regard to the men, he pointed out that of a total of 370 members 121 were with the Colours before the institution of the Derby scheme. Eleven members had given their lives for their King and Country, viz., Dominic Brennan, Edmund Battye, Patrick Colleran, Thomas Donlan, Michael Flynn, James Foley, Thomas Foley (who was awarded the D.C.M. for bravery on the field), Robt. Hy. Hirst, James Healey, Thomas Gavaghan and Patrick Neafsey; Michel Groark has been missing since January, 1915; five have been wounded, and two have been discharged as time expired men.

Walter Waite wrote with details of his latest location, in a letter which seemed more like a holiday tour update:

The Water Where Christ Walked.
Hyenas and Jackals Visit Soldiers’ Tents.

After ten months with the Artillery attached to an Indian Expeditionary Force at the Front, Gunner Walter Waite, son of Mr. and Mrs. R. Waite, Beck Lane, Carlinghow, is now in the Persian Gulf, and he writes home:

This leaves me well at present. We have not gone up the line in Mesopotamia yet, but are expecting to go any day. We are in the Persian Gulf, or up the Tigris River, which you like, and are having some very hot weather. The mail goes and comes periodically from here, and I am in a hurry to catch it.

I am in the pink and we are getting good food — if only we can get it up the line also, and keep the fever off. We had a nice voyage out, and were lucky; we did not get “bagged!” I hope to be with you next Xmas, all being well.

I have been on the water that Jesus Christ was supposed to have walked on, in the presence of His disciples. There is nothing here but a few Arab villages and sandy deserts; and I think it will be warmer than France (not half).

I did not think I should ever see the world as I have done. I am 7,000 miles away now, but I do not want to go through the Mediterranean again till the war is over. It is thrilling at nights here when the jackals and hyenas come round to the tents; but the least move, and they are off!

1. Independent Labour Party