1916, 19 February – 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.

Thomas Foley was amongst the United Irish League’s Roll of Honour:

Batley Branch of the United Irish League is proud of its War Roll of Honour, for out of 180 members 71 have joined the Colours since the outbreak of war, in addition to six called up as Reservists. Seven men have made the supreme sacrifice, including Private Foley, of the Cheshire Regiment, who died from wounds received in a gallant action which won the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

Elsewhere more details were provided, naming St Mary’s men (War Memorial spellings) Dominick Brannan, Thomas Foley, Patrick Naifsey, Michael Flynn and Austin Nolan amongst the dead. Reginald Roberts, (down in the article as Robert R Roberts) who was connected to the church through marriage was also a member. The seventh deceased member was named as Alfy Mosley. The full article read:

Batley Irish League – 180 Members, 77 Soldiers

At the 20th annual meeting of the Batley (John Dillon) Branch of the United Irish League on Monday, Mr. Thomas Finn presided over a good attendance, and explained that although 1915 was a critical year which taxed to the utmost the capacities of the committee, he was proud to say they finished with £15 profit. He considered the result very good when it was remembered that the commodities were sold to members at a cheap rate, and the members, therefore, – not the club – received the benefit.

The balance sheet, which showed the club to be worth, in cash and stock, £156, was adopted without comment.

Mr. James Brennan’s secretarial report mentioned that six members were called up as Reservists on the outbreak of war, viz., Dominic Brennan, James Brennan, Robert R. Roberts, James Fitzpatrick, Thomas Foley and Harry Garside, of whom he was sorry to say Dominic Brennan, Robert Roberts and Thomas Foley were killed in action. They deeply regretted that “Tommy” Foley did not live to wear the proud distinction of the D.C.M. which he so gloriously won on the field of battle.

Since the outbreak of hostilities 71 other members had joined the forces, marking a grand total of 77 out of a membership of 180.

A voice: What do you think of the Irish now?

Mr. Brennan said that of the 71 other volunteers four were killed in action – Patrick Nafsey (Irish Guards), Michael Flynn, and Alfy Mosley; one, Austin Nolan, was accidentally killed in England; while a number were wounded.

A vote of condolence with the relatives of the deceased soldiers was passed.

Mr. Thomas Finn was re-elected president for the fifth time, and Mr. James Brennan secretary for the 14th consecutive year. Messrs. T. Gavaghan, P. Hopkins, T. Merryman, T. Moran, T. Meagh, and T. Fleming were elected to the committee, and Mr. Patrick Colleran was appointed auditor.

A voluntary fund was opened for the benefit of soldier members at the Front, and £2 2s. was granted to Batley Hospital

The final piece for this week concerns the death of a soldier connected to St Mary’s who does not appear on the War Memorial, Sam Sykes. His brother Frank Scott and his brother-in-law Michael Phillips also served:

Former Employee at Shaw Cross.
Father in White Lee Explosion.
Brother Had a Bullet Pass Right Through His Body.

News has been received of the death in action on January 29th – when he expected to obtain leave to came home for a few days – of Private Sam Sykes, aged 24, who was at a colliery at Shaw Cross until he enlisted early in the war. His wife lives at Birch Street, Carlinghow, and his mother at 23, Healey Street, Healey. His father was also employed at Shaw Cross until he took a job at Messrs. Ellison’s establishment at White Lee, where he was in the terrible explosion. He was injured about the eyes and legs, then troubles developed, and he died a few weeks later.

His son, Private Sykes, who leaves a young widow and three children, has a brother, Pte. Frank Scott, who enlisted at the same time as himself. Frank, however, went abroad a fortnight before the deceased soldier, because the latter had some trouble with his foot.

Frank was wounded in hospital 18 weeks as a result first of a bullet which went right through his chest and came out at his side, and second as the result of a wound in the leg. The bullet which passed through him is now in possession of the family, and the soldier is undergoing medical treatment in Pontefract Barracks.

A brother-in-law of the two soldiers, Gunner Michael Phillips, of 4, Harrison’s Yard, Dark Lane, is in the Regulars as a member of the R.F.A., and his wife has not heard from him for several weeks, except for an intimation that he was on his way through the Mediterranean to an unknown destination.

Private Sam Sykes and his late father were both well-known members of St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, and much sympathy will be felt with the bereaved family.

Sam Sykes