1916, 8 January – 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.

In Church news:

Catholics Unite in National Movement.

Special services were conducted at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church. Preaching at the last Mass, the Rev. Father Lea recalled Christ’s saying that “Whatever you ask the Father in My name he will give unto you,” and exhorted his hearers to prayer, penance and mortification so that the war might be brought to a speedy and victorious conclusion.

There was Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament all through the day. The special prayers ordered to be said during the period of the war for the early consummation of peace, and for the welfare of those engaged in war, were used.

News reached Batley of the death of Private Thomas Gavaghan. Reported in detail, reference was also made to his three serving brothers, James, John and Peter Gavaghan, along with his cousin – another Peter Gavaghan.


News has been received of the death in action of Private Thomas Gavaghan, the second of four soldier sons of Mr. and Mrs. James Gavaghan, 10, Ambler Street, Batley. The gallant soldier, who had been at the Front with the 1st/4th K.O.Y.L.I. over five months, was shot through the head by a sniper on December 28th, the day when the Battalion left the trenches for a well-earned rest.

Private Gavaghan’s elder brother, Private James Gavaghan (27), went to the Front in the early weeks of the war with the West Yorkshire’s and returned to this country wounded; and his two younger brothers, John (20) and Peter (18), are with the Scottish Borderers. The latter went to the Front a month ago.

Had he lived, Thomas would have been 23 years old on Monday. He worked at West End Colliery before his enlistment in November, 1914, and was very popular amongst his associates. He attended St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church.

The first information respecting Private Gavaghan’s death was received from a cousin, Private Peter Gavaghan, a Woodwell man with the local Territorials. Since then the following letter has been received from Lieut.-Colonel Haslegrave, Commanding Officer of the “First Fourth”:—

“It is with extreme regret I have to inform you that your son No.3197 Private T. Gavaghan, of the Battalion under my command, was killed in action on the 28th December, 1915. He was shot through the head by a German sniper, and died immediately afterwards. Please accept my heartfelt sympathy with you in this your sad bereavement, which, I am sure, you must feel very much. It is exceedingly hard lines that he should be killed the same day the Battalion were coming out of the trenches for their well-earned rest. There is some consolation, however, to be found in the knowledge of the fact that your son did his duty and died a hero, fighting to uphold the honour of his King and Country. He is buried in a military cemetery just behind the firing line, and the place is marked by a cross. I can assure you every care will be taken to see that the grave is well looked after, and I hope at some future date to be able to tell you the exact spot where his body lies.”

St Mary’s man Corporal Thomas Chappell came home to Batley on leave after the gas attack of 19 December. The Batley News carried the following:

Batley N.C.O. on Furlough.
Two Brothers Wounded.

Corpl. Thos. Chappell, 1st/4th K.O.Y.L.I., arrived at his home at Ward’s Hill, Batley, on Monday night for a well-deserved furlough from the Front. His two brothers, Lance-Corpl. George Henry Chappell, and Private John Chappell, now in the Forces, went through the South African War, and have been wounded in the present campaign.

Corpl. Chappell preferred not to talk about his experiences at the Front, but he mentioned that quite recently he had a narrow escape from injury. A shell burst near him in the trenches, and a fragment struck the rubber thigh boots he was wearing as a protection against water. The rubber was cut, but the soldier escaped uninjured.

Concerning the recent gas attack on the local Territorials, he said the men were quite cheerful after it, and he left the Battalion in the best spirits.