Peter Doherty/Dougherty

Name: Peter Doherty/Dougherty
Unit/Regiment: 10th (Service) Battalion, The Prince of Wales’s Own (West Yorkshire Regiment)
Service Number
: 56091
Date of Death:
20 October 1918
Montay-Neuvilly Road Cemetery, Montay, Nord, France

Recorded as Peter Doherty on the St Mary’s War Memorial, his name is Dougherty in some other records, including military. Daugherty is amongst the other surname variations used.1 For consistency I will use the St Mary’s War Memorial Doherty spelling.

Peter’s birth was registered in Huddersfield in the June quarter of 1892. His parents were Sligo-born John Doherty and his Huddersfield-born wife Mary (née Quinn). The couple’s marriage was recorded in the Dewsbury registration district in the March quarter of 1886.

It is likely this was John’s second marriage, his first wife being Mary Glynn with whom he had a son, Thomas, in 1878. Baptised at St Mary’s, Thomas is recorded in the Ward’s Hill area of Batley with his grandmother Sabina Glynn in the 1881 and 1891 censuses.2 More work is needed around this period of this family’s life, including checking birth, marriage and death certificates to definitively confirm the Glynn connection.

John Doherty principally worked in labouring jobs and, besides Batley, the family had Huddersfield links, also having significant spells in Darwen and Blackburn in Lancashire. In addition to Peter, the two other children born to John and Mary who survived to adulthood were Mary, born in Batley in February 1891, and Elizabeth, born in Darwen in February 1897.

The draw to Darwen was likely to be familial. In the 1891 census John, Mary and two-month-old daughter Mary are lodging there with a Thomas Doherty and his family at Ellen Street. John is described as a general labourer.3 By 1901 John and Mary had moved up the road to Picton Street, Blackburn, with John working as a navvy.4

By 1907, though, the Doherty’s were back in Batley and featuring in the local newspapers. It was a story of human interest and coincidence, which the press back then loved as much as modern-day media do today. The family were living in the well-known Catholic Skelsey Row area of town, with Peter working at West End Colliery. On Tuesday 12 March 1907 Peter was admitted to Batley Hospital after breaking his leg at work. Two days later John, who had employment at Soothill Wood Colliery, was injured during a roof fall there. He too ended up in Batley Hospital with nasty head and face wounds.5 Both were said to be progressing favourably, and clearly recovered by the time they feature in the 1911 census.

Location of West End Colliery, Ordnance Survey Maps – Six-inch England and Wales, 1841-1952, Yorkshire CCXXXII.NE, Revised: 1905 to 1906, Published: 1908 – National Library of Scotland, under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC-BY-NC-SA) licence

The 1911 census is a document which adds further confusion to the Doherty family information.6 There are some major question marks around the details provided. The family are at 6, Villiers Street. John is working as a Batley Corporation Labourer. 49-year-old wife Mary is employed as a rag sorter. Also in the household are 20-year-old Batley-born daughter Mary, 19-year-old Huddersfield-born Peter who is working as a hewer in a coal mine, and 14-year-old Darwen-born daughter Lizzie.

Villiers Street and St Mary’s Church Ordnance Survey Maps – 25 inch England and Wales, 1841-1952, Yorkshire CCXXXII.11, Revised: 1915, Published: 1922 – National Library of Scotland, under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC-BY-NC-SA) licence

All that is as expected. But also recorded in the household is 33-year-old son Thomas, who incidentally is double-recorded in this census, also showing in his own home at Gawthorpe with his wife and children.7 This census also indicates John and Mary had been married for 38 years, which is a massive over-exaggeration. It also states four children were born within that marriage, all still living. It appears Thomas is included amongst those Doherty/Quinn children, rather than being the son of Mary Glynn. However, my preliminary research indicates that in addition to Mary, Peter and Elizabeth, John in his marriage to Mary Quinn had at least three other children who died at an early age. These were Bernard, born in Batley in November 1886 and who died the following August; John born in Batley in 1888, and who died in early 1891; and Francis, whose baptism is recorded in Darwen in 1895 and who died later that year.

The year after the 1911 census, Peter’s mother died with her burial recorded in Batley Cemetery on 22 April 1912.

During the war Peter served as a Private in the 10th Battalion, The West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own), enlisting in Leeds. This Battalion formed part of the 17th (Northern) Division, in the 50th Infantry Brigade.

From his number it appears he was called up for service in around April 1918, initially joining the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion at Whitley Bay. Within months he was posted overseas and, on 20 October 1918, he was killed in action whilst his Battalion were involved in the Battle of the Selle. This took place in the Picardy region of France between 17 and 25 October.

On the day of Peter’s death the West Yorkshiremen, along with the 7th East Yorkshires and 6th Dorsets, were engaged in operations to clear the Germans from Neuvilly village and areas to the east. The advance began at 2am in heavy rain, with the West Yorkshiremen initially supporting the two attacking battalions, following them closely on either side of the village. The battle took place under intense enemy fire from machine guns and trench mortars. The Yorkshiremen were also involved in hand-to-hand fighting to clear a small copse to the south of the village.

Once Neuvilly was entered, the West Yorkshiremen rushed on the remaining enemy machine guns embedded in the houses. By now the enemy were surrendering freely. 35 Germans were extracted from one cellar. Another party of around 100, with hands above their heads, gave themselves up rushing terror-stricken towards the river and the prisoners’ cages.

By 5 a.m. the village was cleared of the enemy. The 10th West Yorkshires then re-organised and took a central position east of Neuvilly in support of the two attacking Battalions.

In total, the 10th West Yorkshires captured 84 prisoners, in addition to the 100 or so who gave themselves up. They also took 34 machine guns, six trench mortars, three German G[eneral] S[ervice] wagons, and two horses. They also killed around 100 Germans. The History of the 50th Infantry Brigade, 1914-1919 states that “the Battle on October 20th was probably the fiercest ever fought by the Brigade.8

However, it was at a cost. The 10th West Yorkshire’s losses that day were one officer killed, two wounded, and in the other ranks the casualties were 13 killed, 66 wounded and two missing.9 Subsequent analysis of CWGC data for the day show that there were 19 recorded deaths in France for the 10th Battalion West Yorkshires (one officer and 18 other ranks).10 Amongst those dead was Peter Doherty.

Exactly one year to the day on from his son’s death, on 20 October 1919, John Dougherty died. He was buried in Batley Cemetery on 22 October 1919.

It was Peter’s married sister, the now Mary Woulds, who completed the Imperial War Graves Commission (now the Commonwealth War Graves Commission) forms relating to her brother’s particulars. Peter was originally buried in a plot marked with a temporary cross just outside Neuvilly, where he died. After the war his body was reburied in its final resting place at Montay-Neuvilly Road Cemetery, Montay.11

Extract from Trench Map 57B.NE, Scale 1:20000, Edition 2A, Published September 1918, Trenches corrected to 29 September 1918 – original burial location of Peter Doherty marked with a ‘x’ – National Library of Scotland, under the the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) licence

In addition to St Mary’s, Peter is also remembered on the Batley War Memorial. His sister Elizabeth, along with St Mary’s parish priest, Father Lea, were amongst those informing the Batley Borough Council Town Clerk of names for the proposed Batley War Memorial

Peter was awarded the Victory Medal and British War Medal.

1. Other variants of the surname the family go under include Dogherty, Dockerdy and Dougharty;
2. 1881 Census, The National Archives (TNA) Ref. RG11/4546/60/9/495; and 1891 Census, TNA Ref. RG12/3412/17/28;
3. 1891 Census, TNA Ref. RG12/3719/42/8/54;
4. 1901 Census, TNA Ref. RG13/3927/184/25/170;
5. Batley News and Batley Reporter and Guardian, 15 March 1907;
6. 1911 Census, TNA Ref. RG14/27245/113;
7. 1911 Census, TNA Ref. RG14/27333/281;
8. Wyrall, Everard. The West Yorkshire Regiment in the War, 1914-1918: A History of the 14th, the Prince of Wales’ Own (West Yorkshire Regt.) and of Its Special Reserve, Territorial and Service Battns. in the Great War of 1914-1918. Vol. II. London: J. Lane, n.d.
9. 10th (Service) Battalion, The Prince of Wales’s Own (West Yorkshire Regiment) Unit War Diary, TNA Ref. WO95/2004/1
10. Commonwealth War Graves Commission;
11. Ibid;

Other Sources:
Batley Cemetery Burial Registers;
England and Wales Censuses, 1881 to 1911, TNA, various references;
GRO Birth, Marriage and Death Indexes;
Long, Long Trail,;
Medal Award Rolls;
Medal Index Card;
• National Library of Scotland maps;
Newspapers – various editions of the Batley papers;
Parish Registers – various;
Pension Index Cards and Ledgers, Western Front Association;
Soldiers Died in the Great War; and
Soldiers’ Effects Register.