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Temporary Exhibition 2014: War Beckons: Panels

Below is a summary of the text of each of the eight display panels from the temporary exhibition "War Beckons". You can view a higher resolution copy of the panel in image (JPG) format by clicking on the thumbnail image of the board, or in PDF format by clicking on the PDF link at the foot of each section of text. A single PDF containing all panels is also available: pdf (86Mb)

Copyright in all text and illustrations on the following exhibition panels remains with the Museum of North Craven Life

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On 4 August 2014, it is 100 years since the start of the First World War. “The First World War was a turning point in world history. It claimed the lives of over 16 million people across the globe and had an impact on the lives of everyone. One hundred years on, we are all connected to the First World War, either through our own family history, the heritage of our local communities, or because of its long-term impact on society and the world we live in today”

The Museum of North Craven Life joined with other organisations in the area to form the “Craven and the First World War” project which was successful in its bid for a Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

For the exhibition in 2014, the Museum’s research group posed several questions:-

Who were the men and women who left North Craven to take part in the war? What were they doing before the war and, if they survived, what happened to them afterwards?

What was life like for those at home, especially the women, – what impact did the war have on them and on the farms and local industries?

It is important that these stories are told and recorded. It is also important to discover the impact of the war on our world. It is vital to involve and engage young people.

To try to answer these questions, the group have liaised with Settle College and Settle Primary School and held two drop-in days. Research was carried out in the Brayshaw Collection at Giggleswick School and Skipton Library.

We are enormously grateful to everyone who has responded to our appeal and helped in any way – there would have been no exhibition without these poignant artifacts and memories.

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SETTLE AWAKE!

As soon as Britain entered the war on 4 August 1914 army regulars and territorials were mobilised, but more men were needed. This is when the iconic recruitment poster featuring the Secretary of State for War, Horatio Kitchener, was produced in order to appeal for more volunteers to join the fight.

In the Craven district one man set out on a mission to answer Kitchener’s call. Harry Gilbert Tunstill, a 32-year old land agent and County Councillor from Otterburn, took out newspaper advertisements and held open meetings in which he appealed for 99 men to join him in forming a ‘Settle and District Company’ in one of the ‘New’ Armies.

With the support of local dignitaries he held inspirational and rousing meetings throughout the region and after a very successful tour almost achieved his goal by recruiting 87 men including himself. The Settle meeting was held at the Victoria Hall on 7 September. The rest of the meetings had already been set, as had the date on which the new recruits would leave for their medical inspections and signing of papers at Skipton, before travelling on to their training camp at Frensham in Surrey via the barracks at Halifax.

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Settle Awake

It was to be a weekend of celebrations culminating in a triumphant send-off. Saturday 19 September saw the final meeting in Settle when the results of the tour were announced. The men then posed for photographs on the cricket field before being treated to a gala dinner at the Ashfield and Lion Hotels. They then adjourned to the Victoria Hall for a concert of local talent and patriotic songs. The men who lived nearby went home but men from further afield stayed the night at Dickinson’s Temperance Hotel and at the Naked Man Hotel.

With only rudimentary uniforms i.e. armbands emblazoned with ‘Kitchener’s Man’ the men assembled in the Market Square at 7am on Monday 21 September. Despite the early hour large crowds had gathered to witness the parade and to wish the men a fond farewell. The men followed the same route to the station as had been taken by the first and second waves of territorials in the previous few weeks, headed by the Settle Band, and loaded with gifts of food, clothing, cigarettes and cigars.

The company were joined at the camp by more men from the wider Yorkshire area and became attached to the 10th Battalion of the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment. They spent almost a year in training at Frensham, Aldershot and Kent before embarking for France in August 1915.

The Regiment saw action at The Somme, Messines and Ypres before being transferred to Italy in November 1917 where they also saw action. They remained there for the rest of the war.

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ROBERT HENRY MAUNDERS

Robert Henry was born in to a large family at Selside, Horton in 1891. His father was a railway worker and most of Robert’s older brothers followed in their father’s footsteps and also worked on the railways.

Robert was one of the men to answer the call of Harry Gilbert Tunstill who appealed for 99 volunteers to join him to form a ‘Settle and District Company’ in Kitchener’s army in 1914.

He was wounded twice, once by being shot in the face by a German sniper in October 1915, not long after arriving in France. It is quite possible that he met his wife Mary (from Essex) whilst he was convalescing as we know she did voluntary work in hospitals.

We have been lucky enough to be able to talk to Robert and Mary’s son Dennis, who told us his mother also worked at a munitions factory in Woolwich, where she was an inspector of shells, before moving up to Settle to marry Robert.

Robert’s oldest brother Thomas had a son Walter (born 1897) who also answered his country’s call. Walter was a Settle Territorial and as such went with the expeditionary force to France in April 1915. He was posted to Italy in November 1917 where unfortunately he was kicked by a mule whilst loading sawdust on to a cart – however a witness to the accident assures us that Walter was absolutely sober at the time!

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1914 Timeline

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LUCKY THIRTEEN

The young men in this photo were all members of the Settle Territorials, F company, 6th Battalion, the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment. The photo was taken when they were at Riby camp, near Grimsby in October 1914.

The men would have known each other well and apparently called themselves the “Lucky 13”. The photo is part of the Brayshaw collection at Giggleswick School and was presumably kept because 3rd from the right on the back row is Thomas Brayshaw, junior. The soldiers’ names are written in pencil on the back but after 5 of the names the word “killed” is added.

We hope to discover more about these young men. Their stories will be displayed in folders.

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THE GELDARD FAMILY

Nicholas Geldard and his two sisters Elizabeth and Sarah together with his future wife Olga Wilson all served in the First World War.

Nicholas, aged 25 when war broke out, had been enjoying a tennis tournament with his sister Elizabeth (Betty) in Somerset. They returned home to Cappleside in Rathmell immediately and Nicholas joined the 6th Battalion of the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment as a 2nd Lieutenant, later promoted to Captain. He served all through the war, was wounded twice and was awarded the M.C. and the D.S.O. Nicholas kept a diary throughout and thanks to the generosity of his family, we are able to display it and a copy is available in a folder

He was able to meet up with his sister, Elizabeth, occasionally at Dunkirk. She had joined the Voluntary Aid Detachment and served with the Friends Ambulance Unit at the Queen Alexandra Hospital, Dunkirk. Also nursing there was another VAD and member of the FAU – Sister Olga Wilson, who in 1921 became Nicholas’ wife. Olga made the fascinating scrapbook, also on display. Unfortunately nothing is known about Sarah’s nursing career.

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"BY GOOD LUCK AND GOD’S HELP I AM STILL SAFE"

The volunteers spent the rest of 1914 and early 1915 in training, but regular soldiers saw action very early on. The German army had marched through the Low Countries aiming ultimately for Paris and so it was on the Belgian-French border that they clashed with the British Expeditionary Force at Mons on 23 August. At first the Germans incurred many casualties but the BEF was hopelessly outnumbered and forced to retreat.

The following account of the battle is from a letter written by Pte C. Reilly of Settle, serving with the King’s Own Scottish Borderers and printed in the Craven Herald.

“Anyone who gets through this with a whole skin will be very lucky indeed, because it is like being in hell – shells flying over you from daybreak to dark and you never know the minute it is going to be your turn.

The battle was simply hell. The shells were flying over the trenches in dozens and we could not see anyone at whom we could fire back whilst our fellows were dropping in dozens. In one trench there were 30 killed out of 50 in C Company and there are 153 officers and men missing since that day, so you can see we have been amongst it.”

Pte Tom Metcalfe of Ingleton was shot in the leg at Le Cateau when his regiment, the King’s Own (Royal Lancaster), was overtaken by the enemy, two days after Mons. He was captured and became a prisoner of war. He was later exchanged for German P.O.W.s but he lost his leg and saw no further action.

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LIEUT. GORDON SANDERSON

2nd Ghurkhas, Machine Gun Section

Born in 1886 in Scarborough, the only son of William and Alice, Gordon Sanderson had a bright career as an architectural draughtsman. This started with him being employed on Government work in Egypt. After this he was appointed to a position in Edinburgh, where he was to meet and marry Agnes Cowie. Gordon was later to be appointed Superintendent of the Archaeological Survey of the North-West Provinces of India in the Punjab Government, charged with the research into and conservation of, historical buildings in Delhi. In 1911 he appeared on the medal roll of the Agra Volunteer Rifles.

On the occasion of Queen Mary’s visit to India he had the honour of showing Her Majesty over some of the temples around Agra. During his time in India he authored several books, mainly focusing on the archaeological and architectural significance of Delhi.

Previously, while living in Rathmell, he wrote and illustrated a book on the architecture of the Settle district, published in 1911, which can be seen on display here.

On the outbreak of war he was offered an A.D.C. appointment, but this he refused, and instead took charge of the 2/2nd Machine Gun Battalion in the King’s Own 2nd Gurkhas, also known as The Sirmoor Rifles. At the age of 28, Lieutenant Sanderson was killed in action in France in October 1915 at Loos, leaving behind his wife Agnes and two week old daughter. He is buried in the Gorre British and Indian Cemetery.

In 1919 a memorial to Lieutenant Sanderson was erected in Delhi by members of the Archaeological Survey of India.

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RECRUITMENT

Richard Haldane, Minister for War (1905 – 1912), undertook the reform of the British army, including the formation of the Territorial Force in April 1908. The men were recruited locally, trained at weekends, in the evenings and went to summer camp. The Settle lads had been training on Attermire and in the Drill Hall.

At midnight on 4 August 1914, when war became inevitable, the ‘war machine’ sprang into action and the British Expeditionary Force was mobilized.

On Wednesday 6 August, the first group of nearly 100 Territorials from the Settle area set off. According to the Craven Herald, they were in high spirits as they marched fully equipped to Giggleswick Station, whistling and singing as they went.

The young men of Craven were urged on all sides to enlist through newspaper articles, posters and even from the pulpit. A sermon was preached in Langcliffe Church on the 'sin of shirking'. The vicar of Settle wrote in the parish magazines urging those who had not yet joined the colours to do so.

The second detachment of 35 Territorials left by train on Wednesday 9 September. They joined the first detachment and became part of the 6th Battalion of the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment. They spent the autumn at Riby camp near Grimsby, moving to billets for the winter in Doncaster. They drilled, marched, dug trenches, practised musketry and night raids. On 14 April 1915 they sailed to Boulogne.

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HOW WILL YOU HELP?

In the early months of the war, the people of North Craven were looking for ways in which they could help the war effort.

Various Relief Funds were set up, both locally and nationally. The War Relief Fund brought together various organisations in order to provide for the equipment of nurses, the relief of families of the troops, as well as providing clothing for the soldiers.

Eight members of the Settle division of the St John Ambulance Brigade enrolled with the Royal Army Medical Corps for hospital work. One man joined the Friends Ambulance Unit. Several ladies trained as nurses and served either at home or abroad.

The Vicar of Settle urged his parishioners to pray – one of the church bells would be chimed daily at 12 noon to summon people to pray for the men in the service of their King and country. Two children of the Sunday School raised 1s 4d by selling bunches of sage from their father’s garden for the Prince of Wales Fund.

An appeal was made for 100,000 out of use razors which would be made good for the use of the troops. Shirts were made and 300 knitted socks and scarves were taken to Frensham Camp by Mrs Tunstill for the recruits training there. 120 pipes and tins of tobacco were sent to the Territorials, paid for with the proceeds of a Brass Band concert.

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HOME COMFORTS

During our research for this exhibition we unearthed many documents and images that helped give us a picture of what life was like for the people of North Craven who were left at home. We also found many examples of the efforts that were being made here to support the men on the Frontline. Unfortunately we haven’t the space to display everything – here are just a few items that have helped us tell our stories.

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THE BELGIAN REFUGEES

As the Germans advanced into Belgium in early August 1914, many Belgian families fled their homes and came to Britain.

A committee was formed in Settle under the chairmanship of Walter Morrison. He liaised with the War Refugees Committee in London, and brought the first party of refugees to Settle from London by train on 29 September. A house in Kirkgate had been offered rent free and furnished by members of the committee.

The family came from Louvain – two married couples, the wives being sisters. On 8 October, the older children were admitted to Settle National School and so we know their names and ages.

Luis Sterck and his children Rene, age 7, William, age 9 and Charles, age 11.

Charles Lembrechts and his children Bertha, age 3, Marie Barbara, age 7, Victorina, age 11 and Julius age 13. (The day after his 14th birthday, Julius went to work in the mill).

The people of Settle did their best to make them welcome. Funds were raised with a farmers’ sale and concerts.

At the end of October a fisher family called Martinsen arrived. They had sailed from Ostend in their fishing boat to Lowestoft. There were grandparents, two married daughters (whose husbands were fighting), a married son and his family, including a tiny baby, only days old. They moved into a house in Penyghent View.

Most of the refugees returned to their own country in the summer of 1915.

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WAR OF WORDS

Propaganda was used in World War One as in any war – and the truth suffered. Heavily censored newspapers printed sensational headlines, not necessarily founded in fact. The general public became immediately suspicious, rumours abounded playing on everyone’s fears.

Propaganda ensured that the people only got to know what their government wanted them to know. Efforts to blacken the enemy’s name reached new levels. Even children’s books painted a dark picture of the enemy as our display demonstrates.

German Dreadnought bombardments of our coastal towns of Yarmouth, Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby in 1914 made the prospect of bombing very real to ordinary people. Foreign nationals had to register at local Police Stations; many were interned. People were encouraged to report anything suspicious. In the first few months of the War between 8,000 and 9,000 such reports had been received.

Fear, rumour and suspicion were rife across the whole country and the Craven District was no exception.

It was rumoured that the Catholic priest at Settle, Father Tillman (a German by birth) used mirrors on the cross outside the church to signal to the enemy.

Newspaper reports prove that not only was the Aliens’ Act being strictly enforced but also members of the public were being extra vigilant and reporting anything that looked in the least bit suspicious.

Living through these years in Settle was a jobbing gardener and nurseryman named Charley Green.

It is from his ‘memoir’ (also on display) that we can see how ordinary folk were affected by events so far away over the channel and how rumours were spread.

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THE NELSON FAMILY

John Nelson was born in 1890 into a long line of boot and shoe makers. The business still thrives in Duke Street, Settle. John joined the Territorials in 1908; by the time he went to France in April 1915 he had reached the rank of sergeant. During spells back in England he worked at Regimental HQ in Halifax, with the very grand title of Battalion Shoemaker.

John was responsible for bringing technology to Settle; when he finally came home he persuaded his father to invest in a finishing machine like the one he had used in Halifax. The machine was treadle-powered at first, but was later converted to run from a petrol engine and later still from electricity.

John had an older sister called Emily who also played her part in the war effort. We know she became a nurse and was serving in a home hospital in the early part of the War. Maybe this is where she met 2nd Lieutenant William T Pettitt whom she married towards the end of 1915.

Unfortunately William was killed in action on 19th April 1918, making Emily a young widow with a small toddler; she carried on nursing and delivered many of the town’s babies. She was known forever after as Nurse Pettitt.

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ARE YOU RELATED TO ANY OF THESE MEN?

Photographs of all of these men appear in Charley Green’s memoir (on display). We have some details of them but if you have any further information about any of them that can form part of our future displays, please alert a member of our staff.

Four men featured are:

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ARE YOU RELATED TO ANY OF THESE MEN?

3 men featured are:

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AN ORDINARY MAN?

In 1926 at the age of 61, Charley Green, originally from Norfolk but now firmly rooted in Settle soil, looked back on his life and wrote down his memoir. Thankfully the tome has survived and has been a really useful research and social history tool for this and our other exhibition about the Riley family. He recalls local life and world events alike and illustrates the book with newspaper clippings, photographs, magazine artwork and his own drawings. At times his musings are touching and poignant.

Here are just a few extracts written about the war of 1914-18

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A full transcript of Charley’s reminiscences from the war can be seen in a separate folder.

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HORSE POWER

Although by 1914 motorised vehicles were a well-established means of conveyance, the horse still played an important role in the transport network. The army in particular not only used horses for the cavalry and officers’ mounts but also to pull heavy artillery and to speedily get supplies of food and ammunition to the men at the Front. Therefore a variety of different types of horses, including both thoroughbreds and work-horses alike, were needed in great numbers.

Within two weeks of war being declared a total of 116,000 horses were ready to be shipped to the Front for war work. This masterpiece of organisation was, however, not just luck but the result of an extremely well-co-ordinated operation led by Major-General William Henry Birkbeck, a native of Settle. Birkbeck established remount commissions across the UK and the countries that were part of the colonies, Canada alone sent 20,000 horses and Birkbeck’s organisation continued to meet the need for horses to replace those killed and injured at the Front for the rest of the war.

As early as 1912 critics had foreseen a disastrous shortage of horses in the event of a war and so the War Office created a Remount Directorate with Major-General Birkbeck as its head. He created a horse census by sending officers across the country with the power to inspect any stable whether it belonged to a humble tradesman or wealthy land owner. Animals fit for military service were registered and hence a census created. Every part of England was then divided up into a division, at the head of which was placed a deputy assistant director who at a moment’s notice could supply hundreds of horses.

Newspaper clippings show the level of response in this area. Even the local hunt supplied horses. All however had to be passed as fit for active service by a veterinary surgeon.

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HORSE POWER

On arrival in France horses were stampeded to the front. A letter home from one soldier describes how:

"Only last night there was a big rush with over 700 horses. Just imagine a stream of horses half-a-mile-long rushing by, as if they were being pursued by a thousand demons. During the stampede, we had to build huge bonfires at the junctions of all the roads for miles round here. It was weird. The shadows of galloping horses, the sparks from flying hoofs, looked grand, although terrifying."

Just like the men, horses were wounded or killed. By November 1914 23,000 injured horses had passed into the care of the Army Veterinary Corps to have their wounds tended. Many were fit enough to be sent back to the Front after treatment; some however were sent home again.

A local horse became something of a celebrity when he was returned to his old job at the Crown Hotel in Hortonin- Ribblesdale with part of an ear missing – he had originally been called Charlie but was ever-after known as Old Loplugs!

Major-General Birkbeck retired from the army in 1920 and lived in France for several years before he tragically died in 1929, at the age of 66, after falling from a cliff whilst out walking near his home in Brittany.

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Temporary Exhibitions for other years may be found by clicking on the relevant links below:

 


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