James Arthur Bloomfield (front row sitting 3rd from right), with other patients and nurses at Wharncliffe War Hospital Sheffield, July 1915. Read more about James' war service in the Note James Arthur Bloomfield: War Service 1914-16.
Another photograph of James Arthur Bloomfield (sitting in the chair on the extreme right), with other patients and nurses at Wharncliffe War Hospital Sheffield, July 1915. Read more about James' war service in the NoteJames Arthur Bloomfield: War Service 1914-16.
A photograph of Charles Robson and Billie Gibbin (unfortunately we are not sure which is which), who were both killed during the war. Charles (Charlie), was killed on 2 October 1918, age 21 and 10 months, and is buried in Lijssenthoek Cemetery. He was the son of Charles & Betsy Robson (nee Holmes). Billie Gibbin was probably only 15 years old when he signed-up, but was killed on December 16th, 1915 just a couple of months before his 16th birthday. Their service numbers are consecutive so presumably they signed up in a Pals regiment together.
Donated by Douglas Ferriday
Part of the Hartlepool Library Service collection
The men of the Fourth Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards) outside the Staincliffe Hotel, Seaton Carew, with the two regimental dogs and six German shells discovered after the bombardment of Hartlepool in 1914.
Just after the First World War broke out in August 1914, James Arthur volunteered to serve in the Coldstream Guards and was enrolled on 1st September 1914, on which date his age was given as 18 years 1 day. He was, in fact, about six weeks short of his 18th birthday and, at the time, employed as a ‘lamp lad’ by the North Eastern Railway – “height 5ft.8 ¾ ins, weight 138 lb., complexion fresh, eyes blue, hair dark brown.” He was immediately sent to the Guards Depot at Caterham, Surrey and then to the 4th (Reserve) Battalion of the Coldstreams at Windsor as Private 11490, and for the next six months or so remained in training and on guard duties. On at least one occasion, whilst on guard duty at Windsor Castle, he told me that he had met King George V.
On 17th March 1915 he was posted to the 2nd Battalion of the Coldstreams serving in France as part of the ‘British Expeditionary Force Overseas’. He left Southampton that same day for Le Havre and, from there, the battalion made their way to the Front at Cuinchy. The next month they were moved to the Bethune area and to the front line at Festubert. On 20th May, after being in the trenches for only 24 hours, he was wounded in the foot, knee and arm whilst guiding a relieving party of the Black Watch to their positions near Rue du Bois (Choclat Menier Corner). The War Diary of the 2nd Battalion for that day is as follows:-
'Bn in Trenches.
At dark the Battalion was relieved in the Trenches by 1/6 Bn The Black Watch (Scottish Lowland Division)
Casualties 2 Other Ranks killed
12 Other Ranks wounded
These trenches were part of the position taken from the enemy on the 16th/17th May, and during the day were very heavily shelled by the enemy with every description of shell.
After relief the Battalion marched to Oblinghem and went into Billet arriving about 3 am on the 21st'
James' right foot was amputated at St. Omer and he returned to Dover on 22nd June. From there he was sent up to Wharncliffe War Hospital, Sheffield where there was a further amputation on 15th July followed by convalescence. His service with the B.E.F. amounted to 98 days. A small postcard addressed to a Mrs. Waters of Herstmonceux (sic), Sussex was found in James Arthur’s red Army Service Book; it gives a brief, first hand account of those 98 days.
An artificial limb was fitted at Wharncliffe on 18th March 1916 and James Arthur was discharged from the Army on 20th April 1916 – total military service 1 year 233 days. For his disability he received a pension of 25/- per week for the first two months and then 10/6-(52½ p) per week ‘for life’. This last was increased to £1 per week some time after the Second World War.
Some time after his return to England my father was offered a white feather by a woman passer-by who told him that he should be in France, like her son. He replied: 'in that case please ask him to look for my foot.'
It is interesting to note that James Arthur was very much a ‘growing boy’ during his Army service. When he joined at the age of 17 he was 5’ 8 ¾”; when he left nearly two years later he was 5’ 11”.
With an Army character reference as a “steady, hardworking man” he returned to civilian life at the age of 19 minus one leg and with no qualifications. By this time the Bloomfield family had moved to 18 Temperance Street and it was here that some of the family experienced the third Zeppelin bombing raid on West Hartlepool on 13th March 1918. 14 year-old sister Gladys was in the house with an older married cousin and they sheltered in the cupboard under the stairs The house was damaged and they were eventually rescued, very frightened but unharmed apart from a covering of soot and dust. They later said that the only parts of them not black were the white streaks down their faces where their tears had washed away the grime.
The following extracts are taken from the Northern Daily Mail:
18th August, 1915 - News has been received that Private Robert Hodgson, 6th Royal Scots Fusiliers, whose parents reside at 58 Hermit Street, Hartlepool, has been wounded, and is now in the Military Hospital, Rosset, near Wrexham.
9th August, 1916 - News has been received by Mr. & Mrs. Hodgson, of 58 Hermit Street, Hartlepool, that their son Private Robert Hodgson, of the Royal Scots Fusiliers, has been admitted into hospital at Lincoln, suffering from a gunshot wound in the right arm, this is the second time he has been wounded.
11th February, 1918 - Mr. & Mrs. Hodgson, of 58 Hermit Street, Hartlepool, have received official news that their son, Private R. Hodgson (23 years), Royal Scots Fusiliers, who was reported missing on May 3rd last year (1917), is now reported Killed. A message conveying the sympathy of the King and Queen has been received. Private Hodgson, who was employed at the Richardson, Westgarth Company's Works prior to joining the army when war broke out, had twice been wounded.
Richard Evers Corner and George Thomas Corner, sons of William Corner and Mary Isabella Boagey, all of Wells Yard. Richard and George enlisted together on 24 Nov 1914. Although he was trained as a machine gunner, Richard was already over 33 when he enlisted and was deemed to old to fight overseas; when the Royal Defence Corps was formed in March 1916 he was transferred into it and served the remainder of the war in Britain and Ireland. George was six years younger than his brother and was posted to France in July 1915; he was discharged from the Army in Oct 1917 after being wounded in action.
Three postcard photographs sent home by Samuel Bolton while training with the Durham Light Infantry. Two were sent from Morecambe to his father in Belmont Gardens in 1908; the other was sent to his wife in Worcester Street from the Barry Buddon Training Camp, near Carnoustie, Dundee.
Samuel Wilkinson Metcalfe (centre), and two army pals. Samuel served with 225th Company, Royal Engineers. A short article about the 225th appears in the July 2009 edition (Vol.10, No.11), of the Cleveland, North Yorkshire & South Durham Family History Society Journal.
Tipperary clubs, such as this one in Lynn Street, West Hartlepool, named after the much loved song, 'it's a long way to Tipperary', were formed during the first world war. Soldiers were billeted in various building such as schools, baths, workhouses, skating rinks, the Town Hall, hotels, and private houses throughout the Hartlepool area before going to the front. These 'Tipperary Clubs' were set up to provide comforts for the troops before they embarked. Sir William Gray provided a piano and the Boy's Brigade provided a billiard table. Writing materials, books, magazines and papers were made available to the troops as well as whist drives, concerts and suppers.