NOSTALGIA: The returning heroes never spoke of the war

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They paid the supreme sacrifice and for this we kept our word to them that their names would live forevermore. Perhaps at this time of remembrance we should spare a thought also for their comrades who fought shoulder to shoulder with them but were able to come home, writes Margaret Watson.

Some were physically disabled and mentally scarred but they never talked about what they had seen.

They too were heroes but there is no roll of honour for them and their names will not live forever, except in the minds of their descendants.

I remember as a little girl walking up Halifax Road behind an elderly gentleman who kept turning round and running back a few steps to stamp on something that wasn’t there.

My mother told me he lived in the Workhouse and had been shell-shocked during the war, and what he was stamping on were the incendiary bombs still in his mind.

There couldn’t have been one man who returned from that dreadful war unmarked in some way, physically or emotionally, but they never talked about it, and there is no Roll of Honour for them.

Cyril Walford, born in Staincliffe, was invalided out of World War One in 1918 and walked all his life with a limp from injuries received.

When he came home he went straight back to work down the pit and never talked about the war again, not even to his children. His wife, Ann, died in 1964, aged 63, and Cyril died in 1971 aged 73.

Their daughter Maureen Lyons, of Westtown, remembers her father walking with a limp but it was only recently, thanks to research by her nephews, Bernard Walford and Barry Day, that she learned the full story.

Cyril, whose brother Richard had been killed earlier in the Battle of the Somme, had been in the Northumberland Fusiliers, when he suffered frostbite in the Dardanelles (Galipolli) and had to have a number of toes amputated.

He was then evacuated to a hospital camp in Egypt before being sent back to England for treatment and rehabilitation.

His discharge papers described him as being physically no longer fit for war service, but that he was “reliable, trustworthy and industrious”.

Like all battle wounded soldiers, he was given a blue blazer with a badge on the right breast to indicate he had fought in the war but was now disabled.

Cyril was a single young man, living in Staincliffe, when he was eventually discharged from the war in 1918, but it was not long before he met and married Ann Waldron, of Milton Terrace, Batley Carr.

The couple were married at Holy Spirit Church, Heckmondwike, and had 11 children, tragically two of whom died in infancy, Mary, aged 18 months, who was knocked down and killed 
by a horse and cart outside their home, and William Henry, who died aged 
seven months of a childhood illness.

Cyril’s daughter, Maureen, was the youngest of their 11 children, and she regrets that she never talked to her father about the war.

“I didn’t see a lot of him when I was little because during the day he was at work and we were at school, and when he came home, we were playing out.”

Maureen could never recall her father talking about the war, and now when she sees accounts on television of what happened, she realises 
what he must have gone through.

“It must have been hell, just terrible, absolutely dreadful, and I think that is why people like my dad never spoke of it.

“There must have been many more like him who just didn’t want to remember what it was like but I don’t think that what they did should be forgotten.”

The following are the names of the 21 men from Dewsbury who sacrificed their lives during the month of October 2016.

Michael McCullen, 30 Middle Rd, Dewsbury, 8th King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

Clifford Moffatt, 1, Fairfield Avenue, Bank Top, Earlsheaton, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

Eric Oxley, 7, Amy St, Dewsbury, Gunner Royal Field Artillery.

William Price, 24 Willans Rd, Gunner Royal Field Artillery.

Leonard Crane, 3 George Street, Ravensthorpe, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

Nathan Henry Lightfoot, 24, Halliley Street, Yorkshire Regiment.

William Norman Podmore, Bottoms House, Savile Town, Royal Fusiliers missing 7th October 1916

George Hoggarth R.N. 24, Bell St, Ravensthorpe, swept overboard near Scapa Flow, whilst serving on HMS Mounsey. His body was never recovered and he has no known grave but the sea. He is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial.

Eric Johnson, Hardy Mount, Thornhill: Royal Fusiliers.

Allan Metcalfe, 2, Milton Street, Batley Carr, Rifleman King’s Royal Rifles.

Donald William Watts, 4, Trafalgar Rd, Dewsbury 2nd Lieutenant 3rd York and Lancaster Regiment.

John Nocton, Flatts, Dewsbury, 2nd Battalion 
Duke of Wellington’s Regiment.

George William Boothroyd, High Street, Westtown, Connaught Rangers. Prisoner of War in Mesopotamia (Iraq)

Thomas Bertrand Harper, 13, Grosvenor Rd, Savile Town, Rifleman King’s Royal Rifles.

Herbert Rowley, family lived in Earlsheaton, Manchester Regiment.

Albert Henry Bird, East Lancs Regiment.

John Beaumont Brown, Laithe Croft, Earlsheaton BS J/47461 GMS Genista, torpedoed off the West Coast of Ireland.

Frank Dudley Fearnsides, Ravensthorpe, Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment, commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial

Thomas Harold Graham, Hollow Bar Earlsheaton, 2nd Lieutenant 2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade, died of wounds at Le Transloy

Sydney Oates, Whitley Lower, Private 18520 King’s Own Scottish Borderers.,

Harold Wilby 1, Nursery Street, Thornhill Lees, Northumberland Fusiliers.

This coming Remembrance Sunday these men will be remembered at services throughout the town, the main service being at Dewsbury Minster at 10.30am, following a march from Dewsbury Town Hall starting at 10am. After the service wreaths will be laid at the Crow Nest Memorial.