Visitors share their World War One stories
As part of our Red Poppies and White Butterflies project volunteers and visitors have been sharing their own small stories of the Great War. Since the project started in June 2013 we have gathered a remarkable collection of war stories, many of which share a strong connection with Nostell Priory. Such stories are helping us to develop a vivid picture of what life was like at Nostell Priory and the surrounding areas during the war - from the experiences of soldiers, miners, farmers, nurses, teachers, mothers, munitions workers, to the staff and inhabitants of Nostell Priory itself. Our archive of stories is always growing and we'd love to hear from you if you have a story to share.
If you have a story to share please get in touch.
Died of a broken heart
Annie Hurdley (standing), shown in this photo with her sister Nellie, worked at Barnbow munitions factory during World War One. Like many young women from in and around the area surrounding Nostell Priory she was collected everyday for work by a car-a-banc which took her to the factory just outside of Leeds. She worked long hours at Barnbow, undertaking dangerous work. Annie was engaged to Joseph Tipling, a private with the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. Joseph and his family lived in the same village at Annie and their love had blossomed during their teenage years. The war, however, cruelly interrupted their hopes of a life together when Joseph, at just 19 years, was killed in action on 29th July 1918. Annie's niece, Betty Dean, says that her grief at the loss of Joseph was intense and when she became ill a year later, in June 1919, she hadn't the will to go on living, dying of a broken heart.
Thanks to visitor to Nostell Priory, Betty Dean, for sharing Annie's story.
Don't trouble about me at all
Nostell volunteer, Pam Forshaw, found a small box tucked away at the back of her mother's wardrobe. The box belonged to Pam's Grandmother, Lily, and contained a remarkable collection of photographs, medals, dog tags and letters relating to Private William Stanton (Lily's first husband) of the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. A letter neatly folded in the box tells us that William had originally hoped to join the Royal Engineers but, categorised as a 'Class A' soldier, he was sent to the frontline. On the day he enlisted he wrote to Lily telling her not to write to him 'until you hear from me, for I don't know were I shall be' and that she was not to 'trouble about me at all, I am alright'. The last William’s family were to hear was that he had been killed in action on 25th April 1918. However, it would appear that William was in fact taken as a prisoner of war and died almost two weeks later on the 5th May 1918. He died of a gun shot wound to his neck which had been sustained during the previous weeks' battle. Pam's Grandmother visited William's grave at Le Cateau Military Cementary in the 1930s, where he was buried in Plot 1, Row B, Grave 82.
Albert Lomas is Nostell volunteer Sue Rowley's grandfather. Albert was conscripted in October 1916 and served in the 9th Battalion of the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. He fought in a number of major offensives but, in April 1918, was captured by the Germans. He was marched behind enemy lines and forced to work with the many horses needed by the German war machine. Sue tells us that her Grandma was informed that he was missing but that his whereabouts was a mystery. After the Armistice, in November 1918, she received a postcard from Belgium from Albert saying that he was safe and well - her relief must have been palpable. After the war Albert took a managerial position at the Co-operative Society moving his family from industrial Shefield to the green fields of the South Pennines. Sue says this was his answer to the terrors he had indured.
Many thanks to Sue Rowley and Pat Dyson for sharing this story.