All posts by Roger Ward

The Battle of the Somme 100 Years On — Anthony Bolton — 4th July 2016.

At the out­break of the first World War Herbert Henry Askwith was not only Prime Minister he was also the Secretary of State for War, which was not accept­able and so the pos­i­tion of Secretary of State for War was taken over by Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener. He inher­ited a greatly under­staffed army because up to that time Britain relied upon its navy and did not see the need for great land forces.

KITCHENER RECRUITING POSTER
A Recruiting Poster Of Earl Kitchener

On the 7th of August 1914 Kitchener star­ted to recruit a new army called K1, con­sist­ing of 100,000 volun­teers and he adop­ted the policy of those who joined together would serve together. This cre­ated  ‘Pals Battalions’, which con­sisted of 1,000 men.  A. L. Fisher who was Chancellor of the Sheffield University arranged for the University Officer Training Corps to parade in the city centre and recruit en-masse. Sheffield man­aged to form one bat­talion of 1,000 men whilst Barnsley man­aged to form two pals bat­talions. This was prob­ably because the Sheffield bat­talion were referred to as toffs with white cuffs and shiny wrist watches.

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The First Parade At Norfolk Barracks.

The first parade was sup­posed to be at Norfolk bar­racks which was only designed for a few hun­dred men and so the parade was moved to the Sheffield United foot­ball ground at Bramhall Lane, much to the dis­gust of the grounds­man, who was not pleased at seeing the ground churned up by sev­eral hun­dred drilling recruits.

The Sheffield Corporation quickly designed and built bar­racks to hold the recruits at Redmires which they occu­pied from the 5th December 1914 to the 15th August 1915. On the 31st July they went to Rippon for rifle train­ing and from the 21st to 22nd of December they bordered HMT Malakoda to go to the Suez Canal as rein­force­ments. On the 16th March 1916 they were trans­ferred to Marseilles in read­i­ness for trench war­fare in the Somme.

The object of the battle of the Somme was to relieve pres­sure on the French who were being attacked at Verdon, East of Paris. The object­ive of the battle was to make the Germans remove troops from Verdon and redeploy them as rein­force­ments along their front line on the Somme.

The battle was com­manded by Field Marshal Sir Douglas Hague and General Henry Rawlinson over a 25 mile front. Field Marshal Hague wanted a heavy pro­longed artil­lery bom­bard­ment fol­lowed by a sur­prise sweep­ing attack to gain as much ground as pos­sible and to punch a hole in the German lines. General Rawlinson how­ever wanted to attack in small bites and con­sol­id­ate his pos­i­tion each time. Field Marshal Hague was in over­all charge and so his plan was imple­men­ted. The German army con­sisted of 3 lines with very deep trenches and bomb proof shel­ters stretch­ing back over sev­eral miles and Field Marshal Hague wanted to take two in one bite.

A week before the start of the battle the bom­bard­ment star­ted and in all 1,738,000 shells were fired. During this period the Germans went down into the rel­at­ive safety of their shel­ters and when the shelling stopped they came up ready to fight using machine guns which mowed the allied troops down. Hunter’s 8th corps 31st divi­sion con­tained the Sheffield Battalion and these occu­pied the most for­ward pos­i­tion in the line.

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The Thiepval Memorial

On the 1st of July 1916 the battle com­menced and on the first day of the battle there were 57,000 British cas­u­al­ties and of those 19,200 were killed. The battle lasted 140 days and claimed 419,654 British, 204,253 French and 500,000 German cas­u­al­ties. This enabled the allied front line to move for­ward just 6 miles.

 

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Memorial to Sheffield City bat­talion at Sheffield Memorial Park, Serre.

It is a sober­ing thought to com­pare these fig­ures with the size of the British army today, which is a total of 144,900 troops made up of  89,860 reg­u­lar, 25,010 army reserves and 30,030 reg­u­lar reserves.

If noth­ing else this battle showed the total futil­ity of trench war­fare.

 

 

This short extract does not do justice to the very pro­fes­sional present­a­tion by Anthony Bolton.

A Visit To The National Railway Museum At York.

NRM Visit

A party of 49 mem­bers and guests from Stumperlowe Probus Club enjoyed a day at the National Railway Museum in York on Wednesday, 16th March. In front of the iconic Mallard, in the Great Hall of the museum, chair­man Vince Allsopp (left) hands over a cheque for £250 on behalf of the club to Tobias Lumb, Head of Public Programmes at the NRM. Also in the pic­ture (hold­ing the folder) is club sec­ret­ary Graham Snowdon, who was wear­ing two hats as a life member of the Friends of the National Railway Museum.

A selec­tion of pho­to­graphs taken on the day by  Peter jack­son are avail­able for view­ing in the Gallery.

A Maritime Heritage — Graham Snowdon 11th January 2016.

Graham Snowdon is a retired journ­al­ist, our Secretary and an author in our blog team who has def­in­itely raised the bar in the qual­ity of our report­ing. His talk was an account of his paternal grandmother’s family, which he has traced back to Christopher Husband, his four times great grand­father, born in Scarborough about 1734.

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A Water Colour Of Scarborough By J.M.W.Turner 1825

We all think of Scarborough as a sea­side resort but that only came about with the advent of the rail­ways. Scarborough was a very active port from medi­eval times and a great deal of ship build­ing took place there. From 1755 to 1807 The Tindall shipyard was the largest pro­du­cer of ves­sels, total­ing 57, ran­ging from 64 tons up to 403 tons.

Graham said that of the Husbands his great great grand­father Christopher Husband, his great great uncle John Husband, his great grand­father Richard Tindall Husband and his great uncles Jack and Art Husband were all master mar­iners.

Frances (Fanny) Tindall, Graham’s great great grand­mother was born in Scarborough in 1787 and she and Christopher Husband mar­ried in Scarborough on 15th December 1817. Christopher and Fanny settled into mar­ried life in a small house on Quay Street behind Ivy House (now Ivy House café). At that time Ivy House was the home of one member of the Tindall family, known as ‘Gentleman’ John, master mar­iner and ship owner.

Christopher and Fanny had three sons, John, Christopher and Richard.Christopher was born in1825 but died in infancy. John and Richard both became master mar­iners. Richard or Captain Richard Tindall Husband, to give him his full title, was the young­est of the three, born in 1827 and was the great grand­father of Graham. Richard mar­ried and had a daugh­ter Frances Annie (1872) and two sons, Jack and Art, who again were master mar­iners. Frances Annie was Graham’s grand­mother and Jack and Art his great uncles. Again Jack became a master mar­iner (Captain Jack Husband) and his brother Art, became a fully qual­i­fied trawler skip­per.

Captain Jack Husband used to sail across to America and it was on one such occa­sion That he was the hero in a dra­matic sea rescue 60 miles of the coast of America. The JohnTwohy with eleven crew on board was in danger of sink­ing in a ter­rible storm. Captain Jack Husband dis­patched a life­boat from his ship, the Kilnsea to go and rescue them but one member of his crew was thrown into the sea and was res­cued with great dif­fi­culty. The life­boat was then smashed to pieces and the crew of the stricken John Twohy had to remain on board through­out the night, to await rescue the fol­low­ing after­noon. Great Uncle Jack who organ­ized the rescue and remained calm under severe pres­sure was recog­nized by President Woodrow Wilson who com­mis­sioned a 14-carat gold pocket watch and chain to be presen­ted to him for his gal­lantry. This watch is now in Maine Maritime Museum.

Captain Jack Husband sur­vived the first World War to sail his ship into Calais in 1919 on gov­ern­ment busi­ness, and accord­ing to ‘The Times’, he was seen to go ashore never to be seen alive again. His body was found float­ing in the harbor ten days later.

Graham’s great great grand­father had a 2nd cousin twice removed called Gregory Husband who was born in the same year as he in 1827 and he also was a master mar­iner. He appar­ently slipped off the gang plank going aboard his ship, whilst it was moored in the Thames one Saturday night in 1869 and drowned.

In all, 6 of Graham’s ancest­ors were master mar­iners and was a fully qual­i­fied trawler skip­per, and quite a few of the Husbands sailed the Tindall ships.

His talk was full of facts and dates and was alto­gether thor­oughly inter­est­ing. I for one was spell­bound.

Wellington v Nelson – Professor Bruce Collins – 16th November 2015.

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Professor Bruce Collins.

When I real­ised that it was my turn to write the blog and the sub­ject was his­tory I was filled with dread because it was my weak­est sub­ject at school. However I was grabbed by the present­a­tion given by Professor Collins. His sub­ject is modern his­tory and he has writ­ten many books on the sub­ject. His place of work is the Sheffield Hallam University and his talk was a com­par­ison of the lives and careers of two “English” heroes in the Napoleonic Wars, namely The Duke of Wellington and Admiral Lord Nelson. The word English is in quotes because in actual fact the Duke of Wellington was Irish.

I am not going to real off any dates because they went com­pletely over my head, but these two men were heroes in the Napoleonic Wars. The Duke of Wellington’s career was in the army and, as every­body knows Nelson’s career was in the Royal Navy.

Nelson’s family were from the clergy and his uncle was a sea cap­tain which gave him his intro­duc­tion into the the Royal Navy. The Duke of Wellington, or Arthur Wellesley as he was called was born into an aris­to­cratic, Irish family and part of his edu­ca­tion and train­ing was obtained at the French Royal Academy of Equitation, where he became a first class horse­man and learnt to speak French flu­ently. He was gaz­etted into the army as an ensign by the 4th Duke of Rutland (Lord Lieutenant of Ireland) and reached the rank of Lieutenant by the time he was 21.

Nelson’s uncle was chair­man of the board and he used his uncle’s influ­ence to get on many ships so that by the age of 20 he had sailed extens­ively. He went to the Caribbean and the death rate was high, res­ult­ing in him being pro­moted to cap­tain by the age of 20. He was a very enthu­si­astic officer which guar­an­teed his career and whilst he was in the West Indies he mar­ried an afflu­ent widow. He craved for action and was driven by glory. He was noted for his inspir­a­tional lead­er­ship, superb grasp of strategy and uncon­ven­tional tac­tics.

Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson.
Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson.

During his career he spent many years at sea but only fought about five battles.
• The Battle of Cape St Vincent, which he won.
• The Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, where he was defeated and lost his right arm.
• The Battle of The Nile against the French, which was a decis­ive vic­tory.
• The Battle of Copenhagen against the Danes which he won.
• The Battle of Trafalgar in which he was fatally wounded and died after the vic­tory.
Wellington’s first taste of war was under the com­mand of the Duke of York and it was a very bad exper­i­ence due to the bund­ling of the senior officers but as Wellington said, that was where he learned what not to do. He had an exem­plary battle record and par­ti­cip­ated in over 60 cam­paigns during the course of his career. He was famous for his adapt­ive defens­ive style of war­fare which gave him vic­tory over foes that had numer­ic­ally super­ior forces with the min­imum of losses on his side.

Sir Arthur Wellesley The 1st Duke of Wellington.
Sir Arthur Wellesley The 1st Duke of Wellington.

The two men only met once and that was in an outer office 7 weeks before the battle of Trafalgar. Nelson was 11 years older than Wellington and the con­ver­sa­tion was totally one sided. He went into the inner office and asked who the young officer was out­side and he then returned and car­ried on the con­ver­sa­tion, but this time on equal terms. Wellington never saw him again because Nelson was killed seven weeks later at Trafalgar.
Nelson died at the age of 47, a hero and Wellington car­ried on to be a politi­cian and a states­man and died at the age of 84. Nelson was famous for the Battle of Trafalgar and Wellington was famous for the Battle of Waterloo. I just wonder, if Nelson had lived on into his 80s and if Wellington had died at Waterloo at the age of 46, would we have Waterloo Square and Wellington’s Column?
If you would like more details about these two heroes and Professor Bruce Collins you can find them by click­ing on their pho­to­graphs.

It was a very enjoy­able and edu­ca­tional morn­ing and I look for­ward to another talk by the pro­fessor.

Mr Waring & Mr Gillow – Malcolm Dungworth – 21st September 2015.

Malcolm Dungworth is a retired Company Director who has been totally involved in logist­ics for the whole of his work­ing life and is embroiled in the motor industry. At the present time he is chair­man of the ‘Bamford and District History Group’ and also runs a web­site with Mark Denton, called ‘Vehicles Duty Of Care.’

Malcolm star­ted his career at Leyland Motors in Lancashire and then moved to the John Peters (Furnishing Stores) Limited, Sheffield in November 1970. He had met the Company Secretary of the Group who explained to Malcolm that they had a very large fleet of vehicles which were his respons­ib­il­ity at the time; and whilst he might be a good Company Secretary he knew noth­ing about vehicles and the legis­la­tion cov­er­ing the use of the vehicles. In short, the John Peters Group required some­body on the board that could take over the respons­ib­il­ity of the fleet, and the Company Secretary con­vinced the board that Malcolm Dungworth ticked all the boxes. Malcolm worked there for over 30 years.

John Peters (Furnishing Stores) Ltd was a private lim­ited com­pany and at its head was Manny Cussins who was also Chairman of Leeds United foot­ball club between 1972 and 1983 and Chairman of Waring & Gillow Ltd., an inter­na­tional trad­ing com­pany.

Malcolm is very inter­ested in his­tory and delved back to the begin­ning of the Gillow Company of Lancaster which is said to have been star­ted in1695, although accord­ing to Wikipedia it was foun­ded in 1730 by Robert Gillow who was born in 1704. In his early career Robert Gillow was a ships car­penter who sailed to the West Indies where he became very inter­ested in mahogany. When he set up Gillow of Lancaster he star­ted making luxury fur­niture which he sold to the wealth­i­est houses in the land. His son, Richard Gillow, who was the archi­tect for the Customs House, Lancaster, joined the firm in 1757, and is cred­ited for the design of the tele­scopic dining table.

The firm expan­ded rap­idly, export­ing fur­niture to the West Indies and import­ing rum and sugar together with mahogany. Towards the end of the 19th Century the com­pany ran into fin­an­cial dif­fi­culty and in 1897 began a loose fin­an­cial arrange­ment with Waring of Liverpool, which was rat­i­fied in 1903 by the form­a­tion of Waring and Gillow.

Samuel James Waring was the grand­son of John Waring, a cab­inet from Belfast, who had arrived in Liverpool in 1835 and estab­lished a whole­sale cab­inet making busi­ness in Liverpool. In 1897 Samuel Waring set up a branch of the family busi­ness S. J. Waring and Sons in London and in 1897 was respons­ible for the merger with Gillow to become Waring & Gillow, of which he became chair­man.

The com­pany expan­ded rap­idly and during World War I, apart from making fur­niture, they made tents and air­craft, employ­ing a lot of women, because the men were away fight­ing the war. As the com­pany expan­ded its fleet of wagons and lor­ries had to keep pace. The horse drawn wagons were replaced by steam lor­ries, and also petrol and diesel ones. At one stage they pur­chased an elec­tric truck but this only lasted a short while.

In World War II the com­pany made parts for gliders and the uphol­stery depart­ment made tents and kit bags etc. Again the com­pany went into decline and the Lancaster work­shops closed in 1962. About this time Manny Cussins joined the board bring­ing along his com­pany, John Peters (Furnishings) Ltd., and in 1980 Waring & Gillow joined with the ailing cab­inet making firm of Maple & Co., to become Maple, Waring & Gillow. According to Malcolm this was a bit of a dis­aster because, it greatly increased the turnover but not the profits. However this intro­duced car­pets to the busi­ness and they set up a cent­ral dis­tri­bu­tion ware­house at Tinsley, which ser­viced all the stores through­out the UK.

In the late 1980s Manny Cussins announced to Malcolm Dungworth, after a board meet­ing, that he had sold the busi­ness to its present owners, but that he would be alright because they still required a dir­ector respons­ible for trans­port. Whilst the present owners did an excel­lent job at refur­bish­ing the stores, life there had changed ser­i­ously, so Malcolm left to do some con­sultancy work and then worked for Sheffield Insulations Ltd., for a fur­ther 10 years until his retire­ment.

A Fascinating World – Keith Booker – 17th August 2015.

Keith Booker is the cur­rent treas­urer for Dore PROBUS club. He retired rel­at­ively early in his career and he and his wife decided to see the world whilst they were still fit and able to do so. They have been on two world cruises and amassed a treas­ure trove of pho­to­graphs in the pro­cess. Keith did a lot of research into the places they were going to visit, and having been there fur­ther expan­ded his know­ledge.

They vis­ited the island of Monserrat, in the Caribbean and was fas­cin­ated by the Soufrierre Hills vol­cano which erup­ted in 1995. It buried the islands cap­ital, Plymouth in 40 feet of ash and mud, killing 19 people.

Keith admit­ted his fas­cin­a­tion for vol­cano s and showed slides of the Tavurvur vol­cano at Rabaul, on the island of New Britain, Papa New Guinea. This erup­ted in 1994 des­troy­ing 80% of the town of Rabaul and also the local air­port. Apparently the Megapode bird lays it eggs in the warm vol­canic ash to incub­ate. When the birds imerge they are feathered and are able to fly within a day and the adults play no fur­ther part.

Keith went to Long Beach, California and went on the old Queen Mary, which is now an hotel and con­fer­ence centre. It was built on Clydebank, as was the Queen Elizabeth, the QE2, and HMS Hood and many other well known ves­sels. In 1940 the Queen Mary returned to the Clyde to br fitted out as a troop car­rier and in July 1943 she set the record for the most number car­ried on a vessel at any one time – 16,683.

Keith then went on to talk about the Tuortara which resides near Rotorura. It is the oldest known living rep­tile, fossils of which have been dated at 225 mil­lion years old. Its blood tem­per­at­ure is only 12 degrees Centigrade and it breathes once an hour. Its eggs take 14 months to hatch and it lives for about 120 years. Having talked about the oldest living rep­tile Keith then went on to talk about the oldest living plant known as the wel­wits­chia which can live up to 2000 years.

Continuing on his theme of the oldest, the Namib Desert is regarded as the oldest in the world and the sand dunes have been aged at 30 mil­lion years.

To lighten the mood a little Keith showed a pho­to­graph of a man walk­ing into an air con­di­tioned bus stop in Dubai, and he also showed a slide of a gold bar dis­penser where you could actu­ally insert your credit card and buy a gold bar. Dubai is now home to the ex-Cunard liner QE2, which was sold to a Dubai con­sor­tium in November 2008, with plans to con­vert her into a float­ing hotel and con­fer­ence centre, but the plans are now on hold.

Having digressed for a while, Keith returned to his fas­cin­a­tion with vol­canos and talked about Mount Etna, Vesuvius and Stromboli which lies off the north coast of Sicily and is con­stantly active. He also talked about other powers on earth, such as gey­sers in Iceland.

Keith’s talked was a very well-illustrated and inter­est­ing insight into won­ders of the world and this syn­op­sis doesn’t really do it justice.