I knew we had a mutual Oldroyd connection - well her husband and mine anyway, so I mentioned I'd found some WW1 service records for a member of that family - Bernard Dyson Oldroyd is actually distantly connected to my OH's family twice by marriage - that's beginning to happen a lot as the Barnsley side of my family history spreads sideways. He is also GB's husband's 2nd cousin once removed.
Bernard was born in Woolley, Darton, near Barnsley in 1893. He was the eldest surviving child of at least nine children to George Kitson Oldroyd and his wife Martha, maiden name Oates. They had married in Thornhill, near Dewsbury in 1891, which was George's place of origin, however his father had moved away from there when George was a child, firstly to Outwood (1881) and then to Staincross (1891) where he was a butcher. I can only assume that George met Martha on a visit to relatives in the Thornhill area, and as was usual they would have married in her home parish church. George gives his residence as Darton when he marries and their first child, Albert, who dies young, is baptised at Darton church. The family must then move to Woolley as from 1893 onwards that is their church of choice for the next few years.
|St Peter's Woolley with West Bretton|
The houses in Top Row look smaller than the ones in Low Row, those appear to have an extra offshot portion. This would probably have reflected in the rents charged for the houses, with face workers and men with more responsibility being able to afford the slightly larger houses, nearer the pit.
|L: Woolley Colliery, showing Top Row 1906 R: Darton, showing Church Street 1906 (from Old Maps)|
|Bernard Oldroyd's Attestation in 1915 (from Ancestry)|
Bernard begins his service as a Driver, and is sent to France on 1 June 1916. On 20 March 1917 he 'remustered' have been trained or tested and his rank was changed to Pioneer. A note on the Great War Forum discusses the meaning of this rank - most men recruited to the Royal Engineers at the start of the war had some particular trade or skill, but later unskilled men were recruited and trained up to maintain the trenches, installing barbed wire, laying duck boards, building bridges and laying communication cables. They had to do a lot of work at night time, it would have been too dangerous during the day - even so as many as 10% were killed. Men with particular skills, such as carpenters were given the rank sapper.
|A note from Bernard Oldroyd's Service Records certifying his change in rank (from Ancestry)|
"I certify that No 106843 Driver ? Oldroyd is in my opinion fully qualified in the main items laid down in AF8?? as a Pioneer and I recommend ?? remuster ?? rate of Engineer Pay from 20th March. Present Rate 4d Date of ? 13th Sep? Date 11th Mar 1917"
Bernard was awarded a Good Conduct Badge on 16 August 1917 - this was an inverted rank chevron worn on the left sleeve and was awarded for two years "trouble free" service. Thanks to the British Military Badge Forum for that snippet of information.
|Protection Certificate issued when Bernard was discharged in 1919 (from Ancestry)|
He doesn't waste much time when he gets home.
|1919 marriage entry from All Saint's, Darton for Bernard Oldroyd and Kate Makinson (from Ancestry)|
Bernard and Kate had five children, between 1920 and 1939. They died within a short time of each other in the Halifax area in the early 1970s. They would have celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary in 1969. I wonder if there's a report in a local newspaper?
Bernard seems to have had an uneventful time during the war, but any service in the trenches is bound to have left him with difficult memories for the rest of his life. I'm glad he was able to come home and settle down with his wife and family, so many did not.