Friday, 28 March 2014

I want to rant about something but can't make my mind up...

When I first started this blog about 18 months ago it was because I was quite miserable stuck at home and penniless.  Well I am still stuck at home and penniless and this morning things got worse again.  I can't tell you why ... suffice it to say that the 'contingency money' I've managed to save out of our generous Christmas present from my mum will now have to be spent as well as our holiday money (same source) and probably the little fund set on one side for the car maintenance as well. 

Things had been looking up, the estate agent lady finally conceded that our old house was larger than your average terraced house and stopped trying to get us to drop the price again - the OH has been asked to go on a complicated Health & Safety course for CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) for use at this year's Great British Beer Festival that might even help his job prospects and security and we have made progress on getting funding for the Barnsley War Memorials Project so I might be able to afford a few more prints and copies from the Archives soon.

On the downside my Open Uni course continues to get worse - not the course as such, although it is hard and the current topic - student unrest in 1968 - is overdone and contentious - but rather the interaction with my fellow students and the lack of any useful feedback from my tutor.  Let's put it simply, for my last essay he told me my three page, 39 item, bibliography was 'not exhaustive' and for the one before that he criticised me for missing out some full stops - in the bibliography again.  Bear in mind that these essays are only 2000 words long, I even edited a few items out of my bibliography that I had read but hadn't used a reference from when it overflowed the three pages.  And as for my fellow students - most who contribute to the official forum are nit picking military history enthusiasts.  (It's a module about the history of Europe 1914-1989)  The ones who interact on Facebook range from said military history enthusiasts (and to be fair I'm sure my current fad for war memorials is equally boring to most people) to overworked young people who seem to be trying to juggle full time work, family responsibilities and a social life with their study.  Their assignments are all last minute, they always have extensions, they leave their bibliographies until AFTER they've written the essay!  Typical students then ... except that wasn't the kind of students the OU used to attract when I first started studying with them 16 years ago.  There used to be a lot more older people and disabled people who just couldn't access or cope with a proper full time bricks and mortar uni, so had chosen the OU for its accessibility and flexibility.  It's all to do with the change in the way they charge for the modules and the new regulations about finishing your degree in a certain amount of time.  I used to like studying for fun, if you can believe that!

I went down to Birmingham last Saturday with the OH to take minutes at a Great British Beer Festival meeting - I have actually resigned from the post, but my replacement had a wedding invite so I agreed to step in to cover.  It was, apart from the family complications (we dropped my mum off to see my brother for a few hours), a nice day but towards the end as I remembered that I wouldn't be attending the actual festival I got very sad about the whole thing.  GBBF has been a large part of my life for over twenty years and this will be the first one I haven't been to since I joined CAMRA.  I've had an unbelievably nice offer from a friend to give me a lift down for the last weekend - but I daren't say yes.  I told everyone I wouldn't be back and I have no job to do when I get there.  It would be blatant free loading and I don't agree with that sort of thing.  

My mum insisted I use the money she gave me for my birthday for things for myself, so I went to the opticians to get my eyes tested.  It had been two years since my last test and four years since I had new glasses last.  I hadn't been having any problems with my distance vision, but reading was easier without my glasses (I am mainly shortsighted) so when the optician recommended a separate pair of reading glasses as well as new varifocals I didn't mind.  The price - even at Specsavers - was fairly dreadful, all my birthday money and then more out of dwindling contingency.  Unfortunately the new varifocals are horrible, fuzzy vision to the sides, fuzzy vision going downstairs, headaches, increasing to neck and shoulder pain as I tense up with the headaches.  Today I'm wearing my old glasses again.  Specsavers say it isn't their lenses (same frames as I had before so it's not the shape of the glasses) so I've got an appointment with my optician to have my prescription tested.  More money no doubt.  The only other thing I can think of is to have just distance lenses in my new frames and keep swapping glasses.  That way I would be able to see to walk around without getting dizzy and still be able to read with the other pair.  I don't know how this will work with using a computer for hours on end though and I doubt Specsavers will give me any money back for the cost of the varifocals that don't suit or aren't right.

Anyway I promised two kind friends on Facebook this morning that I'd go to the local library to try to borrow some books for my next OU essay by interlibrary loans ... I'm not hopeful, but it's a positive thing to try to do.  There would have been some available at Barnsley Central Library, but that's closed now for the move to Wellington Street and it won't reopen until after my essay deadline.  Failing the local library working wonders I can see no option but a trip to the Uni library in Sheffield, which given that my disabled travel pass won't work on trains from next Monday would be three buses there and three back a total journey time of 1 hour and 40 to 50 minutes each way depending on the connections.  I can still catch the tram in Sheffield - but it goes from the railway station, not the bus station of course so a bus for that bit would probably involve less walking. Hundreds of people objected to the move of Barnsley Library - it's so they can sell the land to the local college for a new 6th form centre - but it was already a done deal and the building at Wellington Street is only handy for the Wetherspoons and the Credit Union and a long walk from the bus station so I don't think many old or disabled people will be using it.

I keep telling myself it could be a lot worse ... but at the moment that's not helping.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Hidden Treasures in Barnsley Archives Catalogue

On Monday evening I attended the first of the Friends of Barnsley Archives' talks to be held in the Learning Lab at Experience Barnsley at Barnsley Town Hall.  The room is a bit smaller than the one under the library that the group used to use, but bright and well equipped.  Teas, coffees and biscuits made a welcome return too after they have been missing for the last few talks at the library.

This month's talk was by Paul Stebbing, Chief Archivist and Local Studies Officer at Barnsley Archives which now also lives in the Town Hall.  He chose to tell us, using lots of pictures, firstly about the move from their old location to their new and had included some interesting photos of the actual basement archive store - a part of Barnsley Archives mere mortals like me never see!  I am familiar with the roller shelves idea from the televison, but seeing that we (happy to confess a personal interest if only as a sometime volunteer and regular visitor) have such marvellous things in Barnsley is quite cheering.
A brightly lit basment room containing ranks of roller Archive shelving.  On an open shelf we can see dozens of brown cardboard boxes all labeled.
Similar shelving at Hull History Centre (from Ecospace)
It seems that even with the new, greatly increased capacity, there is still not enough room for all of the Barnsley Archives collection to live at the Town Hall, however a huge amount has been brought in from the outstores meaning that asking for most items now only means a five minute wait instead of a two week delay as sometimes happened in the past.  The Archive staff take turns working downstairs and are in contact by radio at all times - when an item is requested by a visitor the slip is sent down and the item sent up using the dumb waiter, a little lift in the desk area, and the staff let you know that it has arrived (or not - see below!).

Paul then went on to describe some of the collections that have been moved into Barnsley Archives from Sheffield since the new storage has been available. He also described how we can access these treasures using the Archives catalogue, the green and blue binders on the open shelves of the search room.  My only criticism of his talk is that I think I and some of the other people in the room would have liked to have known more about the various documents he showed us - a quick glimpse of a difficult to read mass of old writing doesn't fire up the imagination (please forgive me Paul, but I am not a medievalist and my O level Latin was a long time ago!).  He did, however, zoom in on a couple of words in one document, showing us that it definitely said Brampton Bierlow, albeit an old interpretation of the words - that's the kind of thing I'd like to see more of please!  He also briefly showed us the oldest document now held by the Archives, which I have written about before, a grant of land by a man to his godson, payment being just one red rose a year.  I suppose he was just giving an overview - and didn't really have time for indepth examinations - maybe the topic of another talk?
A brightly lit basment room containing ranks of roller Archive shelving.  On an open shelf we can see dozens of brown cardboard boxes all labeled.
The oldest document held by Barnsley Archives, dating back to before 1158

On several occasions during the talk Paul also noted that the collections, or the specific items he was highlighting would be ideal topics for further study.  One collection that interested me was the Elmhirst papers, having written about two fallen sons of the Elmhirst family early this year.  I don't think I've got time at the moment though!

On Thursday I visited the Archives myself.  My first task was to assist a new volunteer researcher for the Barnsley War Memorials Project in starting to use the resources of Barnsley Archives in discovering more about the fallen men from Darton, his chosen area of study. Darton is unusual that there are no names on the war memorial in the churchyard, however last week another lady who regularly volunteers in the Archives pointed me in the direction of a History of All Saint's Church, Darfield and a list of men whom the church warden thought should have been on the memorial.  

We were very lucky, and hopefully ML was inspired, as the first name he chose from his list dutifully appeared in the baptism records of Darton Church on Ancestry and the various census returns.  We also found his World War One British Army Service Records on Ancestry (free to use in Barnsley Archives and most local libraries in the Barnsley area) which gave ML an insight into his life before and during his enlistment. There were even a couple of hits on the name in the digitised Barnsley Chronicle - although no photograph.  I explained that sometimes the Barnsley Independent, available on microfilm, is better for photos, my friend GB, who is researching the men from St Edward's church in Kingstone, has found longer obituaries in the Independent than in the Chronicle too.
The centre portion of a wooden cross, on the junction are three rivetted metal plates bearing the text "2nd Lieut CM Sorby, 3rd Monmouthshire Regt, 8-5-15".
Close up of the labels on Charles Sorby's Battlefield Cross
My own set task for the day was to research Charles M C Sorby, the son of the Rector of Darfield, who was killed on 8 May 1915 near Ypres.  I posted pictures of his battlefield cross and memorials in Darfield Church on the Barnsley War Memorials Project site earlier this week.  Knowing his date of death, he was fairly easy to find in the digitised Barnsley Chronicle by simply searching May 1915 for the word Sorby.  The OCR (optical character recognition) used to scan the Barnsley Chronicle sometimes doesn't recognise words in capital letters only, ie SORBY, so it was no surprise to see that it picked out his name in the body of the article I found but not in the title.  When I got home a more through read of the article that I had found, which was dated 29 May 1915, suggested there might have been previous reports of Charles' death in the newspaper which the search tool had missed.  I will have to go back next week and do a full visual search of the previous two week's issues to see what else I can find.  I continued my search forward in time until I found a report for the dedication of his memorial window in Darfield Church, which took place in June the following year.

Finally I turned to the green catalogue binders that Paul had described in his talk on Monday.  There is one labelled 'N' for Non-conformist and I had been piqued by this during the talk - it hadn't occurred to me before but the various churches and chapels will probably have recorded the planning and erection of their war memorials in their minute books and maybe list of names or receipts for work carried out might also have been saved.  I was determined to search through the entire catalogue looking for mentions of the First World War.  Michael, one of the Archive assistants, gave me some invaluable help and a quick look at the Archive's own electronic catalogue too.

I found six references and ordered up the items from the store.  I didn't have long to wait, but first came some bad news.  The most exciting item I had found listed, "Various rubbings from war memorials" from the chapels on Heelis Street (demolished), Pitt Street (demolished) and Blucher Street (change of use) were not in the box where they should have been, worse, the box had a note attached saying the item had been lost for a while! *short inhalation of breath and some carefully chosen expletives*

We did better with "Programme for a Memorial Service for Scholars Killed in the War" from the Methodist Chapel on White Cross Lane in Cudworth (now a dance studio) - that came up in the dumb waiter in a neat cream envelope and turned out to be a typical church service sheet, a folded page with fancy title page and the words to various hymns BUT it also contained photos of two memorial tablet which were unveiled in the church on the occasion of the Memorial Service.  All the men named are also on the Cudworth War Memorial, but now we know that they attended that particular Methodist Chapel rather than (or as well as) the parish church.  I will be posting the images of these tablets on their own page on the Barnsley War Memorials Project website.

* Update: 8 April 2014 - Research has since shown that the tablets illustrated in the memorial service sheet were NOT at White Cross Lane at all.  I became suspicious when researching Harold Porter, one of the men on the larger memorial tablet to the Fallen Scholars of the church, who also had his own personal memorial tablet, given by his comrades, unveiled at the same event.  A search through my Cudworth Methodist baptism spreadsheet (a transcription project I have been working on for the Cudworth History Group and the Archives) showed that his brother's children were baptised at the John Smith's Memorial Church on Barnsley Road, it seemed odd that one brother would be attending one Methodist denomination and one another. A member of the Cudworth History Group, BS,  has been able to supply some photos of the interior of the church on Barnsley Road before its demolition in 1998 which clearly show the tablets on the walls on either side of the choir loft at the front of the church.  I must now go and break this news to the Archive staff ... End of Update*
A stone built chapel style building, with a large rose window in the gable end facing the road.  It's current status as a house is betrayed by the line of washing drying to the left and the modern window frames.
Netherfield Chapel converted to a dwelling (from Penistone Pictorial)

Another great find was a packet of old photographs from Netherfield Chapel at Thurlstone (now a house).  There was a small photo of a wooden plaque bearing five names.
A/801/N/19/13 Photo of the Memorial Plaque at Netherfield Chapel, Thurlstone
(thanks to Barnsley Archives)
It's quite dark, but a bit of playing around in Photoshop might help ... the men listed are all on the Penistone War Memorial - it's so easy to check now on the Barnsley War Memorials Project pages!  But I wonder what happened to this plaque (and the ones from Cudworth) when the buildings went out of use as chapels?

I had three other references - one was out of area - an interesting display card for the men who served from Hickleton Main Colliery - I suppose some of them might have come from Goldthorpe or Thurnscoe but I didn't ask for a copy - to be honest I had overspent my £2 budget already!  

The final two items were also proving difficult to find as I left the Archives at 2.45pm for another appointment.  Michael did say that he would keep looking for the list of names from the "War Memorial at the Wesleyan Reform Church, Hunningley Lane" and photograph - 1994, as he had an idea that it had been recataloged.  But the list from the Ebenezer Methodist Chapel, now demolished but previously on junction of Sheffield and Doncaster Road (near the Alhambra roundabout) was proving as elusive as the first item, the "various rubbings".  It almost felt as if someone else had ordered up these same items and they had been put back in the wrong place?  Hopefully they will turn up one day!

Thanks for reading and I'll now be off to make some new War Memorial pages!

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Public transport woes and a visit to All Saint's Church in Darfield

I am privileged, I have a disabled bus pass - at the moment I am allowed to travel on buses in Barnsley (and the rest of South Yorkshire) all day, every day at any time I want.  In a few weeks that will stop and I, along with other disabled people and pensioners will only be able to travel from 9:30am until 11pm. The passes currently enable us to travel on trains within South Yorkshire and as far as Leeds in West Yorkshire provided we don't break the journey in West Yorkshire - that will be stopping too.

Travel South Yorkshire logo

This may not sound too bad to you - after all it apparently bring us into line with the rest of the country according to the Travel South Yorkshire website.  But does it?  A bit of Googling showed me fairly quickly that if you live in the West Midlands you can use your pass on trains, that in Bristol you can travel on buses from 9am, and that in Manchester you can travel on trains and trams for free from 9:30am and for half fare before that time.  There does not appear to be a national standard for the additional benefits these passes give local residents, it all depends on the local councils' funding.  And what about the impact on disabled people who work? - whereas now we can take a job (or a voluntary role) that requires us to start work before 10am in a few weeks we will have to pay full fare to get to work on time.  We might only work part-time or for nothing ... finding £4 a day bus fares out of nothing is not very easy!

The Open University logoBasically Barnsley are having to save some money ... and pensioners and disabled people are going to feel the pinch.  I have no income, apart from a little generated by giving history talks, which to be honest doesn't cover my expenses, petrol, stationery, and books.  I am lucky that the OH is happy for me to study with the Open University and that my mum has been so generous in paying my fees these last two years. From 31 March if I want to be somewhere other than my home village before 10am, given that I live a good four miles from Barnsley town centre, I will have to pay a full fare.  This will prevent me from attending any Open University tutorials in Leeds, which I used to travel to on the train - there is a bus alternative, but it would take two hours each way.  I am not physically able to undertake a long bus ride like that, even a shortish hop around Barnsley wears me out especially as these days buses don't run services that cover areas like they used to.
Tired Stickman

An example ... yesterday I went to Darfield to take photos of the war related memorials in the church.  From Cudworth to Darfield there is a bus that runs once an hour, the number 26.  According to the timetable it takes 42 minutes to get to Darfield from here.  Google maps says it is 4 miles and in a car it would take 9 minutes, so why does the bus take so long?

Because it services several small villages between here and there, that's why.  I had a wonderful tour of Shafton, Grimethorpe, Middlecliffe, Great Houghton, Little Houghton and the estates of Darfield.  I began to worry that something had gone wrong when I could no longer see Darfield Church, which is set quite high up and which the bus appeared to have circled without getting any closer.  Asking the driver was no help, "What church?" he said.  Two ladies on the bus commented that I'd better get off soon or I'd be in Wombwell - so I did.  It felt like a mile walk back to the church, but at least it was on the flat.  Googling it just now I see it was only 0.7 of a mile - but I don't walk much anymore without the OH to lean on so it took me 25 minutes.  By the time I got to a cross roads, still not able to see the church, I was panicking so much thinking I was going to be late for my meeting and feeling very lost that a man I stopped to ask directions must have thought I was some kind of mad woman.  He certainly walked off very quickly after telling me that there was no other church than the one by which we were stood, an obviously converted school building that is now a Methodist Church.

A map of Darfield overlaid by bus rout information and labels for stops, my destination, the church is indicated by a green square the place I got off the bus by a red square.
The 26 and 26A route in the Darfield area
The map above comes from the number 26 timetable (downloaded last week from the Travel South Yorkshire website.  My problem was that the bus came into Darfield from Middlecliffe, having already meandered around Great and Little Houghton, from the east, went over the river and up the hill and onto Nanny Marr Road, at which point it immediately plunged into the estates, following the loop labelled 26 and Morrison Rd/Clarehurst Rd on the map.  The church is at the green square, the bus gets nowhere near it during the day - in the evening the 26A get a lot nearer, it would only have been a 0.2 mile walk for me from that bus stop labelled Nanny Marr Rd/Barnsley Rd.  I eventually got off the bus at the red square - near a Co-op shop which my contacts in Darfield called the "Old Longbow" so I assume it is a converted pub (shame!).

The ladies on the bus had also suggested I should have got off the bus at the bottom of the hill and "walked up the lane", I just checked this on Google maps too - that would have been a 0.4 mile walk and all uphill from the point labelled 26,26A on the road before the turn on to Nanny Marr Road, so probably a worse option for me that the 0.7 on the flat I did do.

All Saint's, Darfield from the Church website
As a consequence of this adventure by the time I reached the church and met SM and KV I was very tired, stressed and still quite panicky.  Fortunately they had waited and appeared to be pleasantly passing the time of day with some volunteer gardeners - part of the Friends of Darfield Churchyard I assume.

The church has a very good website, which includes the Friends of Darfield Churchyard's newsletters and indices to the burials in the churchyard as well as lots of other information.  My contact was through FODC members SM who had attended a Barnsley War Memorials Project meeting a few weeks ago and KV whom I had previously met through the Barnsley Family History Society.

They showed me around the church for quite some time and it was fascinating and very interesting.  I even saw a dragon!  I will be posting my war memorial photos on the Barnsley War Memorials site over the next few days so keep an eye on Twitter (@BnslyWarMems) or our Facebook page for updates, but here's a picture that doesn't quite fit the category but is too interesting to miss off an account of my visit.
A wooden cross, about three feet tall, hanging on a stone wall.  The cross has metal labels on it near the intersecion of the two piece of wood.
Charles' Sorby's Cross

The picture to the right shows a wooden cross, the original cross that marked the grave of Charles, the son of the Rector of Darfield from 1892 to 1934, the Reverend Albert Ernest Sorby.  This is the actual cross that stood on Charles Malin Clifton Sorby's grave 14 km south-west of Ypres before it was replaced with the standard Commonwealth War Graves Commission stone.  It bears little stamped metal labels which read: "2nd Lieut C M Sorby 3rd Monmouth Regt 8-5-15".

Nearby is a brass plaque telling visitors that the window adjacent is dedicated to Charles and was given to the church by his parents.  I appear to have neglected to take a photo of the window, which is a shame - but maybe KV can help me out as she did say she had photos of most of the church.  

I went home on the X19, the fast bus on the main road which runs from Doncaster to Barnsley, and then on one of the usual Barnsley to Cudworth services.  It took another hour or so, with some stoppages in traffic as we approached the town centre.  In all I was out of the house for just three hours.  But I was exhausted and I still had to attend the Friends of the Archives talk that evening ... needless to say I got up late today, and I am having trouble concentrating on things.

I can still manage the 'stream of consciousness' that is my style of blogging though! Maybe that's why you haven't had much from me recently - I need to be ill or very tired to blog!  If I'm feeling OK there are more important things I have to be getting on with!

Thanks for reading and please follow the progress of the Barnsley War Memorials Project via Twitter or Facebook or directly on our blog/website. We started with 74 war memorials in the Barnsley MBC area and have now found more than 150 with more being added on a regular basis.  If you want to find out where your Barnsley ancestor or relative is remembered try a search of our site!  You might not find him/her today, but he could very well be added to our lists next week!

Monday, 10 March 2014

Tired and stiff this morning - must be all that dancing!

I've been neglecting this blog for the past month or so I'm afraid.  My output on the Barnsley War Memorials Project blog/website does explain it though.  We now have 94 posts about individual war memorials and 29 posts about individual soldiers on the accompanying Barnsley Soldiers Remembered site - since the end of November last year!
The cover picture from the Barnsley War Memorials Project,
Barnsley Town Hall and War Memorial

My friend GB has been contributing posts to the main site as well - don't get the idea it's all my own work - but she has also been working on her own men from St Edward's Church as part of a project to produce a book about the men for the church.  She has 40 posts on that site to add to the total  output.  As you can see we've been very busy.

I am also studying an Open University module, 'Europe, 1914-1989: War, Peace and Modernity' and we've reached the Cold War, which I was dreading, it being a topic about which I know very little.  Sigh!  A 2000 word essay on the Marshall Plan has to be submitted next week ... so far my main insight is that the Americans thought that Marshall Aid was the saving of Europe and the Europeans in the main, disagree.  To the point that some even blame it for starting the Cold War ... Double sigh!!

The OH (my husband) has his CAMRA work (it's voluntary but as he's been doing it for nearly 30 years it might as well be a job) to keep him busy - when he is at home with me (and that's another story) he's usually on the computer preparing posters or editing web pages or putting together another edition of the Barnsley CAMRA magazine.  Plus we have to fit in visits to my mum over in North Nottinghamshire on a regular basis and all those other social events that normal people do.

For example this weekend we were at a wedding in Wolverhampton, an old friend in CAMRA was getting married and it was a wonderful do!  A nice friendly church service where the priest compared a marriage to brewing and storing Real Ale (you could tell he was a convert!) followed by the reception at a bowling club that is in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide which included plenty of dancing.  I have always considered that the best parties need to have dancing! One of the high points for me at my own wedding to the OH nearly 10 years ago was the line up for the Time Warp, everyone from children to older people dancing together in the the barn at the Rockingham Arms.  Ah, memories!
The Time Warp from the Rocky Horror Picture Show

On the Sunday morning I was quite stiff (that'll be the dancing) and very dehydrated (that'll be the beer) and apparently I had fallen asleep the night before in the middle of eating a cheese sandwich (I had taken a pack up as what with the OH being veggie and my allergies we can never assume there is going to be food for us at events).  The OH had been quite worried as he had been unable to wake me to get me into bed properly, but I woke up there so I must have tidied myself up at some point during the night.

As it was a lovely day we called in at the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas on the way home.  We had a nice slow walk around, with me leaning on the OH most of the time, for about two hours admiring various memorials and as usual I had a tear in my eye more than once.  They do provide a lot of benches for convenient rest stops, most of them are also dedicated to someone or other so you can read while you sit.  We made a point of finding the name of Cudworth's latest casualty, Captain Martin Driver, on the large memorial - killed in Afghanistan in 2010.  

I particularly liked the display, if that's the right word, from the memorial masons, with examples of different memorials from British history, from cairns to Roman memorials to elaborate 18th century gravestones and on to modern styles.  Very interesting.
Phoenix Insurance Memorial
at the National Memorial Arboretum

Almost the last thing we saw were two memorials that appeared to be from the First World War - from insurance companies I assume - one was from the Phoenix company.  It's a shame they are no longer in their original homes, but I suppose at least they have been saved from the skip.  I do hope the Arboretum doesn't turn into a place for collecting unwanted memorials though - local communities should be able to find them a home if they try.

Later today I'm hoping to photograph the inside of a local church for some more 'hidden' memorials and tonight is the Friends of the Archives talk at Experience Barnsley.  Paul Stebbing will be talking about the new collections that arrived in Barnsley during 2013.

Maybe tomorrow I can have a rest?

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Sorting Saturday - Grandad's Box of Badges

I've been aware of this box of Second World War badges and my grandad's medals for ever I think - but it was only this weekend, in anticipation of a trip to the Hemswell Cliff antiques centre that I actually got them all out of their box and spread them out.
WW2 War medal, 1939-45 Star, Defence Medal and India General Service medal.
Grandad Hall's medals

World War Two isn't really my subject - I'm deeply embroiled in World War One through the Barnsley War Memorials Project at the moment - but to be honest WW1 soldiers are a bit thin on the ground in my own family tree, unlike the OH's!

The medals above are the War Medal, the 1939-1945 Star and the Defence Medal, all from the Second World War and the India General Service Medal with a clasp for the North West Frontier 1930-31.  As someone said recently on my Open Uni Facebook page - Wikipedia is our friend! It seems they are laid out on the large pin in the wrong order - but I'm sure my dad didn't have Wikipedia to hand when he wore them at a fancy dress party in the 1970s.

I recently sent for my Grandad Hall's Army Service Records  with my aunt's permission (as my grandad's closest next of kin).  A large packet of A3 papers came back and I do apologise to my cousins for not sending copies, but scanning A3 on an A4 scanner is a bit troublesome.  I will do it - I promise!

A red cloth shoulder flash with letter C.M.P. and two brown plastic badges and a brass badge all with GVIR in the centre of a wreath, crown above, Military Police in a scroll below
Military Police insignia and badges
The service records showed that Grandad Hall was in the Corps of Military Police towards the end of the war - I had an inkling of this from his Regular Army Certificate of Service which I blogged about last year.  The extra detail was that he was on Prisoner escort duty and in the Vulnerable Points section.  This was a section for men of lesser physical ability - well, Grandad would have been in his forties by then.  It involved guarding things, bridges, vital infrastructure and I suppose, prisoner of war camps.

These are the Military Police badges out of Grandad's tin.  The two on the left are made of a brown plastic material - apparently these were issued later in WW2 when metal was becoming scarce.

The tin also contains a large collection of British Army cap badges (although not a Yorks and Lancaster one, which I would have liked to go with my WW1 Barnsley soldiers) and a dozen German badges and medals.

I've can only assume that Grandad did swaps or traded for all these badges, amongst the other soldiers he worked with and with the prisoners he guarded.
Luftwaffe Paratrooper Badge

I remember disliking these German badges when I was a child and I still feel a bit creepy handling them.  The various badge collectors' sites and sales sites on the web all note that German Third Reich badges and other military paraphernalia should only be used for educational and research purposes according to German law.  I can understand why.

The badge above, the Luftwaffe Paratrooper badge, might be worth a bit of money to a collector, but it does feel very wrong to profit from the pickings of a war.  I think I'll satisfy myself with storing the German badges in better conditions (I've sent for a set of clear plastic envelopes from a specialist store on ebay) and put them away again for another few years.

The British cap badges are another thing entirely - any soldier or son of a soldier might have collected these.  As I noted above I quite fancy a Yorks and Lancs one myself as so many of the OH's ancestors (and ancestors' relatives) were in the Barnsley Pals.  I would have to get a KOYLI and various others too ... unfortunately my Grandad's collection only contains one Yorkshire badge - the West Yorkshire regiment, although there is a Durham Light Infantry one too which is the regiment one of my paternal great-grandads was in until he had a finger shot off (apparently!).  
I could do swaps myself - a Royal Army Ordnance Corps badge for a Northumberland Fusiliers badge anyone?