Monday, 23 August 2021

Why is Herbert Bethell, lost at Jutland in 1916, not on a War Memorial in Cudworth or Barnsley?

 I have several reasons for writing this post:

  1. Herbert Bethell was born in Cudworth, which is not only in Barnsley, but also the village (?town) where I actually live.
  2. He is not in the 'Lest Cudworth Forgets' book, which did surprise me as it is generally a good book.
  3. He is not remembered on any memorial in Barnsley - like 701 other Barnsley servicemen - but at least I think I've worked out why in his case. Sadly not possible for all of them.
  4. His grandparents, on his mother's side, lived very near to where my mum lives now!

It would be wonderful if I could find out why all of the men from Barnsley who are not remembered on any of our war memorials came to be omitted from commemoration here. During the Barnsley War Memorials Project in the Centenary period called them our 'Not Forgotten' men, because by remembering them in a Roll of Honour and on our website the men were not forgotten by us.

There was no central list of men from Barnsley who had enlisted - that is why creating the Barnsley First World War Roll of Honour took so much work to complete. Advertisements in local parish magazines or newspapers asked for names to be submitted, or volunteers went door to door asking for suggestions. Some men are on more than one memorial, some men are on memorials that appear to have no connection to where they were born, or where they lived before the war.

In some cases it is because they were lodgers, recent incomers to Barnsley working at local collieries or similar, when they enlisted. These men left no-one behind in Barnsley who would have submitted their names to the various war memorial projects. These men are frequently remembered in their original home towns, or where their parents lived after the war. 

Sometimes families moved during or after the war, but before the Barnsley war memorial projects got to the stage of asking for names. If we can trace the family, either parents, siblings or a widow, after the war it might be that we find where the man is commemorated. The information on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website is useful for this as it often includes addresses for next-of-kin collected some years after the war. 

I have heard stories about other reasons men were not included on war memorials. A mother who didn't want her son included because seeing his name when she passed the memorial in the village would have been just too sad.  Or a refusal to give up hope that a man 'missing presumed dead' might come home. 

If any of my readers can suggest other reasons why a man is not on a memorial in Barnsley, or indeed tell me where one of our 'Not Forgotten' men is actually commemorated, please do get in touch, either by emailing me or via the comments section below.

The 'Not Forgotten' pages

A few days ago I started some long overdue checking and re-organising of the 'Not Forgotten' page(s) on the Barnsley & District War Memorials website (B&DWM).  The original 'Not Forgotten' page, listing with brief details, all the men on the B&DWM master spreadsheet who are not on a Barnsley memorial was last updated in 2016. Since then we have discovered some more memorials, and some new memorials have been erected in Barnsley, most notably the Somme Centenary Artwork which names 300 men who (mostly) lost their lives on 1 July 1916 on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. This meant that some men on the existing page WERE now remembered in Barnsley, and therefore they would be named elsewhere on the B&DWM website, so their details could be moved from the 'Not Forgotten' list. On the other hand more men have been discovered with links to Barnsley, one in only the last week (a school teacher in Grimethorpe, remembered near his birthplace), since the Barnsley First World War Roll of Honour was completed in November 2018. The current count is 3794 names in total, 702 who are not commemorated anywhere in Barnsley that we are aware of. The whole thing is very fluid (a word I seem to have heard a lot this last week on the news!)

Having 702 names on one webpage is far too many, I was taught that excessive scrolling of webpages should be avoided, menus, links and return links were a much more user friendly way of laying out websites. I decided to split the page alphabetically, and try to get a similar number of entries on each chunk. The first page, with the explanation of the concept of 'Not Forgotten' would have the 'A' entries and a set of links to the other pages. 

Here is an actual working copy of the links in case you want to go and take a look, now or later. 

A  B  C D E  F G H   I J K L  M N O P  Q R S  T U V W Y

I ended up with eight pages instead of the one I had started with. Mostly they have 75 to 120 entries on each page. It all depended on the number of names for each surname letter - B is very large, with 77 entries on the B&DWM master spreadsheet. We call them 'Orphans' but it is just a name for simplicity in searching - not any kind of reflection on the man himself.  Letter W is probably the next most common, with 65 names, but the TUVWY chunk only has 112 names in total. Please note that this is still a work in progress!

I have only got about half-way through checking B so far because I was distracted by one particular man for the reasons I outlined at the start of this post. Later that day, when I was having difficulty sleeping, I decided to look him up on various family history and military history websites and see if I could find out why he wasn't on the memorial in Cudworth.

Cudworth War Memorial in St John's Churchyard

Herbert Bethell

This is what I discovered about this man. 

I already knew that he was born in Cudworth, Barnsley, in 1893, that he had died at the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916, and the names of his parents were Reuben and Harriet Bethell, from the research logged on the B&DWM spreadsheet by my colleague Pete. He had also noted that their home address after the war was 36 Stables Street, Derby. This information was from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. Pete had also noted that Herbert's death was not mentioned in any local newspapers. That did suggest a good reason for Herbert not being on the Cudworth War Memorial originally - for if his whole family had moved away before he died, and/or before the Cudworth memorial was completed in 1920/21 (the names were added later) there might have been no-one left in Cudworth or Barnsley to submit his name to a war memorial committee. However I know that the Cudworth Local History and Heritage Group (CLHHG) did a lot of research prior to the repairs to the memorial in 2004, adding a number of men to the lists on the new panels, so I was surprised they had missed Herbert. 

The reason for this omission was probably that a lot more records are now available online than could be easily accessed in the early 2000s. The first record I consulted for Herbert was the 'Royal Navy and Royal Marine War Graves Roll, 1914-1919' on Ancestry. That was very complete. (I have added the letters in square brackets [ ] for clarity.)

Name:    Herbert Bethell
Rank:     Sto[ker] 1st [class]
Birth Date:     21 Jan 1893
Birth Place:     Cudworth, Yorkshire, England
Branch of Service:     Royal Navy
Cause of Death:     Killed or died as a direct result of enemy action
Official Number Port Division:     S.S.114133. (Po)
Death Date:     31 May 1916
Ship or Unit:     HMS Black Prince
Location of Grave:     Not recorded
Name and Address of Cemetery:     Body Not Recovered For Burial
Relatives Notified and Address:     Mother: Harriett Ann, 36, Stables St[reet], Derby

As you can see it gives his full date and place of birth and the name and address of his mother in Derby. I expect this is one of the records that Pete used to add the detail to the Master spreadsheet.

Unless Reuben and Harriet were Methodists, or some other type of Non-conformists, I would have expected Herbert to have been baptised locally to his place of birth. St John's Church in Cudworth was opened in July 1893, so prior to that children were baptised at St Paul's Monk Bretton or somewhere ad hoc in Cudworth (maybe a temporary chapel) by the curates at St Paul's, who recorded the details in two separate books. One which is kept with the St John's records and the details were recorded in the official St Paul's register as well. (My thanks to Bill S of the CLHHG for this detective work.) Herbert's elder sister Evelyn was baptised at Monk Bretton in November 1890 (and that's an story in itself!), but none of Herbert's other siblings were baptised in Monk Bretton or Cudworth. 

Barnsley Chronicle 29 August 1891, p. 5
Marriage listing for Reuben King Bethel and Harriet Anne Beaumont

The newspaper cutting here from the Barnsley Chronicle reports that Reuben and Harriet married in Barnsley Register Office on 27 August 1891, which is nine months after the baptism of Evelyn, who appears in the 1901 and 1911 census returns as their eldest daughter. 

Evelyn was baptised Evelyn Bethel Beaumont, daughter of Harriet Ann Beaumont of Cudworth, single woman, at St Paul's Monk Bretton on 16 November 1890. Giving a child born before marriage the surname of her father as a middle name was fairly common, and is sometimes the only clue to his identity. Happily, as we have seen, Reuben and Harriet did marry, eventually.

In 1901 the census shows the family already at 36 Stables Street in Derby. If you click on the image it will enlarge to let you read the details, but I have also transcribed them below.

1901 census entry for the household of Reuben Bethell (RG13/3221/115F on

Listed are:
Reuben Bethell Head Married aged 38 Railway Goods Guard born in Whitfield, Hertfordshire
Harriett Bethell Wife Married aged 30  born in Cudworth, Yorkshire
Eveline Bethell Daughter Single aged 10 born in Cudworth, Yorkshire
Herbert Bethell Son   Single  aged 8    born in Cudworth, Yorkshire
Claribelle Bethell Daughter Single aged 6 born in Normanton, Yorkshire
Doris Bethell    Daughter Single aged 4 born in Normanton, Yorkshire
Frank Bethell   Son    Single  aged 2   born in Normanton, Yorkshire

It turned out that Herbert was baptised in the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Normanton, near Wakefield in May 1896 along with his younger sisters Claribel (b. 1894) and Doris (b. 1896). Frank who was apparently born in Normanton in 1898, was not.

Reuben and Harriet had not lost any children in childhood so far, which suggests they were healthy, had a reasonable income and could afford a decent house and sufficient food. Reuben's work as a Railway Goods Guard may account for this as the railways were known as being good employers.  His job was probably also the reason the family moved from Cudworth to Normanton and then to Derby. 

1911 census entry for the household of Reuben Bethell (RG14/20921/207 on Find My

The 1911 census returns that we see are actually our ancestor's own writing. In this case Reuben has filled in and signed the form himself. He did make a few mistakes and they were corrected by the census enumerator in red ink. Such as putting the information about how long he and Harriet had been married and the number of children they had on the wrong line. The enumerator seems to have also added some detail to the columns concerning the type of work Reuben and his children did.  Eveline (the spelling of her name varies) was a Braider and the enumerator has expanded this to 'Electric Wire Works' as added explanation. Doris also worked in the same industry, maybe even in the same place, as a Cotton Winder, note the ditto marks under 'Electric Wire Works'.

By this census three more children have arrived in Reuben and Harriet's household:
Harry Bethell   Son  Single aged 9  born in Derby, Derbyshire
Lily Bethell     Dau  Single aged 5  born in Derby, Derbyshire
Ivy Bethell       Dau Single aged 2  born in Derby, Derbyshire [actually Ivy May Bethell]

Using the General Register Office online index to births and deaths I can fill in a few more details about the children of this couple (all in the Derby Registration District):
Violet Bethell born March Quarter 1905 in Derby, died March Quarter 1905 in Derby
Claribel Bethell died March Quarter 1911, in Derby, aged 16 years
Olive Bethell born September Quarter 1911, in Derby.
Doris Bethell died September Quarter 1911, in Derby, aged 16 years

Eveline Bethell married Thomas H Brentnall in December Quarter 1911, in Derby

The only other baptism for the Bethell children I have found was for Violet on 18 February 1905 at St Alkmund, Derby from The Children's Hospital. I think they must have had time to have her baptised in the hospital when it became apparent that she was not going to survive. 

Stables Street is in the parish of St Barnabas, and although the baptism registers are on Ancestry there is a missing register which covers 1886 to 1909, exactly where the baptisms of most of the younger Bethell children might have been found. However as Reuben and Harriet showed a preference for a Wesleyan Methodist ceremony for Herbert, Claribel and Doris, they may have continued this preference in Derby. Basically I haven't found anything online for the younger children, except for Violet's baptism in 1905 and Ivy's marriage in 1929. 

I wonder what caused both Claribel and Doris to die aged 16? You might expect that having survived childhood they would have been safe from most common diseases of the time. 

Herbert Joins the Royal Navy
Herbert, now aged 18, was not at home with the rest of his family in 1911, this is because he was 'living in' as an Under Cowman at Hill Farm on Ashbourne Road, Derby. The farmer and his wife had just two young daughters and employed five 'live in' servants, two cowmen, a domestic help, a labourer and a waggoner. The farm was only half a mile away from Stables Street just outside the built up area of terraced housing on the western edge of Derby. 

Herbert did not remain on the farm for long. His record in the 'Royal Navy Registers of Seaman's Services, 1848-1939' on Ancestry, shows that he joined the Navy in June 1913. He had left the farm before he joined up as his occupation was recorded as Railway Shed Porter.  Initially he was a Stoker Second Class but after joining the H.M.S. Black Prince in April 1914 he was promoted to Stoker First Class on 1 July 1914. His record has a stamp across it, 'D.D. 31st May, 1916. Killed in Action'. I believe D.D. means died drowned? 

Herbert's record is really detailed, he was 5' 8" tall (that's quite tall for the era, young miners in Barnsley who joined the Barnsley Pals (the 13th and 14th battalions of the York and Lancaster Regiment) were often just a few inches over the minimum of 5' 3" (which was at the start of the war - not long afterwards shorter men were able to join 'Bantam Battalions'). Herbert had brown hair and bluish-brown eyes, his complexion was fresh. We know he was used to hard outdoor work on the farm and the railway. Being a Stoker on a ship was a very heavy manual task, and was very far from being outdoors, so I wonder what the attraction was for Herbert in 1913?

Barnsley War Memorials Project Poster for the Battle of Jutland Centenary

Herbert was not the only Barnsley man killed at the Battle of Jutland. On 31 May 2016, 100 years after the battle, my husband laid the above poster, with a poppy cross attached, at the foot of the main civic war memorial in front of Barnsley Town Hall on behalf of the Barnsley War Memorials Project. You can see Herbert's name second on the list. Fourteen men were killed and research has shown that at least 67 Barnsley men served on ships involved in the battle. 

News of the Battle of Jutland appeared in the newspapers in Derby on 3 June 1916, but there are few details.  Herbert's parents would have known their son was serving on the Black Prince, but not whether it was in involved in the battle. Details like that would have been kept out of the newspapers for as long as possible. 

Barnsley Chronicle 10 June 1916, p. 6
(with thanks to Barnsley Archives)
Looking at the Barnsley Chronicle, which I have better access to, I see that the news was reported on 10 June 1916 with a sub heading 'Wounded Men's Thrilling Stories'. The article does mention that the H.M.S. Black Prince and a number of other ships had been sunk, but there is no mention of the extent of the losses of personnel. Note that this article says, 'The Admiralty entertain no doubt that the German losses were heavier than ours ...', part of their effort to keep up the morale of their readers. The Imperial War Museum website about the battle notes that the Germans were 'outgunned', but that we lost many more men and ships than the enemy. It appears that the battle was not a decisive victory, but it did confirm 'British naval dominance'.

By 17 June some names were coming through in the Barnsley Chronicle, but the word 'Jutland' was not used, the battle was referred to as 'the recent Naval Battle in the North Sea'. The following week a few photographs of sailors who had been killed appeared, but there is very little mention of the battle itself, other than another patriotic editorial about our sea power compared to the Germans.  It seems to me that the powers that be wanted to keep the details of the battle quiet. 

Then, just a few weeks later, the beginning of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916 took over the front pages of all the newspapers from mid July onwards, and apart from annual 'In Memoriam' notices from some of the families of the lost sailors, the naval battle is rarely mentioned again.

I can only assume that the Derby newspapers followed a similar pattern. 

Do we know how the Bethell family were affected?
Herbert's younger brother, Frank, had enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps in December 1915, but he was only 18 years old. Men did not serve overseas until they were 19 years old. Frank must have gone overseas at some point because he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, but his surviving Army Service Records on Ancestry don't give much detail. He would probably still have been in England doing his training when Herbert was killed. His records do say that he was transferred to the 1/5th Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment in February 1918, that may have marked when he went overseas. 

Herbert's mother was awarded a small pension, 5 shillings a week from 6 November 1918.  There is not a lot of information on the Pension Card that I found for Herbert on the Western Front Association website compared to some of the soldier's cards I have seen. But this does suggest that Herbert had been sending her some of his pay as his dependant.

Herbert's older sister Evelyn (or Eveline) had married in late 1911. She had four children, including, towards the end of 1916, a son whom she called Herbert. I like to think that this may have been in memory of her brother.

The third Bethell son, Harry, was too young to enlist and the younger girls, Lily, Ivy and Olive would have been too young to work in munitions or as nurses. Reuben was too old to have been conscipted, even towards the end of the war when they raised the maximum age. He would have been 55 in 1918 and the limit was 51. I imagine there was plenty for him to do on the railways though during war time.

After the war was over: (information from FreeBMD)
Frank Bethell married May Burton in March Quarter 1921, in Derby
Ivy May Bethell married Charles F. Storer in September Quarter 1929, in Burton Registration District
Harry Bethell married Gladys Markland [nee Gregson] in December Quarter 1930, in Derby
Olive Bethell married Alfred R. Williams in March Quarter 1931, in Derby
Lily Bethell married Alfred E.A. Read in September Quarter 1933, in Derby

In 1939, as another war began, a huge census-like Register was created. This enables us to catch up with details of the Bethell family for one last time. (I am really looking forward to the release of the 1921 census next year - that will fill a big gap in the information I have about so many of my ancestors and Barnsley service people.)

Reuben and Harriet were still living at 36 Stables Street, with Lily Read also in residence. This is the daughter who married in 1933. She is recorded as a Widow, but an entry in a different coloured ink above her name suggests she remarried to someone called Measures. Reuben's occupation is now General Labourer (Retired), and he would have been 76 years old. 

Just a few doors away, at 28 Stables Street, was Frank and May Bethell, Reuben and Harriet's second son. Frank was a Milk Roundsman - and when he enlisted in 1915 his occupation had been Dairyman, so he must have returned to his previous trade after the war. I suggest he had experience driving a horse or a wagon when he joined up, maybe he was able to drive an ambulance or supply vehicles during his service in the Royal Army Medical Corps? Frank and May have three children, I assume, but their details have been redacted in the 1939 return because they are less than 100 years old and their deaths had not been notified to the authorities when the 1939 Register was released. Every now and then the images online are updated. I did notice that the images on Ancestry and Find My Past are currently not in sync - more of the redactions have been removed on the FMP versions.

Evelyn Brentnall, her husband Thomas and younger children Herbert, aged 23 and Doris, aged 21, were living at 94 Parliament Street in Derby. This was just a 15 to 20 minute walk from Stables Street, not far to pop around and visit. Thomas was a Baker's Labourer and Herbert, the son, was a Bread Loader, suggesting they both worked for the same company. Herbert and his two older brothers are the right age to have been called up for service in the Second World War. I wonder how they got on?

We have seen that Evelyn had four children, and that Frank had at least three children, so there were plenty of grandchildren to visit Reuben and Harriet at Stables Street. There may even have been great-grandchildren as it appears that Evelyn's older sons may have been married by 1939. Brentnall is a more common name than Bethell so with only the index entries to refer to I can't say for sure. Looking for the men in the 1939 Register should help - but it's not vital today.

Harriet died in 1944 and Reuben in 1946. Bethell is quite a rare name in Derby, but it looks as if there were still Bethells in Derby in the 1980s, which is as far as the FreeBMD indexes go. I wonder if they know anything about Herbert?

Derby Daily Telgraph, 23 September 1920, p. 2.
Unveiling of the war memorial at St Barnabas

I have found a newspaper cutting, shown above, that reports the unveiling of a large war memorial tablet in the church of St Barnabas, the parish in which Stables Street lies. It says that the memorial, 'a fine bronze tablet on an alabaster base', listed 150 men from the parish. Sadly the report doesn't give any of their names.

I have written to the church administrator to ask if a Herbert or H. Bethell is included. They have a very nice informative website, with details about lots of activities, but no picture of the war memorial or any information about it, is included. I do hope the people at the church take the time to reply to me. It would be nice to be able to report that another of Barnsley's First World War men is remembered somewhere, even if it is not in Barnsley. 

Thanks for reading. I hope you found it interesting.  

Edit 6 March 2022:
Yesterday a member of the Barnsley's History - The Great War Facebook group sent me some photos from St Barnabas in Derby - I have since had it confirmed by a lady from the church that two Barnsley men visited on Saturday 'for the match' and had some tea with a lady cleaning the silver. 

These are some of the photos Wayne Bywater sent me. Herbert Bethell IS named on the St Barnabas war memorial. His name is second on the list, which is sorted by service and regiment.

Stkr H. Bethel, H.M.S. Black Prince

The location of the memorial to the Great War in St Barnabas Church in Derby
(photo by Wayne Bywater on 5 March 2022)

Great War memorial St Barnabas, Derby
(photo by Wayne Bywater on 5 March 2022)

Herbert Bethell's entry on the memorial
(photo by Wayne Bywater on 5 March 2022)

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