Saturday 30 May 2015

Sometimes the 100 year old Jigsaw take a Bit of Effort to Assemble

I returned to my work on the handwritten notes on the 1918 Absent Voters' List for Barnsley yesterday and quite quickly got hung up on a few of men.  There were two reasons for this; firstly I have not been well recently and my concentration wanders making serious research a bit tricky, and secondly the information in the AVL was incorrect or misleading in each case.
Part of the 1918 Absent Voters' List for Barnsley (thanks to Barnsley Archives)
This is the section of the AVL that I was working on.  Blenheim Road is a long road  that runs from Park Road near St Edward's Church all the way down to Pitt Street West, running parallel to Racecommon Road for most of the time.  The houses at the Park Road end are larger than average, but lower down (which are the lower numbers) they are mostly terraced houses with walled yards at the front. Blenheim Avenue is a small street at the bottom end of Blenheim Road on which the houses are smaller with front doors directly onto the street.  Both streets lie in St Edward's parish.

I have been examining the men who were indicated in the AVL handwritten notes as Discharged, Missing or Prisoners of War - occasionally a man is listed as Dead or Killed, but there were none like that in this section.  My theory is that a man who was discharged might have been wounded and may have subsequently died of his wounds before the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) cut off date of 31 August 1921 in which case he should be included in our Roll of Honour of Barnsley's WW1 Fallen.  A man who was noted as missing at the point the handwritten notes were added in the run up to the December 1918 election could very well have remained missing and thus was also a casualty.   The Barnsley War Memorials Project's criteria for including a man on the Roll of Honour is that he should be either born in Barnsley, be living in Barnsley at the time of his enlistment or be remembered on a memorial in the Barnsley MBC area.
The header of my Barnsley Prisoners of War Community on LFWW
Finally the prisoners of war are interesting in themselves, I have a separate Community on LFWW for them, but again, some of them may not have made it home, or may subsequently have died as a result of harsh treatment whilst a prisoner so may be candidates for the Barnsley Roll of Honour.  Currently this Community has 54 men attached, but I know there are more than 200 listed in the Barnsley Chronicle in 1918, so I have many more to add.

The first man I looked at was Bernard Hirst of 9 Blenheim Avenue, he was noted as Discharged.  I found him with no difficulty in LFWW using the information given in the AVL and a search on FreeBMD showed that a man of this name and of an age to have served in WW1 (born 1892) died in Barnsley in 1970.  I double checked the CWGC, but he was not listed. So not one for our Roll of Honour.

The next man was John William Raven of 31, Blenheim Avenue who was marked as Missing.  A nice unusual name, so I thought he would be equally easy to find.  No!  Nothing on either his name or the service number, 34065, given in the AVL.  The abbreviation LNL was not one I'd come across before so I didn't know what to enter for regiment in the search on LFWW.  If I can't find a man easily on Lives I turn to CWGC next.  
One of thr 8 hits for Raven, J, First World War, on the CWGC
As Raven is fairly uncommon name I just used the criteria Surname: Raven and First World War in my search. I got 80 hits.  I tried Raven and Initials: J and out of the eight results saw one which could, with one eye closed and an open mind, just about be a match.  The service number had the right digits but in the wrong order, 34605 instead of 34065, and LNL could be Loyal North Lancashire.  I clicked on the man's name to open the full entry and sighed in relief.  In his additional information, a field which is blank far too often in my experience, it stated, "Husband of Annie E. Raven, of 31, Blenheim Avenue, Bamsley."  Well, this is the right man after all!  However he was marked as Missing in the AVL and this entry says he died in March 1918.  Oh, dear, there is probably a story there.  As he is remembered on the Arras Memorial he has no known grave.
  I wonder when his family were told he was presumed dead? 
Panel 5 St Mary's Barnsley War Memorial

With the correct service number I was soon able to find John Fleming Raven on LFWW and add him to my Barnsley War Memorials Project (BWMP) and Absent Voters' List Communities.  I hadn't heard his name before, and despite his home being in St Edward's parish he does not appear on St Edward's War Memorial, so I did a search on the BWMP site to see if we had recorded his name elsewhere.  He is remembered on panel 5 of the large gothic pink memorial in St Mary's church in the centre of Barnsley.  I have added him to that Community on LFWW as well.  

I don't know why he is listed in the AVL as John William Raven instead of John Fleming Raven, the service number mistake is probably just a typo, but you would have thought his family would have given his name correctly to the Electorial Register people?

The next man whose handwritten note suggested I should do more investigation was Harold Thornton of 4, Blenheim Road.  He was noted as being a Prisoner of War.  As I had a web page for the BWMP open I did a search for his name first.  The only hit I found was on the Memorial Panels in St Helen's Church in Hemsworth, which I thought unlikely given that he or his family were living in the centre of Barnsley in 1917/18 when the names for the AVL were collected.  Of course if he returned safely from his time as a prisoner he would not be on any memorial ... so I re-started my research process in the correct order by looking for him on LFWW and the CWGC.
Harold Thornton's Life Story on LFWW
I got a hit straight away for Thornton and service number 54301 on LFWW. The man's forename was Harold and he was in the Manchester Regiment, this must be my man.  As I clicked the button to 'Remember' him I noticed that there was a date of death already entered against him, 27 April 1918, which means that LFWW had already linked him to an entry on the CWGC as part of their automatic process.  This also means that by the time the handwritten notes were added to the AVL in Barnsley Harold was not a prisoner of war, he was already dead.  Moving onto the CWGC via the link on LFWW I saw that the additional information stated that he was "Son of George Edgar and Ellen Thornton, husband of Ethel Thornton. Born at Dewsbury, Yorks."  Of course even if he was born in Dewsbury he and his family could quite easily have moved to Barnsley between his birth in 1888 (calculated from his age, 30, at death) and the collection of the AVL data in 1917/18.  

So next I looked for a Harold Thornton, born 1888 in Dewsbury, living in Barnsley in 1911.  The only hit for that name, age and birth place was in Hemsworth!  What a coincidence, given that I'd found a called Harold Thornton on the Hemsworth war memorial.  The young man I had found was 23 years old, a boarder with an older couple called Twiley, and a Boot Manager, whatever that was.  Could this be the right man?
Marriage in Darton All Saints on 20 October 1915 (from Ancestry)
As a wife was mentioned on the CWGC I tried looking for a marriage for Harold Thornton to a lady named Ethel on FreeBMD and found a hit in Barnsley in 1915.  This was more like it! A search on Ancestry's West Yorkshire Parish records collection soon found his marriage to Ethel Illsley in Darton (see above).  It is the right man as he names his father as George Edgar Thornton, which agrees with the CWGC additional information and his occupation as Boot Manager tallies with the 1911 census entry I had found.  Both bride and groom give their home addresses as places in Hemsworth.  Ah, ha.  Things are joining up at last! An Ethel Illsley was born in Barnsley in 1892 and her parents had married at St George's in Barnsley in 1891.  Illsley (which can be mis-spelt so many ways!) is a rare name in Barnsley. Ethel's father, John Illsley, was from Staffordshire originally.  So maybe Ethel had returned to live with or near a member of her family in Barnsley while Harold was serving in the army, and the address given in Hemsworth when she married him was where she had been working/living in as a Tailoress?  The witnesses at the marriage, Robert and Annie Elizabeth Illsley are brother and sister to Ethel, according to the family's entry in the 1911 census.  

You might have spotted that Harold says he's a widower at his marriage to Ethel.  So between the census of 1911 where he is a single man and his marriage in 1915 he has married and lost another wife.  A few searches on FreeBMD and Ancestry later I worked out that he'd married Elizabeth A Knox in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1911, the banns being read in St Helen's, Hemsworth beforehand.  They had one child, Olive E, born in Q2 1914 in the Hemsworth Registration District and Elizabeth A Thornton aged 27 died in Hemsworth in the same quarter. 
Burial of Elizabeth Ann Thornton, aged 27, at Hemsworth (Wakefield Council)

The burial records for Hemsworth are available to browse (they are not indexed by name) on Wakefield Council's website. Elizabeth Thornton's address at her death on 2 May 1914 was 71 Kirkby Road, Hemsworth, which very nearly matches the address given by Harold at his marriage to Ethel the following year.

So Harold was left with a small daughter to care for after the death of his wife, that would give him a reason to marry again fairly quickly.  Harold and Ethel themselves had a son, John J E V Thornton, born in Hemsworth in 1916 by which time I expect Harold had joined the army as conscription, even for married men, came in in 1916.  Unfortunately a John E V Thornton dies in Barnsley aged 0 in 1917.  John Edgar Vincent Thornton aged 6 months is buried in Barnsley Cemetery in a plot shared with two Illsley children. This is more evidence for Ethel's move to Barnsley during Harold's service.  This search on Thornton deaths also highlighted an Olive Thornton who died in Barnsley in 1929 aged 14.  This is probably Harold's daughter by Elizabeth, such a shame that neither of Harold's children lived to adulthood. 
FreeBMD entry for the marriage of Ethel Thornton in Barnsley

And his widow? In the 1930 Electoral Roll the occupants of 4 Blenheim Road are a John William and Ethel Elliott, so I looked for the marriage of Thornton to Elliott in FreeBMD, which you can see that I found in Q3 of 1919.  They have a child named Iris in 1920 whom I found on FreeBMD by searching for births to Elliott, mother's maiden name Illsley, confirming that this is the remarriage of Harold's widow.

So Ethel knew that Harold wasn't coming home by the middle of 1919 and that she was free to marry again. His CWGC record shows his burial details at Valenciennes Communal Cemetery in France after his death in April 1918, so why didn't the family or the Electorial Register people know that he was dead at the time the handwritten notes were added to the AVL?

List of burials in the German Extension at Valenciennes (from the CWGC)
The CWGC added some fascinating additional documents to their index last year.  You can now see lists of burial information and records of the concentration of burials after the war.  The above snip shows that Pte H Thornton of the Manchesters was buried in the German Extension of the cemetery at Valenciennes.  His body was exhumed and reburied in 1922 after being positively identified by a plate on his coffin.  Presumably he died after being taken prisoner in the great German push of early 1918 but only the fact that he had been taken prisoner had reached his family by the autumn of 1918.  I wonder why he is remembered on the Hemsworth Memorial and not on one in Barnsley, but I suppose any of his family or friends might have asked for him to be included at St Helen's as he lived there for a while and his first wife is buried there.

Having sorted out that Harold Thornton does NOT qualify for inclusion on the Barnsley Roll of Honour after all that - he was born in Dewsbury, probably lived in Hemsworth when he enlisted at Pontefract and is remembered on a memorial outside the Barnsley MBC boundary -  I moved onto the next man on my list.

Harold Horbury, of 6 Blenheim Road, was marked up as, "Prisoner of War, E Camp" in the AVL handwritten notes. His details were Service number 236222 of the 13th Yorks regiment, and I could not find him on LFWW.  Oh, dear, here we go again!
Barnsley Chronicle 24 August 1918
(thanks to Barnsley Archives)

Happily I found him in my transcription of the list of POWs from the Barnsley Chronicle in August 1918.

Horbury    H    23622    13th Yorkshire Regt    Harahoe 28, K4, Matr, 37522, Camp de Friedrichsfeld, Pres Wesel    6 Blenheim Road, Barnsley

Incidently Harold Thornton is not on this list, maybe because his home address was actually Hemsworth or maybe because he did not appear on the list the Chronicle was working to, as he was already dead.

The AVL appears to have got Harold Horbury's service number wrong, they have been a bit overenthusiastic with the 2s!  However searching for Horbury and 23622 on LFWW still didn't bring back anyone, so I tried just the number and found a Harold Horburn who looked like the right man.  Maybe a transcription error from his Medal Card had changed him from Horbury to Horburn?
Harold Horbury's Attestation (from Ancestry)
The images of the Medal Cards are available on Ancestry.  LFWW work from the transcriptions provided by The National Archives (TNA) which are sometimes inaccurate and I often have to attach a link to the medal card image to LFWW as External Evidence to show the correct details.  But not in this case, despite his Service Records, which are luckily part of the 40% of which survived the blitz in WW2, quite plainly stating that his name is Horbury, his medal card and medal rolls all say Horburn.  Harold enlisted in September 1915 aged 19 years and 25 days.  He is not married and his next of kin is Charlotte Horbury, of 6 Blenheim Road, his mother.  He was reported missing in July 1917 and after his mother forwarded a post card from him to the War Office in September 1917 he was subsequently listed as a prisoner of war.  He was repatriated back to England in November 1918.  He has no CWGC entry and I cannot see a death for him in the Barnsley area.  This man is NOT a candidate for the Barnsley Roll of Honour.

So, as you see, what started off as a fairly straightforward tick list activity got quite complicated when the data in the AVL did not tally with that on other sources I have been using.  I did identify one man, John Fleming Raven, who was listed as Missing on the AVL as a man who is already on one of Barnsley's war memorials, but the others I looked at either did not die during or from the effects of the war, or in the case of Harold Thornton, were from outside our area so cannot be included in our Roll of Honour.  

Hours of fun! 

Saturday 23 May 2015

Benllech Break marred by Mid and Post Holiday Tiredness

We have been back from our holiday in Wale for a week now and I have been out of the house twice.  I was poorly and stressed various things before we went and although some of them have resolved themselves there always seems to be something else going on. I do apologise to the OH and our two mums whom we took away on holiday.  I just wasn't up to it, I'm sorry.
View from Beach Cottage, Benllech

The view from the window of our holiday cottage was lovely.  When it was clear we could see all the way to Llandudno - that's the sticky out bit on the left in the far distance in the photo above.  The sun shone more than it rained although it was quite windy all week.  

We managed a trip to Caenarfon on the local buses so that the OH could drink beer, we did two pubs, the Wetherspoons, the Tafarn Y Porth (Gate Inn) and a CAMRA recommended pub, the Black Boy Inn, which was very picturesque, although it had a limited beer choice on the day we were there.

Unfortunately after this trip I was so tired I had to retreat to my bed in the cottage for a day and a half.  I just slept ...  The OH did lots of walking and posted pictures from his walks on Facebook most days including pics of muddy boots and closed pubs (closed because it was early in the morning not closed, closed.)

We also had an afternoon out in Bangor on the last day, the mums both like charity shops, and there were plenty of them in both towns.  Sadly Wales seemed a bit run down.  Just behind our little house was a boarded up hotel, the staff in the local shops and pubs told the OH that it had been empty for about 10 years and was going to be auctioned off soon.  On the main road in the village was another empty pub/hotel, which looks fine and in business on Google maps so it can't have been closed for long.  
Purple Moose toy

The OH and his mum discovered a nice little bar, The Beachcomber Bar and Grill.  Despite the name the front part is a proper bar and you don't have to eat there to enjoy a few nice real ales.  I managed to make it there on the last evening as I appeared to have got my zing back after two days of rest, but unfortunately the Purple Moose beer (one of my favourites from beer festivals in Cardiff) had run out so I was just tormented by the fluffy toy moose on the shelf behind the bar and the Purple Moose beer mats while I drank some keg mild instead.  There were a couple of real ales on, don't misunderstand me, and a real cider for the OH's mum, but I like my beer dark and on the malty side and the ones available weren't to my taste.

The journey both too and from Wales was horrendous.  Traffic jams on the motorways and all the way though Tintwhistle (which we had expected) held us up for an hour and a half on the way there and an hour on the way home.  

I always try to break our journeys with a stop at a Wetherspoons pub as they provide cheap, good quality food, and toilet facilities.  We did the Thomas Telford in Ellesmere Port on the way out, chosen for ease of on street parking more than anything else but it did turn out to be a nice large open pub with some raised areas more dedicated to dining than drinking which we found very comfortable.  The service was good and the toilets were clean and on the ground floor level, what more could we want?

On the way back, as we'd had to vacate the cottage by 10am we visited Chester, which was nice, but expensive.  The OH was browsing with the mums in a charity shop until he spotted the prices - £10 for a t-shirt! Shocking. Chester has two Wetherspoons pubs, but both were a long walk from the shopping centre car park I had chosen as being the easiest to find.  It turned out they within a few yards of each other on adjacent streets.  Not good planning Wetherspoons!  We went in the the one that was NOT the Lloyds No.1 (as that brand often have loud music and are targeted at younger people) but I regretted our choice quite quickly.  I suppose it was Friday lunchtime so it was going to be busy but it was full, noisy, and the service was slow.  The mums had to queue for the disabled toilet as the ordinary ones were up three flights of stairs.  As we spent over 3 hours in Chester the car park cost us £10.  We could have stayed for 24hrs for that but we'd seen enough expensive jewellery shops and fancy clothes shops.  Yes, very nice for some people, but not somewhere, despite the history, that I'd choose to go for a weekend break. 

When we got home I managed to make tea, unpack the bags and put the washing on before I collapsed.  And a week later I'm still collapsed.  I do keep trying to get up out of bed, but only manage a few hours, making the OH's tea usually.  I didn't even go to Barnsley Archives this week, that's the third week in a row I've missed now, they'll be thinking I've forgotten them.  The OH has taken me out twice shopping, if I have him or a trolley to lean on then I can manage an hour or so of slow doddering.
Warehouse 13 box set

At least the brain fog seems to have cleared today, I am managing to type legibly for the first time in days.  I have watched three series of Warehouse 13 on DVD (thanks to my daughter for lending me these) in the past week as that's been about all I have been able to manage.

Cross fingers that I'll be better tomorrow or the next day as I'd like to do a newsletter for the Barnsley War Memorials Project this week.  I haven't missed a month yet since I started them last May although one or two have been a bit late.  I do enjoy putting them together and don't see it as a chore.  They are one of the few ways we really keep in contact with other interested people out there, I just wish we could afford to print some out for putting in libraries and other public places as it is I send them out as .pdf files and you can download all the back issues from the link above.

Thanks for reading and I hope normal service will be resumed shortly!


Friday 1 May 2015

World War One Soldiers - Cousins from Worsboro' Common who joined together and died together

While recording and identifying World War One soldiers for the Barnsley War Memorials Project we often come across stories that may not be from our own family history, but are so interesting or plain odd that we feel they should be shared.
1917 Face of the War Memorial
at St Luke's Worsborough Common

Both myself and our Information Officer PS are intrigued by James and John Kenny of Worsbrough (sometimes Worsborough or Worsbro') Common, cousins who joined the Barnsley Pals together and were sadly killed on the same day as each other.

On the war memorial at St Luke's, Worsbro' Common the names are sorted by year.  1914 and 1915 fit on one panel with the dedication and then 1916, 1917 and 1918 have a panel each.  In total there are 46 names on the memorial, I have identified all but two men, and even for one of those I have an educated guess about who he is.  I have been adding their stories to the Lives of the First World War (LFWW) community for Worsborough Common, which will eventually (hopefully) include all the men and women from the area who served, or were affected by the war.

On the 1917 panel there are two men with the same surname, and unusually on the memorial, in order to differentiate them they have their forenames indicated.  John and Jas (though James would only have been another two letters!) Kenny were cousins and had lived near each other all their lives.  Their service numbers are even sequential (although that might be to do with the fact they have the same surname) and both their service records survived the blitz, although they are very damaged.

Both men were unmarried and working as miners when they enlisted in the 14th York and Lancaster Regiment (the 2nd Barnsley Pals) on 9 March 1915. James (b.Q1 1881) from 31 Peel Street, Worsbro' Common was 34 years old, although he claimed to be 33 and 64 days, knocking one year off his age.  He was assigned the service number 14/832. John (b.Q2 1874) from the White Bear Inn, Worsbro' Common was nearly 41 years old but claimed to be 37 years and 323 days old, removing a more substantial three years from his age.  His service number was 14/833.  I find these numbers very easy to remember and that is quite handy as I now have so many men 'remembered' on LFWW, which has no alphabetical sort mechanism, that it is simpler to just enter a number to get to a man I am updating.  

1930s map snip of Worsbro' Common (from Old Maps)
You can see how close to each other the men lived in the map snip above. Peel Street is just below the word 'Stone' of High Stone Road, the main road running diagonally across the image.  The White Bear Inn is the square block on the end of a row of back to backs directly across the road from the end of Peel Street.  It was still there a few years ago (link to Google maps) and was one of the few remaining old buildings in the area. 

Like most of the other men in the 2nd Barnsley Pals they were posted overseas at the end of 1915 and spent a few months in Egypt.  They arrived in France in March 1916 and appear to have survived the infamous first day of the Battle of the Somme unscathed.  There are no wound reports in either of their service records.  The only mention of any medical treatment I can find is that John apparently had his boils looked at 'In the Field' in April 1916.  Neither man appears to have committed any recordable offence, which considering their history in Barnsley in their youth is quite remarkable.  

In searching the British Newspaper Archive which I can access via Find My Past I found a couple of mentions of the Kenny family.  One typical entry is from the Sheffield Evening Telegraph in 1903 headlined 'Barnsley Gambling Raids'.  James Kenny (our man would have been 22 years old at the time), Thomas Kenny, George Kenny and a number of others, some of whom may have been related to the Kenny family by marriage, were implicated in a gambling school at Worsborough Common. The police gave evidence that, 'the defendants, with some 30 or 40 others, were engaged gambling in Moss Square on the afternoon of Sunday, the 22nd ult." (Sheffield Evening Telegraph 2 April 1903)  Moss Square is adjacent to the White Bear Inn.  Most of the men were found guilty and fined 10s and costs.
Privates J and J Kenny from the Barnsley Chronicle 9 June 1917
(With thanks to Barnsley Archives)
I found pictures of both men in the Barnsley Chronicle after their deaths in France on 8 May 1917 were reported.  Unfortunately both images were labelled Pte J Kenny (Worsbro' Common, killed) so I don't know which is which.  Maybe we could take a guess at the one on the left being the older man, but I wouldn't like to say for certain.

Their obituary in the Barnsley Chronicle is very short, in the midst of a column of reports about other Barnsley soldiers there appears, "From Worsbro' Common comes the news that two cousins, Private John Kenny (42), of the White Bear, and Private James Kenny (36) of Peel Street, were both killed on May 8th. Both men were unmarried, John formerly working at Round Green Colliery and James at Barnsley Main Colliery." (Barnsley Chronicle 2 June 1917)
John and Elizabeth Kenny in Worsbro' Common in 1841 (from Ancestry)
I have researched the Kenny family going back to the mutual grandfather of the two men and forward to people who may well still be alive today.  John Kenny was born around 1809 in Louth, Ireland (according to the 1851 census) which is a county on the east coast in the present Republic.  We can only assume he married Elizabeth (maiden name unknown) who was from Wombwell, in Yorkshire at some point before or around the birth of their first child, another James, in 1840.  In the 1841 census they are living in Worbro' Common and John is a weaver. He indicates his origin in Ireland with an I in the final column of his record. 

John and Elizabeth have at least seven children, I have found five who marry and two spinster sisters, Hannah and Mary who keep a shop in Worsbro' Common up to their deaths in the 1920s.  I have found 32 grandchildren!  Surprisingly only the two men who feature in this story appear to have joined up to serve in the war - although Kenny is a fairly common name and there are other Kennys from Barnsley who serve who are (probably) not related. A female cousin of the men, Annie Kenny, is widowed in 1919 and remarries shortly afterwards, but there is nothing to suggest that her husband William Hinchliffe died of anything related to the war. 

Both John and James Kenny are remembered on the Arras Memorial in France.  This suggests that they had no known grave.  However some personal items are listed in their service records as returned to the next of kin of each man; James a letter and some photos, John a letter, postcards, photos and two religious books.  This may be because they left these items behind somewhere safer when they went into the action in which they were killed.  Both men had given their religion as Roman Catholic on their enlistment papers, which is probably why I can't find their baptisms or their grandparents marriage on Ancestry.  Their service records also each contain a completed 'Next of Kin' form which lists their parents, even though James parents were both deceased by this time and so was John's mother, and their siblings.  This is very useful as it confirms their sisters' married names.  Both are unfortunately very faint as if written in pencil and then maybe water damaged.

Snip from James Kenny's entry in the
Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects (on Ancestry)
In the records of Soldiers' Effects which were recently released on Ancestry there is even a list of all of James' siblings as his balance of pay was divided equally between them all in November 1917, presumably due to both his parents being dead.

You can just make out sisters Mrs Rose Sheldon and Mrs Hannah Lambert who each got on penny less than brothers George and John and sister Bessie whose married name, Winfield, is not given.  Later on, I think in 1919, eldest brother George receives a separate £9.  This appears to be the War Gratuity paid by the War Office which may equate to the total time served by the man.

According to the Battalion War Diaries recently released on Ancestry (what would I do without it!) 14th York and Lancaster Regiment had been 'In the Line' at Gavrelle and Windmill, part of the Battle of Arras, since 2 May 1917. They were heavily shelled from the 4 May onwards with numerous casualties. On 8 May the enemy barrage ceased at 7am and during the night they were attacked by four or five waves of Germans.  The trenches were very muddy and there was rain and mist.  Our side called down an answering artillery barrage and "the double barrage made the area like an inferno".  On 9 May the writer of the diary reports that they were relieved by 12th York and Lancs (the Sheffield Pals) and he lists a total of 2 Officers and 29 other ranks killed, 2 officers and 109 other ranks wounded, 2 men missing and 2 wounded who remained on duty, adding up to 145 men out of action.  They had however captured a German machine gun and 43 enemy rifles!  

The brevity of the Kenny men's obituary and the 'inferno' described by the officer together with the lack of known graves paints a sad picture.  Were they defending their trench from the Germans side by side and both killed? - but surely if this was the case their bodies would have been returned and buried.  What is more likely is that the two cousins were hit by a shell and completely lost amid the mud and rain.  There was nothing left to bury.

Sarah & Robert Kenny's gravestone
in Barnsley Cemetery
John Kenny is remembered on his family's gravestone in plot E 547 of Barnsley Cemetery. 

In Loving Memory of / Sarah / the beloved wife of / Robert Kenny / of Worsboro Common /  who died February 25th 1908 / aged 68 years / Gone, but not forgotten / Also Tom, the beloved son  / of the above / who died August 29th 1914 / aged 35 years / Also Pte John Kenny, 14th York & Lancs / son of the above / who fell in action in France May 8th 1917 / aged 43 years / Also the above named / Robert Kenny / who died February 16th 1918 / aged 75 years.

This is the branch of the family who ran the White Bear Inn, maybe they had a little bit extra money for a nice gravestone.  Note that this stone says that John was 43 years old, the newspaper report only said he was 42.  There is no evidence of a stone remembering cousin James. 

Lest We Forget.

Renewing my Disabled aka Concessionary Bus Pass (or not?)

After writing this I submitted it to 'Blogging Against Disablism Day' - it was serendipitous, I hadn't realised it was today (1 May 2015) but something nice had to happen today to balance all the bad ****. There is also a Facebook page with lots of links to other people's posts.  Please read. 

Renewing my Disabled aka Concessionary Bus Pass (or not?)
South Yorkshire Concessionary Bus Pass
Over the past few days I have been trying to arrange for the renewal of my disabled bus pass.  I have had this pass for 5 years.  I got it because my GP wrote a simple letter explaining that I have Crohn's Disease, Fibromyalgia and Asthma and have difficulty walking very far.  You would think it would be simple to get it renewed.  Well it is not.  Be warned, if you have a pass and it runs out in the next 6 weeks or so, start the process of getting it renewed now.  Mine expires on 10 May 2015.  I have NO HOPE of getting a new one before it expires now.

Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2015
So far this week I have phoned Travel South Yorkshire, who told me to phone Barnsley Council.  I need a 'letter of eligibility' from the Council before the Transport people can renew the pass.  The Council will only issue the 'letter of eligibility' if I have 8 points from the Personal Independence Payment (the new Disablitity Living Allowance) or a letter from my doctor.  

On Wednesday I posted on Facebook (which I find very supportive when I'm down):
"A title for a very ranty blog post that I'm not going to write, "How it took me four hours on the phone to get an appointment to renew my disabled bus pass". Honest truth - from 9.30am to 15.30 this afternoon (with a two hour break for a talk at Cudworth Fire Station) I've spoken to the SYPTE, the Council, my Drs, CAB, the Northern General Hospital and the DWP." 

Obviously I've changed my mind on writing a blog post since then! Sometimes writing it all down helps me.  You never know ...

As I say above, I phoned my doctor's surgery (twice) as instructed by the Council to try to get a letter. Apparently the surgery have been told NOT to write letters for anyone.  Despite that I made an appointment to see a GP.  I was willing, and had the OH's agreement, to pay for a private letter, similar to the one I got (eventually) for my Open University exams.  However, after struggling onto a bus to Monk Bretton (I am having a really bad week after a trip to London last weekend), the doctor I saw absolutely refused to write a letter of any kind. 

On my return home this morning I posted on Facebook again:
"My GP has just refused to write even a private letter supporting the renewal of my disabled bus pass. She stated that the Barnsley PCT had told all the doctors not to write letters any more. I just looked up Barnsley PCT - we haven't had one since 2013. Has anyone else had this problem? Any ideas on how I can get my pass renewed? I have requested a letter from my consultant and from the DWP - I am in receipt of NI credits as a valid claimant of ESA - I get no money though as they means test and poor [OH's name here] is meant to keep me. I don't know what I'll do if I can't get to the Archives once a week ... it was my only real outing."

Various friends responded that I should try CAB (done once but will try again) or the local social services and try applying for PIP anyway and appealing when I get turned down.  

I spent 23 minutes on the phone to the DWP applying for PIP.  They will send me a form (Facebook friends advised that I should get CAB to help me fill it in) and also send me for an assessment.  

The criteria for 8 points of PIP mobility is that I am able to walk 20 metres but not 50 metres, safely, repeatedly and in a reasonable time, to an acceptable standard.  I think it all depends who measures this.  On a good day I can walk to the local Co-op which is about 160 metres, although I have trouble going much further, on a bad day I can't even get out of bed to make the OH his tea. 

My next Facebook post was: 
"Citizens Advice (in South Wales) won't make me an appointment (in Barnsley) until I have the PIP form in my hand. They put me onto Age UK (in Devon) who gave me the number for Age UK in Barnsley. Well, I think I could have managed that myself if I'd had any hope it would work. Basically no-one can understand WHY my GP refuses to write a letter stating my disabilities. I have not worked since 2009 ... I have had a genuine claim for ESA allowed since January 2010. All I want is a bus pass. I'm not asking for actual money. Just the ability to get out and see more than these four walls occasionally ... and to support the local Archives who are having their hours cut because people don't visit them enough."

I was by this time crying and very upset.  I haven't been well this week and this is not helping. I believe the government's changes to the way they give money (or benefits in kind) to disabled people is the reason behind the intransigence of my GP to write a letter.  And of course the reduction in distance you can walk has been well discussed online in the past two years.  It just hadn't affected me so far.  Well, now it has.  And it hurts.

The letter that I asked for on Wednesday from the DWP has arrived today, but it doesn't even mention ESA, it just says I have a Credits Claim dating back to January 2010.  The possibility of a letter from my consultant is my last hope ...

AgeUK logo
The Age UK people in Barnsley are willing to send someone out to me to help me fill in the PIP form when it comes, which is at least better than CAB who would have wanted me to go to Wellington House - which is about 0.3 of a mile from the bus station, nearly 500 metres.

In the meantime I'll just sit here and try to be calm ...