Monday 5 June 2017

WW1 Soldier's Story - Harold Peart and the Thorpe Hesley War Memorials

On Saturday I was double checking the last few 'Orphans' on the huge list of WW1 casualties the Barnsley War Memorials Project (BWMP) have accumulated over the past three and a bit years against my particular interest, the Imperial War Museum's Lives of the First World War website.  I am no longer on the Committee of the Project but I couldn't possibly stop researching the men (and women) just yet and I fully support the Project's current campaign to develop and print a Roll of Honour naming all the men by November 2018.  Many of the Project volunteers are currently working on trying to solve mystery names on the various war memorials and on other aspects of data checking before compiling the final version of the Roll of Honour.

Orphan names are those of men who were killed in WW1 who were either born in Barnsley or who demonstrably lived here at the time of their enlistment into the armed services but who are not named on any of the 649 war memorials found in the borough.  
Harold Peart's SDWG index entry from Ancestry
Many men enlisted in Barnsley from other parts of the county, travelling from Sheffield and Wakefield and even further afield to do so. Soldiers Died in the Great War (SDGW) includes a line to tell you where men enlisted but that doesn't mean that I can take it for granted they actually lived in the borough at the time. Sometimes a line for Residence is included, but for Corporal Harold Peart, above, this has not been shown. Other problems around the SDGW dataset include mis-spelling of Barnsley and the surrounding villages, inclusion of areas such as Woolley and Wath in Barnsley (they were part of Barnsley in the early 1900s but are not any more) and especially for officers, the total lack of useful information!  
A report on Harold Peart's death from the Barnsley Chronicle 23 November 1918
with thanks to Barnsley Archives
A search of the local newspapers for mentions of the man can often help.  The BWMP have recently completed an index to the Barnsley Chronicle from August 1914 to March 1919 which is available at Barnsley Archives. It makes looking up a name very easy and you can often find multiple mentions of a man and trace their war time career through the newspaper reports.  Other local newspapers, the Barnsley Independent and the South Yorkshire Times, are also available at Barnsley Archives on microfilm and other Yorkshire newspapers can be found on the British Newspaper Archive or on Find My Past.  Harold Peart's death was reported in the Barnsley Chronicle in late November 1918 and the article helpfully states that the family lived at 3 Newton Street, Barnsley and that Harold had worked locally before his enlistment. As he was only 22 and unmarried I think it is fairly safe to assume that he still lived at home with his parents when he enlisted.  The article also gives confirmation of Harold's Military Medal which was noted in the SDGW entry although I could see no reference to this in the Chronicle index for the previous year.

A further check is provided by the 1918 Absent Voters' List, also transcribed by the BWMP and available on the open shelves at Barnsley Archives.  

Ward    PD    No    Surname    Forenames    Street    House     No    Service No    Rank    Battalion    Regiment  
West    13P    4010    Peart    Harold        Newton Street    3                   2333        Pte    1/5        Y & L  

This confirms that Harold's last known address was the family home at 3 Newton Street.

Newton Street runs off Summer Lane onto Farrar Street and is on the same side of the town centre as Cranbrook Street where I found the Peart family in the 1911 census. At that time Harold's mother Mary Elizabeth was still alive having had eight children, three of whom had died before the census was taken.  I can find burials for two of these children in Barnsley Cemetery, Colin in 1910 aged 4 months and Elsie aged 8 months in 1912, both from 48 Cranbrook Street but their mother is not buried with them. The index to burials in Barnsley Cemetery is also available at Barnsley Archives - it is a great place to visit if you are doing your family history, with so many more local resources than are available online! Sadly the grave plots mentioned in the two children's burials appear to be 'pauper graves' as all the burials are around the same dates. FreeBMD tells us that Mary Elizabeth died in 1913 aged just 36. So where is she buried?  Harold's father Wilfred did not pass away until 1960 and he is not buried in Barnsley Cemetery either. With a family of young children to support I was not surprised to find him remarrying in 1918, somewhere in the Barnsley area.  His second wife, Mary Ann is buried in Barnsley Cemetery in 1937 from 3 Newton Street, aged 70.

When I see a man is not remembered on a Barnsley memorial my next thought is to search the place where he was born.  In the case of Harold Peart I was lucky to find a list of names on the Thorpe Hesley war memorial on the Genuki website. A H Peart is included on the list which could be Harold. In an attempt to find some good pictures of the war memorial at the Holy Trinity church in Thorpe Hesley I came across the church's own Flickr account.  What a wonderful resource!  There were pictures of all kinds of social and religious event in the area going back a number of years including several Remembrance Sunday services.  I was intrigued to see that the congregation, including Scouts, Guides and Brownies all paraded through the village on these occasions to another memorial for a second wreath laying.  So much so that I got the OH to take me up to Thorpe Hesley yesterday to have a look at the two memorials.
Holy Trinity

The soldier on top of the memorial outside the church reminds me of the one at Dodworth in Barnsley, the detail of his uniform and rifle are quite amazing.  And those look like shell cases surrounding the base!  H Peart is named on the right hand side of the pillar.  

It looks well cared for, although the soldier could do with a little cleaning as he is a bit greenish.
Flanders Court

The second memorial is at Flanders Court, a little housing development higher up in the village.  It consists of two stone plaques laid down in a brick paving frame, it is set at a slight incline but sadly the names are already weathering.  According to the entry for this memorial on the War Memorial Register there are 212 names listed of men from the village who served in WW1.  H Peart MM is named near the foot of the middle column of names. This is a rare and special kind of memorial as most list only the men who lost their lives. A passing resident was able to tell us that the plaques had been saved from the nearby Mechanics' Institute, which, to my surprise, was still standing.  She told us that the building could not be demolished as it was listed (which was not substantiated by a search of Rotherham Council's website; the cottages beside it are but not the old Institute) but that the new owners had not wanted the enormous Roll of Honour. (Click on the OH's pictures to see them enlarged.)
Former Mechanics' Institute Thorpe Hesley
In the picture above taken from Thorpe Street, you can see a large centrally positioned stone frame which we guessed had been the original position of the Roll of Honour. It now contains an advertisement for the occupiers of the building. To the left is a gennel (alleyway) leading to the Housing Association development Flanders Court (built in 1988) where the Roll of Honour now lies.

I think that the inclusion of a Military Medal citation on the Roll of Honour strongly suggests that the H Peart listed on this and the church war memorial are the same Harold who lived in Barnsley. There was another H Peart who was awarded the Military Medal, but he survived the war.

The Peart family appear to move from Thorpe Hesley to Barnsley between the the birth of the youngest child shown on the 1911 census, Miriam b.1907 and the birth of Colin in Barnsley in 1909. The three children already lost by 1911 are Eva, b.1904 in Thorpe Hesley, Josiah b.1905 in Thorpe Hesley (both buried in Thorpe Hesley) and Colin b.1909 in Barnsley. Subsequently Elsie b.1911 dies in Barnsley in 1912 and a further child Arthur John is born in 1913 who survives.  It could be this last child who contributes to his mother's death. She bore ten children in total between 1896 and 1913.

It seems that despite the move the family still retained ties to Thorpe Hesley as I found the burial of Mary Elizabeth Peart aged 36 recorded in the church there on 1 July 1913. This is undoubtedly Harold's mother. It would be nice to think that she rejoined her two little lost babies there.   

Harold, meanwhile, is buried in York Cemetery, Haspres, Northern France in plot D.4. His headstone bears no family citation but probably does record his Military Medal.

Harold Peart's Lives of the First World War page

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