Thursday 6 December 2018

The Return of a Family Medal

I have written this post to thank the eagle-eyed reader (AP) who spotted my grandfather Hutton's Defence Medal for sale on ebay earlier this week.
Screen shot of ebay sale (after purchase) with price redacted
I wrote about my grandfather back in January 2013 after finding some of his WW2 Home Guard paperwork and mementos in a box at my mum's house. Later I found more information about his service and was sent a photo of him in the Home Guard by my second cousin. This formed a second blog post in June 2013.

At the time I did not know where my grandad's Defence Medal was, although the paperwork showed that he had claimed it in June/July 1946, so it was fantastic that AP had spotted the ebay entry and linked it to me via my grandfather's name and address. I have blanked out the asking price in the snip above to avoid embarrassment as I really, really wanted to buy it! Thankfully the OH agreed and it came in the post this morning.  I know that Second World War medals don't have the recipient's name engraved upon them like First World War medals and I already have my paternal grandfather's Defence Medal, so basically I now have two the same, but the box is special. 

I did message the seller to ask if he had anything else that might be linked to my family, and if he could tell me when he obtained the medal. He wrote back within a few hours saying that he thinks he bought it on ebay around 18 months ago, and that he was delighted that it would be returning to a family member. He had nothing else related and was selling the medal to concentrate his collection on First World War items
My grandfather's Defence Medal with original packaging
This is what came, and I am very happy. To think that I am holding an item my grandfather handled over 70 years ago is quite a feeling.  I have informed my mum about my purchase and look forward to showing her the medal and box when I see her next week.

So thank you AP for the heads up and 756Keith somewhere in Darlington (the seller) for the swift response and dispatch of my grandfather's medal.


Wednesday 10 October 2018

Remembrance Mural in Cudworth

The demolition of the obsolete public toilets on Barnsley Road in Cudworth this last summer has revealed the Remembrance mural on the side of the Star Inn, St John's Road, to bus passengers and other passers by on the main road. Today's brilliant sunshine was a perfect opportunity to take some different views of the mural to add to my records.

Star Inn, Cudworth from Barnsley Road (photo taken 10 Oct 2018)
The mural was painted in 2015, commissioned by landlord Simon Davey, the artist was Craig Hoyle from Sheffield (information from the Barnsley Chronicle 13 Nov 2015). It is nice to see that three years later the paintwork still looks as good as new and has escaped the vandalism that has plagued the Memorial Garden in Cudworth Park which also features a mural.

Close up of mural, artist's signature bottom left
Side view of the pub from the adjacent garden

There is (was?) a similar painting on the side of the former Manx Arms (most recently Tykes Sports Bar) on Sheffield Road on the approach to Barnsley town centre. I must get the OH to take a photo of that if it is still there.

What is the future of these memorials, because memorials they surely are? The definition of a war memorial can be found on this page on the UK War Memorials website. It includes any tangible object that commemorates war, conflict, victory or peace. By the nature of these murals they will probably not last as well as a stone monument by the roadside or a plaque in a church, but we should value them whilst we have them and the meaning behind them.

Lest We Forget.

Wednesday 29 August 2018

Two Members of the Same Family both named Irving Killed in Action a Generation Apart

There are at least 154 war memorial gravestones in Barnsley Cemetery, Barnsley, South Yorkshire. These grave markers commemorate a man who has been lost in a conflict, be it the Boer War, the First World War or the Second World War by an inscription on the stone work upon or around their family's grave plot. The men in question are NOT buried in the Cemetery, most lying in Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries overseas or commemorated on CWGC memorials across the world.

Recently, from March to July 2018, a volunteer has been walking the cemetery checking every plot for these inscriptions. Wayne Bywater has now moved onto the cemetery in Bolton upon Dearne but the Barnsley War Memorials Project and myself are very grateful to him for finding and photographing so many of these memorials which give valuable family information about our servicemen. Wayne's work has added names to the BWMP First World War Roll of Honour (due to be presented to the Mayor of Barnsley in November 2018) and has identified many Second World War men for future researchers.

The gravestone that I was logging this morning is particularly interesting as it commemorates two servicemen in one family, one killed in the First World War and one killed in the Second World War. Coincidently both were called Irving. Irving Lindley was killed in action 20 November 1917 and Irving Parry was killed in action 19 November 1944.  Intrigued by this I decided to find out exactly how the two men were related.
Lindley family gravestone, plot 7 371, Barnsley Cemetery
Photo by Wayne Bywater in July 2018
The gravestone gives us lots of clues. Irving Lindley's parents were Violet C, who died in 1929 and Arthur who died in 1933. Irving Parry was their grandson.  

Arthur Lindley, born 1870 in Wombwell, married Violet Charlotte Bower, born 1875 in Sheffield, in Wombwell Parish Church on 24 December 1895. It seems they had known each other for a while for in the same church on 7 January 1894 their daughter May Lindley Bower was baptised. No father's name is given, but the inclusion of the Lindley name in the child's forenames is a huge pointer towards her parentage!

Following their marriage Arthur and Violet had three more children, Edgar, born in the September quarter of 1896 (so around nine months after their wedding), Irving, born in December quarter 1897 and Ida, born in the January quarter of 1899.  All four of the Lindley children are at home with Arthur and Violet in the 1901 census when the family are living at 28 Gower Street in Wombwell. May is listed as a Lindley and all the children were born in Wombwell. Arthur's occupation is Coal Hewer. Gower Street runs off Park Street, to the left of the 'Last Orders' pub. On Google maps I can see that there are only three older terraced houses remaining on the street, most of the housing now being modern bungalows.

The 1911 census finds the Lindley family in Worsborough Dale, a few miles outside of Barnsley town centre. Their full address was 23 James Street and that house can still be seen on Google maps. Arthur Lindley, now aged 41, is listed as a Ripper in a Coal Mine and Violet's entry gives us the following information; they have been married for 15 years, and have 3 children born alive, all three are living. Under Violet's name the whole of the next entry has been scratched out but enough is visible to suggest it did read May Lindley. Under that are the other three children. Edgar is 14 years old and a Labourer in a Saw Mill, Irving is 13 years old and a Screen Boy at a colliery and Ida is 11 and still at school.

It seems that May had been mistakenly entered on the census by her father as she can be found listed in the 1911 census at Croft House in Linthwaite in West Yorkshire working as a Housemaid to Benjamin Walker, the local Registrar of Births and Deaths.  She is 17 years old. The fact that she is not included in the tally of Violet's children on the census return could have been to cover up the fact that she was born prior to their marriage, or just purely in strict adherence to the direction at the top of the column which asks for 'children born alive to the present marriage', and of course she was born before the wedding.

At some point in the next seven years the family move to 58 Agnes Road, much nearer to the centre of Barnsley. This long street of terraced houses with several local shops runs from Park Grove to Princess Street, just a few hundred yards south of Morrisons on Westway, Barnsley.

From the Barnsley Chronicle 9 February 1918
With thanks to Barnsley Archives
The next record of the family that I have been able to find is the report of the death of the second son, Irving Lindley, born late 1897 in Wombwell, who was 20 years old in 1917. He had been working at Barrow Colliery, which is in Worsborough, until his enlistment in the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. His service records have not survived so it is difficult to tell exactly when he signed up, but his service number is 41914 and his war gratuity (paid to his father after his death and which can be seen on his Army Register of Soldiers' Effects record) was only £3 and 10 shillings, we can estimate that he enlisted in November 1916, this making it likely he was conscripted. The cutting from the Barnsley Chronicle on 26 January 1918 is the source of the family's address and Irving's occupation. There are no details given of how he met his end.

We know he was in the 2nd/5th KOYLI when he was killed and that he was subsequently buried in Hermies Hill British Cemetery in the Pas de Calais area. According to the CWGC site for the cemetery there are buried on this site 70 soldiers from the UK who fell on 20 November 1917, the first day of the Battle of Cambrai, most of whom belonged to the infantry of the 62nd West Riding Division (which included the 2/5 KOYLI). Some of these graves were concentrated (gathered in from) other cemeteries after the Armistice and it not always possible to know the exact location of a particular grave. Irving Lindley is named on a special memorial in the cemetery along with 30 other men who are also believed to be buried there.

Some of Irving's story can be found on Lives of the First World War.

The Lindley family story continues with the marriage of May Lindley (or Bower) in the final quarter of 1918. Her husband was David Parry from Chapel Street, Carlton and he had been discharged from the army in December 1918, 'released to coal mining' according to his service record. This record also tell us that they married on 31 October 1918 in Barnsley Register Office, so whilst he was still a soldier. He had not served abroad probably because he was only mobilised in April 1918 and caught influenza shortly afterwards. May and David have four children, Irving born in the December quarter of 1919, and no doubt named after her brother, David, born in the June quarter of 1921 (the only one of the children whose mother's maiden name is given as Lindley, the others are all Bower), Marjorie C, born in the December quarter of 1923 and finally Hazel J, born in the June quarter of 1929. Irving Parry, their eldest son, is the man named last on the gravestone above, below the uncle after whom he was named.

Ida Lindley marries Horace William Ibbotson on 25 December 1919 at St John's Church in Barnsley. This is in the area once known as 'Barebones' because of the way the boulders of the underlying terrain protrude into the streets (although some people claim that the name was given because of the poverty and hence poor clothing of the inhabitants!) Ida's home address is 58 Agnes Road, so the Lindley's are still based there. She is 20 years old and a Machinist. Ida also chooses to remember her fallen brother in naming her children. Horace Irving Ibbotson was born to David and Ida on 31 December 1920. They also had a daughter, Violet Gwendolyne born 24 September 1927.

Edgar Lindley, the eldest son of Arthur and Violet marries last. He is of the right age cohort to have served in the First World War but I am unable to work out if he did or not. There are two possible Edgar Lindleys listed in the Medal Cards, but if he did not serve abroad, like his brother in law David Parry, then he would not be included in that record set, so he could be neither of the men I have found. Edgar marries on 20 September 1924 in St Mary's Church in Barnsley. His bride is Elizabeth Linsley (confusing?) and he was 28 years old, a miner and still living at 58 Agnes Road with his parents. Edgar and Elizabeth have a total of four children, Raymond b.1925, Irene b.1927, Betty b.1933 and Una b.1938.

We know that Violet Lindley is buried in Barnsley Cemetery on 5 June 1929 having died on 1 June. She has seen the death in war of her younger son, the marriages of her other three children and the births of at least eight grandchildren. We don't know if her son's (Irving Lindley) details were added to her gravestone straight away, or even when the stone was erected. It could have been put up at any time and the style and age of the lettering does look similar suggesting it was mostly all done at once, so maybe after the Second World War.  We do know that she had been living at Birk Avenue, Stairfoot or Kendray and she was only 54 years of age. That's younger than I am now!  She left £180 and her husband Arthur was granted administration of her affairs.

Arthur Lindley joins his wife in plot 7 371 in October 1933, just four years later. He was 63 years of age and died in Beckett Hospital. His Probate Calendar entry tell us that he had been living at 1 Birk Terrace, Kendray and that adminstration of his estate was granted to son Edgar. Arthur left £299 17s and 6d. He will have seen the birth of another grandchild, Edgar's Betty in early 1933. 

At the beginning of the Second World War a register was taken of everyone in the country (although servicemen and women are not listed on the records accessible online). These listings were used for many years afterwards as the source of numbers for the National Health Service as well as being the basis of the ration card system in the war itself. These records give the actual birth dates of the people listed, but some records are obscured (officially closed) as they belong to people who may still be alive, that is those people under 100 years old and not recorded by the NHS as dying in the intervening years.

In 1939 Edgar Lindley was living at 56 Lambert Road in Barnsley with Elizabeth. He is still a Ripper in a coal mine, although his occupation now reads Contractor as well. Only their children Raymond and Betty's records are visible, but there are two blanked out lines which must obscure Irene and Una's details.

Ida and (Horace) William Ibbotson are living on the Manor Farm Estate somewhere in Hemsworth in 1939. William is a Colliery Ripper or Stone Contractor and appears to have chosen to use his second name for official purposes. Their children Horace I (already working in Colliery Haulage) and Violet G are listed too.

In 1939 David and May Parry are living at 178 Carlton Road, Barnsley. David is a Colliery Deputy and of their children only Marjorie can be seen listed. There is an obscured line above which must hide David and another below which must be Hazel. If Irving had still been at home his record would have been visible as we know he was killed in 1944. I cannot find a separate entry for him which suggests he was already in the forces.

Irving Parry, son of David and May, joins the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in the Second World War. When he is killed on 19th November 1944 he is a Sergeant Pilot in 70 Squadron. He was 24 years old. His CWGC entry tells us that he was married to Eva Dorothy Parry and that after the war she lived at Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex. He is buried in Belgrade War Cemetery in the old Yugoslavia now Serbia. You can see his gravestone on the Find a Grave website. Interestingly it is a collective grave and Irving is buried with three other airmen from the same squadron, killed on the same day. 

Irving had married Eva Dorothy Hall in the Brentwood district of Essex in the June quarter of 1943, so maybe he met her whilst he was training in the RAF.  They had only been married for a year and a few months when he was killed.

There are a couple of online trees on Ancestry for this family, so someone out there is researching these people. Maybe writing this blog will help them, and at least they will now know where to find one of their family gravestones, complete with the sad story of two men from Barnsley with the same name who lost their lives in the World Wars.

Saturday 18 August 2018

Frustrated by Technology: Trying to get a Pension Forecast

A few days ago I received my annual statement from the Local Government Pension Scheme. As I only worked for Sheffield Hallan University for nine years this does not amount to much! I was curious as to how much government pension I was entitled to as my working life was interrupted by child care and before my first marriage I had several low paid, short-lived jobs, two or three years each, with no pension provision attached.
State Pension Forecast Application page image
I did attempt to get my small LGPS pension released to me last year as I am permanently disabled by the effects of Crohn's Disease and Fibromyalgia. I get Personal Independence Payment and have a Blue Badge and a Disabled Bus Pass. Sadly the doctor who reassessed me on behalf of the pension authority was of the opinion that my symptoms would be alleviated by Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Graded Exercise Therapy and some different drugs from my consultants, and that therefore I would be fit for work again within three years! I should point out that my last day at work was in August 2009, and that Sheffield Hallam University tried to terminate my contract due to ill health in 2010 after I had been off sick for a year! I fought this because I wanted to be recognised for ill health retirement as recommended by the SHU occupational health doctor. Having been unsuccessful in this (the panel doctor back then also said I would be fit for work again within three years) I applied for voluntary redundancy, which I was eventually granted, with a final leaving date of early 2011.

My GP has since reviewed my medication and the reports from my three consultants (gastroenterologist, rheumatologist and neurologist) and stated that no changes are needed or desirable at this time to my treatment. A physiotherapist was consulted and stated that graded exercise therapy was not suitable for me because of my damaged ankle (broken multiple times due to my weak, hyper-extending joints) and knee (obloque tear to the lateral meniscus of my right knee making it unstable, weak and prone to locking up). Hydrotherapy might be suitable, but as I have been recently diagnosed with epilepsy I cannot go in a pool until more time has elapsed since my fit. I saw a nice mental health practitioner for six weeks (self referred), and we discussed relaxation, breathing, and mindfulness, which I was happy to take up, even paying to attend classes at our local library, but she was unable to offer me more in depth cognitive behaviour therapy or a councillor. Apparently I don't tick the right boxes on their assessment of my mental health problems. She did suggest a pain clinic, but as that is at Mexborough just getting there (as it would have to be under my own steam on public transport) is impossible, I would be exhausted by the time I'd got halfway. So that has covered or ruled out all of the pension doctor's suggestions.

The pension doctor also said that studying part-time for an MA proves that my cognitive faculties are not impaired.  Doing that proves (he claims) that I must be well enough to go back to work in due course. I'm glad my brain does still work, for a few hours a day at any rate, or I would be completely useless. Find me a job that I can do at home, for no more than two to four hours a day (variable depending on my physical symptoms) and for three to four days a week (not all consecutively) that involves no more physical effort than using a computer or reading .... yeah .... I know, poor isn't it ... would you employ me? And yet that is what the MA consists of. I expect that I will never succed in getting this pension released early (I will be 65 in 2026) as after the MA is complete at the end of 2019 I really want to do a PhD next which will take another five years at least! At home, part time, etc, etc.

Going back to the Pension Forecast.

It seems you can get a forecast if you can log into the Government Gateway. I must have managed that a few years ago as I was able to renew my driving licence, but my log in details from then don't work now, maybe too long has elapsed? I tried to set up a new account but got completely bogged down by the technology. You have to use an app or a mobile phone to scan a QR code (with the same tablet that is displaying the QR code? Ehh? That's impossible), to get a six digit secure code or enter personal/financial information and some important dates (do you know when you set up your Google account or moved into your latest address?) to pass a credit check. I failed, not once, but two days in a row, even with my husband to help me.

We photographed the QR code with his phone so I could scan it with my tablet. We looked up when we bought the house in Cudworth, we checked when I changed my name by deed (good job I file everything as that was many, many years ago), we entered my driving licence data, my debit card data, answered questions about previous addresses, but nothing worked. It seems I can't be identified. He thinks that it might be because our credit card is in his name, I am an additional name on that account, we have a joint bank account, our mortgage is in his name as I wasn't working by the time we bought this house, and I've not bought anything by hire purchase ... ever, let alone in the past six years! Also I have no passport as mine ran out a few years ago and as we can't afford (and don't have time to take) holidays abroad we didn't bother to renew it.

You may recall that I had trouble proving I was myself for my student loan last year? Follow the link to read THAT fascinating tale, which itself refers to the problems I had getting a simple post office account some years before that. This seems to be yet another similar problem.  The student loan issue was solved in the nick of time for the start of the academic year after I bought a new copy of my 1985 marriage certificate (my ex has the original) and submitted my original birth certificate twice (they didn't record the details the first time and lost it for several weeks the second time), and after weekly phone calls to them all summer. Happily I don't have to go through that all again for my second year's funding, it just rolls over automatically.

My worry is that by the time I reach 65 or 67 or whatever the age is by then I won't even have a driving licence as that seems to be the only thing left that they believe. Will I be able to get my pension? Will everything be automated by then?  Oh, dear!

Edit - about 12 hours later:
Experian have verified my driving licence and after a few more questions (multiple choice, what bank accounts do you have, how long have NPower been your electricity supplier, etc) I was able to access my pension forecast. I need two more years NI contributions to get the full State Pension, so as long as the DWP keep giving me credits for being disabled I'll be fully entitled before 2028 which now seems to be my vital date.

Hooray! But it was a long haul ... two days trying, and with my husband's assistance I eventually got through their ridiculously complex system.

Thursday 24 May 2018

The Sad State of Some War Memorial Gravestones in Barnsley Cemetery

Since March this year a kind Barnsley volunteer named Wayne Bywater has been walking around Ardsley and Barnsley Cemeteries photographing war memorial gravestones. He submits these to the Barnsley War Memorials Project (BWMP) and via Twitter to me. My file of his photos contains 103 images!  The Barnsley War Memorial Project now have records of 112 war memorial gravestones in Barnsley Cemetery alone, but sadly many of these are in very poor condition. Without volunteers like Wayne these memorials may not ever have been recorded and in a few years many could crumble away as if they never existed.
Wayne's helper Alicia applying a dusting of soft chalk to a gravestone to aid in photography
(photo from Twitter on 28 April 2018)
The Imperial War Museum's War Memorials' Archive defines a War Memorial as "any tangible object which has been erected or dedicated to commemorate those killed as a result of war, conflict or peacekeeping; who served in war or conflict; or who died whilst engaged in military service."  This includes gravestones which commemorate a casualty buried elsewhere.  There must be a clear statement on the memorial (or in a printed document such as a newspaper report from the time) that defines the commemorative purpose of the feature and reports its erection. Thus gravestones which include wording such as: died of wounds received in action, killed in action, fell in France, died on active service, reported missing in action, or even killed accidentally while on active service all count as War Memorials.  The wording is a "clear statement" that the purpose of recording that person's name on the gravestone is as a memorial.

Yesterday I saved Wayne's latest photographs to my files. They included these photos
All credit to Wayne for spotting the significant wording on this pile of broken stones.

Three of the corners of the grave kerb edging have broken away and are lying down. There appears to be an inscription on both long sides and one end.

Zooming in on this photo I can see that Ann Outwin is commemorated on the right and Elsie on the left. As both inscriptions start with the word 'Also' I think there should have been an inscription at the top of this plot as well.
Wayne also provided a close up of the relevant war memorial part of the inscription.
"Also Herbert ... who was ...
Killed in France Nov 20th 1917
... ed ... Years"

That "Killed in France" and the date is what makes this a War Memorial.

It is only by combining the information from all the inscriptions that we can work out that Herbert's surname was Outwin.

I looked up these names in an index to the burials in Barnsley Cemetery (available from Barnsley Archives) and found that Ann and Elsie Outwin were buried in plot M 826 in Barnsley Cemetery. Ann was 78 years old when she died in 1926, Elsie was 50 in 1941. Also in the plot are Ethel who died aged 9 months in 1890 and James who died in 1921 aged 78. I assume from this that Ann and James were Herbert's parents and that Ethel and Elsie were his sisters.

Herbert's name rang a bell with me and I looked him up on the BWMP master spreadsheet. He was 37 years old when he was killed in action on 20 November 1917. He is buried in Flesquieres Hill British Cemetery in France. His wife was called Jane and she lived on Eldon Street North. He is mentioned on the Barnsley St Mary's War Memorial and he is mentioned twice in the Barnsley Chronicle during the years indexed by the BWMP volunteers. 

I have started to add more information to Herbert's Life Story on Lives of the First World War. This site is free use if you want to browse and add photos and free text family stories to your relatives. You only hit the paywall if you want to access the military and historical records provided and, *handy hint* these are available free of charge in Barnsley (Ancestry) and Sheffield (Find My Past) libraries.

I was sure there was something else about this man so I also searched for the name Outwin in my husband's family tree. Sure enough he appears there, married to the sister of the wife of my husband's great, great uncle Thomas Croft (of 'Daring Escape from Holland' fame). Thomas's wife was Matilda Dutton, older sister of Jane. Herbert and Jane had at least six children, Herbert b.1907, Ernest b.1908, George b.1909, Harold b.1910, Leonard b.1912 and Gladys b. 1916.  Jane also came from a large family, as she and Matilda were the youngest of at least nine children born to George and Eliza Dutton in Monk Bretton. 

Between the Outwins and the Duttons there must be lots of descendants and relatives of Herbert still living in Barnsley. The care of gravestones falls to the owners of the graves and their next of kin according to Barnsley Council. They are not the responsibility of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission or the War Memorials Trust. Please could someone take responsibility for this grave and show Herbert the respect he deserves. 

This is not the only damaged and poorly maintained grave plot in Barnsley Cemetery. If you are lucky enough to have a family memorial of any kind (and in my husband's family many of his ancestors were too poor to buy a stone and are buried in unmarked grassy plots) then it would be nice if we could care for them.

Lest We Forget.


Wednesday 23 May 2018

Lack of Support for Blue Badge Applications

This is the letter I sent to my MP Stephanie Peacock, the Barnsley MP Dan Jarvis, and the Cudworth councillors Steve Houghton, Joe Hayward and Charlie Wraith today.

Dear Sirs and Ms Peacock,

I have a Blue Badge. It is due for renewal in July. Several years ago, when I was first awarded PIP I was able to get an appointment at Cudworth Library with a helpful lady who photocopied my PIP letters, my proof of Address & ID and my photo. She filled in the form for me and sent it into the proper department.

Yesterday I was in the queue in Cudworth Library. The gentleman in front of me, who was enquiring on behalf of a relative, asked about getting help to renew a Blue Badge. The librarian apologised but said applications had to be done online now. The man explained that he had no computer skills, even if he came into Cudworth to use a library machine he would need help. Then he stormed out saying he would (swear word) pay for parking in future.

I was next, and as this had reminded me that I needed to renew my badge I asked for more information. I was told that their support service had been (or was about to be) taken away from the library. However it might be possible to find someone to help a customer use a computer in the library. I imagine this would have to be an appointment as they have very few staff.

I have computer skills, as you can see. I came home and looked at the online site.
The site did not tell you all the documents you needed before you started the process or explain that they needed to be scanned or digital images.

The process could be stopped and saved to continue later.

The Barnsley Council website  gives no other option but to engage with the site.

Please take note that I am concerned for other Blue Badge holders and potential Blue Badge holders in Cudworth and area as well as myself. I have computer skills but I know that most people my age (57) and older do not.

It took me nearly three quarters of an hour to complete the online process. I had to stop the process to find and photograph my driving licence, I had to stop the process to photograph my PIP letter, I had to get my husband to take a photo of me with his phone and then get it to my computer so I could attach that. I had to use the PIP letter as proof of address as all our utility bills are in my husband's name and anyway they are paperless these days.

This is a long and complicated process for someone with computer skills. Someone who can't even operate a mobile phone has no hope.

It seems the administration will take six to eight weeks ... I am on the limit of that now as my current badge runs out on 19 July. There was no warning about this on either site and I have not received a reminder letter, which was alluded to at the start of the online form.

The Council site says you have to pay £10 in advance and put a number in a box on the form. There is no such box on the online form, so I can only assume this refers to the old paper form.

I tweeted about my concerns last night and got an answer this morning. I was told to ring "the Blue Badge team on 01226 773555, who can provide guidance. For example, they could make an appointment at one of our libraries for assistance with IT."

I rang the number. I was on hold for 31 minutes being #9 in the queue initially. Finally a lady spoke to me. She confirmed that Cudworth Library could no longer give support with Blue Badge Applications and suggested I go to Central Library, Wombwell, Goldthorpe, Mapplewell or Hoyland. I explained that I am disabled, I no longer travel alone, can't manage bus rides by myself, am not allowed to drive, it would mean a long taxi ride with my elderly mum-in-law for support, there and back. She eventually offered to send out a paper form. When pressed she confessed that their paper forms were in limited supply and that when they ran out there would be no more. So if I get one I will post it back for someone else to use! There was no mention of an appointment with someone in Cudworth Library who might be able to help with the IT side of things.

I would like to appeal to you, Stephanie, Dan, Steve, Joe and Charlie, to reinstate support at Cudworth Library for Blue Badge applicants. Facilities to help with scanning documents to digital and taking photos of customers are essential. Help for the elderly and less able with engaging with the complex online form is essential. Prior notice and clear information needs to be given to applicants about what documents they need to apply so they don't need to make multiple trips to the Library. Imagine if I had gone to the Central Library in town, for an appointment, but not know I needed proof of ID and address as well as my PIP letter and photo.

Please take some action on this matter.


Linda Hutton
[email address redacted for this post ... contact me via Comments below or via Twitter]

Monday 21 May 2018

WW1 Soldiers' Stories - the Cox Brothers of Barnsley and Sheffield

I was recently asked via Twitter whether I knew of the whereabouts of the war memorial for St Peter's church on Doncaster Road in Barnsley. Well, follow the link and you'll be as wise as me!  Sadly the person who was enquiring did not find their relative listed, however his query led me first to one of the few men named Cox on the Barnsley War Memorials Project (BWMP) master spreadsheet (who is not remembered on any memorial in the Barnsley Borough) and onwards to one brother and then another. Be warned, this is a sad story!

Firstly, though, let me explain the Barnsley War Memorials Project. Set up in early 2014 following an initial meeting at Barnsley Town Hall in late 2013, the project aimed to create a Barnsley Borough WW1 Roll of Honour, and you will be pleased to know that this will be launched in November 2018 - not long to wait now!  It was to be compiled by recording and researching the names on the borough war memorials. We thought this would be a fairly straightforward task for a team of experienced family historians, as was the initial group at that time.  To be included on the Roll of Honour a man or woman killed/died due to the First World War had to have been born within the borough boundaries or lived in the borough at the time of their entry into the forces or remembered on any war memorial in the borough. It had been decided to include civilian deaths too, such as casualties of attacks or deaths whilst engaged on war related work.

In 2013 we were aware of around 70 war memorials within the borough boundaries which were listed on the Imperial War Museum's War Memorial Register. Note that the project uses the modern boundaries, not the historic ones. This is to avoid 'treading on the toes' of neighbouring towns' history groups who may be carrying out their own WW1 projects.  Surprisingly, there are many more war memorials in Barnsley than we had first thought.  In fact at the last count there were 717 different war memorials commemorating conflicts from the Boer War to Afghanistan. It also soon became apparent that Barnsley men appear on many war memorials scattered across Britain and beyond, due to family movements both whilst the soldier was alive and after his death. This meant we had become family history detectives on an international scale to discover if 'our' men were recorded anywhere in the world.

This brings us to the Cox family.  

The head of the Cox family, William, was born in Chesterfield in Q4 1858 (mmn Pendleton). He married Bertha Sterland, who was also from Chesterfield, in Sheffield St Peter's (now the Cathedral) on 17 August 1884. Bertha was in reality two and a bit years younger than William (her birth was registered in Q2 1861 mmn Scott), but for some reason on their marriage register entry both declared themselves to be 23 years old. William had knocked two years off his age! 

In the 1891 census, when the family are living in Barnsley at 46 Rock Street (which runs off Sackville Street near the modern Gateway Plaza complex) William, working as a Driller, gives his age as 32 (fairly accurate) and Bertha says she is 27 (now she's knocking a few years off!) They have three children living with them on the census return, Alice b.Q4 1884 in Chesterfield (hmm, that's rather soon after the marriage ... is that why they married in Sheffield, away from the Chesterfield gossips?), Walter b.Q4 1887 in Basford, Nottinghamshire and Lottie b.Q1 1889 also in Basford. A search of the GRO online indexes also gives us an Edith b.Q3 1886 in Basford, but she appears to die shortly after her birth.

Here is the full list of the Cox children (mmn Sterland or Stirland) that I have found on the GRO site:

Alice Cox b.Q4 1884 Chesterfield
Edith Cox b.Q3 1886 Basford died young in Basford
Walter Cox b.Q4 1887 Basford 
Lottie Cox b.Q1 1889 Basford
Frank Cox b.Q4 1891 Barnsley
Minnie Cox b.Q4 1892 Barnsley died aged 4 in Barnsley
Alfred Cox b.Q1 1894 Barnsley
John Ernest Cox b.Q4 1896 Barnsley died aged 1 in Sheffield
Elsie Cox b.Q2 1899 Sheffield
Leonard Cox b.Q2 1902 Sheffield

Bertha has a child at roughly two year intervals for at least eighteen years. Poor woman!

As you can see from the birthplaces of the Cox children the family moves from Basford after the birth of Lottie in early 1889 and we know they are in Barnsley in April 1891. They move from Barnsley after the birth of John Ernest in late 1896 and are listed in the 1901 census in March of that year living at 12 Crown Alley, in the Park district of Sheffield. William is working as a general labourer underground. John Ernest Cox is missing from the 1901 census, suggesting he was William and Bertha's third child to die young, however I did not find a death for him under that name.

This tallies with the 1911 census return where Bertha reports having been married for 27 years and having given birth to 10 live children, three of whom had died before the census return was made. She and six surviving children (her eldest daughter is also not at home - maybe she had married?) are living at 22 court, 1 house, South Street still in the Park district in April 1911. William is not included on this return however Bertha still gives her status as wife and married, so we can only assume he just away from home not dead. 

There is a married William Cox, right age, right birthplace, occupation Window Cleaner, living at Rowton House, Lordsmill Street, Chesterfield with no sign of a wife. It seems to be some kind of lodging house as there are 39 unrelated people living there.

My next step was to look at parish records to try to fill out the gaps. 

The only Cox baptism I could find on Ancestry (children named Cox with parents names William and Bertha) was Alfred on 11 February 1894 at St John's church in the Barebones area of Barnsley. Oddly that is not the parish for Rock Street, which lay in St Mary's parish, although their Rock Street address is given. 

On Find My Past I found two baptisms which fitted, George Ernest Cox on 25 October 1897 and Leonard Cox 1902 both at St John's Sheffield Park. With this clue I was able to find the death of George Ernest Cox on the GRO index - in Sheffield Q1 1898 aged 1 year.  Oddly George's birthdate is given in the baptism register as 7 October 1894 ... this does not fit any other information I have, but from his age at death I am assuming this child was the John Ernest Cox born in Barnsley in late 1896 and that maybe the clergyman at St John's Park had incorrectly recorded his birth date in the baptism register.  The family's address in 1897 was 2 court, 2 house, Bernard Street and in 1902 they were at 12 Crown Alley which we already know was their address on the 1901 census return.

So, we have now established the family within the census, birth, marriage and death records and parish records. How does this relate to the First World War?

The site Sheffield Soldiers of the First World War lists hundreds of memorials in the Sheffield area. There is a war memorial outside St John's church at Sheffield Park, but it bears no names. The panel with the names is inside the church. I have seen this arrangement before - the panels or plaques were usually erected in the churches or chapels first, but then to give better access for all denominations an outside memorial was often added a few years later.  There are three men named Cox listed on the panel. The names are sorted by regiment, which is helpful, but only initials are given, not full forenames. Sadly A, F and W Cox have proven to be three of Bertha and William's boys. More fortunately, Leonard, unless he tried to enlist underage, was far too young to serve in the war.

According to the name index on the above website: 
A Cox served in the Alexandra Princess of Wales Own (Yorkshire) Regiment
F Cox served in the York and Lancaster Regiment
W Cox served in the York and Lancaster Regiment too.

With this information it was possible to look for the men on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website. 

Only one A Cox served in the Yorkshire Regiment - Private A Cox fell on 9 August 1917 and is buried at Guemappe British Cemetery, Wancourt, plot I.A.17. His service number was 15888. No family information or citation is mentioned on the CWGC site.

There are four possible F Cox soldiers on the CWGC in the York and Lancaster Regiment, but three are Fred or Frederick, leaving Private F Cox who fell on 29 April 1915 and is buried at Y Farm Military Cemetery, Bois-Grenier, plot H.22. His service number is 2353. Again there is no family information connected to this record.

Finally W Cox in the York and Lancaster Regiment gives us two results. Disregarding W R Cox we are left with Private W Cox who fell on 1 June 1918 and is buried at Mailly Wood Cemetery, Mailly-Maillet, plot I.N.3. His service number is 13107 and this time we have an age, 31 and some family details. "Son of Mrs Bertha Cox, of 209, Duke St., Park, Sheffield". Well, this definitely seems to be one of the family we have been looking at.  I also looked at his ''Soldiers Died in the Great War' record which states that he was born in Beeston, Nottingham and enlisted at Sheffield. Beeston is the place of birth given for Walter on the 1911 census when the family are living in Sheffield.

At this point I could only assume A and F Cox were also Bertha's boys. But there are still lots of other sources to check if you know what you are doing.

One of my favourite sites is Lives of the First World War (LFWW). Sadly this site will be 'frozen' in early 2019 as its funding comes to an end, but the data entered will be preserved by the Imperial War Museum and made available in a static form as soon as possible thereafter.  In the meantime the way that it is organised is a great help to a research project like this and for only £6 a month you get access to all of Find My Past's military records.

Alfred Cox was already listed on LFWW as a Barnsley man. This is because his SDGW record notes that he was born in Barnsley. It tells us that he had been killed in action on 9 August 1917 - so this all fits with the CWGC information I have listed above. He was, of course, also listed on the BWMP master spreadsheet and will be in the Roll of Honour when it is prepared for presentation to Barnsley Council in November this year, 2018, the centenary of the Armistice.  I have 'Remembered' thousands of men on LFWW over the past four years and it not surprising that I had forgotten adding some records to Alfred's Life Story page already. One of these was his record in the 'Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects' from the Ancestry website. Names, rank, regiment, service number and date and place of death are listed. But these records are particularly useful because they give the name or names of the soldier's next of kin. In Alfred's case the name given is his mother Bertha. So the family connection has been confirmed and we can assume that by 1919 when the sum of £13 War Gratuity was dispatched Alfred's father William was no longer around, whether that be by death or separation I fear we may never know. There is a handy little tool available online which estimates the enlistment date of a soldier from the War Gratuity paid.  For Alfred this works out at November 1914, so he was one of the earlier volunteers.

Here are links to Frank Cox and Walter Cox on Lives of the First World War. Their pages are much less populated as I was not aware they had a Barnsley connection until a few days ago.

Using the basic information we had from the war memorial at St John's I was able to look up Frank Cox in the York and Lancaster Regiment in the 'Effects' records. Frank was the first of the brothers to be lost, and his war gratuity was only £3. His next of kin was his 'sole legatee', his mother Bertha, so now we have linked Frank to Alfred and Walter by their mother's name. Using the War Gratuity calculator again this suggests he had been enlisted for less than 12 months. Not surprising given that he was killed in April 1915. Frank's SDGW record does not give his birth place, which I had discovered from the GRO records was Barnsley, so I got in touch with my contacts at BWMP and he has been added to their master spreadsheet and will hopefully make it into the Roll of Honour, which was still at the draft stage last I heard.

Finally I looked at Walter Cox's 'Effects' record which surprisingly gives his mother's name as Martha!  But we know from the CWGC record that his mum is definitely Bertha ... it might be a transcription error, Martha / Bertha, similar I suppose ... it just goes to show that you should not depend on a single source, always try to corroborate your evidence by finding different sources to cross check. I double checked the service number and date of death just to be sure - but he was the only Walter Cox in the Y&L regiment who fell and all the other information on the 'Effects' record matches the CWGC record.  The amount of War Gratuity in Walter's case was £17 10s (10s is 50p), and this calculates to an enlistment in around October 1914.  It does appear as if all three of Bertha's boys volunteered very early on in the war.

I wondered if any of the young men (calling them boys is actually rather trite as Walter would have been 27 in 1914, Frank 23 and Alfred 20 years old) had been Territorial soldiers before the war. If so they might have already had some part-time military training with weekend parades and a summer camp every year.

The Long, Long Trail website is a fantastic resource compiled by military historian Chris Baker over many years. One of its most useful features is a list, by regiment, of when and where each battalion was formed, and which Brigade and Division it was in. Frank Cox was in the 1st/4th battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment. A double number like this immediately tells you that it was a battalion of the Territorial Force. The 1st/4th Y&L were known as the Hallamshire Battalion and they were mobilised in Sheffield in August 1914. So this fits as we already know that the Cox family were living in Sheffield in 1911. Frank's Army Service Records have survived, which is quite lucky as as much of 60% of this record set was destroyed during the Blitz of the Second World War. From these I can see that he did not join up until 7 September 1914, so he was not a part time soldier before the war.  He only just scraped in as he is recorded as being just 5' 3" tall which was the absolute lowest limit at the time.

The 1st/4th landed at Boulogne on 14th April 1915 and poor Frank was killed on 29 April 1915. I was lucky enough to find some newspaper cuttings about his death in the Sheffield newspapers on Find My Past (which are the same data set as the British Newspaper Archive).  According to the Sheffield Independent and the Sheffield Daily Telegraph Frank was 23 years old and worked at Davy and Son's, provision merchants, Paternoster Row. His occupation on the 1911 census, when he was 19 years old, was Pork Trade Assistant and helpfully for us whoever filled in the form had incorrectly put the name of his employer rather than the type of trade and this is still visible below the census enumerator's crossings out.  It confirms A. Davy and sons, General Food Providers.  I also found two 'In Memoriam' notices inserted in the Sheffield Evening Telegraph on 28 April 1916, a year after Frank's death. One was from his mother, sister and brother and the other from 'Elsie'. A sweetheart maybe? 

Alfred Cox was in the 7th battalion the Yorkshire Regiment, also known as the 'Green Howards'. According to the Long, Long Trail this was a Service battalion (ie created during the war) formed at Richmond in September 1914 as part of Kitchener's New Army. It landed at Boulogne on 14 July 1915 and was attached to the 50th Brigade, 17th (Northern) Division. So by the time he arrived in France Alfred would have been aware of his brother Frank's death. Alfred was killed after he had been overseas for over two years. I have checked his battalion war diary on Ancestry and no deaths are reported for 9 August 1917. The battalion were working as carrying parties during the day and on wiring at night. There is only one other man from the Yorkshire Regiment buried in the same cemetery as Alfred, and he was in a different battalion and was killed two days later. This suggests that Alfred was not killed during an attack or raid which would have involved other men of his battalion, rather his was an isolated death, maybe from a sniper bullet or a stray shell. I have not found any newspaper cuttings referring to Alfred's death.

Walter Cox, service number 13107, was in the 7th (Service) battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment according to the CWGC, the SDGW and his 'Effects' record. His Service Records have also survived and are on both Ancestry and Find My Past. The first few pages do complicate the mystery of the name Martha from the 'Effect's record. His mother is named as Margarett, but the writing makes 'mother' look like Martha. To make matters worse these are not the records of a man from Nottinghamshire, this Walter Cox gives his place of birth as Hoyland, which is in Barnsley. Even more oddly Bertha's address on South Street, Park, Sheffield has been entered against Martha's name after an address on Rotherham Road, Dinnington was crossed out. This Walter is five years older and married a lady called Harriett Bettney in Rotherham in 1905. Drat!

Mysteriouser and mysteriouser, a few pages into Walter's Service Records a second Attestation form appears which is marked Duplicate. Except it is not. This is for a man born in Beeston who is 26 years (nearly 27) of age and an Electro Plater from Sheffield!  Yes, this is the right Walter Cox. His age is correct. He even has a very nice 'Next of Kin' form completed in September 1919 by Bertha and witnessed the clergyman from the Sale Memorial Church on South Street. It confirms that his father is not around, that he only has one brother (as this form is being completed in 1919 and poor Bertha only has 17 year old Leonard left) and three sisters, including the married Alice whose surname looks like Mason. I now know he joined up on 3 September 1914, possibly the first of the brothers to enlist if the calculation of Alfred's gratuity payment is accurate. He appears to have been wounded several times, including a wound in his arm and shoulder that necessitated him being sent back to England to recover. This did at least mean that he got some leave in the October and November of 1917 - there is a tattered form stating this in his file. He returned to France in March 1918 and was killed in action in June. I even found a very faint image of a Soldier's Will leaving all his "property and effects to my mother Mrs B Cox 209 Duke Street, Park, Sheffield".

I wonder who the other Walter was? 
Ah, b.1882 in Hoyland, son of Henry Cox (b.Barnsley) and Martha (nee Jones, b.Monmouthshire) with brother William and sister Eliza all living in Rotherham in 1891. So no relation. He survived the war and living in Rotherham with wife Harriet in 1939 (information from the 1939 register which can be found on both Ancestry and Find My Past). Even his birthdate matches that scribbled on the side of his Attestation form. A bit worrying for his descendants if they ever see this form in his Service Records crossed through with a big pencil label, 'Killed in Action'.

The final item I found referring to the three brothers was another 'In Memoriam' notice, this time from 2 June 1919 in the Sheffield Evening Telegraph.
COX - In loving memory of the late Privates Walter, Frank and Alf Cox, Y. and L. Regiment, late of South Street, Park. Killed in action.
Some may think that we forget them, When they sometimes see us smile, But they little know the sorrow, That the smile hides all the while. - From their loving Mother; Sisters, Brother, Brother-in-law, and Walter's Sweetheart, Amelia.
I was able to find Alice, the eldest sister's, marriage on FreeBMD. She marries John Mannion (I suppose it has some letters in common with Mason) in Q2 1910 in Sheffield. I think I have also found the couple in the 1939 Register living at 26a Harborough Avenue in Sheffield, although the husband's name is given as Thomas Mannion and he is five years younger than Alice's declared age - if it is Alice Cox she has knocked a year off her age. Family custom it seems!  I cannot find any children to this marriage on FreeBMD.

I have tried my usual websites and can't find out what happened to Bertha, Lottie, Minnie, Elsie and Leonard Cox. Research online after 1911 is not as easy as during the census years, but I would have expected to find a marriage or a death for some of them in Sheffield.

As I appear to have ground to a halt with this story I will close it now ... My next plan is to contact the webmaster of the Sheffield Soldier site and let them know what I have found out about the Cox brothers. 

Thanks for reading - If I find out any more about this family I will link it here.