|Gunter, R B N
|Durrant, C M
|Weston, C G
|Kelly, K G
|Armitage, G J
|Durrant, H M L
|Hargreaves, J P
|Kirk, J C
|Wiggins, T A
|Harper, J W
|Alexander, H W
|Mason, T F
|Webster, A E
|March, E A
|Bygrave, E W
|Varley, N W
|Bowen, F J
|Crossley, J S
|Frost, A E
|Hodgson, F H
|Hood, W H
|Metcalfe, J C
|Scutt, T G
|Dawson, G W
|Durham, E F
|Precious, G R
|Wheelhouse Smith, W
|Swann, J W
|Burnsides, G A
|Kelly, H W
|Miles, J G
9th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment
Died Saturday 7th August 1915
Cemetery : Helles Memorial, Gallipoli
Reference or Panel Number : 47 to 51
Son of Daniel and Elizabeth Hobman of Becca Farm Cottages, Aberford;
husband of Harriet Hobman (nee Robinson) of North Street, Wetherby.
Arthur was born in 1886 at Aberford, his father's occupation being that of a Coachman/Groom.
The 1901 Census details record the family's residence as 'The Coachman's
House,' forming part of the Becca Hall Estate, Arthur's occupation now being recorded as that of a Domestic Gardener,
aged 15 years.
Following his chosen vocation, the 1911
Census records that Arthur at this juncture had relocated to Northumberland. Finding employment with the Burdon family, residents
of Hartford House, Arthur took up residence on the estate in premises referred to as 'The Gardens.'
It is unclear as to when Arthur moved southwards to Wetherby, but prior to the outbreak
of the Great War he found employment as a gardener at Ainsty Lodge, owned by John Stobart Charlesworth, J.P., one of the sons
of the influential and wealthy mining fraternity. Charlesworth himself had seen previous military service being Gazetted to
the Queen's Yorkshire Dragoons in 1900 and eventually rising to the rank of Captain by 1908. During the Great War, Charlesworth
would be granted the rank of Temporary Major, 12th (Service) Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, Pioneers
to the 31st Division, however, he was not to witness any service overseas.
Recruitment & Attestation
for service at Wetherby Town Hall on or about the 31st August 1914. The terms of enlistment were a Short Service obligation,
i.e. three years with the Colours however it was stated that if the War lasted longer than three years, the recruit would
be retained until the cessation of hostilities.
As the men awaited to enlist, Army protocol declared had the prospective
recruit received Notice and understood its meaning and who gave it to them. On confirmation by the potential recruit, Army
Form B. 2065 was first signed by Rowland Meyrick, the issuer of the Notice before recruitment. The latter had proved to be
very brisk, principally due to the efforts of a number of individuals, but it was Mr. Rowland Meyrick of Hall Orchards, a
Land Agent for the Montague estates, that was the major protagonist encouraging many a young Wetherby man to "take the
A newspaper article dated September 1914 provides an insight as to his activities as an unpaid
"Day and night he worked with the greatest enthusiasm and wherever young men were,
in the cottage, in the harvest field and street, there he was to be found, exercising his persuasive powers and the young
men answered nobly to his call.
Some men at first however, had their reservations on joining the Colours;
fellow, anxious to enlist, was troubled about throwing up his work and he went to Mr. Meyrick. Would he guarantee him work
when he returned home? The answer was thoroughly satisfactory, and the young fellow is probably now clad in khaki. That is
the way to get recruits."
Concerns prior to enlistment were also raised for the soldiers dependants,
therefore, Wetherby Steeplechase Committee made the following offer to stimulate and encourage recruitment. A further newspaper
article dated September 1914 declared:
"The Wetherby Steeplechase Committee have announced that they will
give 1 shilling a week each to the wives of men who have joined the Colours, and any others volunteering in the town, in order
to augment the Army allowance while they are on service."
Agreeing that he now understood the terms of
his engagement, Arthur now declared that all his answers to questions declared on the Army Form were true and that he was
willing to fulfill the engagements made. On signing the document, it was witnessed by John McEvitt, a former soldier with
the 1st Battalion, Connaught Rangers and a veteran of the Boer War. Former Colour Sergeant McEvitt in civilian life, was the
Caretaker of the Conservative Club located in the Market Place, who, although recorded in the 1911 Census as an Army Pensioner,
fulfilled the roll of Acting Recruitment Sergeant.
A preliminary medical examination was now conducted by Lieutenant
Harry Winstanley Shadwell of the Royal Army Medical Corps to determine vital statistics; height, weight, expansion of the
chest. Deemed 'fit' as the vast majority of men were at this early stage of enlistment, the final signature that would
approve the man for military service was that of the Approving Officer, 14th Recruiting Area, Colonel Harold P. Ditmas, late
Durham Royal Garrison Artillery (Militia).
That final signature would witness over forty-five recruits from the locality
joining the ranks of the fledgeling 9th (Service) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment, the first service battalion of the Regiment
to be raised as a response to the outbreak of the Great War.
In the first week of September, the men prior to leaving
for the Regimental Depot located at York, were entertained to a dinner by the townsfolk of Wetherby. After the event and bidding
their farewells, the men of 'Kitchener's Army' were conveyed to York in a fleet of motor-cars amidst, what was
described as "much scenes of jubilation and enthusiasm."
Of the men, many would never return.
Formation Of The Battalion
The 9th (Service) Battalion, West Yorkshire
Regiment was formed at York on the 25th August 1914 and designated a K1 Battalion as formed under Lord Kitchener's first
'Call to Arms,' an appeal for 100,000 men to join the Army for 3 years or for the duration of the war between the
ages of 19 and 30 years. The Battalion was contained in the 11th (Northern) Division, a New Army Division which was formed
under Army Order No. 324, published on the 21st August, 1914. This order approved of the addition to the Army of six divisions,
the 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th respectively.
The 9th (Service) Battalion, West Yorkshire
Regiment, Officer Commanding, Lieutenant-Colonel George Frend (attached from the 3rd Battalion, West Yorkshire's),
were contained in the 32nd Infantry Brigade that also comprised of the following units:
(Service) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards)
6th (Service) Battalion, Yorks & Lancs Regiment
(Service) Battalion, West Riding Regiment (Duke of Wellington's)
Brigadier-General Henry Haggard
Divisional Commander Major-General Frederick Hammersley C.B.
Basic training ensued for the recruits from Wetherby at the Regimental Depot where
they became accustomed to the vagaries of life in the British Army. Possibly the first blow to patriotic 'fervour'
was the issuing of a Serial Number to each man, an individual in civilian life but now a number throughout his service in
the Army. It is of interest to note that the numbers issued to the recruits from Wetherby follow no alphabetical sequence
as is sometimes the case. An analysis therefore conducted of this specific batch of numbers issued reveals that proceeding
Arthur the number 11892 was allocated to Arthur Edward Midgley of Victoria Street, Wetherby. Arthur would not witness service
with the 9th Battalion at Gallipoli but would enter the Theatre of War in France on the 22nd December, 1915 and subsequently
serve with the 11th and 8th Battalions of the West Yorkshire Regiment. The number issued following on from Hobman, 11894,
was subsequently issued to George Precious, one of the Blacksmith fraternity and a resident of Wetherby.
this juncture with the Depot processing more men that had answered the 'Call to Arms' was fit to bursting point with
men. Therefore a move to larger training facilities at Belton Park, Grantham, was initiated in September by the 9th West Yorkshire's
where they were joined by the remainder of the Brigade.
Following this movement, a second medical examination, more thorough
than the Primary Military Examination that had taken place on Attestation was carried out in mid October. Many men from Wetherby
were discharged due to either being found medically unfit with ailments ranging from chronic bronchitis to a hernia, or, a
lack of general ability. These men in Army 'parlance' were "Discharged not being likely to become an efficient
soldier," their departure being confirmed by the Adjutant, Captain Alexander Geary-Smith.
An analysis of Army
Pension Records reveal that of the men who enlisted at Wetherby Town Hall in August, 6 were medically discharged who had a
direct link to the town in addition to one man from Kirk Deighton. Some would eventually serve in some military capacity as
the War progressed.
The winter of 1914 and the spring of 1915 was most notably wet resulting in the camp at Belton
turning into a veritable quagmire. By the end of February, all ranks had been issued 1914 Pattern Equipment, made under contract
in the United States and despite the weather, training proceeded apace with the usual musketry drills, marching discipline
By late March orders had been issued of an impending move away from Lincolnshire. On the 5th April 1915, the 9th
West Yorkshire's, in Brigade, were ordered to entrain at Rugby, the destination being Witley Camp, near Godalming, Surrey.
Leaving Belton Park on this date, the Brigade proceeded by route of march via Scalford, Thrussington and Whetstone reaching
Rugby on the 8th. Here the Brigade entrained during the following day after an eventful march. An account of this may be found
in the Green Howard's In The Great War by H.C. Wylly. 'The Optimist' as he is referred
to in the account writes:
"Our march on Wednesday took us through Leicester where the Division was accorded
a really wonderful reception; all work was suspended and the streets were lined by an enthusiastic and cheering multitude
who showered all kinds of gifts on the troops."
|Cartoon Extract from The Satirical Magazine "Punch." Source, 'Twenty Years After'
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Settling into their new surroundings
'The Optimist' remarked that the change of weather and that of the scenery was most welcome. He also noted
that the extensive heathland and commons so characteristic of the area proved more conducive for military manoeuvres as the
men were about to experience.
The camp consisted at this stage of the War primarily of tented accommodation with a few
huts but the camp would rapidly expand and become more permanent as the conflict progressed.
On the 1st May the
11th (Northern) Division played host to two distinguished visitors, namely His Majesty the King who was also accompanied by
Lord Kitchener, Secretary of State for War. After inspecting the men, the following Divisional Order was issued:
"His Majesty the King has desired the G.O.C. to convey to the troops his appreciation of the splendid appearance
and steadiness of the men on parade yesterday. His Majesty also remarked on the good condition of the horses. Finally His
Majesty said to the G.O.C, It has been a very great pleasure to me to see such a splendid body of men, and I desire you to
so inform the troops."
If Arthur was present at this ceremonial duty it is unclear due to the fact that
he was granted leave to return to Wetherby to marry Miss Harriet Robinson, the youngest daughter of Mrs. Faith Robinson,
a Newsagent, of North Street, at St. James Parish Church on the 5th May 1915.
The Robinson family were no stranger to
the War. One daughter, Mary Elizabeth had married Edgar Leonard Adkin a veteran of the Boer War. Edgar would be recalled to
the Colours from civilian life as a Postman at Otley and consequently serve with the 1st Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment.
Promoted to the rank of Sergeant, he would be captured on the Aisne in September 1914 and made a Prisoner of War after
only a couple of weeks service abroad. Edgar would also witness the Great War take the life of his youngest brother,
Jessie, whilst serving with the 1/5th West Yorkshire's.
Another daughter, Grace Ellen, would marry one Bertie Nicholson,
a Baker, the family residing at Church Street, Boston Spa. Bertie, a native of Headingley, Leeds, a pre-war Regular Army Soldier
with the 1st Battalion, Yorks & Lancs, when upon being recalled to the Colours, would receive a gunshot wound to
his left shoulder in April 1915 whilst serving with the latter unit in France.
After a period of convalescence he would
return to the Western Front once again in October of the same year serving with the 10th Battalion of the Regiment and
was eventually posted home to the Regimental Depot in January 1917 being discharged in 1920. Suffering from the effects of
his wounds for the remainder of his life, Bertie would unfortunately die in 1929 at the untimely age of just 46 years. Grace
would remarry later that year to one George H. Lister dying aged 69 in 1956.
One member of the Robinson family would
also serve in the Great War. Jim would serve with the Royal Army Medical Corps providing essential care to wounded soldiers
returning to England at the Becketts Park Military Hospital, Leeds.
Returning to his unit, Arthur would also witnessed
a change in command when earlier in the month Colonel Frend was replaced by another officer from the 3rd Battalion, West Yorkshire
Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel John O'Brien Minogue. An experienced officer who had risen through the ranks, Minogue had
served with a variety of regiments during the course of his service career however the Colonel did possess an affiliation
to the West Yorkshire Regiment dating back to 1893.
Towards the end of June there must have been rumours of an impending
move to active service circulating as the American equipment previously issued to the men was replaced by the British made
1908 pattern webbing. Suspicions were no doubt aroused further when all the men were issued with khaki drill and helmets of
the 'Foreign Service' variety, the latter also referred to as the 'Pagri.'
Arthur and the men of the
West Yorkshire's were soon to have their suspicions confirmed when orders were issued to the 32nd Infantry Brigade at
3 p.m. on the afternoon of the 31st June to prepare for entrainment the following day, destination, as yet unknown to the
men, was to be the Dardanelles.
For a comprehensive account of the actions of the 9th West Yorkshire Regiment during
the Dardanelles campaign the reader may wish to follow this link:
Arthur would not survive his first action
as a soldier of the British Army incommon with the many Wetherby men who had enlisted in the ranks of the 9th (Service) Battalion,
West Yorkshire Regiment.
Harriet would eventually remarry one Edward Dukes, a soldier and a native of Scagglethorpe near
Malton in 1918 at St. James Parish Church, one of the witnesses being Bertie Nicholson.
body could not be identified after the conflict therefore he is commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli.
The Helles Memorial, an obelisk standing over 30 metres in height, is situated on the tip
of the Gallipoli Peninsula with commanding views over the Dardanelles Straits.
The memorial is one of dual function i.e.
providing a memorial for those Commonwealth servicemen who died and have no known grave and that of a Commonwealth battle
memorial for the Dardanelles campaign.
Of the Indian and United Kingdom forces commemorated on the memorial, the latter
died throughout the Peninsula, the Australians who are now commemorated here, at Helles. Panels are also incorporated to commemorate
those who died or were buried at sea in the waters surrounding Gallipoli. In this imposing position and remembering the sacrifices
of those who served in the Campaign, the memorial now commemorates over 21,000 individuals.
In addition to the Helles
Memorial, four further memorials commemorate the Missing of the Dardanelles Campaign. Hill 60, Lone Pine and Chunuk Bair memorials
commemorate Australian and New Zealand forces at Anzac whilst the Twelve Tree Copse Memorial commemorates New Zealanders at
Helles. In the United Kingdom, the following memorials commemorate United Kingdom naval casualties lost or buried at sea;
Plymouth, Portsmouth and Chatham respectively.
|Extract Of Panels 47 - 51. Photograph Courtesy Of Bob Pike
|Helles Memorial. Image Courtesy Of The Commonwealth War Graves Commission