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Temporary Exhibition 2015: Reality Hits Home: Panels

Below is a summary of the text of each of the display panels from the temporary exhibition "Reality Hits Home". You can view a higher resolution copy of the panel in image (JPG) format by clicking on the thumbnail image of the board, or in PDF format by clicking on the PDF link at the foot of each section of text. A single PDF containing all panels is also available: pdf (10Mb)

Copyright in all text and illustrations on the following exhibition panels remains with the Museum of North Craven Life

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REALITY HITS HOME

1915

I've watched the Seasons passing slow, so slow,
In the fields between La Bassée and Bethune;
Primroses and the first warm day of Spring,
Red poppy floods of June,
August, and yellowing Autumn, so
To Winter nights knee-deep in mud or snow,
And you've been everything.

Dear, you've been everything that I most lack
In these soul-deadening trenches-pictures, books,
Music, the quiet of an English wood,
Beautiful comrade-looks,
The narrow, bouldered mountain-track,
The broad, full-bosomed ocean, green and black,
And Peace, and all that's good.


Robert Graves' poem speaks of the yearning of a soldier for home, after the first full year of war. The initial excitement for the great adventure has worn off and the reality of war has kicked in. The same was true on the Home Front - the casualty figures were mounting and life was different and becoming more difficult.

For this year's exhibition the research group at the Museum of North Craven Life have been working once more as part of the "Craven and the First World War' project. We are liaising again with Settle Primary School, Settle College and the Brayshaw Library at Giggleswick School

We have tried to tell some of the stories of 1915 and found heroes along the way.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We are enormously grateful to the following for their generosity and assistance:

Bilsborough Family
David Blackburne
Jeanne Carr
Craven and the First World War Project
Craven's Part in the Great War
Nancy Ellis
Barbara Gent
Giggleswick School Governors
David Hartnup
Carole Heaton
Anne Huntington
Fr. Paul Hypher
Illustrated London News
Ian & Barbara Johnson
Jean Lavelle
Liddle Collection, University of Leeds
Tom Lord
Settle C. Of E. Primary School
Settle College
Skipton Library
Mike Slater
Janette Talbot
Western Front Association
Julia & Chris Weston

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1915 TIMELINE

Timeline information not transcribed: please see image (PDF or JPG)

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FOLLOWING THE DUKES

The 1/6th Battalion of the Duke of Wellington's Regiment was made up of territorial soldiers who were called up at the declaration of war. After training at Riby and Doncaster, they were ordered to move on 14 April 1915. They sailed from Folkestone to Boulogne and then on to billets close to Fleurbaix

Most of the Settle lads were in No. 11 platoon, C Company under Captains Chaffers and Whittaker and Lieutenants MacKenzie, Law, Whitaker and Geldard.

Between 26 April and the end of June they were based at billets near Fleurbaix, alternating 4 days in billets and 4 in the trenches. On quiet days they could play cricket but they also experienced horrific bombardments and attacks. We can follow them in the War Diary and Lieutenant Geldard's Diary, also on display. Captain Chaffers wrote regularly to his mother. He described a typical bombardment on 9 May "The noise was terrific, not only is there the sound of the charge from the gun and then the burst of the shells, but the wind screams as they rush through the air. Sometimes they whistle at others it sounds more like an express train." Eight soldiers were wounded and one died.

Early in July, the battalion moved into Belgium and were based around Brielan between Elverdinghe and Ypres. The days followed a similar pattern with the occasional stop over at Divisional Reserve where everyone had a bath. With Autumn, the trenches became more and more waterlogged - "mud two and three feet deep" (Lt. Geldard). Casualties continued to mount.

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GAS

The Germans first used poison gas made from chlorine at the 2nd Battle of Ypres in April 1915. Britain retaliated at Loos in September, but the wind blew the gas back causing 2,000 British casualties. Later, even more horrific gasses were developed from phosgene and mustard. Different types of masks and respirators were produced but the one that proved to be most effective was invented by a native of Settle.

Dr Bertram Lambert O.B.E.

Bertram was born in Settle in 1881. From Settle National School, he won a scholarship to Giggleswick School and thence to Merton College, Oxford where he was awarded a first class honours degree in Natural Sciences. For several years he ran the University Chemical Laboratory in Oxford.

The early masks were like enormous hoods soaked in particular chemicals. They were cumbersome and difficult to see out of. Throughout 1915, Bertram worked on developing a box respirator. A tin filled with charcoal and chemicals, separated by gauze, was connected to an impervious face mask by a rubber tube. The tin had an air inlet valve, the tube a rubber outlet valve. The mask was held in place by elastic bands around the back of the head. The poisoned air was drawn into the tin where the toxic gas was removed, so good air was breathed in. The whole was carried in a waterproof satchel.

Together with Edward Harrison and John Sadd, the respirator was improved and became standard issue to the troops by 1917.

Bertram's invention saved a great number of lives.

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GALLIPOLI

Gallipoli is the peninsular west of the Dardanelles Straits in Turkey. The Straits link the Aegean to the Black Sea through to the capital Constantinople (now Istanbul). The land is rocky and inhospitable with steep sided hills and very little water.

Gallipoli is also the name of the ill-fated campaign of 1915. Turkey joined Germany late in 1914, so the Allies planned to capture Constantinople, and attack Germany through "the back door".

Allied troops (including a large contingent from Australia and New Zealand - the Anzacs) were sent to Gallipoli in April 1915. The campaign was a disaster, and the conditions horrendous. The troops were successfully evacuated by the end of the year but with a quarter of a million casualties on both sides, Gallipoli was a total failure.

George Venn was born in Ribblebank, Langcliffe in 1889. He served with the Clitheroe Police. With the outbreak of war, George had joined the Military Police. He was on his way out to Gallipoli aboard HMS Hythe (a former cross channel paddle driven ferry) on 28th October when it collided with HMS Sarnia in the dark. The Hythe sank rapidly and George and 128 others were drowned.

Fred Bullock was from Settle and worked as a Telegraph Linesman at Settle Station. He volunteered in 1914, joined the Royal Engineers but attached to the East Lancashire Regiment. With them he landed on "V" beach on 7th July. They found themselves enduring trench warfare, heavy bombardments and failed attacks, stifling heat with unsanitary conditions and bitter cold by autumn. He survived and was then sent to Palestine.

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PADRES

"I have once more to remark upon the devotion to duty, courage and contempt of danger which has characterised the work of the Chaplains of the Army throughout this campaign" (Field Marshall Lord French)

Military Chaplains or Padres were expected to hold services and bury the dead. They wore Army uniform but carried no weapons. Without any other instructions, the padres were left to work out their role. We have here the lives of two remarkable men who certainly made an impact!

Harry Blackburne D.S.O., M.C.

Harry was already an army chaplain so was sent to France immediately. Based with the 3rd Brigade Field Ambulance, he rode vast distances to take services, he buried the dead, making careful note of map references. He helped dress wounds, acted as an anaesthetist and wrote to bereaved families. Once he stayed with two condemned soldiers to the end.

Harry realized the importance of having somewhere that the soldiers could relax when in reserve. He created a recreation room in a cellar serving refreshments and organized concerts. He acquired a portable harmonium (affectionately called his barrel-organ) and later a portable cinema.

During the Battle of Loos, he took the soup kitchen as near the front as he could. Over 3,000 wounded men were given a mug of tea and some bread & butter.

In 1916 Harry was appointed Senior Chaplain to the First Army. He set about organizing the Chaplains' Department. He ran courses, met with leaders of other denominations and did all he could to support his fellow padres.

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THEODORE BAYLEY HARDY V.C., D.S.O., M.C.

Just three weeks before the Armistice, the Reverend Theodore Bayley Hardy, died of wounds at Rouen Hospital. He was the most highly decorated non-combatant of the War.

An ordained priest and a teacher, Theodore was Headmaster of Bentham Grammar School and then Vicar of St John's Church, Hutton Roof. In August 1916, at the age of 53, he was appointed an Army Chaplain and sent to France.

He soon gained the affection and admiration of the soldiers - spending time with them in the trenches, offering sweets, cigarettes and talk. "It's only me, boys" he would say. When the men went over the top, their padre went with them. He tended to their wounds and helped bring the stretchers in. During the Battle of Arras, he worked without a break for 36 hours. Later, in Flanders, Theodore waited with a man drowning in mud. He stayed with him till he died. For this he was awarded the D.S.O.. This was followed by the M.C. for incredible bravery under intense fire.

In April 1918, Theodore lay beside a young lad whose leg was caught in barbed wire, close to a German pill box. Wrapping him in his coat, they whispered about cricket. When it was dark, he went to get help, crawling back with a sergeant. Together they brought the lad to safety. More acts of selfless bravery were recorded for which the King presented him with his Victoria Cross. He refused to go home but stayed with his men till he was fatally injured on 12th October.

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MONNY A MICKLE MAKS A MUCKLE

Christmas 1914 came and went and the war was not over - indeed the reality of the losses and the destructive nature of the war began to hit home.

When war was declared, there was great enthusiasm from all to "do their bit". This carried on into 1915 as evidenced by the wide variety of fund raising causes and activities mentioned below. These examples are mainly from the Settle area, but people from all over Craven did what they could.

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LIFE IN DARKEST SETTLE

From the beginning of 1915, the German airships, known as Zeppelins, dropped bombs on British towns and cities. They attacked at night and caused considerable alarm as well as loss of life and damage.

Early in March, the Lighting Committee of Settle Parish Council had considered the advice of the police under the Defence of the Realm Act, to darken the tops of the gas lamps. The Committee decided instead, presumably in the interest of economy, not to have the lamps lit at all. Settle was plunged into darkness! Many protested. Wise council did prevail and at the full Council meeting on 17th March, it was agreed to darken the tops of the lamps at a cost of 30s and so light returned to Settle!

Registration and recruitment

Voluntary enlistment had fallen away somewhat after the first flush of enthusiasm. In July, the National Registration Act was passed and everyone between the ages 15 and 65 was required to register. In October, the Derby Scheme was introduced whereby men could enlist voluntarily or attest, return to work but be ready to enlist if they were called up. In Settle the Recruiting Officer was Mr Roberts, the Headmaster of Settle National School. The scheme was not as successful as it had been hoped.

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WRITING HOME

Letters to and from home were great morale-boosters and the excellent postal service enabled mail to arrive within two or three days. Parcels were especially welcome. Government censorship of war news led local papers like the Craven Herald to publish a regular selection of letters from the front as a means of keeping their readers informed

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Temporary Exhibitions for other years may be found by clicking on the relevant links below:

 


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