Early autumn and late summer 1915 was a bad time for the village of Kirkheaton.
Kirkheaton Family History Group has carried out in depth research into these lost men and this is what they have uncovered.
Pte Norman Spence, 18, of the 1st/5th Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment) was the son of Frederick and Jane Spence, of 54 Long Lane, Dalton, and was one of 10 siblings. He joined the service on May 21,1913, aged 17 years 5 months when he was working as a twister at Godfrey Sykes, Moldgreen, and was sent to France in April 1915. He was accidentally wounded on August 16 but returned to duty and was killed in action on September 9.
A report in the Huddersfield Daily Examiner the following week stated: “Captain E Senior states that the deceased soldier was killed by a stray bullet just after the battalion had entered the trenches and adds that he had very little pain as death was almost instantaneous.”
Pte Spence was buried alongside a number of men belonging to the 5th Duke of Wellington’s Regiment.
He is buried at Bard Cottage Cemetery near Ypres, Belgium. Norman’s brother Frederick was killed in action the following year on September 19, 1916.
Another family also suffered the loss of two brothers.
Pte Herbert Henry Spivey, aged 27, of the 8th Bn, Northumberland Fusiliers was the son of Thomas and Minnie Spivey of Greenside, Dalton and was one of five brothers.
He went to the Balkans in July 1915 and was reported missing, presumed to have died on August 19 of that year.
Herbert’s name is on the Helles Memorial on the tip of the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey. The memorial bears more than 21,000 names of Commonwealth and French forces who fought an eight month campaign in an attempt to force Turkey out of the war and open a supply route to Russia through the Dardanelles and the Black Sea.
His brother, Private Ernest Edwin Spivey, of the 1/5th Battalion West Riding Regiment (Huddersfield Territorials), was wounded three times and gassed twice during the war.
He died suddenly following an operation at Royal Herbert Hospital, Shooters Hill, Woolwich, on New Year’s Eve 1918 aged 26.
His widow Emilie and daughter, Marjorie, were living at Lascelles Hall and Ernest was buried at Kirkheaton Laneside Cemetery and has a Commonwealth War Grave Commission headstone. His name is also on the Roll of Honour at Kirkheaton Parish Church.
See photographs from a Duke Of Wellington's regiment scrap book below.
During the war he had written to the Huddersfield Examiner to say: “I suppose the recruiting in Huddersfield is getting a little better now and I am pleased to hear it for I am sure if all the young chaps that are at home only knew what the Huns have done over here they would jolly soon get into khaki and want to have a bang at them. I think we are doing our bit nicely now as we go to and from the trenches as cool as if we were going into the park”.
Pte Clifford Fidler, 18, of 1st/5th Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment) was the son of Fred and Lily Fidler of 7A Hebble St, Bradford Road, Huddersfield. The eldest of six siblings, he worked at iconic Huddersfield coachbuilders Rippon Bros.
He joined the service on May 19, 1913, when he was 17 and working as an apprentice fitter at John Sykes & Sons, Turnbridge.
He went to France in April 1915 and was killed in action on September 18 of that year. His effects were returned to his family on December 28, 1915 and included his disc, diary, letters, drinking cup and nail cutters.
The Huddersfield Examiner reported a letter from Major Norton to Pte Fidler’s father which stated: “He was shot by a sniper this morning and died almost immediately. Your son was one of the nicest it has been my lot to meet. He always had a bright smile and was always cheerful. He was the messenger between the company and headquarters and as such used to accompany me when on duty and I never hope for a better companion. He will be buried tonight a few hundred yards behind the firing line in a place where many other brave lads are also buried.”
Pte Fidler is now buried at the New Irish Farm Cemetery near Ypres, Belgium.
Pte Arthur Broadhead from the 1st/5th Bn, Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment) was the son of Irvy and Alice Broadhead of St Mary’s Lane, Kirkheaton. He suffered a gunshot wound to the head on July 29 and died, aged 24, on August 5.
A report in the Huddersfield Weekly Examiner revealed a letter by Lt J W Clapham to the family which stated: “The news came as a great shock to me because his wounds were not thought to be at all serious ones. He was an awfully nice fellow and one whose loss I feel very much.”
He had worked for Messrs Broadhead and Graves, Kirkheaton, and formerly for Messrs Kaye and Stewart, of Lockwood. He was well known in local athletic circles and won a number of prizes for running. Upon the outbreak of the war he was one of the first to enlist.
Pte Broadhead is buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Poperinge, Belgium. His name is on the Roll of Honour at Kirkheaton Parish Church and he is also commemorated on his parent’s gravestone in the Laneside Cemetery, Kirkheaton.