An exhibition is to be staged in Upper Hopton to honour men from the village who lost their lives in Word War One – and features a double tragedy that struck one family.

The free exhibition early next month will consist of the personal stories of the soldiers and life in the village of Upper Hopton during the 1914 to 1918 period with stories drawn from the local newspapers, military records, census information, parish magazines and the relatives of the soldiers.

The village lost 25 young men – and four families had three sons who went to war and two that never returned.

One of those was the Oates family. Two of George and Martha Oates’ sons was killed and the another maimed for life.

Robert Lewis Oates enlisted in October 1916 and served with the 9th Bn the Tank Corps. He went to war leaving behind wife Betsy Ann and son Jack.

He was killed in action on July 23, 1918, in France and his name is on the Soissons Memorial in France.

He had worked as a gardener for George Ellis as Eastthorpe House before he joined up.

A letter home from his commanding officer stated: “Oates was a splendid man, always ready and smart at any duty which called him.

“He went as a runner into action in a tank as I hoped he would be safer and less exposed.

“Unfortunately his tank was hit by a shell and several inside were killed or injured, but not before we had gained our objectives and in conjunction with the French taken 1,800 prisoners, three villages and many guns.

“Personally I feel his loss very much indeed for such a man cannot be replaced.”

Robert Lewis Oates with his wife Betsy Ann and son Jack
 

That was not the only terrible news during the war for his grieving parents. Robert’s younger brother, Ernest, was killed in action in August 1917 and his other brother, William, was gassed and blinded but survived the war. He had also been serving in the tank corps.

Other Upper Hopton families who suffered badly during the war were the Sykes family who lost sons Walter and Willie and another son Herbert lost his legs; the Castle family who lost sons Herbert and Joe with a third son, Harry, discharged due to his injuries; the Dyson family who lost George and Percy, but a third, Clifford, survived the war.

A detailed dedication for each soldier will be made available for visitors or relatives who may want to find out more information about individual soldiers.

The exhibition will be on both Saturday and Sunday, August 3 and 4 from 10am to 4pm at Croft House, Jackroyd Lane, Upper Hopton WF14 8HS.

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