An astonishing book brimming with sketches and poems by injured soldiers at a wartime hospital in Huddersfield has been unearthed by relatives of a former nurse.
The touching and full-to-bursting keepsake was discovered by the family of former Crosland Moor resident, Hilda Brook, whilst searching through an unopened box of family mementos on the centenary of the break out of World War One.
Including dozens of entries, they give a personal and both light-hearted and poignant insight into the minds of patients who were recuperating at the Royds Hall site in Paddock around 1917 after being injured whilst fighting for their country.
And now Hilda’s great-grand daughter, Ipswich-based Helena Quarmby, and her family have now begun an ambitious project to share the talents of the contributors with their surviving family members.
Hilda was 21-years-old when she began to collect the entries at the hospital, after starting work there during the the war following a stint as an assistant teacher.
Helena, 22, has been researching on the internet, using the names, regiments and dates with which each piece of art is signed.
She uploaded the images to social media site, Instagram.
Helena, who studied English and Theatre at the University of Sheffield, said: “It was such a fascinating discovery to make and I’ve never seen anything like it.
“The images are really beautiful and it’s been lovely to read the poems. They give such a personal insight into their experiences which I’d had very little knowledge about.
“I was really surprised to see how many talented people there were all in one place.”
One of her particular favourites is a picture of a lion, with a quote that reads ‘always ready.’
She said: “It just captures the resilience of the artist, who was called F.E. Gwilliam and a member of the 8th Gloucestershire Regiment, who we found out was being treated at the hospital for just over one month after getting shrapnel in his thigh and arm.
“It must have been a pretty grim time for all of them but through the book they’ve demonstrated their courage, wit and so much more.
“I think that my great grandma may have started it as part reminder of all the people she helped and got to know through her work and also to help keep the soldiers’ spirits up.
“We are now busy finding out what we can about the others in it and it would be great if we manage to track down some of the relatives and show them the pieces.”
She said that the family are not yet sure what they will do with the book when they finish their research.
Helena, said: “It would be nice to keep it in the family but at the same time it would be good to give it to a museum.”
She hopes to send more details of the patients to the paper as research progresses.
Royds Hall is now best known as a school in Huddersfield but began as an important farmhouse in the Paddock and Longwood area.
It was rebuilt as a mansion, known as Royds Wood, whose philanthropic mill owner served the increasingly industrialised and expanding town of Huddersfield.
Some time after the death of its occupant, in response to the demands for medical facilities for the war wounded, it became a Military Hospital in World War I. When this was no longer required it became the first co-educational secondary school in Huddersfield because of the national need for education for 11 to 18 year olds