They went off to war ... but so many never came back.

The rallying call to arms at the start of the First World War and then conscription meant that Huddersfield men of all ages ended up fighting in the horror of the trenches.

But some also lost their lives at sea and a handful were killed in the skies.

There is a story behind each one of the 3,439 Huddersfield men who were lost forever.

Here are just a few.

Pte Ben Ineson lived on Thornton Road in Crosland Moor, was educated at Mount Pleasant Board School in Lockwood and worked as a mill mechanic at Joseph Dyson and Sons Ltd in Milnsbridge.

The 23-year-old enlisted immediately after the war started in August 1914 with the 1st Bn the West Yorkshire Regiment, went to France on Boxing Day that year but was killed in action in March 1915.

His father received a letter from his son’s platoon commander which stated: “A bomb from a trench mortar was flung into the trenches which were occupied by the men of my platoon. It burst, killing your son instantly and wounding four others, one of whom died two hours later.

“Your son was buried in a churchyard behind the lines and 15 of his comrades and I attended the service.”

 

Pte Charles Backhouse who was from Thurstonland and attended Brockholes Wesleyan Church was serving with the 1/5th Bn Duke of Wellington’s Regiment when was badly wounded by shrapnel on the morning of July 1, 1915 while on his way to his dugout to prepare a meal.

He suffered severe head injuries and died 10 days later at a dressing station aged 26.

Capt Eastwood wrote to Pte Backhouse’s sister and said: “He had been my orderly for nine months and in close contact with me all the time.

“He was the most faithful, clean, good-natured boy in the whole battalion. He never ceased to look after me. He was a brave lad and shells did not frighten him.

“Let this be an example to the Holmfirth young men and those who have not joined yet. I trust that the death of a noble young man like your brother are the means of the slacker coming forward to avenge his death. He was a lad to be proud of and I cannot praise him too highly.”

Tailor Reynold Donkersley from Northgate in Almondbury enlisted with the 2/5th Bn West Yorkshire Regiment in September 1914, was promoted to sergeant in 1915 and became a 2nd Lieutenant in November 1917. In May 1918 he was wounded in the right arm and was awarded a Military Cross for his gallantry. His official citation states it was for “conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in command of a fighting patrol sent out to obtain an identification.

“Two hostile sentries were found to be on the alert. He disposed of one of them himself but the other escaped. A large enemy party then rushed forward to reinforce the post and hand-to-hand fighting ensued in which he was wounded.

“He held to his ground and persisted in his endeavour to obtain an identification until forced by superior numbers to retire which he succeeded in doing after having inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy.

“By his fine tenacity of purpose and cool leadership he set a fine example to his men.”

The citation was published in the London Gazette on September 16, 1918.

But 2nd Lt Donkersley never had the chance to read it as he had already been back to the front and was killed in action near Rheims in July 1918.

Sgt Albert Edward Raynor served with the 2/5th Bn Duke of Wellington’s Regiment and lived on Thornton Lodge Road in Thornton Lodge.

He was a primary teacher at Mount Pleasant Wesleyan Sunday School and was just 21 when he was killed in action near Cambrai in northern France on November 20, 1917.

Some Huddersfield men joined the Royal Navy and Able Seaman Walker Bamforth was one.

The 24-year-old lived on Waterside in Slaithwaite, worked as a joiner in the spinning department at Slaithwaite Spinning Company Ltd and attended Slaithwaite Parish Church.

He joined the navy in March 1916 and served on HMS Partridge which was escorting a convoy to Norway when they were attacked by a German naval force in the North Sea on December 12, 1917..

Able Seaman Bamforth was reported missing and three other Huddersfield men died alongside him when HMS Partridge sank. They were Fred Dransfield, 19, of Southern Road in Milnsbridge; Donald Haigh, 24, of Union Street in Slaithwaite and Sheard Windle, 26, of Kilner Bank, Moldgreen.

The Examiner wants your 1914-18 First World War stories  

Just one woman with Huddersfield connections died on active service in Word War One.

She was 44-year-old Staff Nurse Ada Stanley who is buried at St Paul’s churchyard in Armitage Bridge.

Ada trained as a nurse at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, enlisted with the Territorial Nursing Service and left for the Dardenelles on a hospital ship in July 1915.

On the way back with the ship Mauretania full of wounded soldiers she contracted dysentery but refused to leave her post until every sick soldier had been taken ashore.

She then collapsed and died on December 23, 1915.

Even after hostilities finished terrible dangers lurked on the deserted battlefields.Pte Albert Abby, 32, lived on Slades Road in Golcar with wife Miranda and their three children. He worked at woollen spinners John Crowther and Sons in Milnsbridge but enlisted in the Army in July 1918 and, after the signing of the Armistice, was sent to France. But on December 10 – after only three days there – he was killed while clearing the battlefield.