Category Archives: Soldiers

A Thankful Village’s lost son

Hunstanworth is a very small village just over the border in County Durham and nestled on the fells of the North Pennines. It’s one of just fifty-four ‘Thankful Villages’ and the only one in Durham.

See the BBC online article and also Tom Morgan’s excellent site.

The names of the Hunstanworth men that served in WW1 are recorded as:-

  • Michael Jamieson
  • Makepeace Jamieson,
  • Joshua Jamieson
  • William Jamieson
  • Arthur John Taylor

However, research by myself has identified at least two other men from the Village that served in WW1 and returned home.

Sergeant James Wall Westgarth, MM

James was born in Hunstanworth in 1895 and was the youngest son of John and Elizabeth Hannah Westgarth. He had two older brothers Willie (b 1886), John Hildyard (b  1889) and a younger sister Florence Lillian (b. 1898).

Two other brothers Thomas (b. 1890) and Joseph Stephen (b. 1894) both died in childhood aged 2 and 13 respectively.

The Westgarth family were from the local area and had previously lived in Stanhope (1871 & 1881) and Crook (1889 & 1891) before moving to Hunstanworth

James enlisted into the Northumberland Fusiliers in August 1914 and went to Gallipoli with the 8th Battalion in July 1915

At some point during 1916 he transferred to 12th Battalion (perhaps after being wounded?)

James was awarded the Military Medal, which was announced in the London Gazette of 5th January 1917.

During the Summer of 1917 James was back in England and ‘was presented with a gold watch chain and medal in honour of his having gained the Military Medal’

James was serving the “D” Company the 12/13th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers when he was wounded in the side and hand and captured during the German Spring Offensive. Between 22-25th March the 12/13 Northumberland Fusiliers lost 440 Officers and Men whilst fighting rear guard actions.

On the 16th May 1918 John and Elizabeth received news that their Son had been posted missing on the 23rd March; however, several days later they received a letter from James stating that he was wounded and a prisoner.

On returning home James was awarded a pension and continued to work as an Estate Stonemason.

NOTE: James’ two elder brothers Willie and John also served in WW1, but at the time they enlisted Willie had married was and living in Rookhope and John had moved to Muggleswick.

Willie attested in November 1915 and was posted to the Royal Engineers in November 1916. He served for several months with the 11th Battalion Durham light Infantry before transferring back the Royal Engineers and going to France. Willie was made a Prisoner of War on the 21st March 1918, just two days before his younger brother James.

John was a gas and oil engine attendant and joined the Royal Flying Corps in June 1916.

Reverend William Maddison

Note: this is still a work in progress.

During the 1st week in May

The following men were taken ill and/or returned to England Time Expired

Taken ill:-

  • 1588 Pte Walter Wragg a cotton operator from Little Hucklow and a Pre-War Territorial who served in “D” Company. Admitted to 1st North Midland Field Ambulance with scabies.1588 Wragg
  • 1012 Pte Edward Nightingale a coal miner from Eckington and Pre-War Territorial who served in “F” Company. Admitted to 1st North Midland Field Ambulance with scabies.
  • 2609 Pte Arthur Collier a labourer from Whaley Bridge who enlisted in October 1914. Admitted to 1st North Midland Field Ambulance with scabies.2609 collier
  • 1804 Pte Harry Bagshaw a stonemason from Matlock and a Pre-War Territorial who served with “E” Company. Admitted to 1st North Midland Field Ambulance with scabies.1804 Samuel Bagshaw1804 Bagshaw
  • 4101 Pte Alfred Allen from Old Whittington who enlisted in March 1915 and arrived in France with the 6th Reinforcement in March 1916. Admitted to 1st North Midland Field Ambulance, 30th Casualty Clearing Station and 22nd General Hospital with bronchial pneumonia. Transferred to England and discharged October 1916.4101 Allen

Time Expired:-

  • 1317 Pte William Haywood a miner from  Bolsover and Pre-War Territorial in “F” Company. Returned to England on the “SS Lydia” pending discharge due to Termination of Engagement.1317 Haywood
  • 1418 Charles Vernon Lee a cabinet maker from Chesterfield and Pre-War Territorial in “A” Company. Retuned to England pending discharge due to Termination of Engagement.1418 lee
  • 1409 Pte George Smart a miner from Clay Cross and Pre-War Territorial in “G” Company. Retuned to England pending discharge due to Termination of Engagement.1409 Smart
  • 1404 Pte John Davenport a coal miner from Bolsover and Pre-War Territorial in “F” Company. Retuned to England on “SS Copenhagen” pending discharge due to Termination of Engagement.1404 Davenport

On this day 16th February 1916

16.2.1916 BEAUMETZ: Lt G.F. Gardner, 2/Lt T Grimshaw and 35 other ranks from Battalion Machine Gun Section proceeded to join 139th Brigade Machine Gun Company.

War Diary [WO/95/2694]

The numbers recorded in the War Diary appear to be incorrect - see below.

16.2.1916: The Brigade Machine Gun Company concentrated today under Capt F. B. ROBINSON in billets in BERNAVILLE.

139 Infantry Brigade: Headquarters War Diary [WO95/2692]

 The 139th Bde Machine Gun Company139 Bde MGC

Officers of the newly established 139th Brigade Machine Gun Company Commanded by Captain Francis Bradbury Robinson.3259 Fearn

Army Service record for 3259 Pte George Harry Fearn, an electrician from Clay Cross, recording his transfer to the 139 BDE MACH GUN CORP on the 16th February 1916.

The 1/6th men that transferred to the 139th Brigade Machine Gun Company were as follows:-

In late 1915 the Battalion Machine Gun Section comprised a Lieutenant, Sergeant, Corporal, 2 drivers, batman and 12 Privates that were trained in the maintenance, transport, loading and firing of the Vickers heavy machine gun. These men made up two six-man gun teams.

  • 1265 Sergt. Dudley Spicer (24226)
  • 811 Pte. George Handbury (24227)
  • 3334 Pte.  John H Watson (24228)
  • 2068 Pte. Alfred Allen (24229)
  • 2707 Pte. George EH Hurt (24230)
  • 1701 Pte. Harry Ellison (24231)
  • 1779 Pte. William Ollerenshaw (24232)
  • 1784 Pte. Frank Swann (24233)
  • 1800 Pte. William E Hughes (24234)
  • 1801 Pte. Edgar Porter (24235)
  • 1841 Pte. George F Johnson (24236)
  • 1846 Pte. James White (24237)
  • 2223 Pte. James Dudley (24238)
  • 3259 Pte. George Henry Fearn (24239)
  • 3340 Cpl. George Bagshaw (24240)
  • 3652 Pte. Arthur Marshall (24241)
  • 1656 Pte. Hedley Bennett (24242)


On this day 3rd February 1916

3 February 1916 2006 Wright

3.2.1916 COULONVILLERS: Brigade Ceremonial Parade at GORENFLOS. 4 Lewis Guns received for Lewis detachment.

Lewis Gun

LONDON GAZETTE (Supplement) d/- 14.1.1916: 2006 Private WRIGHT. A, 1/6th Bn Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Reft (T.F.) AWARDED DISTINGUISHED CONDUCT  MEDAL.

2006 Wright

War Diary [WO/95/2694]

My Company had been detailed to unload the transport wagons from the train and not far off was the steady drumming of artillery fire, the rise and fall of the very lights. We were back. Our journey into the unknown fairyland was over, but the experience had been worth it, but the re-entry into the battle area was a terrible shock.

[2305 Pte Frank Longson]


On these days 29th January – 2nd February 1916

No record in the War Diary [WO/95/2694]

 During this time the following men returned to England as “Time Expired” :-

  • 980 Joseph Huckles a coal miner from Staveley and an original member of “F” (Staveley and District) Company who enlisted in February 1909. Joseph had previously suffered a gun shot wound to the face on the 9th August 1915 whilst in the trenches at Sanctuary Wood.980 huckles
  • 1336 Ernest Arthur Edinboro a labourer from Brimington and an original member of “F” (Staveley and District) Company who enlisted in February 1911. Ernest had previously been taken sick in May whilst in the trenches at Kemmel.1336 Edinboro

1915 In Review

April to December 1915

  • The 6th Battalion left Southampton with the North Midland Division on the 25th February 1915.
  • The Battalion held the front line trenches 21 times between March and December 1915; including 1 major battle (the attack on Hohenzollern Redoubt).severne dickinson
  • Two Officer were killed during these 9 months; 2/Lt Henry Severne in May and 2/Lt Lewis Dickinson in September.
  • At least 10 Officers were also wounded during this time.
  • According to the War Diary 81 men were killed in the 9 months between March and December.
  • This does not include the 12 missing after the mine explosion on the 30th September; which was the biggest single loss of life to date.Redfern
  • The 1st man to be killed was 1470 Allen Redfern of Buxton who was shot by a sniper on the 10th March 1915 and is buried in Ploegsteert Wood Military Cemetery.Bombing
  • The last man to be killed was 3065 Joseph Brown, a miner from Grassmoor, who was last seen bombing in the German trench as the raiding party retired and was reported as missing on the 26th November. His body was never recovered or identified after the war and he is commemorated on the Loos Memorial.
  • The War Diary records that 323 men were wounded during these 9 months; research suggests that this number is in fact much higher. Indeed the 139th Brigade War Diary records the following Casualties:-

1915 Casualties