Tag Archives: John Hildyard Westgarth

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.