Life in Britain underwent massive changes in the role of women, rationing, the bombing of parts of Britain by the Germans, conscientious objectors, strikes by discontented workers and the whole country coming under the jurisdiction of DORA (the Defence of the Realm Act) which introduced sweeping new powers to control communications, the nation's ports and subject civilians to the rule of military courts. It introduced a wide range of changes in society including prohibition, rationing, the introduction of British Summer Time and the widening of police powers. It was even used to ban bonfires, whistling in the street and flying kites!
DORA changed the lives of many local residents - it was an offence to discuss military matters in public, the movement of people was severely restricted, beer was watered down and pub opening hours were cut. But one local resident was fined under DORA for a very strange offence, reported in both the Yorkshire Evening Post (Feb 26th 1915) and Kinematograph Weekly:
Although this seems a strange case under DORA, the main point was to ensure fire safety in connection with storing the celluloid films, and the £25 fine each would be about £2,500 each today (2021).
When war was declared in August 1914, many believed that the war would be over by Christmas 1914 and many young men rushed to answer the call to arms. The government asked for 100,000 volunteers but got 750,000 in just one month. The public was quickly deluged with numerous propaganda posters to encourage everyone in their nation’s time of need. Locally many rallies were held, including some in Wetherby and Collingham, to encourage men to enlist. See "Joining Up". A major feature of village life at the time must have revolved around call-up and conscription and the outcomes of the many Military Tribunals held in Wetherby to determine whether, and when, individuals were in protected occupations, and when they might have to go to war. The Wetherby News regularly reported on the cases heard in Wetherby and their outcomes, and the following table summarises some of the reports and whether any cases relevant to Collingham, Linton or Micklethwaite were heard. It is not a complete list of the reports.
|Wetherby News issue||Tribunal meeting number||Collingham, Linton or Micklethwaite cases heard||Tribunal decision(s)|
|14th Jul 1916||14th|
|22nd Sep 1916||19th||(1) JH Mason (Collingham); |
(2) RC Gibson (Collingham)
|6th Oct 1916||GH Vincent (Collingham)||Application refused. Served in Army|
|20th Oct 1916||(1) HW Fletcher (Linton); |
(2) JB Yeadon (Collingham);
(3) RW Clayforth (Collingham);
(4) W Bridges (Linton)
|(1) Temporary exemption to 30th Nov
(2) Refused. Served in Army
(3) Refused not to be called up before 1st Jan
(4) Referred to Special Medical Board, London.
|1st Dec 1916||Arthur Dalby (Collingham)||Adjourned|
|29th Dec 1916||25th||(1) BWO Rider (Linton); |
(2) A Dalby (Linton)
|(1) Application refused
(2) Application refused. Not to be called up before 15th Jan. Served in the Army
|9th Feb 1917||27th|
|9th Mar 1917||29th||RH Kaye (Linton)||In certified occupation. Granted conditional exemption.|
|1917||26th||JE Herridge (Collingham)||Case adjourned for production of medical certificate.|
|13th Apr 1917||32nd||(1) E Johnson (Collingham); |
(2) JE Herridge (Collingham)
|(1) Application refused, substitute to be found
|4th May 1917||33rd||JE Herridge (Collingham)||Application refused. Not to be called up before May 31st|
|18th May 1917||34th||(1) JE Herridge (Collingham); |
(2) H. Twidale (Collingham)
|(1) Case appealed
(2) Not to be called up before 24th May
|20th Jul 1917||(1) JH Mason (Collingham); |
(2) WS Barmstone (Collingham)
(3) GH Rawlings (Collingham)
|(1) Conditional exemption
(2) Application refused. Not to be called up before 30th September. Served in RFC/RAF
(3) Previous certificate withdrawn.
|17th Aug 1917||39th||(1) RH Kay|
(2) WH Richardson (Compton, Collingham)
|(1) Absolute exemption changed to temporary exemption
(2) Absolute exemption changed to temporary exemption
|31st Aug 1917||40th||(1) RW Clayforth (Micklethwaite); |
(2) CW Groves (Collingham)
|(1) Placed in Army Reserve Class W
(2) Certificate not varied but must report monthly to tribunal.
|28th Sep 1917||41st||RW Clayforth (Micklethwaite||Conditional exemption|
|5th Oct 1917||RH Kaye (Linton)||Adjourned|
|12th Oct 1917|
|2nd Nov 1917||43rd||CW Groves (Collingham)||To work full time on farm. Served in the Army|
|7th Dec 1917|
|11th Jan 1918|
|18th Jan 1918|
|15th Feb 1918|
|1st Mar 1918||50th||JH Mason (Collingham)||Certificate withdrawn. Not to be called up before March 31st.|
|31st May 1918||55th|
|13th Sep 1918||63rd|
|18th Oct 1918||65th|
The initial enthusiasm for volunteering for service did not last. It became obvious that there would be no quick victory and as trench warfare took its hold, the true reality of a modern war became obvious to all. War-weariness set in. The government could not hide the fact that many thousands of men had been killed or severely wounded. The monthly death toll, and the endless Casualty Lists published in the papers would have meant that every household in the district dreaded any telegram or news of family or loved ones. The Wetherby district suffered particularly badly in late 1915 as news of the catastrophic attacks in Gallipoli and the devastation of the local Wetherby Lads in the 9th West Yorks Regiment came to the area (See The Gallipoli Campaign). But for all the local men, women and children, who formed The Home Front, in every year of the war, the overriding emotions were probably fear, grief and sorrow.
The Germans also attacked Britain itself and, for the fist time, civilians themselves were targeted with bombing raids by Zeppelins and coastal raids by the German Navy. The first Zeppelin raid on London took place on May 31st 1915, but the Collingham and the Wetherby District was not immune.
German airship raids on Britain started in January 1915 when a Zeppelin attacked Great Yarmouth and King's Lynn. These airships were made of a steel framework and were filled with hydrogen making them lighter than air. They could travel at 85 mph and carried up to two tons of bombs. When the Western Front ground into military deadlock, the Germans decided to use the Zeppelins against British towns and cities. Thereafter Zeppelin raids took place roughly every fortnight and air raid precautions had to be put in place. In Leeds the air raid precautions involved an almost total electrical blackout to avoid giving away the city's location.
|19 Jan 1915||Yarmouth and District||4||9|
|21 Feb 1915||Colchester||-||-|
|14 Apr 1915||Tyneside||-||2|
|15 Apr 1915||Lowestoft and East Coast||-||-|
|16 Apr 1915||Faversham||-||-|
|29 Apr 1915||Ipswich and Bury St.Edmunds||-||-|
|10 May 1915||Southend||1||-|
|16 May 1915||Ramsgate||2||8|
|31 May 1915||Outer London||6||-|
|4 Jun 1915||East and South-East Coasts||24||40|
|6 Jun 1915||East Coast||5||40|
|15 Jun 1915||North East Coast||16||40|
|3 Jul 1915||Harwich||-||-|
|9 Aug 1915||East Coast||15||14|
|12 Aug 1915||East Coast||6||23|
|17 Aug 1915||Eastern Counties||10||36|
|7 Sep 1915||Eastern Counties||13||43|
|8 Sep 1915||Eastern Counties & London District||20||86|
|11 Sep 1915||East Coast||-||-|
|12 Sep 1915||East Coast||-||-|
|13 Sep 1915||East Coast||-||-|
|13 Oct 1915||London Area & Eastern Counties||56||114|
|31 Jan 1916||Norfolk, Suffolk, Lincolnshire, Staffordshire & Derbyshireshire||67||101|
|1 Mar 1916||Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Rutland, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Essex & Kent||18||52|
|31 Mar 1916||Eastern Counties and North East Coast||43||66|
|1 Apr 1916||North East Coast||16||100|
|2 Apr 1916||South Eastern Counties of Scotland||10||11|
|4 Apr 1916||East Coast||-||-|
|5 Apr 1916||North East Coast||1||8|
|24 Apr 1916||Norfolk and Suffolk||-||1|
|25 Apr 1916||Essex and Kent||-||-|
|26 Apr 1916||East Kent Coast||-||-|
|2 May 1916||North East Coast of England and South East Coast of Scotland||9||27|
|29 Jul 1916||Lincolnshire and Norfolk||-||-|
|31 Jul 1916||South Eastern and Eastern Counties||-||-|
|3 Aug 1916||Eastern and South Eastern Counties||-||-|
|9 Aug 1916||East and North East Coasts||8||15|
|24 Aug 1916||East Coast||-||-|
|25 Aug 1916||Eastern and South Eastern Coasts||-||9|
|2 Sep 1916||13 airships over various locations|
The Yorkshire region did not suffer many raids but on the 25th/26th September 1916, about seven Zepplins raided Britain. One of these, Zeppelin L.14, the German Navy's most successful German Navy airship, captained by Hauptmann Kuno Manger passed over the English coast at Atwick at about 10.05pm. This Zeppelin had already made 17 attacks on Britain dropping 48,601 lb of bombs on England.
A contemporary account of L.14's attack, published under strict censorship at the time, appeared in The Yorkshire Post on the 27th September 1916:
Three years later, after the war and when censorship regulations had been removed, a fuller account of the raid, identifying the towns involved was published in The Halifax Evening Courier. From that, and other records, it is now possible to piece together an accurate account of the raid of L.14
A rough track of the attack by Zeppelin L14 on the North of England on the night of 25/26th Sept 1916
At 10.05pm L14 crossed the coast at Atwick on the Yorkshire coast and steered towards York. Forty minutes later the airship dropped a single high explosve bomb at Heworth Without, north-east of York city centre, smashing windows in houses and at Elmfield College on Malton Road. The L.14 then skirted the eastern edge of York, heading south, dropping seven more HE bombs and two incendiaries. The incendiaries set fire to timber stacked at a brickyard while most of the HE bombs landed in fields. One, however, exploded close to Holy Trinity Church, Heworth, smashing all the windows on the west end of the church and wrecked a doctor’s house opposite on East Parade, but those inside escaped injury. These event were portrayed in the contemporary newspaper reports and it was here in Heworth that the woman died of shock.
At about 11pm a searchlight located the L.14 as she released two HE and five incendiaries over Fulford, south of the city, where they brought down some telephone wires in a field. The L.14 then came under anti-aircraft fire from guns at Acomb, and Hauptmann Manger turned away, flying northwards.
We do not know what orders Manger had or what his targets were, but next he dropped an incendiary at Pilmoor, before changing course towards Ripon.
At about 11.40pm he dropped an bomb near the village of Newby with Mulwith, followed by four more on Ripon Rifles Ranges at Wormald Green. One landed within 30 yards of the Ripon-Harrogate road in a field on Monkton Mains farm; another smashed the glass in a workshop on the range. Continuing southwards, L.14 dropped four HE bombs harmlessly at Dunkeswick where the RFC maintained a night landing ground.
Within five minutes, 13 incendiary bombs were dropped in fields at Harewood, one causing slight damage to a cottage. This incendiary fell on the corner of the roof of the cottage, penetrating the roof, but fell immediately into the water cistern and was extinguished, although a contemporary report says that the bottom of the cistern was carried away and some flames ran onto the landing of the house, but the occupants and their child, who had gone to bed, were able to get out of the house and willing neighbours helped extinguish the flames with buckets of water, and the roof was quickly mended the next day. The only other damage was to an empty hen house belonging to Dr. Matthews, while the VAD hospital at Harewood House was undamaged.
A few miles East of Harewood, a mobile searchlight and a 13-pdr anti-aircraft gun was installed somewhere between Collingham and East Keswick, and the L.14 was caught by the searchlight. The AA gun fired nine rounds but without success. The L.14 aimed three HE bombs at the light and severed the telephone line between the gun and the searchlight. The airship then flew off going north-east and flying high.
The next report of the L14 was at 12.50pm when she was reported crossing the North-Eastern Railway main line at Tollerton. Five minutes later she was sighted between Easingwold and Strensall, and at 1.15am she was at Rillington, east of Malton. The L.14 then returned to the coast going out to sea at Scarborough at about 1.30am.
The war led to inflation and many found it hard to afford the increase in food prices, exacerbated by the impact of the German U-boat campaign. This led to food shortages and rationing was brought in by February 1918. Fuel was also in short supply and was also rationed.
Given the enlistment and conscription of men, many roles, previously the remit of men, passed into female hands. One major role of women in the war was in nursing, and many local women volunteered for nursing or nursing support duties, some of whom are listed on the main service lists on this site. But by 1918, 4.8 million women were also employed in the industries, and many local war industries, such as shell filling, employed many women. Here a major munitions factory was housed at Crossgates - the National Filling Factory, Barnbow. We wonder if any women traveled daily from Collingham along the Wetherby to Crossgates railway line to work at Barnbow.
Extraordinary news from Collingham in 1916. The Battle of the Somme, the worst day of the war in terms of number of British soldiers killed, had just happened, but life in one street in Collingham was rocked in a different way:
An update from three days later: -
Many organisations throughout the villages organised events to raise money to support wounded and injured soldiers and their dependents and to support the widows and families of those who gave their lives. Money was also raised for Prisoners of War and to send comforts to those men who were serving. One example from 1918:
The normal local events, sports and entertainments continued during the war, but around this time a new 'craze' appeared - that of large scale open air pageants. Such historical pageants were hugely popular in many British communities throughout the first half of the twentieth century, especially in the inter-war years, when the country was sometimes described as having "pageant fever". The plays performed featured mostly historical scenes, often medieval stories with local or national links. They tended to involve large casts, be held at outdoor venues, and often performed several times. Small and large communities had their own pageants, and often well-known people were involved. Collingham became famous for its pageants - there are thought to have been four - had close links to local communities and local stories, and often featured music played by local musicians, and dancing by local school children. They were all performed at Collingham Vicarage field, in addition to other local locations. The Collingham pageants were written by Mrs. T.R. (Florence) Dawes, wife of the first headmaster of Castleford Grammar School who lived nearby.
The first Collingham pageant took place on on St Oswald’s Day, 5th August 1918 and celebrated the life of St. Oswald, King of Northumbria. The play comprised 4 scenes depicting the lives of early Christian figures associated with Oswald. King Oswald was played by Mr T.R. Dawes, and Queen Cyneburga by Mrs Tuer from the village. The prologue to each of the scenes was read by Miss Marjorie Dawes. There was a cast of around 120 local people, with costumes having a Saxon cross design as a theme, made by villagers under supervision from vicar’s wife Mrs H.B. Beckwith, and funds raised were donated to the Red Cross Society. Events started with a procession to St Oswald’s church, and short service at 4pm, followed by the main pageant at 5pm in the vicarage field behind the church. Such was the success of the first performance that it was repeated by request on 17th August 1918.