This site commemorates the men and women of Collingham, Linton and Micklethwaite who served during World War 1.

Life on The Home Front 1914-18 - a round up of local news from the home front

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:

Kinematograph Weekly March 11th 1915

The Storage of Films.

PROSECUTION AT LEEDS.

An interesting case to those concerned in the handling of kinematograph films was heard last week in the Leeds Police Court before Mr. Horace Marshall (Stipendiary Magistrate) when Louis Kohn, of Louise Street, Chapeltown Road, and James Whitelock, Collingham Bridge, managing director and secretary respectively of the British Isles Exclusives (Ltd.), Town Hall Chambers, Visctoria Square, Leeds, were summoned for an offence under the Defence of the Realm Regulations Act of 1914.
Mr. Knowles, who prosecuted, said the infringement related to the storing of kinematographic films. No more than six reels of films, of a weight of 24lbs. may be kept without a permit. This order had been duly advertised in the press and the defendant Kohn actually had had correspondence with the Chief Constable asking for such a permit. For a period of two months the defendants took no steps to remove the films, and Supt. Tose and Police-Constable Scurrah had found 19 films under the defendants' control, weighing about 100 lbs. The excuse given was that they had been away and had not had time to remove the films.
Mr. J.H. Milner, for the defence, said he had advised his clients to plead guilty, as he did not think he could contest the case under the circumstances. Kohn, being an alien, had to stay in Leeds. Whitelock was away looking after a touring company. Kohn himself could not handle or part with these films; why, he (Mr. Milner) did not know, but that was the wisdom of the Legislature.
The magistrate said there had been a gross violation of the regulations, and he would impose a fine of £25 on each defendant, with the alternative of two months' imprisonment. An application for a fortnight in which to pay the fine was granted.

 

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).

Enlistment and conscription

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 issueTribunal meeting numberCollingham, Linton or Micklethwaite cases heard Tribunal decision(s)
14th Jul 191614th
22nd Sep 191619th(1) JH Mason (Collingham);
(2) RC Gibson (Collingham)
(1) Adjourned
(2) Adjourned
6th Oct 1916GH 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 1916Arthur Dalby (Collingham)Adjourned
29th Dec 191625th(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 191727th
28thA. DalbyAnnounced that appeal was dismissed in Leeds
9th Mar 191729thRH Kaye (Linton)In certified occupation. Granted conditional exemption.
191726thJE Herridge (Collingham)Case adjourned for production of medical certificate.
13th Apr 191732nd(1) E Johnson (Collingham);
(2) JE Herridge (Collingham)
(1) Application refused, substitute to be found
(2) Adjourned
4th May 191733rdJE Herridge (Collingham)Application refused. Not to be called up before May 31st
18th May 191734th(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 191739th(1) RH Kay
(2) WH Richardson (Compton, Collingham)
(1) Absolute exemption changed to temporary exemption
(2) Absolute exemption changed to temporary exemption
31st Aug 191740th(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 191741stRW Clayforth (MicklethwaiteConditional exemption
5th Oct 1917RH Kaye (Linton)Adjourned
12th Oct 1917
2nd Nov 191743rdCW 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 191850thJH Mason (Collingham)Certificate withdrawn. Not to be called up before March 31st.
31st May 191855th
13th Sep 191863rd
18th Oct 191865th
The growing death toll

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 bombing of Britain

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.

DateTargetKilledInjured
19 Jan 1915Yarmouth and District49
21 Feb 1915Colchester--
14 Apr 1915Tyneside-2
15 Apr 1915Lowestoft and East Coast--
16 Apr 1915Faversham--
29 Apr 1915Ipswich and Bury St.Edmunds--
10 May 1915Southend1-
16 May 1915Ramsgate28
31 May 1915Outer London6-
4 Jun 1915East and South-East Coasts2440
6 Jun 1915East Coast540
15 Jun 1915North East Coast1640
3 Jul 1915Harwich--
9 Aug 1915East Coast1514
12 Aug 1915East Coast623
17 Aug 1915Eastern Counties1036
7 Sep 1915Eastern Counties1343
8 Sep 1915Eastern Counties & London District2086
11 Sep 1915East Coast--
12 Sep 1915East Coast--
13 Sep 1915East Coast--
13 Oct 1915London Area & Eastern Counties56114
31 Jan 1916Norfolk, Suffolk, Lincolnshire, Staffordshire & Derbyshireshire67101
1 Mar 1916Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Rutland, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Essex & Kent1852
31 Mar 1916Eastern Counties and North East Coast4366
1 Apr 1916North East Coast16100
2 Apr 1916South Eastern Counties of Scotland1011
4 Apr 1916East Coast--
5 Apr 1916North East Coast18
24 Apr 1916Norfolk and Suffolk-1
25 Apr 1916Essex and Kent--
26 Apr 1916East Kent Coast--
2 May 1916North East Coast of England and South East Coast of Scotland927
29 Jul 1916Lincolnshire and Norfolk--
31 Jul 1916South Eastern and Eastern Counties--
3 Aug 1916Eastern and South Eastern Counties--
9 Aug 1916East and North East Coasts815
24 Aug 1916East Coast--
25 Aug 1916Eastern and South Eastern Coasts-9
2 Sep 191613 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:

The Yorkshire Post September 27th 1916

THE ZEPPELIN OUTRAGES.

NORTH-EASTERN INCIDENTS

TEN MINUTES' VISIT TO A TOWN: A CHURCH DAMAGED

One of our correspondents writes:-
A hostile airship, travelling from the eastward, appeared over the suburbs of a North-Eastern town last night (Monday), about a quarter to eleven. It dropped three or four bombs in fields on the outskirts of the town, and was then focussed by the searchlights, whereupon it immediately deflected from a straight course, veering northwards. Anti-aircraft guns at once came into action, and the raider was seen to endeavour to avoid the searchlight. Two incendiary bombs were dropped on a brickyard at the edge of the town, causing a slight fire, which was immediately extinguished.
Travelling very rapidly the airship discharged three or four more bombs, and then disappeared in a north-easterly direction, the whole visitation not lasting more than ten minutes. Two of the parting bombs were explosive, and one of them fell between a suburban church and a private residence. The force of the explosion smashed the west-end windows of the church, and did some damage to the brickwork. At the same time it blew off the gable end of the house and tore open the side walls. The occupants has a narrow escape. Several of them had gone to bed, but rose at the warning and were in lower rooms, when the bomb fell. As it struck the house, they rushed from the building. The side of the house this morning reveals the bedroom was hastily left, the end of the bed hanging over the floor into space. The other bomb dropped into a field where it made a deep crater. Most of the windows in the houses in the neighbourhood were smashed within a wide radius of the exploding bombs, and portions of metal from the bomb were picked up many yards away in adjacent streets. Beyond the house and church referred to no material or military damage of any kind was effected, and there were no casualties as the result of the direct action of the raider. One poor women, the wife of a painter, has, however, died from shock. She and her husband had gone to bed, but on receipt of the warning they went downstairs, where the unfortunate women was stooping to fasten her boot when she fell forward, and died immediately.
About a hour later the sound of rapid explosions some miles away to the westward were plainly audible for the space of about twenty minutes, and an airship was later reported travelling eastward, some ten miles to the north of the town.

 

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

Route of L14

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.

Rationing

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.

The role of women

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.

Barricades in Collingham

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:

The Yorkshire Evening Post July 5th 1916

ROAD TO COLLINGHAM HOUSES BARRICADED.

NORTH-EASTERN INCIDENTS

RAILWAY COMPANY'S STRONG ACTION.

An extraordinary state of affairs has arisen upon a residential estate at Collingham Bridge, near Leeds. The original company owning the estate was under an obligation to the North-Eastern Railway for a right of way from the Company's private road which runs between the level crossing and the Harewood Road, and for this, it is said, agreed to pay a certain sum of money.
A dozen detached houses on the estate are now owned by various people, some of whom have expressed a desire to have the company's claim settled, so that the estate may be freed from the threat which the North-Eastern railway have held over their heads of closing the road leading to their houses. Other owners have been of opinion that the North-Eastern Railway have a claim only upon the original owners, and they have refused hitherto to join in any settlement.
Yesterday, after giving very brief notice to some of the residents, the Railway Company erected an immense hoarding, which effectually closes the road to the houses. One gentleman has been handed a key to a small door in the hoarding with instructions that it is only for his personal use. He is at a loss to understand why he should have been accorded this honour, which naturally singles him out for a good deal of chaff amongst his neighbours.
The only way by which any of the residents - some of whom rent their houses - may now reach their houses is through the back-gate of the house nearest the private road. It is, naturally, a very uncomfortable state of affairs for the residents.

 

An update from three days later: -

The Yorkshire Post July 8th 1916

THE OBSTRUCTED ROAD AT COLLINGHAM BRIDGE.

The barrier at Collingham Bridge, to which reference was made in a letter we published on Thursday, has now been removed. One of the residents received yesterday a letter from the Estate Agent of the North-Eastern Railway, explaining that when Langwith Park Estate was laid out there was an undertaking that certain payments by yearly instalments should be made in respect of access to the company's road. These payments have not been completed, and failing to arrive at a settlement, the company, in exercise of their rights under the deed, erected the barrier. As it appeared, however, that the exercise of the right was causing great inconvenience to the occupiers of the houses, who were not to blame in this matter, the company have decided to remove the barrier and to write off the outstanding payments.

 

Fund Raising

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 Leeds Mercury August 3rd 1916

GARDEN PARTY FOR WOUNDED.

A most successful garden party was given for the benefit of wounded soldiers from the 2nd Northern General Hospital, Beckett's Park, by Mr. Schofield, Victoria Arcade, and his staff, at Collingham, yesterday. Sports, punting, and tennis were indulged in, and the tea, catered for by Mr. Field, of Leeds, was much enjoyed in the open.
The following Collingham ladies kindly assisted with the arrangements:- Mrs. Alf Cook, Mrs. Waddington, Mrs. Wright, Mrs. Davies, Mrs. Gale, Mrs. Barker, and Mrs. Whitehead.

 

Entertainments

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.

Picture of pageant
The Yorkshire Post August 6th 1918

HISTORIC PLAY AND PAGEANT AT COLLINGHAM.

Incidents in the life of St. Oswald were appropriately the subject of a play and pageant produced at Collingham, yesterday - St. Oswald's Day - for the Christian King of Northumberland is the patron saint of the village church, and the ancient cross in that building suggests a close association of Oswald with Collingham and the district. The play was specially written by Mrs. T. Dawes; the dress, which were largely authentic and altogether picturesque, were made by the village folk - the devoted work of many months - and all the characters, numbering about sixty, apart from bands of soldiers, maidens, and children, were taken by people resident in the district. First, there was a procession round the town. Quite an impressive spectacle was provided by the great array of seventh century characters - royalties, noble thanes and their ladies, British and Saxon soldiers, hooded monks (among them several of the local clergy), and white robed nuns. On completing the tour of the village, the procession entered the church, where a short service was held.
The dominant notes of the play, which took place in a field attached to the vicarage, was the establishment of Christianity in the northern kingdom, but there was blended with the efforts of spread the faith a certain military element which, at any rate, served the useful purpose of giving variety and vigourous action to the play. The first of the four scenes was the battle of Heavenfield, between Oswald and Cadwallon, waged on both sides with a vigour that afforded a striking contrast to the peaceful atmosphere of the garden of the Monastery of Iona, in which the entry of the singing monks was reminiscent of the March of the Pilgrims in "Tannhauser". This was followed by feasting and dancing "in a field at Collingham", and the final scene was laid just after the battle of Maserfield, in which Oswald was defeated by Penda, the heathen King of the Mercians.
It is possible to mention only a few of the numerous characters whose presentation made the play an unqualified success. Miss M. Dawes recited the prologue to each scene with good elocutionary effect; Mr. T.R. Dawes (the head master of the Castleford Grammar School, who has a house in Collingham), made an excellent Oswald, dignified in appearance, and speaking his lines with admirable enunciation; the Rector of Collingham (the Rev. H.B. Beckwith) delivered the utterances of Aidan with fitting solemnity; Mr. Hamer gave with vivid expressiveness the account of the preaching travels of the monks through Northumbria; Mr. Mitchell was one of the most striking figures in the group as the Abbott of Iona; Mrs. Tuer was a gracious Queen Cyneburga; and a spice of humour was imparted to the production by Mr. J.A. Dodgson. The singing throughout was good, and mention should be made of the solo sung by Miss Hilda Royston, while among the young dancers chief honours went to Miss Margot Dodgson.
The proceeds are to be donated to the Red Cross funds.

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.