title="Keighley Town Council in Keighley">

Remembrance

1914 – 1918

On the eleventh day of the eleventh month at the eleventh hour the guns fell silent.

 

 

 

Lest we forget

The sun that shone on the 12th November 1918 was not to be seen by all, many died from injuries sustained in battle days and weeks before, we as a nation on Sunday the eleventh of the eleventh at eleven o’clock 2018 will remember them all for the sacrifice they made so we can live a life free from oppression. This year however is different for one reason it is 100 years since the Great War, declared at the time to be the war to end all wars.

Impressions of the First World War are often tinged in shades of brown, not only from the sepia tint of the archives of photographs and flickering films but also from the images of seemingly inescapable mud. 

As the war ground to a halt in November 1918, another cool and wet autumn had once again affected military operations on both sides of the western front. Immediately before Armistice Day, rain had swept across the UK and northern Europe, and an officer writing on the morning of the cessation of hostilities noted wearily that there was ‘chilled drizzle – as usual’. 

Trench with DogIt was in the best interests of the Allies that the weather stayed fair so that they had the best possible conditions in which to try to push eastwards before military operations were once again slowed by poor weather, which might have meant the war dragging on through another winter of stalemate. 

In early September it was indeed favourable, with high pressure often dominating to leave what one observer at the time described as ‘unprecedented dryness’ – although possibly only unprecedented compared with the years 1915 to 1917. 

 

 

However, not long after the first week of September 1918 the weather turned stormier and wetter, slowing the Allied advance but not stopping it because there were still some fine spells in between, particularly during the second and third weeks, and around the turn of the month into October. 

Moreover, the scent of looming victory no doubt made it a little easier for the troops to push on through conditions such as those on 30 September, when according to a cable there were ‘wintry winds and rains, sweeping in from the North Sea’. 

October and November brought more rain, strong winds and even sleet and snow, and a correspondent mentioned on 15 October that ‘the battle may be said to be almost as much as against the weather and the mud…’ 

There was fog at times, too, although this served less as a hindrance than a help on occasions when units of tanks could burst out of the gloom onto enemy lines unobserved. 

Heavy rain continued periodically to sweep across the theatre of war into the first  week of November, interspersed with thick fogs that were by now more of a nuisance, when airborne observers lost sight of retreating troops. Despite these setbacks, the Allied advance was sufficient to ensure the signing of the armistice in that railway carriage in the chilly, drizzly Compiègne Forest on 11 November 1918. And as high pressure settled over the Continent in the following days the sun came out.

By: Stephen Davenport


 

Not only will we remember the fallen and injured but the women who were left to care for the children of soldiers who were overseas in many parts of the world fighting for freedom.

The women of Keighley took on many rolls and one of the most dangerous was working in one of the munitions factories down Dalton Lane and Alice St, It is said that regardless of the dangers the girls were upbeat and keen to provide the shells needed to bring the war to an end.

 

 

One of these firms was Longbottom and Farrar.

Normally this firm made items for the plumbing trade, like valves, taps, stop-cocks and couplings, but during the Great War worked on behalf of the Keighley branch of the National Shell Factory, producing brass nose cones for shells.

Shortage of manpower brought women out into previously all-male jobs. When the National Shell Factory was set up in Dalton Lane in 1915, 500 women applied for work even before it opened, and women would provide the bulk of its workforce for the duration.

When King George V and Queen Mary visited Keighley in 1918, they were given "a loyal welcome" by cheering munition girls, the Queen especially admiring their "smart, khaki coloured uniforms".

These women and girls from Longbottom and Farrar's have gone to Bruce Johnson's fashionable studio for their photograph, and only two of them are wearing the caps that formed an essential part of the munitions uniform. The young woman seated on the far right is wearing a West Riding Regiment badge as a brooch, indicating that she has a sweetheart or relative serving there.

The photograph has been supplied by Mr Robin Longbottom, of Providence Lane, Oakworth, whose grandfather Herbert Longbottom was a partner in the firm. 

As reported in the Keighley News Feb 2016

 


A number of significant battles took many lives that even now sounds unbelievable and sometimes barbaric, but a bullet or a battery shell has no friends or enemies, just reading the figures sends a shiver down the spine. What those brave men did for our freedom should always be remembered.

The Somme (March – July 1918) was the bloodiest battle of the war in total. Britain lost 460,000 men, the French 200,000 and Germans nearly 500,000 Britain lost around 60,000 men on the first day alone.

Later came the hundred days offensive (August - November 1918) this was a rapid series of Allied victories beginning at the battle of Amiens the German forces were forced from France and back past the Hindenburg line, many a German seeing the end approaching surrendered leading to armistice and the cessation of hostilities on the battle fields of Europe in November 1918.

ThWar Cemeterrye surrender was signed at 5am on the 11th of November but wasn’t due to take effect until 11am, during the following 6 hours a further 11,000 men were either killed or injured. George Edwin Ellison was the last British soldier to be killed in action during the First World War. He died at 09:30 am (90 minutes before the armistice came into effect) while on a patrol on the outskirts of Mons, Belgium. Ellison is buried in the St Symphorien Military Cemetery, just southeast of Mons. Coincidentally, and in large part due to Mons being lost in the very opening stages of the war and regained at the very end (from the British perspective), his grave faces that of John Parr, the first British soldier killed during the Great War.

 

Rev. Richard Jackson said:

"It is fitting that we continue to set aside a day to give thanks to the God who has brought us through two world wars and other regional conflicts. It is fitting, too, that we honour those who served and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. May we never take for granted neither the freedom we enjoy nor those who fought to defend that freedom."