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Ripon Camp



   Ripon Camp in North Yorkshire was was a vast First World War training camp, accommodating 30,000 troops. It was situated to the south west of the city. A military hospital with 670 beds stood opposite the turning to Studley Roger and is today the site of a memorial. An estimated 350,000 men passed through Ripon Camp during the course of the Great war.

30th Jul 1915 Sheffield City Battalion leave Cannock Chase  The Sheffield City Battalion undertook a 16 mile route march cross country under the blazing sun with full packs, taking six hours to complete the course. 80men suffered exhaustion and failed to complete the route. On return to Penkridge Bank Camp, they had two hours to pack up and have their meal. They then marched four miles to Rugeley station and boarded trains for the 4th Army Training Centre at South Camp, Ripon.

31st Jul 1915 12th York & Lancs arrive at Ripon  The Sheffield City Battalion arrived at Ripon in the early hours and the men marched to South Camp on the Harrogate Road and spent the day unloading stores and settling into the camp. The training at Ripon was mainly in musketry, but before it could begin, the men had to construct a rifle range

27th Aug 1915 Mr Samuel Roberts MP visits Sheffield Battalion  Mr Samuel Roberts MP visits Sheffield City Battalion at Ripon camp.

10th Sep 1915 Sheffield City Battalion hold anniversary concert  On the anniversary of the formation on the Sheffield City Battalion, a concert was held. It was arranged by the Padre, Capt. J.F.Colquhoun with many of the officers and men performing.It ended with a short speech from the CO.

25th Sep 1915 Sheffield City Battalion depart Ripon  The 12th York and Lancs Battalion leave Ripon Camp late at night, they march through pouring rain to the station and entrain for an eleven hour journey to Salisbury.

29th Oct 1915 13th East Yorks leave Ripon  13th East Yorks leave Ripon on 29th of October 1915 for Hurdcott Camp.

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Those known to have trained at

Ripon Camp

during the Great War 1914-1918.

  • Bellenie Arthur Leolin. Pte.
  • Cooper Thomas. Pte.
  • Craven William Allen. Pte. (d.1st July 1916)
  • Evison George Cooper. Cpl.
  • James John. Pte. (d.17th July 1916)
  • McEwan Alexander Norman. Pte.
  • Thompson James Edward. Pte. (d.21st Apr 1916)
  • Wall John Benjamin. Pte.

All names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List


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Jun 2017

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1205940

Pte. James Edward Thompson 13th (1st Barnsley) Battalion Yorks and Lancaster Regiment (d.21st Apr 1916)

James Edward Thompson was a miner and enlisted in the Barnsley Pals on the 7th December 1914 and trained at Silkstone, moving to Penkridge Camp in May 1915, Ripon in July and on to Salisbury Plain in October 1915. On 28 December he embarked at Devonport for Egypt. He then embarked for BEF in France on 11 March 1916. On the 9th April 1916 he received gunshot wounds to both legs and a fractured tibia in his left arm. On the 13th April he was moved by the 17th Ambulance Train to the 1st General Hospital in Etretat arriving on the 14th. Sadly James died from his wounds at 7.20am on 21st April 1916. He is buried in the local churchyard in Etretat.

Clockwise James, Dorothy, Sarah and Margaret Thompson in 1914

Roy Warren




225176

Pte. John James 15th Btn. Notts and Derby Regiment (d.17th July 1916)

John James was born in Nottingham on 22nd December 1895. He was the eldest and only son of Alfred and Annie James. John had two younger sisters - Ada and my grandmother Annie.

When war broke out John was working as a foreman at a box making factory keen to join up but at 5'2" he was too short and turned away. He was determined to join and tried again but once again was unsuccessful. Sadly, John was presented with white feathers by the girls at his box making factory. This deeply upset John and on his third attempt he pleaded with the recruiting sergeant who finally relented stating that 'the army will pull the last inch out of you'.

So in September 1915 John went into infantry training at Ripon training camp. He had joined the 15th (Service) Btn. Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derbys).

The battalion arrived in France in February 1916. In July it saw action on the Somme. John's battalion was positioned on the night of 17/18th near to Trones wood opposite Guillemont village. During this night the trenches were shelled terribly and John disappeared into oblivion never to be recovered. It was told by a survivor who had seen John that night, that as he left John in his part of the trench the German guns opened fire and there was a terrific bombardment after which the trenches where John was no longer existed. John is now remembered along with over 300,000 other on the Thiepval Memorial.

As a child, my grandmother would often tell me the story of her brother and my great uncle and I will always remember him. My childhood hero. God bless you John.

Steven Charlesworth




223709

Cpl. George Cooper Evison 5th Btn. Lincolnshire Regiment

George Evison enlisted in the Scots Guards on 24th February 1899, just short of his 17th birthday. In the 1901 census he is stationed at Wellington Barracks, Westminster, London. I do not know much about his service in the Guards, but I do know that he served in South Africa during the Boer war as he qualified for the Queens South Africa medal which was confirmed in his later military records. George left the Guards on 23rd February 1906 and returned home. He remained on the reserve list for the Scots Guards for 5 years until February 1911. In March 1911, he signed up, for 5 years, to the Territorial Army, the 5th Battalion of the Lincolnshire regiment, which was based at Grimsby. He attended a fortnights training camp in 1911, 1912 and 1913.

On the 5th August 1914, at the onset of the First World War, the 4th (based at Lincoln) and the 5th Territorial Battalions of the Lincolnshire regiment were mobilised and started preparing for war. The 5th Battalion arrived in France on the 1st March 1915. George was promoted to Corporal on 22nd March 1915 (this was despite being arrested twice for Drunk and Disorderly in November and December 1914, for which he was reprimanded). According to The History of the Lincolnshire Regiment 1914-1918, by Major-General C.R.Simpson, the 4th and 5th Battalions spent some training on trench duties before going to the front line on 9th April.

George was injured in action and hospitalised sometime on or just prior to 2nd July 1915. His injury was described as a scalded foot and he was transported home on the 8th July. According to Major-General Simpson’s book. the battalion at that time was in a position close to Sanctuary Wood and the Germans were attacking with ‘liquid fire’. Whether or not this was the cause of his injury would be pure conjecture.

George returned to France on 20th December 1915, having recovered from his injuries. He remained with the regiment until 1st April 1916, when he returned home for discharge, as his 5-year enlistment was complete. You might think that was enough for a 34-year-old man but no, George decided to re-enlist, joining the Royal Artillery on 7th June 1916. Once again his military record is intact. He joined the 59th Division Training Battery at Ripon where he remained for the remainder of the war.

At the completion of the war, he requested to remain in the army, which was granted. His reward for such loyalty was involvement in the Afghanistan war of 1919. The Afghans, sensing British war weariness, had attacked British garrisons and a short war followed. So, in addition to his Great War medals he was awarded the General Service medal and clasp Afghanistan N.W.F.1919.

He was eventually discharged from the Royal Artillery with the rank of Bombardier on 31st March 1920. However, he did rejoin the Territorial Army for 5 years on 24th June 1920.

Mel Ogden




220998

Pte. William Allen Craven 18th (Bradford Pals) Btn. West Yorkshire Regiment (d.1st July 1916)

As a family having a history of living in Thackley for 150 years, and myself having an interest in genealogy and local history, along with military history, I would like to portray a personal and hopefully touching story about my Great Uncle, William Allen Craven, brother of my maternal grandmother. One can only speculate how life was for most families in the mid to late 1800’s, as was the case with the Cravens, they were heavily committed to working in the woolen industry of Bradford, and moving around from rented property to rented property as their family grew in size. In fact the head of the family, James Arthur Craven, would move several times, all in Thackley, to better conditions and slightly larger properties as needs must. In May 1894 my great uncle entered the world and would eventually be part of a family of 6 however, his youngest brother would die at the age of 11 months named after his father. By the time William was 17 he became a Wollen O Junner as recorded in the 1911 census by the registrar.

As war loomed the campaign to recruit young men from the towns of Northern England became very prominent. William joined the 18th Bradford Pals, number 18/1667 part of The Prince of Wales (West Yorkshire) Regiment. He would leave for the final time from 79 Park Road, Thackley, saying his farewells to his family and girlfriend Florrie thinking he would return in a short while. They were marched to Ripon in May 1915 from Bradford, then transferring to Fovant in Wiltshire to be issued with tropical kit before eventually sailing to Egypt for further training.

They would return aboard the S.S. Minneapolis, disembarking in Marseilles on March 6th 1916, where they marched from the docks to railway sidings, for a train journey by ramshackle wagons at a leisurely pace in extreme cold weather, to Pont Remy railhead near Abbeville on the 9th March 1916. The 18th Battalion and William would march to Citerne where he would remain for two weeks for further training. One can only imagine the contrast to the hot climate of Egypt to the freezing cold and snow as they arrived, having covered 12 miles a day sleeping rough at night in filthy barns.

On March 25th they marched off towards Beaumont Hamel area, where they got near the western front with all its loud detonations and glaring flashes in the dark. On arrival beginning of April at Bus-les- Artois they were assigned billets. It is said the rolling plains of Picardy reminded many of the ‘Pals’ of Yorkshire. Eventually the 18th occupied a sector on the Serre Road, which is where my story commences.

So my journey commenced Easter 2013, in the company Smart Car via the channel tunnel train to arrive for our 3 night stay at Amiens using this as our base. The following very cold day we travelled to Albert and visited the museum, not to be missed, and eventually made our way onto Serre Road after visiting Hebuterne where a plaque remembers the Bradford Pals. It was here that we saw two coaches parked outside the main cemetery along with teachers and school children. I walked up the track where in the distance are Mathew, Mark, Luke & John copses along with small immaculately kept walled lined graves, set out to remember the fallen, some named and some unknown. It was here somewhere my great uncle fell after 7.30am on the 1st July 1916 in the Battle of the Somme, that a strange yet poignant event happened to me.

I had visited Railway Hollow and the memorial to the Accrington Pals and was walking back with Linda, when we saw walking towards us, a party of adults and children. My ears pricked up to the sound of a teacher who asked “Are you Martin Lonsdale?” To say I was surprised that I would be asked this in the middle of a ploughed field right in the middle of No-Mans land after 97 years from the start of The Battle of the Somme, seemed incredulous. It was followed up by “Yes I am” to which another lady teacher said we saw the car and we are all from Woodhouse Grove School, and I live in Idle. We wished them well and were glad to have met them.

Now I know this would not have happened if it was not for the Smart Car with my company name and logo, but was it not a moment when some time in life events take a turn for a reason. Could it have been that William was walking the very same path those 97 years ago and had seen a pal and shouted out “Hello mate”, the mind can run away with you thinking about it. I would like to think it was a connection, however, I am Yorkshire bred and accept it was a fate of coincidences.

William was never found his body presumably blown up or he disappeared in the mud after being mowed down by German machine guns, we will never know. The final part of the journey took me to Thiepval Memorial designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens where his name is one of over 72,000 soldiers never to have had a known grave. Records showed that around half of the 150,000 British dead killed on the Somme in 1916 had no known grave. Should you ever go see this stunning Memorial, Pier and Face 2A, 2C and 2D his name is there, say hello to my Great Uncle and thank him and the rest of the fallen for their sacrifice.

I have re-produced one of the last letters he wrote on the 15th June 1916 to my grandmother who was 11 years old.

"Dear Sister, Just a few lines to let you know I am quite well and in the best of health trusting you are the same. I am very pleased indeed that you are writing to me, also keeping very friendly with Florrie while I am away. Mother wrote and told me that you had got a bicycle of your own now, so I guess you will see life a bit. Well I hope you are a good girl and helping mother all you can, because it is very hard for her now that Ernest and I are away from home. I trust that you will do all you can to comfort father and mother, until the struggle ends. I have got lots of stories to tell you when I see you again about the Germans. How is Ada getting along and has she got a bike also? I really ought to write her.

Give my best love to Percy tell him I will write later.

With best Love from your affectionate brother Allen xxxxx"

Later in life my grandmother was moved to Thackley Grange in 1987 suffering from dementia. The family all went to see her very shortly after my father had passed away who was called Allan Craven Lonsdale. Her eldest son my uncle, had not told her my father had passed away. As we were all around her bed, she said “Where is Allan” no one knew what to say for a second or two, but it was a request for her brother Allen her mind had regressed in time with her illness. A moment that will be with me for ever.

As a tribute on the 4th August this year, Robin Gamble of Idle Church arranged a day of remembrance. The Tenor bell commenced ringing from 8.00pm for each fallen soldier from our district. I heard it from my house and went along to the vigil at 9.00pm in tribute to the memory of a lost generation of young men, William Allen Cravens name was read out as one of the fallen.

Should you be passing 79 Park Road, have a think about my great uncle you might even live there. As for his other brother Ernest who also went to war, his story tells the tale of someone with a different outcome one of mystique and fear.

Martin Lonsdale




220575

Pte. Arthur Leolin Bellenie 13th Btn. East Yorkshire Regiment

My grandfather was named Arthur Leolin Bellenie. He enlisted at Hull on 18th November 1914 into 13th East Yorkshire Regiment. He went to Ripon and left there Oct 29th 1915.

His diary records: Left Hurdcott Camp 8am Dec 14th for Salisbury then left Salisbury at 1.15pm arriving at Devonport at 9.15pm. The troopship Simla set sail at 5.30 am March 1st from Port Said to sail to Marseilles. Passed the Med Fleet at 2am Mar 4th. Passed Malta at 11.30pm. Passed Island of Pantellaria at 2pm Mar 5th an Italian convict settlement.Mar 8th arrived Marseilles 7pm. The place is full of ships. Mar 9th disembarking from S.S. Simla at 2pm.'

I have not had any luck in finding his name in any ancestry records. I believe he was taken prisoner on 14th November 1916 as that is the last date in his diary. When he returned, at the end of the war, he was amongst the ex-prisoners met by Queen Mary and we have a photograph of him in the background with the Queen. It is a photograph in the Royal Collection

Vivienne Mabbott




220518

Pte. Alexander Norman McEwan 9th Btn. Seaforth Highlanders

Alexander McEwan served with the Seaforth Highlanders I've been trying to locate my father's service record for some time without success. However, I found his Medal Roll Index Card. He was 16 years old in 1915 when he enlisted. My older sister thought he was in the 9th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders. However, he played football in the war and his football medal is engraved "Ripon Garrison Association Cup Competition".

He also had a "On War Service Badge" dated 1915 which was usually given to a civilian, unless it wasn't his. I have checked the roll call of names of ALL Seaforth Highlander Battalions but his name is not there. The number on the "On War Service Badge" is 92635. His father was Scottish - hence his enlistment in a Scottish Regiment.

Patricia McDermott




211514

Pte. John Benjamin Wall 46th Remount Squadron Army Service Corps

John Wall enlisted 14th May 1915 aged 38 yrs 11 mths at Romsey, Hampshire, after operations for a hernia and varicose veins. After basic training heembarked the 'Caledonia' at Avonmouth, 19th January 1916 and disembarked Alexandria 7th February 1916. He embarked Alexandria 20th June 1919 for homeward journey and demobilisation and was demobbed at North Ripon, Yorkshire, 5th August 1919.

Howard Ralley




210236

Pte. Thomas Cooper 2nd Btn. B Coy. Yorks and Lancs Regiment

My grandfather, Thomas Cooper, was a butcher (part of a family of butchers) in High Spen, County Durham. He joined the army on 11th December 1915 leaving my grandmother, Jane Ann, to care for their six children including my father.

Grandfather is recorded as being mobilized to France in January 1917 and transferred to the 2nd Battalion Yorks and Lancs in May 1917 part of the Y and L North Command. His service record says he was wounded in September 1917 but the exact date is unclear from the record. There is then a gap until the regimental record says he was posted on 6th November (presumably to UK) after treatment in field hospital and admitted the same day to Bangour War Hospital, Edinburgh. His wound was the result of a gun shot to the left thigh. On discharge from Bangour he returned to the Yorks and Lancs depot. He was in Bangour for more than 2 and a half months. He was demobilized from North Camp, Ripon on 30th January, 1919 and awarded an army pension from 13th March 1919. His wound resulted in a 20% disability. He died in 1926, by then father to eight children.

Geoff Cooper




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