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Hayden Foster WWI Hero
No 9 Westbrook Villas was the home of William Hayden Foster who was awarded the Military Cross for Gallantry in October 1917. Like so many patriotic young men in WWI Hayden Foster volunteered for the army, enlisting in the Royal Field Artillery on 4 September 1914, together with his motorbike. The bike became the property of the War Office for which he received £62.50. He was promoted to corporal on 13 October 1914 and transferred to the Royal Engineers. He and the bike arrived in France on 27 Oct 1914 and he became a dispatch rider in the British Expeditionary Force. During this time he met General Haig who said to him Take your bloody motor cycle away it s upsetting my horse . Also in 1914 he attended a parade where the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) drove the first car and the second carried King George V and President Poincare. He saw the Prince of Wales a couple more times in 1914. Hayden remained a dispatch rider till Nov 1915, often writing home to Westbrook Villas for suitable clothing and particularly blankets. Dispatch riders were told to eat the message if there was a chance of it being read by the Germans! Interestingly an Indian regiment was among those to which Hayden took dispatches.
In October 1915 his parents wrote that the Mayor of Darlington, Alderman Harbottle needed officers for an artillery unit that he was raising to carry the Town s name in France and they sent application forms. He applied, was commissioned in December 1915 as a second lieutenant and had 6 months training in gunnery, horsemanship, Morse code and leadership. The Darlington Battery, the 151st Heavy fought at the Somme throughout the autumn of 1916.
His Military Cross was awarded for gallantry in front line trenches on a hill near Arras, where as forward observation officer he was directing artillery fire. The citation reads "He rallied a party of infantry who were without leaders and held off an enemy counter attack. Although severely wounded he remained in charge of his observation party and directed their withdrawal under heavy fire to a fresh position". After surviving further action, wounding and 2 gas attacks Hayden was discharged on 3 April 1919 with the rank of lieutenant. The family lived on in no 9 until the father died in 1927. Incidentally the Bondgate Methodist Church has a communion table and chairs presented by Mr Foster of Westbrook Villas in 1895.
The full fascinating story is described in Distant Guns. A Young Darlington Man through the Great War 1914-1919 by Dr Bill Foster, which can be read at the Darlington Local Studies Library, Imperial War Museum in London or the Royal Artillery Historic Trust.
Picture:Hayden Foster in the uniform of a second lieutenant.
Edith King WWI War Worker
Mrs Edith King who lived at No 12 Westbrook Villas worked during WWI as a munitions worker at the Motor Delivery garage. The government for the war effort had requisitioned local garages for the production of arms and Edith worked at a huge lathe turning shell casings. The ladies worked shifts to maximise production but Edith was not happy with the way her shift partner took care of the tools. She was very dedicated to producing high quality casings and so to prevent the other girl damaging her tools kept her own set and took them home with her each evening. The casings were sent away to Aycliffe to be filled with explosives. Edith also drove vans and cars which she fetched from the suppliers to be sold to the garage's customers.
Picture: Edith King, Munitions Worker in the 1914-18 War
Stuart King WWI Royal Engineer
Joseph Stuart King, whose family lived at 12 Westbrook Villas, fought in World War I in the 316th Road Construction Company of the Royal Engineers in the British Expeditionary Force in France, ending his army career as a lieutenant. He was born in Wakefield on 30 March 1884 and was educated at the North Eastern County School in Barnard Castle from 1895 to 1901, gaining additional training in the Engineering Department of the School. When war was declared in 1914, Stuart, together with all of the engineers and surveyors in his office volunteered for military service and left. In France at the end of the war, as lieutenant he suddenly realized that he was the most senior officer remaining, so discharged himself and went home. His discharge papers were dated 13 January 1919.
Picture:Joseph Stuart King in military uniform.
This photograph, taken by Stuart King, shows his World War I Barrack Room. In the foreground you can see utensils for ablutions and just discernable at the back of the room is an old fashioned phonograph with horn.
Shinkfield Family's Distinguished War Record
Shinkfield family’s distinguished war record
An amazing six members of the same family, the Shinkfields, who were living in Westbrook Villas in 1914, served the country in World War I. The father, Robert J Shinkfield was a grocer who lived with his family of nine in No 21 Westbrook Villas. The family members and their war records are as follows:
Percy Robert Shinkfield (04.05.1888-08.10.1918) sub-lieutenant in
Picture:Percy Robert Shinkfield, killed in action on 8 Oct 1918 when leading his men at Cambrai.
WWI,enlisted on October 1916 in the MTASC and afterwards was commissioned to the Royal Naval Volunteer Division.He was killed in action on Oct 8 1918 when leading his men at 7am at Cambrai. He was for many years Junior School Secretary, IBRA. Secretary and member of the choir at the North Road Wesleyan Church School in Darlington.
Thomas Forsyth (9.11.1889-16.12.1969)
Bertram May (10.7.1891-1966) Enlisted 25 May 1915 in the Royal Engineers. Saw much service in France and was demobilised in Jan 1919 with the rank of private.
James Pyle (15.12.1892-1958) Enlisted August 1915 in the Royal Naval Air Force and spent some time at Dunkirk. He was demobilised on Mar 14 1919 with the rank of corporal.
Jeanette Marion (29.10.1894-6.1.1944)
Norman William (7.7.1896-13.11.1963) Enlisted Jan 4 1917 in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. He saw service in Egypt, Salonica, Bulgaria and Turkey and had the rank of Bugler.
May Forsyth (1.12.1886-3.1.1938) Commenced service in Sept 1915 at the 18th Durham VAD Hospital.
William Ewart Gladstone (aka Peter)(29.1.1898-1991). Private soldier in the Durham Light Infantry 1917.
Frank Muers (29.4.1902 died in Australia)
I am grateful to Steve Cuthbert and Alan Shinkfield, descendants of the Shinkfield family for sending me the photograph and information on their family.
A Group of WWI Young People
|A group of WWI heroes and friends in Westbrook Villas.2nd row left was mrs Georgina King. Next to her was Elsie Walton, no 13. Front row 3rd from left was Florence (flossie)Walton (no 13)|
VADs (Volutary Aid Detatchment) in WWI
| Mrs Jean King, wife of Stuart King with a group of other VADs.
A group of VADs. The one in the middle is Jean King (nee Deakin)wife of Stuart King. I don't know who the rest were.
In 1909, it was decided to form, with the help of the Red Cross and Order of St John a Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) to provide medical assistance in time of war. By the summer of 1914 there were more than 2500 centres in the UK. Of the 74,000 members two thirds were women and girls. At first the military authorities were unwilling to accept VADs serving in the front line but by 1915 the restriction was removed and women over 25 and with 3 months experience were allowed to go to the front: the western front, Mesopotamia and the eastern front. 38,000 VADs worked as assistant nurses, ambulance drivers and cooks. VAD hospitals opened in most of the large towns in Britain. They also operated in WW2.
The next morning, looking round we found that an incendiary bullet had hit the back wall of our house narrowly escaping the tiers of our guinea-pig hutches and the highly flammable sacks of hay next to them. After leaving a dent in the wall it had then ricocheted off to the door of our outside pantry in the yard, where miraculously it had become wedged in the 5/8 inch hole of the hasp on the door. The hasp was a 6 1/2inch loop of cast iron which could be used to secure the door with a padlock but of course, in pre-war and wartime days such precautions against crime were not necessary so the hasp always hung loosely on the door. When we inspected the damage we found that the hasp with its bullet passenger had swung backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards like a pendulum, making a scorched arc on the wooden door until it came gently to rest causing no real damage at all.
At least two other houses in the street were hit. No 22 was splattered by three shells, one of which went into the pantry knocking an enamel mug off a shelf. Then in the sixties a fourth shell was found just below roof level above the bathroom window. The other house to be hit was no 18 where a bullet penetrated the wall into the kitchen downstairs and ricocheted all around the room narrowly missing Mrs Holmes head as it whizzed past.
In another area of town a young air raid warden/dispatch rider was hit in the arm.
The German Raiders were shot down by a Mosquito Squadron which had been night fighting over the skies of Britain over the previous 4 years. Other news at the time was that the Italians were now fighting with the Allies, there was fighting on the outskirts of Hamburg, and Finland with notably great bravery and with even greater political acumen in view of the Soviet advance, had declared war on Germany. In this context this last death throe raid so late in the war seems incomprehensibly incompetent. I?m only glad that bombs did not follow the bullets, or perhaps they were meant to and failed.
Picture:De Havilland Mosquito. These were constructed from wood, British ash, and were actually faster than the Spitfire.
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