Tuesday 13 November 2018

Remembering the fallen at Skelton

There were many poignant moments on Sunday 11th November as we commemorated the Armistice which ended the First World War. In Howden there was a piper at 6am, in Asselby a coach and horses and the commemoration there included not only the war dead of Asselby and Barmby but those many farm horses who died in the mud.

I attended the beacon lighting at Skelton on the riverbank and found it very moving. A large group of villagers gathered on the road to hear Steven Goulden read a poem - Tribute to the Millions- which was being read at the same time in communities all over Britain.

Names of local men who had been killed were then read by Sgt Phillip Markland.

Above is the list of names of the men killed from Howdendyke, Kilpin and Skelton

This was followed by the last post played by Imogen Snowden on the trumpet. 

Imogen playing the Last Post. Picture by Chris Goulden of Golden Media Productions

As the evocative final notes died away we stood in silence in the dark  listening only to the lapping of the water in the river. No noises of the 21st century interrupted the quiet and there was space to remember these young men who had probably often walked the same road where we stood.

Then the beacon on the riverbank was lit by Jimmy Tipping.

Lighting the beacon. Picture by  Chris Goulden of Golden Media Productions

A member of the extended Tipping family, George Henry Tipping, appears on the list shown above.

George was the only son of Jackson Tipping and his wife Mary who lived at Skelton. He had been in the army for seven years when war broke out and had served with the 2nd Battalion East Yorkshires in India.

He returned to England in December 1914 and early in 1915 he embarked for France. He was then sent to Egypt and then Salonika. In 1918 he was sent back to England suffering from malaria and whilst convalescing was sent on guard duty to Immingham Docks.

But in June 1918 he volunteered again for active service and joined the 4th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment in France. He was admitted to hospital suffering from malaria again but when he was recovered joined the 11th Battalion East Yorkshires and was killed aged 33 on August 15th 1918 whilst on patrol.

He was mentioned in despatches for conspicuous gallantry in the field. His name appears on the  Ploegsteert memorial.

The beacon then burst into life - hopefully coinciding with others all over the country.

Villagers watching the beacon at Skelton 11th November 2018.  Picture by Chris Goulden of Golden Media Productions

After watching it for a few minutes everyone adjourned to the Scholfield Memorial Hall further along the riverbank for welcome hot drinks and specially prepared food including 'trench cake' - best with tea we found!!

'We'll meet again'  in the Scholfield Memorial Hall.   Picture by Chris Goulden of Golden Media Productions

The evening concluded with community singing of war time favourites. I feel those villagers of Kilpin,  Howdendyke and Skelton in 1918 might have approved of the event. And well done to Kilpin Parish Council.

Saturday 10 November 2018

Henry Watson of Nafferton

I am writing this on 10th November, a day before the 100th anniversary of the Armistice which ended the First World War.

There are many commemorations planned and I have been looking at local men from Eastrington, Howden, Gilberdyke, Newport and Barmby on the Marsh who were killed.

But in this blog post I am going to write about my grandfather Henry Watson. He was my father's father. I never knew him as he died quite suddenly when I was a baby. My father, who was born in Driffield and brought up in Nafferton, spoke of his father a lot and with great affection.

Henry was born  on 1st May 1887 at Flixton, near Scarborough. His father, Henry Sylvester Watson was a blacksmith who worked on farm machinery and who eventually worked as engineer at Nafferton Waterworks.

Young Henry grew up and served his apprenticeship as a grocer. While working for Hall brothers in Nafferton he met their niece Amy Hall  of Driffield who was to become his wife.

He joined the 5th East Yorkshire cyclist regiment as a territorial  on 7th Jan 1915 at Driffield. He was then aged 28 years 8 months and was 5ft 4 inches tall. He was sent for training at Roos.

On 4th December 1915 he married Amy Hall at All Saints Church Driffield. He was posted to France and in 1917 t was transferred to the  4th Reserve Yorkshire and Lancashire regiment. He was part of a trench mortar group  and fought with them at Loos and Arras.

Henry and Amy's son, my father, Douglas Lloyd Watson was born on 22nd November 1917 at 13 Church Street, Driffield, the home of Amy's parents.

On April 10th 1918 Private Henry Watson was hit by a bullet near his right eye and by a piece of shrapnel in his lower back. He also breathed in mustard gas.

Private Henry Watson, my grandfather

He was taken to the 83rd general field hospital at Boulogne and then later to the King George Hospital in London.

He recovered from his injuries although his eyesight was affected and he lost his sense of smell. He was given a small pension and  after the war had a grocer's shop in Nafferton.

Henry Watson outside his shop in Nafferton

In a strange twist he joined the ARP in 1939 and whilst undergoing training was given a canister of mustard gas to smell.  He was certain he would not be able to smell it as he had had no sense of smell since 1918. But to his surprise  as he inhaled it his sense of smell returned. This story made all the newspapers and I even found a version of it in an Australian paper.

Also in 1939 my father was called up to serve in another war. He survived  Dunkirk [ I don't know the details as he would never talk about his war experiences] and three years in North Africa.

After the war he settled in Eastrington, my mother's home and taught countless generations at Howden schools.

My father Douglas Watson who survived the beaches of Dunkirk and three years in North Africa before returning home and teaching  at Howden Council and later Howden Secondary schools.

So when I stand on the river bank at Skelton tomorrow night I too will remember all those who served in both wars and,  as well as those who did not return,  I will remember  those, including my own family members who returned but who were thrust from ordinary Yorkshire lives into the horrors of war.