Sidney Harold Drakeford
On the 20th March 1945, 13:25, HMS Lapwing was fired upon by U-968. The torpedo hit amidships with the Lapwing taking only twenty minutes to sink.
Aboard the ship was Coder D/JX 211363, Sidney Harold Drakeford, Son of Ernest Dixon Drakeford and Pricilla Drakeford and Husband of Edith Drakeford. Sadly, Sidney was killed during the attack on the Lapwing. Sidney is remembered on the Plymouth Naval Memorial, panel 94 column 2.
Swinton & Kilnhurst Fallen: 1st July 1916, Battle of the Somme
Extra Information in italics provided by John Humphrey from the Roll Of Honour Website.
Private William Battye. York & Lancs.
Private 16951 of the 8th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment. Killed in action on the 1st July of 1916 (first day of the battle of the Somme). Born Swinton, enlisted Mexborough. Probably son of Harry and Mary E Battye of Swinton, Rotherham, Yorkshire. Remembered on the Thiepval Memorial Pier and Face 14A and 14B.
Private James William Batty. York & Lancs.
Private 15321 of the 9th (Service) Battalion the York and Lancaster Regiment. Killed in action on the 1st of July 1916 (1st day of the Battle of the Somme). Born Cudworth, Barnsley, enlisted Mexborough, resident Swinton. Remembered on the Thiepval memorial, Somme region of France, pier and face 14A and 14 B.
Private Wilfred Bradshaw. York & Lancs
Private 15142 or 15141 of the 8th Battalion the York and Lancaster Regiment. Son of Sarah A Hewitt (formerly Bradshaw), of 3 Walker Street, Swinton Rotherham, South Yorkshire, and the Late George Bradshaw. Born and resident Swinton, enlisted Mexborough. Killed in action on the 1st July of 1916 aged 21. Remembered on the Thiepval Memorial Pier and Face 14A and 14 B
Private Arthur Bramhall. York & Lancs
[Spelt BRAMHALL on CWGC and SDGW] Private 14068 of the 8th (Service) Battalion the York and Lancaster Regiment. Born Swinton, enlist Mexborough. Killed in action 1st of July 1916, (1st day of the Battle of the Somme). Remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, in the Somme region of France, pier and face 14A and 14B.
Private George William Bywater. York & Lancs.
Private 16859 of the 9th Battalion the York and Lancaster Regiment.Born Swinton, enlisted Mexborough. Killed in action on the 1st of July 1916, (the first day of the battle of the Somme). Remembered on the Thiepval Memorial Pier and Face 14A and 14 B.
Private Joseph Frederick Currier. York & Lancs.
Private 12/1154 of the 12th Battalion the York and Lancaster Regiment. Killed in action on the 1st of July 1916 (the first day of the battle of the Somme). Born Swinton, enlisted Sheffield. Remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, in the Somme region of France, pier and Face 14A and 14B.
L/Corporal Fred Depledge. York & Lancs.
Lance Corporal 17206 of the 8th (Service) Battalion the York and Lancaster Regiment. Son of Richard and Annie Depledge of Swinton, Rotherham South Yorkshire. Killed in action aged 25 on the 1st of July 1916, (The first day of the Battle of the Somme). Remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, in the Somme region of France, Pier and Face 14A and 14 B.
Corporal Wilfred Dickinson. York & Lancs.
Corporal 14073 of ‘D’ Company of the 8th (Service Battalion) the York and Lancaster Regiment. Born Swinton resided Swinton enlisted Mexborough. Son of Thomas and Mary Dickinson. Died 1st of July 1916 (First day of the Battle of the Somme). Remembered on the Thiepval memorial, in the Somme Region of France. pier and face 14A and 14B
Private Arthur William Furniss. York & Lancs.
Private 24331 of the 8th battalion the York and Lancaster Regiment. Died on the 1st of July 1916, (The first day of the battle of the Somme). Remembered on the Thiepval memorial, pier and face 14A and 14B.
Private 24331 of the 8th battalion the York and Lancaster Regiment.
Private William Jackson. York & Lancs.
Private 15144, 8th (Service) Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment. Killed in action on 1st of July 1916. Born Kinhurst, enlistd Mexborough, resident Swinton. No known grave. Commemorated on Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France. Pier and Face 14 A and 14 B.
Act/Sergeant Frank Oliver. York & Lancs.
Acting Sergeant 13948, 8th (service) Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment. Killed in action on 1st July 1916. Born Swinton, enlisted Rotherham. Husband of Mrs. D. M. Trudell (formerly Oliver), of 23, Richmond St., Chatham, Ontario. Awarded the Military Medal (M.M.). Buried in Lonsdale Cemetery, Authuile, Somme, France. Plot II. Row B. Grave 10.
L/Corporal George Shaw. Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.
Lance Corporal 8647, 9th Battalion, King’s Own (Yorkshire Light Infantry). Killed in action on 1st July 1916. Born Swinton, enlisted Wath-on-Dearne. Buried in Gordon Dump Cemetery, Ovillers-La Boiselle, Somme, France. Plot VIII. Row E. Grave 2.
Private George Shenton. York & Lancs.
Private 18829 of the 9th Battalion the York and Lancaster Regiment. Died on the 1st of July 1916. Remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, pier and face 14A and 14B.
Private Tom Slater. York & Lancs.
Private 17425 of the 8th battalion the York and Lancaster Regiment. Brother of Robert Slater of 8 Albert Street, Swinton, Rotherham, South Yorkshire. Died on the 1st of July 1916, (The first day of the Battle of the Somme) aged 27. Remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, pier and face 14A and 14B.
Private Richard Winfield. York & Lancs.
Private 14120 of the 8th (Service) Battalion the York and Lancaster Regiment. Killed in action on the 1st of July 1916. Born Wath, Rotherham, enlisted Mexborough, residenty Swinton. Son of Joseph and Alice Winfield, of Swinton. Remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, Panel 14A and 14 B.
L/Corporal Sam Wright. York & Lancs.
Private John William Gilliver. York & Lancs.
William Hackett VC – Tunnel Account
Thomas Norman Jackson VC
Lance Corporal 20810 of the 1st Battalion the Coldstream Guards. Son of Thomas Edwin and Emma Jackson of 3 Market Street, Swinton, Rotherham, South Yorkshire. Born 11th February 1897 at Swinton. Died aged 21 on the 27th of September 1918. Buried at the Sanders Keep Military Cemetery, Graincourt-Les-Havringcourt, grave II. D. 4. In 1916 he was a cleaner at the G.C.R. loco depot at Mexborough when he enlisted in the Coldstream Guards. He was awarded the VC for most conspicuous bravery in the attack across the Canal-du-Nord near Graincourt where he was killed.
20810 Lance Corporal Thomas Norman JACKSON, 1st Bn Coldstream Guards
For most conspicuous bravery and self sacrifice in the attack across the Canal du Nord, near Graincourt.
On the morning of 27 September 1918, Lance-Corporal Jackson was the first to volunteer to follow Captain C.H. Frisby across the Canal du Nord in his rush against an enemy machine-gun post. With two comrades he followed his officer across the canal, rushed the post, capturing two machine-guns, and so enabled the companies to advance. Later in the morning, Lance Corporal Jackson was the first to jump into a German trench which his platoon had to clear, and after doing further excellent work was unfortunately killed.
Throughout the day this NCO showed the greatest valour and devotion to duty, and set an inspiring example to all.
— London Gazette, 27 November 1918
Swinton Memorial Cross
The Cross is made of limestone, and as much as the memorial cross is in the shade for most of the year, the limestone, to a degree, is porous and because it is in the shade it takes time to dry out after rain or damp conditions. Any small cracks appearing will absorb water and be held, then in frosty ice conditions it will swell and break the limestone.
Renovation to the Cross Base
not known exactly when the renovation took place, here are a few photos showing the repairs carried out.
In 1070 William I introduced a military system called Knight’s Service. He negotiated with his tenants-in-chief for a number of knights to be equipped and available for duty. In peacetime the amount of service was usually 40 days a year. In 1181 Henry II issued an Assize of Arms which set down the weapons and equipment required of each knight, freeman and burgess. The Sheriff was responsible for raising the levy and the Justices were sent round to the shires to enforce the Assize. Juries from towns and hundreds were to make the assessments of military obligation. By the thirteenth century, the un-free were also liable for military service.
By the reign of Henry I, knights were able to excuse themselves from military service and pay instead shield money, or scutage. It was fixed at twenty shillings per knight. The money was collected by the local tenant-in-chief from his tenants. The king used the money to hire mercenaries, sometimes these were foreign soldiers. Scutage was last levied in 1327. In Tudor times the Lord Lieutenant was the nominal head of the county militia, delegating his responsibilities to Deputy Lieutenants. Locally the parish constable was responsible for raising the levy. The county force was called the ‘posse comitatus’. Able bodied men between sixteen and sixty were liable to serve in it.
A number of enactments reorganised the militia in Tudor times. The first set out the provision of equipment. The community was divided into ten classes, ranging from those who were required to keep a coat of armour, a helmet and a longbow, to those who had to provide sixteen horses, eighty suits of light armour, forty pikes, thirty longbows and other items of equipment. Trained bands of soldiers were established but these were not sent on service abroad. Formal inspections, or general musters as they were called, of the county forces were held at least every three years, and more frequently in times of disturbance. These musters were held over two days, with an interval on each day. Any defects found on the first day could be remedied by the second.
By 1779 the Swinton Regular Militia was well organised. One of the tasks of the parish constable was to keep a list of men eligible for service in the militia. He had to present the list to the chief constable every quarter and to pay any levy collected. These militia lists provide fascinating information about the make-up of the local community long before the national census was introduced. A special tax could be levied on landowners in lieu of service. Every able bodied man in theory had the privilege of fighting for King and Country. In reality only a few actually did so. The ones who served were the ones who were unlucky in the ‘draw’. Their only escape from three years’ service was to pay a substitute to replace them which was all very well for those who could afford it.
It is recorded that on November 4 1799 the overseers of Kimberworth received for Francis Brown from the overseers of Swinton £2-0-6. This represented twenty-seven weeks’ pay for a substitute in the militia. The families of those men on service had to be supported while the bread winner was with the colours.
The responsibility of making payments rested with the Overseers of the Poor. In Swinton money paid to the wives and families of men serving in the army reserve included Martin Elliott 28 weeks at 2/- £2-10-0. Also the family of John Speight received £5-12-0. For many of the substitutes perhaps it was a way of earning a regular living. Some of the substitutes however served abroad with all the attendant risks this carried. An undated bills shows 32nd Regiment serving at ‘Corfew’ in the East Indies’ and payments to Swinton women Jane Elliott, 2s-7 ½ d, Mary Shipley 2s-7 ½ d and Mary White 4s-1 ½ d.
There seems to be no such place as Corfew; this is believed to be Corfu in Greece as it was a time when England was seeking dominance in the Mediterranean. Let us hope that the men returned safely home following their service in much warmer climes. The Overseer had to have a receipt from each wife when she received her money to maintain accurate records of public expenditure.
The first mention of a Local Volunteer Corps was in 1794, a year after the execution of Louis XVI in France. The ruling establishment in Britain looked at events over the Channel in Revolutionary France with increasing alarm. An invasion of the United Kingdom was considered a very threat and the Yorkshire coast was a possible landing area for the fanatical French revolutionaries.
A meeting of the Wapentake of Strafford and Tickhill was held at the Town Hall in Doncaster on Saturday May 31st of that year. A subscription was entered into, headed by the Corporation of Doncaster with 500 guineas, and at the same time gentlemen enrolled themselves for service. Rotherham pledged itself to give £499, Barnsley £885-3-3 and Doncaster £1295-5-0. Towns from as far north as Knaresbrough were represented at this initial meeting.
On November 7th, the West Riding Yeoman Cavalry assembled at Doncaster to receive their standards. The whole regiment dined with the Mayor and Corporation at the Mansion House, amounting to upward of four hundred gentlemen. Moral boosting celebrations such as this were given throughout the county and “plenty of liquor was given to the populace”. Everyone who was anyone wanted to show their patriotism and support for the newly raised defence forces. There was also a strong social element attached to the most fashionable units such as the yeomanry. They would at least be well wined and dined to meet the French.
Similarly in France the whole county was aflame with patriotism. In 1797 the Directory had named Citizen General Bonaparte commander in chief of the ‘Army of England’ and troops were assembled on the western coast of France to be supplemented by reinforcements from the Army of Italy. Far into the spring of 1798 the French appeared to be concentrating all attention on England. The government maintained their belief that the invasion would take place on the Yorkshire coast and therefore took every precaution against a surprise attack. No less than 50,000 cavalry were billeted in the county in February 1797 a huge logistical requirement.
In 1803 each parishioner in Swinton received a ‘Schedule A’ form and most of these were filled in. The form required the names of every male resident in every household between the ages of 17 and 55. The forms had to be returned to Mr John Wilkinson, who was Constable of Swinton.
The following wording was submitted by the prominent Brameld family who were owners of the local pottery works. “I send you the list of every man resident in my dwelling house between the ages of 17 and 55.
Wm. Brameld 31, single. Willing to enrol in a volunteer corps of infantry to exercise in Wath Wood.
Thos. Brameld inmate 19 single. Enrolled in the Wath Wood Troop, Southern Regiment of Yorkshire West Riding Yeomanry Cavalry.
Francis Garfit 23 single. Willing to enrol in a Volunteer Corp of infantry to exercise in Wath Wood.
Dated 11th day of August 1803
The local militia were given the unofficial name Wath Wood Volunteers as the woods were used for training. Military preparations did not stop with the raising of the fighting units. The following month a list was made of “all the proprietors and owners of boats, horses and wagons, with the drivers for the use of government if an invasion should take place”. It would seem that Swinton was prepared to offer the government 66 horses, 19 waggons, 1 cart, 2 boats and 26 men armed with pick axes and shovels, as well as the Volunteers. The nation was prepared for total war.
That the threat of invasion was very real to the people of Swinton can be seen in a document headed “Number of Old People not capable of removing themselves upon imminent danger/and children under 7 years old”. The first page clearly shows a list of 72 children under the age of seven, together with the names of their parents.
By 1803, when Swinton was rallying its military forces, the French invasion was again uppermost. A vast French army was assembled at Boulogne. This was the army which was later to triumph at Jena and Austerlitz. It consisted of 150,000 men and 2000 guns with necessary transport. Sign posts in Paris to Boulogne were labelled “Chemin de Londres”. Napoleon had sufficient naval back-up to embark in less than a single tide, and his army was fully trained for naval encounter. The defence of the country was of the uppermost importance. Earl Fitzwilliam, the Lord Lieutenant and his Deputy Lieutenants, on November 10th 1803, met at the “Hotel” in Leeds to fix places of assembly for both the trained forces and volunteer corps in case of invasion. There were no fewer than 410,000 volunteers and yeomanry under arms at the time when Napoleon’s flotilla lay at Boulogne. Beacons were built on all elevated points of land from which detachments of men watched night and day. The beacons in Strafforth and Tickhill were at Upper-Carr Wood Mill near Laughton and Greno Hill near Sheffield also Lower Bilham Summerhouse, Thorne Church and Mount Pleasant between Doncaster and Bawtry.
The beacons were lighted at nine o’clock in the evening of Monday December 19th 1803 to see whether or not the beacons could be seen from one another. On the 15th August 1805, Wath Wood Volunteers, i.e. the Swinton Volunteer Corps, received its call to arms. The beacons were fired. The company marched out as far as Doncaster. It was reported that the youngest Brameld refused to turn out when his country needed him and he was afterwards court martialled for his cowardice by his brothers. William Brameld was captain of the company and Thomas Brameld was lieutenant; it must have been a real embarrassment to have been let down by their younger sibling.
The alarm spread rapidly across the country and reached Scotland where Sir Walter Scott himself supposedly placed himself at the head of the Selkirk Volunteers. Fortunately it all turned out to be a false alarm. The fire turned out to have been accidentally caused by a field of rape straw setting fire after threshing. This was genuinely mistaken by the keeper of the Beacon at Woolley as the field fire was in the direction of the beacon at Pontefract. The result was that almost three thousand volunteers and a hundred waggons were turned out in the South Yorkshire area. Wath Wood Infantry turned out a creditable 278 men. Later, on the 24th August, the vice-lieutenant of the county, Frank Bacon, received a letter from the Secretary of State expressing his “highest approval of the volunteers” and they were given a marching allowance of two guineas which was granted by the government.
An interesting description of the patriotism of the men in Rotherham is given by the local historian Guest. He describes another body of men other than the Volunteer Corps, composed of tradesmen “Who shouldered the old Brown Bess, and wore a semi-civic uniform of double breasted blue coat, buff waistcoat and blue pantaloons” called “The Tea Kettle Guard”. There was “even another composed of members of older standing and greater weight. Neither age could chill, nor obesity de-bar their martial ardour”. They had a contingent of cavalry, “gentlemen possessed of a horse or ambling nag” and who, upon the order of ‘mount’ or ‘dismount’ required the aid of the nearest barred gate. And to complete the picture, here is a snatch of the Rotherham Volunteers’ song:
“Come my lads at six o’clock!
Strap your knapsacks on your back;
Colonel Walker must obey,
Over the hills and far away!”
The World Wars
As with most communities, Swinton suffered grievous losses of young men in World War I. 207 names are recorded in our fine war memorial, including that of Tommy Jackson, V.C. Tommy was the first British soldier to cross the mighty Hindenburg line in 1918. On home front, Zeppelins dropped a number of bombs in the Swinton area which, fortunately, only broke some windows. During World War II, the casualty list was, thankfully, much lighter but still spelt tragedy for the families involved. Swintons first resident to be killed in action was Sidney Bell, who died at sea off the coast of Norway. The last death was William Phillips, who died in 1946 in Montagu Hospital. We must not forget the vital contribution of those of our residents who kept vital industries and services working.
First World War 1914-1918.
Swinton Soldier John Franks (by Allan Brown)
With the approaching centenary of the start of World War I, these Notes have been put together in honour and memory of John Franks, my uncle, who died serving his
country in 1918. John was my mother’s younger brother, and I write therefore with both sorrow and pride as his nephew .
Mother, Florence Brown (nee Franks), often spoke of John and with great affection. Amongst the effects left to me by mother^ when she died in 1974^ aged 80^ were
letters she had received from John whilst he was serving in the Army on the Western Front in France. These are a poignant reminder of life at the front – and how much
thoughts were with families back at home.
The first of John’s letters is dated 26.7.15 which must have been on his initial posting, after he volunteered for the Army. The last letter/card is dated 19.3.18, just two days
before he was killed . Uncle John was a committed Christian A Wesleyan. The letter of 26.7.15 he wrote from/ex the YMCA in Glasgow: another letter, in France, is headed from a Church Army Recreation Hut dated 4.8.1917. There would no doubt have been other correspondence from John to my mother during 1915-18, but these two letters, and the few others herein, are all I have, or have knowledge of I do not have a photograph of John in Army uniform
Following after the Letters from Uncle John in these Notes, a number of extracts are given from several sources, describing the 1918 “German Spring Offensive” on the
Somme battlefield in Northern France. The initial attack on 21^’ March, started with the biggest artillery barrage of the entire war. Uncle John was one of nearly 20,000 British soldiers who died that day, and like him, most have no known grave. In the family, nothing could compensate for the loss of John. But they could be proud that John’s brother Henry also served, winning the Military Cross, and that Florence’s husband John Schofield Brown (my father, who was brought up in Mexborough), likewise fought and was awarded the Military Medal. As with Uncle John, both were in the thick of it, but they were fortunate survivors”
Archive photographs of the French battlefields and trenches are added, to illustrate something of the carnage in which our brave and gallant soldiers fought and died on the Western Front.
I end the Notes with Laurence Binyon’s heart-rending poem “For the Fallen”, in
which the poet reminds us that
“They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old“,
and, yes, “We will remember them”
(Author- Allan Brown, Bucklebury, Berkshire.)
In Memory of
6th Div. Signal Coy., Royal Engineers
who died on Thursday, 21st March 1918. Age 23.
Son of James and Maria Franks, of 3, Albert St., Swinton, Rotherham, Yorks.
James Williams was the first resident of Swinton to suffer a casualty during WW1.
Having formally fought in the Boar War (joining at the age of 14) he fought in WW1 as a Coldstream Guard and was killed in October 1914 aged 33.
George White of Bridge Street.
Article by Ron James regarding a W.W.1 song.
As we are approaching the centenary of the start of WW1, I thought I would tell you of a song my Grandmother Lucy James used to sing to me. As my father was steward, and my mother stewardess of the Victoria Club next to the library at Swinton, my Grandmother would look after me on a night in the big kitchen at 52, Crossland Street. She used to sit beside the extra large Yorkshire range fire in her rocking chair with me sat on her knee, and as we rocked, she would be singing. One particular song I remember, and I remember it so well, was a song called “My daddies come home” about a soldier father coming home on leave in the first World War from France or Belgium. It could be related to a boy or girl, and these are the words, not a lot, but plenty of meaning, and it would be repeated, so making it longer.
A number of years ago I recorded on my piano keyboard the music that went with the words onto a DVD, and took the disc to Ray Hearne on Flintway , Swinton. As we sat and listened to the disc on the TV, I sang those very words to the music. I said at the time, was it a song made public during the first World War, or a song that my Grandmother had made up of her own. Ray said that it was the first time he had heard that song, but would keep the words of the song and see if anything turns up. Some time later, I met up with him at the Lock Centre at Swinton, and he said that he had not come across anything to relate the song. Looking at the word of German’s, seems that it would not be a published song in the sense that it could cause some political etiquette, not so during the war, but after. More than likely, you can bet with all the songs that Lucy sang, this was one of her own making. By the way, as we rocked away, the only light would come from the fire, for who needs the light on when she is singing me to sleep. I am sending you a photo of Grandmother Lucy James nee Jagger when a young lady .
WORLD WAR 2
GORDON SMITH – Prisoner of War
The 70th. Anniversary of VJ Day Commemorations at London saw Gordon Smith now aged 95, down there. Gordon from Swinton was a prisoner of war under the Japanese, and he actually witnessed the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
Swinton Heritage back in 2002 compiled a video entitled “THEY ANSWERED THE CALL” where 5 local men who had served in WW2 were interviewed. Of the 5, I was the cameraman for 3 who took part, and one of those being that of Gordon Smith, who at the time was 82 years of age.
The particular section showing Gordon on the DVD is edited with vivid graphics shown alongside his portrayal of the event, in the actual interview which took place on the 25th. of July 2002.
There are I imagine, not many ex-prisoner of WW2 under the Japanese that are still alive, and to hear the words spoken of what Gordon Smith and his fellow prisoners went through, is a testament in itself.
To see and hear Gordon Smith relate to these facts, just tap in on YouTube, GORDON SMITH, P.O.W.