There is no doubt that the first world war 1914 -
1918 had a great impact on the human race, possibly more than any other
event in the history of mankind. No one could have envisaged the amount of
pain, suffering and loss of life this war was going to inflict upon the
population of so many countries.
1914 was the year in which what was known as "The Great War" began, and
Thrybergh, Dalton, and Ravenfield like everywhere throughout the British
Isles was to know much sorrow both during and after this conflict. The
numbers of war dead were staggering, two of the local mines owned by the
Dalton Main Collieries Ltd lost 312 Miners alone.
[ Photo left Edmund Willert ]
The propaganda on both sides at the time ensured that the public at large
would not know the horrendous scale of the horror endured by servicemen,
and the colossal amount of lives lost. Young boys and men enlisted answering
the call " YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU" often with very little realization that
hell on earth was waiting to greet them on the battlefield.
A very thought provoking example of this is that of a young 16 year old
English boy who enlisted by lying about his age, obviously totally convinced
by the propaganda of great glory. Just a few months later he was found
staggering away from his position at the front shellshocked and frightened,
he was arrested and court marshalled for desertion. Proven guilty he was
wrapped head to toe in bandages and taken to a nearby field by ambulance, he
couldn't see the men who were to be his executioners, and they had no idea
of his identity, the order was given and a sixteen year old youth fell to
the ground dead, slain by the army he had enlisted into to fight for his
We can only imagine the absolute torture and heartbreak this would have
inflicted upon his parents and family
Most of these men were buried on foreign soil never to return to " Blighty"
as England was termed. The late Michael Cassidy of Dalton recalled taking
supplies up to the front using a donkey, when he recognized another Dalton
man who was being carried on a stretcher badly wounded. Michael approached
and asked how he was and the man replied " A'm alreight, A'm goin' back to
Blighty" He never made it back home, he sadly died from his wounds.
Frederick Briddon was also never to return home to number 57, Silver Street,
Whinney Hill, he left behind a grieving widow his wife Evelyn Bridden nee
Critchley and his parents Richard and Margaret Briddon, who moved to
Rotherham from Sheffield and were living in nearby Dalton. Before he signed
up he worked as a collier, presumably at Silverwood or Roundwood pit.
Frederick became a Private in the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, 2nd
battalion. He was killed on the eighteenth of November 1914, aged 31, at the
battle of Ypres. His service number was 6540. There is a memorial reference
to Frederick Bridden on the Menin Gate memorial at Ypres, The Memorial at
Ypres is in remembrance of the thousands who passed through the gates and
are buried in graves unknown.
Frederick and Teresa Willert of Thrybergh were to learn just how war could
inflict suffering upon a family. Their sons Edmund and George were amongst
those who enlisted when war came in 1914. Edmund [ Pictured top of page. ]
was wounded but he did survive. However what should have been a great
celebration for the whole family was not to be, upon his return he learnt
that his sweetheart the girl he’d left behind had married another. He had
returned from one hell only to discover another, the anguish of betrayal and
heartbreak, an anguish that would have also been shared by his parents.
Edmund buried his feelings and got on with his life, though sadly this war
hero was never to marry, remaining single for the remainder of his long
This was not to be the only heartbreak endured by the family as they were to
soon to discover.
George Willert [ photo right ] was even less fortunate than his brother
Edmund, he fought with the Connaught Rangers in the Dardanelles where he was
wounded. Recovering from his wounds he found himself back in action , this
time at the Battle of the Somme. He was injured by shrapnel in the leg and
evacuated to a military hospital in Rouen, this time George was not to
recover Lady Luck deserted him and on the 10th September 1916 he passed away
in hospital. Thrybergh had lost another of her local heroes and Frederick
and Teresa Willert lost a much beloved son.
Lance Corporal George Frederick Willert of the Connaught Rangers Unit Text:
Age: 26 Service No: 5/3271 was buried at the ST. SEVER CEMETERY, ROUEN.
As was common practice at the time The family received a letter of sympathy
from the hospital, and the contents of the letter were published in a local
newspaper , possibly the Rotherham Advertiser as part of the obituary. The
photo below left is the original article from 1916 and also my [John Doxey ]
transcription of that article.
Cpl. G. F. Willert, Thrybergh
It is with the deepest possible regret we have to report the death of Cpl
Geo/Fred Willert, son of Mr. and Mrs Fred Willert, of Lamberts Cottage Old
Thrybergh . Young Fred has given his life for his country in France. The
family have resided at Thrybergh for generations and in consequence are well
known throughout the district. Deceased enlisted on Sept 1st 1914 and with a
large number of other Silverwood and Rotherham boys he was drafted to to
Ireland to make up the strength depleted Irish regiments. Here he was posted
to the Connaught Rangers, and went with the first contingent to the
Dardanelles . He was wounded after landing at Suvia Bay, and was eventually
invalided home to England.
He went out to France with the Royal Inniskilling Rangers with whom he saw
much fighting, being amongst those of the Irish Brigade who quite recently
earned the special thanks of Sir Douglas Haig for their bravery and fighting
spirit. His luck was out however. He was shot in the leg and thigh with
shrapnel. The thigh was shattered. Little hopes were entertained from the
first. He scarcely ever regained consciousness and died in hospital on Sept
9th. The news of his death reached his parents last week through a kindly
letter from the nurse as follows
"General Hospital Rouen, France Sept. 10- Dear Mrs Willert- You will be
distressed to hear that Cpl. Willert died in hospital yesterday. Everything
possible was done for him, but he gradually sank and passed peacefully away.
I told him I was writing you and he said I was to give you his love. He
will be buried with military honours in Rouen cemetery, and will be with
many of his comrades. The graves are well looked after and his name and
number will be put up at the head, so that if at any time later you should
come over here you will be able to see his last resting place. - Yours with
much sympathy, I Greaves."
Cpl. Willert was only 26 years of age, and was an exceptionally smart young
A large number of friend and relatives attended St Leonard's church,
Thrybergh on Sunday morning when the Vicar, the Rev. G. H. C. Bowen made
sympathetic reference to the deceased. The choir sang special hymns and the
heroes favourite hymn " Nearer My God to Thee" was sung by the choir and
congregation. The Rector spoke of the sacrifice the late Corporal had made
in what he thought was the cause of right. He was a young man of splendid
qualities and good traits, and had proved himself a good soldier in the
fight as he was a good son in times of peace. He personally felt the loss of
such a promising young villager, and his sympathies with those of the many
friends were wholly extended to the bereaved parents.
The service was keenly impressive.
The family kept Teresa’s letter to one of the daughters in which she refers
to her last contact from George “not out of his clothes for weeks”, and to
the storms in Sheffield which stopped the trams running. Teresa also kept
the letter of sympathy from the hospital.
Main text David Culley with additional text from John Doxey
This war was a war like no one had ever seen before, many new weapons and
machinery were introduced, new strategies were employed often causing the
deaths of thousands in each campaign. Trench warfare being the nightmare
most men dreaded. Living in these trenches for months on end, often
surrounded by mud, never knowing when it would all finish.
The men who were wounded badly enough to be sent home were taken out of
their khaki uniform and given a uniform of a different colour known as "the
This interesting story was sent in by Lyn Crosby 'nee' Page.
In 1916 a young Jack Page a Corporal in the Regiment of the Royal Marine
Light Infantry was killed in action, and buried in Hersin France. The
following year 1917 the Page family were blessed with the birth of a son,
and they named him Jack after his deceased brother. Presumably to ensure
that the family would always remember where the first Jack was buried, they
gave the second Jack the middle name of Hersin. The second Jack served in
the second World war in the Navy and served under Lord Mountbatten. On his
return to England after the War Jack settled in Thrybergh and with his wife
Millicent lived on South Vale Drive with their daughter Lyn. Jack was
employed at Silverwood as a Locomotive Engineer and sadly passed away in
Mabel Bragger was the wife of Alfred Bragger who was a coalminer at
Silverwood pit, Mabel's first husband was George Furniss who was Killed in
France during the 1914-18 war.
Mabel of course was one of the many women widowed at an early age by war,
and for these women survival was a battle indeed. After the first world war
widows did receive a small war pension but extra income was needed, or help
from families and friends. A handful of war widows fared even worse when
they were informed at the pension desk, that their husbands had been shot
for desertion and were not entitled to a pension. So they not only had to
face life with no pension but also live with the disgrace. The sad reality
was that most of the men shot for desertion in the first World war had not
deserted at all, they were suffering from shellshock and simply staggered
away from their line.
Many young women like Mabel did remarry
Courtesy Christine Nash
My father Ike Doxey was hit by shrapnel in the right thigh during this war
and was left with a slight limp for the remainder of his life, a constant
reminder of the war like no other.
The above examples do not even scratch the surface of the many effects this
conflict inflicted on the populace, and yet when one looks at the many
conflicts in the world today we have to observe that the human race will
seemingly never learn.