The Great War


PART 1/1                                       WHAT HAPPENED IN 1914

On Monday (4 August 1914) it was exactly 100 years since Great Britain declared war on Germany In what was to become known as the war to end all wars. To mark the occasion we launch a major series detailing how Bishop Monkton played its part in the war. How life in the village was changed for ever. How over 50 village men marched off  to fight for King and Country, and how five never returned.    

At 11pm on 4 August 1914 Britain declared war on Germany in what became known as The Great War – the war to end all wars.

During the ensuring four years almost 9 million troops from Britain and the Empire were mobilised for what then was the greatest human upheaval in our history, with the awful horrors of rat infested trenches with  mud up to the soldiers' knees, gassings, and a horrendous loss of life and ghastly injuries on both sides.

And, for those in Bishop Monkton, there was the ordeal for the women and the elderly of coping and keeping the farms going with all the young men gone, dwindling rations and the daily fear and anxiety that accompanied the progress of the battles and fearing the arrival of the telegram boy with news of a loved one.

The effect was to devastate the lives of families across the land, and the world, with a legacy that still raises its ugly head today.

Today we start a major series which recalls those awful days, and how at a stroke life in placid rural Bishop Monkton was changed for ever. In our series, which will unfold over the next fortnight, we will give details of the five men from the village who would never return, and over 50 who, quite suddenly, were uprooted from their jobs and family life here, and endured long periods of privation, existing in stinking and unhygienic trenches, many suffering from 'feet rot' and waiting for the feared call to go ‘over the top’

We also have details about others, with family connections, who took part in the war, some with amazing stories of valour and heroism. 

One man lay injured  for three days  in ‘No Man’s Land’ until he was eventually dragged back behind allied lines, but then to have amputations because gangrene had set in.  

Another brave man had the role of stretcher bearer, risking his life daily to go out and, hopefully, bring back, survivors. 

Another, on the last time he 'went over the top', suffered a large bullet hole wound through the palm of his hand and he knew nothing more about it until he woke up in a military hospital back in England.

The injury resulted in him being discharged but because he needed a civilian job, he applied to go back to his former job as a coal miner, and lied about his injury although he could not hold a pick, and returned down the mine.

The purpose of the series is not to glorify war or gloat about our eventual victory but is our small way of paying tribute to that small but significant band of brave Bishop Monkton men who went off to fight and perhaps die.This centenary is a fitting way to honour their memory. 

Here are two shocking facts that put the magnitude and  the horror of that war into perspective:

From Britain and the Empire 8,904,467 troops were mobilised, 908,371 were killed and 2,090,212 wounded.  

And the overall involvement world wide in the war was 65 million mobilised, 8.5million killed and  21 million wounded.

Content of Great War series

Part 1
What happened in 1914
Bishop Monkton in 1914

Part 2
Honouring those who paid the supreme sacrifice:

Edwin Bowes
William Heath
John Richardson
James Dennison Cussans
Robert Lowther

Part 3
We name the 54 Bishop Monkton men who answered the call to fight for King and Country

Part 4
Other Great War stories from those with Bishop Monkton connections

Part 5
Conclusion: The Great War - The War to End all Wars. Or was it?

TOMORROW we will attempt to describe life in Bishop Monkton in 1914 although there are few sources to draw on which contain much detail, and now there is nobody left alive to confirm it because all have now gone.