We hold a number of physical archive items that people have given to us. Whilst it's not our primary aim to collect items such as these, we will take great care of them.
The personal effects of Private James William Laws:
Born in 1899, his birth was registered in the Pontefract district in the third quarter of that year. His parents were John William Laws a brewers labourer, and Eliza Laws.
In the 1901 census he was just one year of age and living at 30, Gray Street in Goole with his parents and brothers George and Harold. By 1911 he was 12 and living at Rising Sun Cottages in Hill Top at Knottingley with his parents, 3 brothers and 2 sisters. His father John was now a ballastman on the railway.
By 1917 he was 18 and employed by Messrs. R. Clough and Co. of Botany Mills on Dalton Lane in Keighley.
He enlisted in the Army in August of that year. His initial service number was 5/108013 with the 8th Training Reserve Battalion, Prince of Wales' Own West Yorkshire Regiment and later he was allocated the number 62367, still with the Prince of Wales' Own West Yorkshire Regiment.
James entered France in early April of 1918 with a new service number 35481 having been transferred to the 2nd Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment. James wrote a letters home on the16th April. and was sadly killed in action on April 29th, with his death being reported in the Keighley News 18th May.
James has no known final resting place. He is remembered on the Yorkshire Regiment panel number 53 of the Tyne Cot Cemetery's Memorial wall.
He is remembered in the Keighley WW1 illuminated Roll of Honour book, which is on display in Keighley Library.
He was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his war service and his parents would have received a memorial plaque and scroll in honour of his sacrifice.
James' letter home from the front:
April 16th 1918. Dear Mother & Father,
I am sorry that I have(n't) written before but I have had no writing paper and I have borrowed this. I hope you are in the best of health as it leaves me in the pink. It is rough out here but we have got to stick it. Gillard has got in another company so I don't see him now. It is rather cold out here we had a lot of snow one day.
We are not allowed to write our address on top but put it in the middle. It is Pte J W Laws (35481) C. Coy. 10 Platoon 2nd Yorks Regt. B.E.F. France. Put this down on a piece of paper and there you will have it. Remember me to all at Keighley and tell them I will write later. From your affectionate son Jim.
Cheer up, the war will soon be over.
Keighley News report dated 18th May 1918:
Mr and Mrs J. Laws, of 6, Buxton Street, Dalton lane, have received official news of the death in action on April 29 of their second son, Private James William Laws, of the Yorkshire Regiment. He joined the Army in August last, and had only been in France about three weeks. In civil life he was employed by Messrs. R. Clough and co. Botany Mills, Dalton Lane.
The Great War memorial plaque of Edward Sunderland:
We were given this WW1 memorial plaque to Edward Sunderland in September 2015 and from our research it appears to be a unique name. We are as sure as we can be this plaque is for the man detailed below. This plaque had been found in a box of scrap brass fittings at a car boot sale in Bingley, which is just a few miles away from where 'our' Edward Sunderland lived.
Edward was born in 1899 and his birth was registered in Bradford in the 1st quarter of that year. His mother was Mary Elizabeth Sunderland, father unknown. He was two years in the 1901 census and living at 380, Heaton Road in Bradford, with his grandmother Mary A. Sunderland, mother Mary, uncle Harry and aunt Edith.
By the 1911 census Edward was 12 years old and still living at 380, Heaton Road in Bradford, with his mother Mary and his aunt Edith. He was a part time worker, attending school half days, and working half days as a doffer in a silk mill.
There's a possibility that Edward tried to enlist in the Lancashire Fusiliers in Bury (the details are very close) on 18th August 1915, but was discharged on 15th November, having made a mis-statement about his age. He had signed his name as 'Edwin' Sunderland, despite the form being filled out for Edward Sunderland? His mothers name on form is given as Elizabeth Sunderland, living in Bradford. This is only a possible match and cannot be confirmed beyond all doubt.
Edward did enlist in Bradford on the 11th November 1916 at the age of 18 years, 7 months. In civilian life his occupation was that of apprentice joiner. He was 5 feet 5, 1/4 inches tall and he weighed 112 lbs, with a 34 inch chest. In the Training Reserve his service number was 38402.
In 1917 his Army service reckons from 19th February and he was posted to the Training Reserve battalion at Rugeley Camp on 23rd February. He appears to have failed his trade test at Woolwich on 17th December.
Edward arrived in France on the 23rd of January 1918 and was posted to No. 7 Infantry Base Depot at Calais where he was transferred to the 6th Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment on 26th January. He was later posted to 'C' Company on 8th February. His service number was now 41382. On the 15th March he was admitted to WLFA (Field Ambulance?) (next part illegible - Sea##s?) Field ----"---- : 53 CCS (Casualty Clearing Station?)
Edward was killed in action at the age of 19, on 23rd October 1918 and was buried in grave 50 of row A at Ovillers New Communal Cemetery, Solesmes, Nord in France. His next of kin is recorded as Mrs. Mary E. Sunderland, of 126, Pearson Lane, Daisy Hill in Bradford. His total service was reckoned as 1 year 247 days. On 23rd May 1919 his mother received his personal effects of some letters, postcards and a photograph whilst she was still living at 380, Heaton Road.
On the 3rd December his next of kin blood relative Aunt and Uncle were listed as Harry Sunderland (41) of 133, Shakespeare Street, Stoke, Coventry and Annie Slingsby (39) of 1, Queen's Road, Shipley.
James was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal for his war service, which were received by his mother Mary on December 12th 1921. His memorial plaque was received in July, although the year is unknown.
We have not been able to locate Edward's name on any war memorials.
The carved memorial mirror plaque of Norman Feather and a painting of him by an unknown artist:
Private Norman Feather, 42380 - 8th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, later 76798 - 2nd Battalion Tank Corps. Survived the war.
Norman was born late in 1896, one of eight children born to Charles and Margaret (Maggie) Feather, they lived at Low Bank, Oakworth. He was baptised in Oakworth on 20th May 1900. At the time his father Charles was working as a labourer. By now he was 4 years old and had four brothers and a sister. By 1911 the family had moved to 3, Griffe View, Oakworth and Norman was fourteen years old and had four brothers and three sisters, but sadly his father had died and left his mother a widow and the children without a father. In November/December 1915, he enlisted in the Army.
Here is his the story of his experiences, as told to his neighbour Peter Morell many years later, who is conscious that they are old memories retold in conversations with Norman in the 1970's:
1) 'I was given a choice of regiment, so I opted for the Tyneside Scottish because I liked the uniform.'
He joined up with a friend at Keighley Drill Hall on Lawkholme Lane and they celebrated this with a pint at the Volunteers pub across the road. Soon after they were marching across France towards the trenches. It was an adventure and they sang and laughed as they went. Suddenly a German shell fired from miles away smashed into their lines and Norman's friend was blown to pieces. The horror of war was then very real and as Norman staggered to his feet he told me everything had changed and he was absolutely terrified.”
2) “On one occasion whilst marching towards the trenches a troop of soldiers came marching down the lane towards them. At the very front of the column Norman recognised his own brother. Instinctively he stepped sideways and shouted 'Harry!' Immediately the sergeant disciplined him and told him to expect No. 1 Field Punishment for stepping out of line. This punishment involved being strapped, with arms and legs outstretched, to a gun carriage for a day. However, when the commanding officer heard the facts of the case he turned to the sergeant and said 'It was his brother he hadn't seen for two years. For God's sake have some compassion man!' 'Case Dismissed.'”
Norman later served on tanks with the 2nd Battalion Tank Corps. He received the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his war service.
After the war Norman made his living as a coal man and farmer, and his coal business was at Oakworth Station where the 1970 film 'The Railway Children' was centred around the station. They used Norman's pile of coal in the film scene where the character Peter stole coal for his family.
He was living at 13, Griffe View in 1919 and married Alice Evelyn Thorpe (Occupation: Spinner) on 5th July 1924 at The Primitive Methodist Chapel, Lane Ends, Oakworth. By 1926 they'd moved to Low Bank Farm, Oakworth. Norman died aged 89 years in 1986.
His brother Laban Feather was killed in the war and is named on Oakworth War Memorial and another brother Harry Feather also served.