There was a set of faded photographs of four of the five “War Graves” at St Andrew’s, Kildwick. They did little to help visitors find them. Church member Chris Wright hunted down the graves and, armed with fresh photos and the enthusiastic help of the Farnhill and Kildwick Local History Group has created a new leaflet and associated poster.
The stories that these five graves tell are poignant. Harry Walmsley’s funeral was massive. In the whole of the First War, he was the only serving soldier to be buried on home soil. Many other grieving families came, in proxy, as it were, for their own sons.
Harry’s is not what is the iconic “War Grave” design. Max Gill’s instantly recognisable design was only adopted a year later in 1917.
To find an example of this “War Grave” design, you need to visit the new graveyard, north of the canal to find Norman Slingsby’s World War 2 monument. With more than a hint of a Dad’s Army story, he fell on his head out of a lorry in nearby Glusburn when it braked to avoid a dog.
All the other three died after being demobbed; tragically, two of them within a few days of returning to civilian life. James Pollard and John Smith were buried, close together, within a few months of each other.
Captain Charles Petty was wounded by a bullet that ricocheted off a spade and sent home in 1915. He was thought to be safe and well again, but the wound had complications which caused his death six years later.
These five snapshots paint a poignant picture of not only the sadness of death, but also of its ordinariness. A young man, possibly (reading between the lines) skylarking on the back of a wagon, falls to a pointless death. Two young soldiers, clearly ill, were demobilised to die at home. And just one from a list of casualties survived long enough to be repatriated and buried at home.