This document is a transcription of the original, published in 1919 or early 1920. Some parts of the original are illegible. Every effort has been made to preserve the original tone, spelling and punctuation. Because this is an historic document reproduction, I shall not make corrections to it in the body, only note their existence. For "alterations" submitted by people wishing to correct this document, see the Errata Page at the end.
An account of the Borough's Effort
ROLL OF HONOUR
Printed and Published by W. H. JACKSON & Co., 318 Victoria Street.
GRIMSBY'S WAR WORK
Our Part in the War.
Today Grimsby, with all other cities, towns and villages of Britain, is celebrating the advent of a victorious peace, and the measure of the rejoicing is, to some extent, governed by the measure of our effort to win that peace. A history of Grimsby's effort in the war would occupy many volumes, but it can be summarised in a few lines.
Grimsby provided about 8,000 men for the various military and naval units. These, for the most part, joined the 10th and 11th Lincolns, - which Batallions were specially raised by Grimsby in reply to Lord Kitchener's appeal - the 1/5th, 2/5th and 3/5th Lincolns, the 1st North Midland Brigade Royal Field Artillery, and the Lincolshire Yeomanry.
When the seas were strewn with mines and submarines threatened our mercantile marine, Grimsby provided 433 Trawlers, with 5,875 Fishermen to man them, and the men who had all their lives followed a Peaceful calling chanced the hazard amoung the mines, or turned their little vessels into fighting units.
Altogether a total of about 14,000 men went into the various services. The English Army at Agincourt was but about 15,000, and considerably less at Crecy and Poitiers. Even in Cromwell's stirring days Parliament decided that the totat standing army of the country should not exceed 21,000. Yet in this war Grimsby alone raised 14,000 for the fighting forces.
What was left of the Fishing Fleet "carried on" amid the dangers of the North Sea, and in this dangerous endeavour to maintain the food supply, 156 Trawlers were lost or captured, some 545 lives were lost, leaving 255 Widows and 531 Orphans. In addition there are 696 Widows and 785 Orphans of Grimsby Fishermen who have lost their lives in the minesweepers and other naval service.
The women of Grimsby gave themselves to the work of the Red Cross, many serving in the V.A.D. in the two local hospitals, others providing the sinews of hospital work.
Under Lady Bennett a Hospital Supply Depot was formed which sent hundreds of thousands of articles out to hospitals at home and abroad. The women ran hostels and service clubs, worked in conection with the Emergency Corps and provided comforts for the troops.
A Government shell factory was established here, and turned out 324,859 shells, the women and girls playing a big part in the work, whilst a private company also turned out munitions.
The War Saving's Committee helped to raise nearly seven million sterling for the purpose of carrying on the War.
Something like over 1,000 men joined the Special Police, and several thousand the V.T.C., known as the 3rd Battalion Lincolnshire Volunteer Regiment.
The Mayor's Relief Committee raised something like ₤15,000 for helping families affected by the War.
The War work incuded the organisation of the Food and Coal supply, the watching of the coast by Scouts, the defence of the town against air raids, the entertainment of soldiers and of the wounded, flag days for many War charities, &c., &c.
But no! The brave die never;
Being deathless they but change their
Country's arms for more --
In the early inexperienced days, amid the jostle of events, the coming and going of troops, the organization of war workers and relief committees, there appeared on the walls of Grimsby the following Poster:
To the Men of GRIMSBY.
Lord Kitchener has asked for 100,000 men for the Army, and a new Battalion of the famous Lincolnshire Regiment is to be raised as part of this number.
These men are wanted immediately to defend our country.
I am sure that the men of Grimsby who are so vitally interested in a quick and succesful termination of the present struggle will not be appealed to in vain.
Every able-bodied man has a duty to perform, and I ask every man in this town, able to bear arms, to come forward to help his country in the hour of its need.
J. H. Tate
Chairman of the Recruiting Committee
At once men sprang from office stools, from bank and counting-house, from school and workshop "to defend our country." The Training Corps at the Municipal College formed the nucleus around which others gathered. It was on September 9th the Mayor (Alderman J. H. Tate, J.P.) received the telegram asking him to raise a battalion, and before the day closed 300 men had been enrolled. Two months later, on the day Ald. Tate retired from the Mayoral office, the Battalion, officially known as the 10th Lincolns, but dear to our memory as "The Chums," was at full strength, with four companies of 150 men each. Col. the Hon. Geo. E. Heneage was the first commander; the officers under him were practically all of them men well-known in the town. Uniformed in blue, billetted in the town, and training on the College Playfield, they were a familiar feature as daily they marched through the streets, and were idolised there. They represented the young manhood of the town, which had sacrificed hopes and ambitions at the call of the country. They were pre-eminently men of peace who but a month or two earlier had thought it impossible ever to wear a soldier's tunic. It was a great cause and sheer patriotism that had suddenly changed the whole course of their lives. Major W. A. Vignoles, the Borough Electrical Engineer, became the first adjutant, succeeded later by Major G. L. Bennett, and Major T. Maudsley Howkins, the first quarter master.
The Recruiting Committee built a camp at Brocklesby, and here the Battalion took up their quarters until June of 1915. By the invitation of the Mayor (Mr. J. W. Eason, J.P.), they paid a visit to Grimsby, and the town greeted the men - now looking a magnificent body in their khaki - lustily and bade them good luck. Their next camp was at Studley Royal, Ripon, and having been officially taken over by the War Office, they were brigaded in tile 101st Brigade of the 34th Division, Major Gen. Ingouille Williams, C.B., being the G.O.C. of the Division.
The next move was to Perham Down, on Salisbury Plain, under canvas, later moving into huts near Warminster. At this period the "Chums" were getting impatient at the length of their training, and those at home wondered why the Government did not launch these men at the enemy. The momentous day came on January 5th, 1916. The "Chums" crossed the Channel, and after a short period in the trenches at Armentieres the Battalion moved South to the Somme area, where three weeks were spent in strenuous work in the trenches in preparation for the great offensive.
JULY 1st, 1916
At 7 o'clock on the morning of July 1st, the young officers of the Battalion sprang on to the parapet, and the next instant a large portion of the unit was pouring over the top, eager to come to grips with the Bosch. La Boisselle, battered and ruined, lay to their left; in front the ground was poch-marked with craters, the result of a week of gunfire, during which the men had crouched in the trenches, almost stunned by the inferno of artillery, lacking proper meals because the commissariat found it impossible to bring meals through the barrage, and cursing the methods which had made war so horrible. When the moment came to attack there was no need to urge them, for every breast burned with the desire to come to grips with the foe, and fight the matter out. So they swarmed up, over the top, and across No Man's Land, only to discover that in warfare things do not work with clock-like accuracy. The barrage on the enemy's trenches lifted too earIy, and hereabouts "Jerry" had been anticipating the attack for weeks, and preparing against it with an unlimited sypply of machine guns, so that before the "Chums" were far advanced there came a scythe of lead which mowed them down with merciless slaughter.
We are apt to look back with pity, almost with terror, on the day and yet it was then that Grimsby lived its noblest, for despite the fact that officers were falling, that large gaps were torn in the ranks, the "Chums" kept their faces towards their objective, and never a word has come of any man finching. Of that magnificent body, only two officers came back unwounded, and only about 100 men, leaving some 400 or 500 dead and wounded behind. Yet one of the officers, Lieut. Hendin, with four men, reached the enemy's trenches, and went through to the third line, and hung on there for four days, collecting scattered parties and consolidating his defence. All touch was lost with the rear, the lieutenant and men were counted among the casualties, but to the surprise of headquarters he returned, and was later awarded the M.C. He was killed leading another attack in 1917.
Among the casualties that day were Lieut. R. P. Eason, Sec. Lieut. L. Cummins (acting Adjutant), killed; Sec. Lieut. J. Shankster, killed; Sec. Lieut. W. Swift, killed; Lieut.-Col. (the Major) Vignoles, wounded; Capt. C. H. Bellamy, seriously wounded (the latter died from his wounds), and Lieut. R. Coote Green, wounded.
The remnant of the battalion was withdrawn, and reinforced before again being thrown into the battle about the end of July, or the beginning of August. After this they went back to Armentieres, and after a spell in Flanders, in reserve, they were dispatched to Arras. Here they took part in the great attack on Vimy Ridge on April 9th 1917, with the 34th Division on the right the Highland Division, and in that magnificent fight they reached their objective without any great sacrifice. It was on this occasion that Lieut.-Col. Kennington, then a Major, distinguished himself and won the M.C. In the last stage of the attack the Battalion advanced 1600 yards with practically no support, with their flanks "in the air," led by Col. Kennington. For five days they held the position, five terrible days of snow and sleet, with the cold so bitter that 50 men were taken from the trenches suffering from exposure and exhaustion. Finally they were relieved and brought back to refit and recruit.
Their next move was about April 25th but we should add that during the period of which we have been speakin, Col. Cordeaux and Lt.-Col G. W. B. Clark had been in turn in command, and now Lieut.-Col. Vignoles succeeded to that position. It was under Lt.-Col.Vignoles that "The Chums" moved into the line again on April 25th, 1917, and joined in the attack on the chemical works at Roeux on April 28th. For the second time in history they were met with a hail of machine gun bullets, all the officers but two being hit, and the casualties numbering about 450. Whilst thus terribly depleted they were counter attacked, but the remnant stood up to this, repulsed the enemy and brought back some prisoners. Two days later they were relieved and came bake to rest, and to learn that their commander, Lieut.-CoI. Vignoles had earned the D.S.O.
Next we find "The Chums" at Hargicourt, just South of Cambrai, where they put up one of their best "stunts," holding the enemy to the trenches whilst the great battles of Flanders were fought, preventing reinforcements being sent northwards. The 34th Division carried out their mission here without any suppports.
On August 28th they captured the sugar factory fairly easily, but were heavily shelled for three days, and had a number of casualties to report.
Most horrible of all the battles on the Wesern front was the attack on the Passchendaele Ridge in the latter part of 1917, horrible because of the mud and slime through which British soldiers struggled foot by foot. Here again we find "The Chums" attacking at Langemarck, where Major Emerson led them and won his M.C.
Then back to Arras sector to hold trenches through the winter, and to wonder what "Jerry" was preparing for the Spring, now that Russia was out of the war. After a month's rest they were in reserve to the 34th Division, on the memorable March 21st, 1918, at another famous battlefield -- Bullecourt -- where for a while the enemy were held up. Col. Clark, who had returned to the command the previous July -- Col. Vignoles had been given command a Battalion of the Northumberlands -- had been succeeded by Col. Blockley about February, and under him the unit gave a good account of itself at Bullecourt. Once again they went to Armentieres, where the British losses had been heavy, and here they were holding the front line trench when the Portugese were attacked on Apl. 9th, and the line breached. Very quickly the "Chums" were engaged, and for ten davs they fought a retiring action, coming to rest at Mont Noir, near Bailleul with the enemy definitely stopped. The people of Grimsby will remember that about that time the great salient at Ypres was given up, and there was a fear that more ground would be lost, thus bringing the enemy dangerously near the Channel Ports, and pIacing the Northern extremity of the Allied line in a very awkward predicament. But the line held, despite the heavy attacks, and the Germans transferred their attention to the Rheims sector.
For a time "The Chums" were in reserve behind Ypres, and finally came the order that the Battalion was not to be built up to strength again, that recruits were not available, and so in the days when the Allies set their teeth in the German line, and then drove the enemy back, and still further back, winning glorious victory after glorious victory, "The Chums" were reduced to a cadre, and employed in training the Americans, who had come across to help in the final coup de grace. Their history terminated on June 10th, with the arrival home in Grimsby of their colours, which now hang in the Parish Church, a patch of crimson to remind us of their gallantry.
This summary would not be complete without mention of the reserve Battalion, the 11th Lincolns, which was formed, and which included a Fish Dock Platoon. They trained first at Brocklesby, and afterwards in the Newcastle district, and the Mayor that raised "The Chums" still hoping to do more for his country, left home and business to become their quartermaster.
Fifth Lincolnshire Regiment.
Many of Grimsby's best and bravest sons served with the 5th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment, and evidence of their gallantry and devotion to duty is to be found in the official dispatches sent home by the Field Marshall from time to time.
The "Glorious Fifths" were organised in April 1908, on the introduction of the Territorial system and were presented with their colours by King Edward VII at Windsor in 1909. When the world was startled by the news of the declaration of war the Battalion was in camp in Bridlington, and on August 4th they were recalled to Grimsby, and orders for mobilization were issued the following day. For 10 days the Battalion remained in Grimsby, being billeted in South Parade and Garden Street Schools, the Doughty Road Drill Hall, at the Docks, and at Waltham. In the early hours of the morning of August 14th they left for their first station in Belper in Derbyshire, subsequently moving to Luton, where they were in training until October. The training was completed at Stanstead in Essex, and on February 27th, 1915, the Battalion Ieft for France, under the command of Colonel T. E. Sandall, forming part of the 46th Division. This was the first complete Territoral Division to enter upon actual service, a division complete in personnel, equipment and armament.
The Fifth Lincoln's first experience of actual warfare was in March, 1915, when they entered the trenches at Ploegsteert and Kemmel, and June of the same year saw them in the thick of the fighting in the Ypres salient. In October the battalion moved to the Hullock sector and won golden opinions for their work in the attack on the Hohenzollern Redoubt on the memorable 13th October. The casualty list revealed the price they paid in this attack, for only one officer, and 128 warrant officers, noncommissioned officers and men came through unseathed, out of the 850 that went "over the top." Col. Sandall was wounded in this battle. But the stronghold was wrested from the enemy and held until the Division was relieved by the Guard on the following day. While the battalion was in the Neuve Chapelle sector it received orders to proceed to Egypt, having been reinforced in the meantime by drafts of officers and men from England. Only part of the Division arrived in Egypt, however, the order being cancelled before the remainder had left France. The "Fifths" arrived in the land of Pyramids only to be recalled a month or two later. Within a short time of their return we find them at work on Vimy Ridge. In April, 1916, they moved into the Bionvilliers sector, and on July 1st, they took part in the attack on Gommecourt Wood, where the battalion again suffered very heavily. After the July offensive the Lincolns remained in the same sector for some months, and we next find them in the region of Lens and Loos, where they pIayed a conspicuous part in all the attacks on that front during the summer and autumn of 1917.
When the German offensive opened in the spring of 1918 the battalion were in the trenches in the neighborhood of Hulloch and Hill 70, where it fought gallantly to stem the tide of the oncoming German hordes. When Foch determined upon his final blow the "Fifths" were in the Lys salient, and Grimsby heard with pride the story of the wonderful attack on the St. Quentin Canal and on Ascension Valley, in the course of which the 46th Division (of which the Lincolns formed a part) especially distinguished itself in the crossing of the canal. The canal was thought to be invulnerable, but men swam it or got across on rafts, and the 46th Division created a record for the number of prisoners taken.
As the result of this movement thousands of prisoners and many guns fell into our hands. From the comencement of the attack at St. Quentin, it was, as all the world knows, one continuous victorious advance for our troops, the local battalion fighting with distinction at Ramicourt, Fresnoy le Grand, Audingy les Fromes, Sambre Canal, and Avesnes, finally halting, after the signing of the Armistice in November, 1918, at Boosiers. It will be recalled that the cadre of the battalion arrived back in Grimsby on Sunday, July 5th, when the colours were deposited in the Parish Church.
Royal Field Artillery.
If you want to win your battle,
Take and work your blooming guns.
Grimsby has every reason to be proud of the part played in the Great War by the 1st North Midland Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery, the headquarters of which have been in Grimsby for many years. A large number of local men served with the Brigade in France, and quite a number of Grimsby's best sons fell while serving the guns of the Brigade.
On the day War was declared -- the unforgettable August 4th, 1914 -- the Brigade was mobilized and went into training at Luton, and afterwards at Stanstead, the latter a village on the borders of Hertfordshire and Essex, not unknown to the men who joined the 5th Lincolnshire Regiment, for it was here that part of their training took place. In March, 1915, the Brigade crossed the Channel, under the commad of Col. J. Tonge, C.M.G., who for several years prior to the war had been a popular artillery officer. With the gigantic German Army rapidly pressing forward, it was not long before serious work was found for the Brigade, which was one of the first Territorial units with the British Army to enter the arena of war, and their guns were brought into action very shortly after their arrival on foreign soil.
Their first big engagement was on Hill 60, a name familiar to all who followed the struggle in France in its early stage, for there are few places that have figured more frequently in the official communiques at the time than did Hill 60, which was an important strategic point. Then came the battles of Ypres and Loos, in both of which the Brigade took part with considerable credit to themselves, particularly at the capture of that German stronghold, the Hohenzollern Redoubt. At Ypres the Brigade was heavily shelled by the enemy and there were many casualties, among the local officers who lost their lives during the encounter being Lt. W. G. Marshall & Capt. R. B. T. Cliff.
Early in 1916 the 1st North Midland Brigade relieved our French ally at Vimy Ridge, and played a prominent part in the first battle of the Somme, and subsequently harassed the enemy during his retreat on the Somme in 1917. After leaving the Somme sector the Brigade moved to the Lens front, and was present at the fight for Hill 70. Fate decreed that Col. Tonge should not live to see the gallant part that his Brigade played in this historic event, for he was killed while reconnoitering shortly before the action. A glowing tribute was paid to Col. Tonge in a letter home from a fellow officer announcing his death.
"Without exception," wrote the officer, "he was the bravestman I know. He had a heart as big as himself and no thought of fear in his composition anywhere."
Col. Tonge was virtually a Grimbarian, for he came here from Hull at a very tender age, and after leaving school entered the legal profession. He joined the 1st Lincolnshire Royal Garrison Artillery (Volunteers) in February 1886, and when the Territorial scheme come into force he decided to carry on, eventually succeeding to the command on the retirement of Col. Grange.
Col. Younger, an officer of the Regular Army, was gazetted to the command of the Brigade in succession to Col. Tonge and was in charge when the enemy made a determined thrust on the Lens front. From here the Brigade moved North, and we next find them in the thick of the fighting around Belthune, a town that suffered much from the long range shells of the enemy. Right through the critical days of the Spring of 1918, the "1st North Midland" fought gallantly to stem the tide of the oncoming German hordes, and when Foch struck it came into action again and again, finally taking part in the glorious epic at the Canal du Nord, when the 46th Division crossed the canal and struck a mortal blow at the enemy flank.
Incomplete as it is this brief history of the unit serves to show that the Brigade bore its full share of the fighting on the Western front, and the many honours that have fallen to officers and men provide further proof that the Brigade worthily upheld the best traditions of the British Army.
Of all our local forces, the least has been heard during the war of the Lincolnshire Yeomanry, the D Squadron of which, under the command of Major Roland Sleight, had headquarters at Grimsby; yet they had a stirring history. Mobilised on the outbreak of war with other Territorial units, they were first utilised in the defence of the East Coast, but in August of 1915 were equipped for Gallipoli as infantry. This order was countermanded, and later they embarked in the S.S. Mercian for Salonica as infantry.
All went well with the transport until nine hours out from Gibraltar, when she was attacked by submarine -- the first case, we believe, of a transport being attacked. The story of the incident in the Mediterannean Sea is fairly well-known in Grimsby. The Mercian had no guns, and some of the troops, under Major J. W. Wintringham, M.C., brought up their machine guns, but were outranged. Still the men made a fight for it. The captain handled his vessel with skill. Private Thompson, a Lincolnshire man, taking the wheel under his direction and men of the Yeomanry going down in the stokehold and keeping up steam after the crew had left the vessel.
The vessel was hit several times, and the casualties numbered about a hundred, Capt. Lord Kesteven being among the killed, but the Mercian eventually got clear and made for Oran, in Algeria, where the French treated them very kindly. Lord Kesteven and about 30 N.C.O.'s and men who were killed were buried at sea or at Oran, and five days later the troops again set sail, calling at Malta, and then proceeding to Alexandria. Whilst in camp there, news was received of the Senussi rising, and the regiment was dispatched to Fayoum, where they remained as a garrison, patrolling the province and the surrounding desert until December.
In the summer of 1916 the Yeomanry crossed the Suez Canal, and, as a part of the Anzac Mounted Division, they took part in the first and second battles of Gaza. In 1917 they patrolled the desert between Gaza and Beersheba, having several brushes with the enemy patrols. They also assisted the Engineers in preparing maps for General Allenby's advance on Jerusalem. It was their fortune in November of 1917 to take part in the great cavalry sweep under the direction of General Allenby, which led to the capture of Jerusalem, and several times they charged with the sword, a weapon that was practically unknown in the fighting in Europe. The Division was finally stopped in the encircling movement north of Jerusalem by a couple of picked enemy divisions at Beitur-el-tahta, and it was in this battle that the Yeomanry Mounted Division held up a very strong counter attack and suffered many casualties, including Major Wright and Lieut. C. Wright, both of Willingham.
Before this there had been many exciting incidents; for instance after the capture of Beersheba there was fear of an enemy outflanking movement succeeding, and the machine guns were ordered to protect the flank. In going out to the flank they anticipated shell fire, but to their surprise were caught by heavy rifle fire and suffered several casualties. It was here that Major Wintringham won his M.C.
After the capture of Jerusalem the Division was rested, but subsequently took part in the operations in the Jordan Valley, and the brilliant movements carried out by General Allenby further north.
Then came a change, for after all this fighting in the desert and amid the strange scenery of Palestine, the Yeomanry were ordered to to France, became machine gunners with transport, and saw something of the big push which sent the Germans flying back to Mons and led to the armistice.
Very "Special" Work.
There were some of us who deprecated the work of the "Specials" with their mandatory "put that light out," but to-day everybody agrees that the darkness saved Grimsby. Over 1000 Grimsby men have been in the Special Police, the force at its strongest being 770. It was formed under Major Bennett in the early days of the war, Captain Warner suceeded to the post of Chief Special Constable, and when the latter took up military duties, Mr. Calvin Wright became the Chief and has occupied that position up to the present. Both Mr. Wright and Mrs. Peet, superintendent of the signal section, have been awarded the M.B.E.
Much of the work of the "Specials" lay in ordinary street duty, their presence enabling the Chief Constable (Mr. John Stirling) to release 46 men for the army, but on 57 occasions air raid action has been taken.
The Fishermen in War.
On Tuesday, August 4th, 1914, the fishing craft of this country pulled up their nets and hurred to port, ears stretched to catch the first sounds of a naval battle. It was a widespread belief, nay, a part of our national gospel, that if England went to war the guns of our fleet would instantly thunder forth; but though the guns of the fleet were not heard, though no great naval action cleared the seas, the homecoming trawlers found light cruisers, submarines and treacherous mines urging them on at top speed, so that quickly the fish dock was clogged with vessels. The first thought was to provide the fishermen with employment and the Mayor and Town Clerk proceeded to London with that object, but suddenly the representatives of the Admiralty appeared in Grimsby, and it was discovered that the scheme of utilizing the trawler as a minesweeper was not merely theory but very practical work. To-day, the world knows, on the highest naval authority, that the trawlers and the fishermen made the sea possible for the Navy. The fishing craft were the advanced guard and without these sturdy, fearless dogs of the sea the Navy could not have achieved the work it did.
Within a few hours of war breaking out a number of trawlers were actively engaged in sweeping mines from the seas. Only a few men had been trained in the work, but when it was found that the enemy had prepared mines and submarines to defeat the British Navy nearly all the vessels that could be got were required. It was the British fishing fleet against German cunning. More and more vessels were taken as the time went on, for their work was not confined to the North Sea. When H.M.S. Queen Elizabeth and other vessels of the Navy went out to the Dardanelles the trawlers went with them, and it was always the largest and best trawlers that were commandeered. Over 430 vessels in all were supplied by Grimsby, and it is but fair to state that the fishermen went quite readily, and the owners of the vessels pleased to play their part. Of the 430 on service some 60 vessels were lost, together with 519 men, leaving 313 widows and 480 orphans.
As 156 vessels were lost whilst fishing, with 553 men, leaving 225 widows and 679 orphans, the total loss in this connection is:
and there were left to mourn their loss:
This is not the full total for between 1,000 and 2,000 fishermen belonged to the Naval Reserve and were called up, or enlisted when the Navy called for volunteers, and some of these failed to return. Altogether 5,875 men joined the Navy or the Auxilliary Services -- Minesweepers, Patrols, etc.
Meanwhile the greater part of the fishing grounds were closed, and in the restricted areas vessels ventured forth to help the food supply of the nation. The danger of the work was proved by the terrible losses that followed. For a time every week, almost every day, brought news of vessels cruelly sunk by submarines, or sent to the bottom by an explosive mine. Still the fishermen were not cowed, all they complained about was that the country did not arm them so that they might put up some sort of a fight. Once or twice stories were heard of another character, of "trawlers" that had guns, and of submarines that, refusing to waste torpedoes on such small craft, came boldly up with bombs and suddenly found themselves shelled and wounded mortally.
From April, 1917, to June 23rd, 1919, the whole of the fishing vessels were placed under the control of the Admiralty. Captain Massy Dawson, D.S.O. was for the greater part of the time in charge, and letterly Captain Pollen. A Port Committee was appointed, consisting of Lieut.-Commander W. Grant, O.B.E. (the Port Fishery Captain), Messrs. T. W. Baskcomb, A. Bannister, G. Moody, J. D. Marsden, W. F. Goodwin, R. W. Roberts and H. L. Taylor. Mr. H. Croft Baker being appointed to the Committee on the death of Alderman Roberts. Mr. Jno. J. Sutton, M.B.E., was the Secretary, and later, owing to the vast amount of control that lay in his hands, he was given Naval rank. The fishing vessels were now placed in sections, two vessels of each section being fitted with wireless and armed with guns.
An Epic of the Seas.
It was during the period of section trawling that the country was thrilled with a story that proved that the fishermen of to-day are still the same old fighters as followed Drake and Hawkins.
A section of six trawlers was proceeding to Iceland, and when off Faroe a large submarine, heavily armed, appeared on the surface and commenced to fire. Instantly the armed trawlers got to work. This was the day they had lived for, but to their disgust their guns were outranged. Their shells fell short, and the submarine, from a safe distance, continued to send one vessel after another to the bottom. Still the trawlers fought on, with their colours flying. The armed trawlers were the Pretoria and the Stoic. Captain Newman was the skipper of the Pretoria and he refused to lower his flag. A shot carried away one of his legs, still he refused to admit defeat. His wounds must have been terrible, yet the flag was kept flying, and as the vessel sank he ordered the crew to throw him overboard. The men would have gone straight to death itself at his command, but not one stirred to obey such a command, and although every ship went down it is marvelous to relate that every man was saved, how, it is impossible to say, for fishermen do not write stories of their heroism, and Newman himself is well again, though minus his leg.
The Naval authorities are somewhat chary in giving information, but the fishermen say that an armed trawler appeared just after the last of the section had sunk, and the submarine, believing this to be another of the section, opened fire. Instantly the trawIer replied. She had just as large guns as the submarine, and the British aim was so good that the fourth shot went through the conning tower and sent the German to the bottom. If this story is true - and there is good reason for believing it -- the fishermen were avenged.
These six vessels, and one other, the Mayfly, sunk in the North Sea, were the only ones lost by enemy action since section fishing became the rule.
There are many other stories of heroism telling how trawlers have fought. There are stories of armed trawlers running against big odds in the fight against the Turks, and there is a story, which will never be fully told, of how fishermen, day after day, in fair weather or in fine, kept their eyes tightly fixed on the Eastern horizon, watching amid the billowy solitudes, guarding this old land of ours against the danger that threatened in the night. Still to-day thousands of fishermen are engaged in the dangerous work of clearing the seas of mines.
One other thing we must say regarding the fishermen. The Admiralty saw the possibility of a certain event -- it is perhaps better not to say what -- and there arose the question: To whom can be entrusted a very important and hazardous task, one that might bring men up against fearful odds. The authorities decided to ask the fishermen if they would volunteer: mind you, not minesweepers and patrol men already trained, but fishermen. The question was put to them. How did they reply? Every man volunteered at once and made light of the danger. Should the need arise, they were ready.
In addition to what has been stated the fishing industry has organised itself on a warfooting, both the fish and fishing have been controlled. We have had Mr. H. E. Knott as the first Local Fish Controller.
As vessels were commandeered or lost, all kinds of boats were pressed into service: so long as it would swim the men were ready, and not a single case is reported of a man refusing to go to sea because of the mines
A Fish Docks Recruiting Committee, with Mr. A. Bannister as Chairman and Mr. Juno J. Sutton as Sec., raised over 300 men for a Fish Dock Company of the 11th Reserve Battalion of the Lincolns. A Fish Dock Advisory Committee took the onus of Tribunal work, and weeded out men from the trade for the Army, and fishing engineers and other side workers in the industry have helped the country in Naval repairs, making munitions, and in other ways.
National Shell Factory.
At the suggestion of the Town Clerk (Mr. John W. Jackson) the Government were asked to allow Grimsby to establish a shell factory, the object being to help the nation and to provide against unemployment. New fish curing premises in Victoria Street were rented from Sir Alec Black, and under the chairmanship of the then Mayor (Counc. J. W. Eason, J.P.) a Board of Management was formed, which included Mr. T. W. Baskcomb, Counc. W. H. Thickett, J.P., Counc. J. S. Doig, Mr. E. J. Baskcomb and Mr. John W. Jackson (Town Clerk), the last named also acting as Hon. Sec. Eventually Counc. Eason resigned the chairmanship on account of other war work, and he was succeeded by Mr. T. W. Baskcomb, Counc. Thickett being appointed vice-chairman.
The Board purchased the whole of the machinery on behalf of theMinistry, and work on the shells commenced in November 1915. The first consignment of shells was dispatched on February 10th, 1916. The factory was kept at work day and night, and at one time there were 616 employees, of whom 480 were females. Work ceased at the factory in December 1918, and by that time the output of 6 inch high-explosive shells had reached a total of 309,074 and of 4.5 inch 15,785, a total of 324,859 shells. The total value of shells was £1,091,757, the total cost of them £887,267, which meant that the country had been saved over £200,000.
It may be of interest to know that £203,810 was spent in the town in wages and bonus, £18,797 in material and work executed locally, £10,573 in electricity, £2,219 on gas, and £2,603 on rent, rates and water, making a total of something like a quarter million pounds spent locally, the beneficial effect of which, during the trying period, cannot easily be estimated.
Notwithstanding that the factory was carried on on strict business lines, and that the vexed question of dilution had to be negotiated, the best of terms always existed between the employees and the management. All united in a continued effort to increase more and more the output of shells, and when the labours finally ceased with the termination of hostilities, it was stated that the Grimsby factory was one of the most efficient in the kingdom.
Grimsby War Hospital Supply Depot.
No war work struck the local imagination with such force as that of the Grimsby War Hospital Supply Depot. Here ladies were giving up their time, day after day, month after month, year after year, for the sake of the wounded; were plying their needles to make bandages and swabs, and all kinds of dressings and comforts for the broken soldiers and sailers. Was it any wonder that when Lady Bennett, their leader, appealed to the town to provide the material there was instant and magnanimous response? And the ladies were business like. They allowed no expenses. The cleaning of the rooms, their own tea, etc., they paid for themselves; they carefully watched the markets so that materials could be bought at their cheapest, and they enlisted kind helpers for carting their bales. Somewhere to-day there is a wonderful pigeon hole of letters from doctors, some of them Grimsby doctors, which are full of almost tearful thankfulness to these ladies for the parcels they consistently sent out.
There was one period last March when the Allies had to retreat, leaving hospitals and stores behind, when hundreds of thousands of dressings were required at once to make up for the losses, and to deal with the sudden increase of patients in the hospital wards. Did these ladies, who had been working for two-and-a-half years, murmur? Not a bit of it. Their reply was, "We will work every day and on Sundays."
In the final report just issued there occurs the following lines: "Strenuous work it was sometimes, but the thought of taking a timely share in the sacrifices our dear ones were making 'over there' made the work a triumph. After all, why be surprised at the keeness to help, when it is realised that many workers were the mothers, wives, sisters of our glorius Lincolns and other heroes who gave 'their all'."
Surely the women of Grimsby have built up a noble and glorious history.
The Depot was opened on October 25th, 1915, at Welholme House, and since then 198,064 articles have been made and sent away. Everything was included, from a bandage to pyjama suits (1,118 suits were sent away). With the help of a few gentlemen, and the boys at the Technical Schools, crutches were made, some 90 pairs. One sad item is 46 shrouds. The total value is placed at £8,519 16s. 8d. and yet the total receipts were only £6,216 3s. 6d. and of this sum £1,500, the balance left in hand when the work was closed, was given to local and war charities.
A good deal of help was received from the auxilliaries in the villages, and in this way the Depot was able to send parcels to 115 hospitals, casualty clearing stations, etc. -- even to Salonica. Our prisoners in Germany were helped, the refugees in Serbia, and the French, Belgian and Italian Red Cross.
Lady Bennett was the President and Mrs. R. Atkinson the Vice-President, Mrs. H. Gee the Hon. Treasurer, Miss Ida Rushworth, the Assistand Treasurer, Mrs. John Kennington the Hon. Secretary, and Miss Dorothy Bellamy the Assistant Secretary, whilst the Committee was formed of the following ladies: -- Mesdames Hughes Griffith, L. K. Osmond, W. S. Watkinson, G. Falconer, A. E> Capes, Stookes, J. T. Woods, Sam Smethurst, H. L. Taylor, Woodger, A. Falconer, Fletcher, Kirby, Malcom Brown, G. W. White, A. R. Watkinson, WEsley Cooke, Tidman, West, and Gisby, and Mr. A. R. Watkinson.
Over 300 Depot workers qualified for the V. W. Badge given by the War Office.
The Sinews of War.
In addition to sending its quota of men to swell the ranks of the Army and Navy, the Premier Fishing Port well maintained its position on the battlefront of War Savings, and large sums of money went from Grimsby to help finance the war. How much money was invested in the various War Loans it is difficult to approximate, but up to the end of hostilities it was estimated that nearly o6,000,000 of Government stock was held in the town. o1,590,939 was subscribed to the 1917 Loans; there were conversions amounting to the value of over £491,497; war savings certificates to the value of over £350,000 were purchased, and £3,508,756 was subscribed to National War Bonds. In addition Sir Alec Black lent to the Government sums amounting to £150,000 free of interest, and others lent money on the same terms totalling over o11,000. Taking 79,000 as the population, Grimsby therefore contributed at the rate of 14/- per head per week during the 68 weeks ending January 18th, at which date the issue of National War Bonds was withdrawn. To the £6,000,000 already mentioned has to be added another £500,000 which represents roughly Grimsby's subscriptions to the recent issue of Funding Loan and Victory Bonds.
Mayor's Relief Fund.
No sooner had War been declared than the Mayor and the Town Clerk turned their thoughts to those who were bound to suffer. There was every appearance that the trade of the port would be entirely suspended: ordinary sailings of merchant vesssels were prohibited, no vessels could arrive with timber, thus cIosing the timber yards and saw mills: buillding was promptly discontinued, and with the fishing vessels making all speed for home and laying up in dock, the outlook was black. So the Mayor's Relief Fund was opened. At first the idea was to help with food and money, but before the war ended this war charity, so magnificently managed, had grown and added so many branches of work that even members of the Committee were not fully acquainted with all its ramifications. It is impossible to do more here than glance at some of the figures, from which some conception of the magnitude of the work may be gleaned, merely adding that the total cost of administering this work was but £230.
The total amount raised was £16,227 12s. 2d., and at a recent meeting it was reported that £I2,745 7s. 10d. had been expanded in relief. The balance has been placed in the hands of trustees, who will deal with cases that still need help. The Minesweepers Fund, for which Mr. Tom Sutcliffe worked so hard, was incorporated, and the money collected administered with the Mayor's Fund.
A total of 4,276 families applied, and 3,287 families were relieved after full enquiries had been made.
In one week 102 families (soldiers, sailors, dependents, fishermen's widows, old age pensioners) received grocery, coal or bread tickets. 86 women were helped at the Welfare Centres with milk for nursing mothers and babies, or nourishment for expectant mothers.
The number of grocery and milk tickets issued was 23,638.
No less than 22,811 cwts. of coal were supplied by Messrs. E. Bannister & Co., Ltd. (who treated the Committee very generously), the amount expended being £1,255 10s. 6d.
The gifts from the Dominions included: --
|4,998||lbs. of||Tinned Meats.|
|5,318||lbs. of||Frozen Meat.|
|4,800||lbs. of||Tinned Salmon.|
|720||lbs. of||Paisley Corn Flour.|
|587||tins of||Condensed Milk.|
The Cooperative Society baked up the Colonial flour and afterwards supplied bread at wholesale price. Some 118,356 lbs. of bread were given to applicants.
The Grimsby Meat Syndicate took over a large portion of the meat received from the Dominions, and supplied its equivalent as required.
The Grimsby Boot Repairer's Association having promised to repair 40 pair of boots per week free of charge, an appeal was issued by the Mayor for old boots. Later arrangements were made with Mr. G. S. Watkinson for the distribution of boots, whilst finally Messrs. Stead & Simpson, Ltd., agreed to supply boots at a special discount. Jundreds of pairs of boots were distributed at a cost of £964 12s 4d.
Under the Mayoress' sub-committee, dinners and infants food were provided through the Infant Welfare Centres to expectant and nursing mothers. Some 747 mothers received dinners and 508 infants' food. There were 59,917 dinners provided at a cost of £1,679 11s 2d., and the total expended on infants in food was £1,500 8s 0d.
Help was rendered to the dependants of fishermen lost by enemy action: cases where the seperation allowance was insufficient were helped: grants were made to old age pensioners up to the time the Government increased the pension to meet the increased cost of living: temporay assistance was granted to men and women working away from home, and much otheir help rendered.
Prisoners of War.
Men from Grimsby would be among the first British Prisoners of War to be interned in Germany, for when war was declared on Aug. 4th, 1914, several vessels registered at the port were in harbour in Germany. These vessels, including several of the Gt. Central RaiIway fleet, were seized and their crews interned. Some time necessarily elapsed before news of these men reached England, but as soon as it became known that they had been interned the Grimsby Interned Prisoners' Relief Fund dispatched parcels which reached Germany in December of 1914. At the same time a fund was set up by the Great Central Railway Co. to help their men in Grimsby, and, under the guidance of Captain Joules (who acted as secretary) this fund sent out parcels to German prison camps, and when the war was over their employees returned to Grimsby to find all their wages awaiting them.
It was early in 1917 that the Government established a Prisoners of War Committee, whose duty it was to care for all British prisoners in enemy countries. The soldier prisoners were dealt with by the various regimental societies. The Lincolnshire Regiment Prisoners of War Fund was administered in Lincoln by Major du Buisson, who received valuable assistance in Grimsby from Mrs. Sutcliffe and Major Crosby.
After the German offensive in March, 1918, it was found that the Lincolnshire Regiment Fund was by no means adequate for dealing with many local prisoners, and Grimsby decided to take unto itself the duty of caring for its own sons in the Lincolnshire Regiment who were captures in enemy hands. A local branch of the Regimental Prisoners of War Society was established with official assent, the Mayor of Grimsby (Ald F. Noss) being President, the Deputy-Mayor (Counc. Jos. Barker) the Hon. Treasurer, and Mr. H. W. Sheckell the Hon. Secretary. Within a very short time £6,000 was raised of which £4,000 still unexpended when hostilities ceased and the prisoners began to return. This balance was distributed among repatriated prisoners of war on their return to Grimsby, each of the 400 men receiving £10.
The Returned Prisoners Relief Fund (of which Lady Doughty was President) adopted a similar course, presenting the married men with £10, and the single men with £5 on their repatriation, and this after sending nearly 20,000 parcels into Germany, involving a sum of nearly £6,000.
The Red Triangle.
The Grimsby Y.M.C.A. in the very earliest days of the war set to work to entertain the soldiers billetted in this district. They invited men to the Y.M.C.A. Rooms, built Y.M.C.A. Huts at Riby and other camps, provided hundreds of Concert Parties and looked after the men in various ways.
On February 20th, 1917, they took over a Termperance Hotel - the Imperial we believe - in Cleethorpe Road and converted it into a Hostel for soldiers and sailors. The organising of this Hostel was the last Stunt of the Secretary (Mr. Lloyd) before joining up. Since the day of opening the Hostel was never closed day or night until the end of the war, and although it is not open now in the mornings, it is still catering in the afternoon, evening and night, every day of the week, for service men.
It is almost impossible to convey any idea of the vast amount of work that has been done at the Hostel. On many days over a thousand visits have been made to it. Here was a club where letters could be written, a temperance bar, and beds, and eacc Xmas day everything was free, even the beds. Mrs. Franklin was the first Hon. Superintendent and she was followed by Mrs. Gyde, who still fills the position, Mrs. Franklin remaining the Hon. Superintendent.
So popular did the Hostel become that within a few months the adjoining premises had to be taken, and just before the armistace the rooms over Hepworths', at the corner of Freeman St. and Strand St., were also added, which brought the total of beds up to 158. Up to the present no fewer than 84,576 men have been provided with beds.
About 140 volunteer workers have been employed, taking duty in relays, and working in three hour shifts. The work is still continued although now there is a shortage of helpers.
The Grimsby Branch of the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen, under the direction of Miss Newnham, has made the care of the fishermen prisoners its particular war work. From November, 1914, to November, 1918, some 33,909 food parcels were sent out to the fishermen prisoners, and 1,697 parcels of boots and clothing, without which the men would have fared badly in starving Germany.
In addition to this, war widows and wives were helped, some £1,049 17s. 6d. being spent in this relief work, a large proportion of the money coming from the South Adelaide Fund. To help wives and widows knitting work was also provided, Mrs. H. L. Taylor and Mrs. J. Smith helping greatly in the organisation of this work. It was started in December, 1914, and continued until the 14th of May last. The total garments knitted were: -- 7,255 pairs of sea boot stockings, 605 pairs of socks, 33 Jerseys and 36 pairs of Meltor twine gloves, for which £948 5s. 11d. was paid in wages.
War unfortunately means disabilities, and therefore Pensions. In the early days much was done in Grimsby by the Soldiers' and Sailors' Association, and Mr. C. R. Stephen and his staff worked splendly. Later a department of pensions was established, and this has been carried on in Grimsby under the Town Clerk, Mr. Costello taking charge. The cases dealt with are the discharged soldiers and sailors, and the dependents of soldiers and sailors are given rent allowances and other help. The committee also works in conjunction with the local Labour Advisory Committee in finding suitable employment for discharged men.
The latest figures of the committee, brought up to the end of June, show the following: --
|Number of cases on the register||3,860|
|Total amount received from Ministry and Soldiers' and Sailors' Family Association||£32,949||5s. 4d.|
|Total distributed||£31,230||18s. 11d.|
|Recoverable advances||£2,217||17s. 2d.|
|Number of discharged men notified to Committee||1,874|
1,359 men have obtained permanent and 2 temporary employment, 198 have left the town or cannot be traced, 82 are living on pensions or other benefit and are unable to work, 15 have rejoined the services, 47 have died, 64 are receiving hospital treatment, 8 are in the asylum, 2 are blind of which one is working as a boot repairer, 7 are receiving training and 38 are unemployed.
Women's Emergency Corps.
In the first weeks of the war Mrs. Sutcliffe, Mrs. A. Mountain and Miss L. E. Bennett issued an appeal to women of Grimsby to form a League of Help, the object of which was to do any work required by the Navy, Military, Medical or Red Cross. A great meeting was held at which the women showed a magnificent spirit. They were prepared to do anything, even to wash, mend and scrub, as Mrs. Sutcliffe said. Once a start was made it was discovered that the work would be restricted to certain objects and the movement became known as the Women's Emergency Corps, the reason being that it found its chief work emergency work -- the providing of service men with the things that the Government could not provide.
Mrs. Sutcliffe was elected as the President, Mrs. Mountain and Miss Sarah Bennett as hon. secretaries, and Mrs. W. H. Wintringham as hon. treasurer. Many hundreds of ladies, of all classes of society, were drawn to the movement, which spread rapidly, and the women's political committees forgot their political differences and joined hands in the work.
The chief work of the Emergency Corps was the completing of the kit bags for local soldiers, during the early period of the war, when the authorities were completely unable to meet the situation. Afterwards comforts were sent to individual cases at home and abroad. Altogether 9,317 gifts were distributed.
Later the Corps looked after the wounded here, provided concerts in the summer in the abbey grounds, and in the hospitals in the winter.
A volunteer Training Battalion was formed early in the war, and such was the enthusiasm that over 1,000 trained, officers were appointed and uniforms bought. The War Office poured a good deal of cold water on the scheme, although the country at that time had about a million men in training as a last line of home defence, with the result that the movement languished. Mr. A. Sutcliffe, as the commandant, did much to popularise the movement in Grimsby, and after he joined up Major Lawler took command. Among the work carried out was the training of men who would later have to join the regular or territorial forces, the protection of the town on the occasion of air raids, the guarding for a period of the shell factory, until the duty was taken over by the Special Police, and other work. When the conditional clause was added to exemptions by the Tribunals, the V.T.C., now officially recognised as the Third Volunteer Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment, grew to its greatest strength, and the unit was armed and well drilled.
A Cadet Battalion was formed under Cadet Captain ?. J. Elmes, and other volunteer forces were the R.A.M.C. No. 2 Field Ambulance under Lieut. J. Silliamson, the Lincolnshire Royal Engineers (signal company) under Captain M. Jennison, the Lincolnshire Army Service Corps, Motor Transport, the local company of which was under Lieut. L. K. Osmund.
Grimsby, and this part of Lincolnshire, has done a remarkable work in caring for the Belgian Refugees, of which some 210 came to this district, and 70 remained here during the greater part of the period of the war. Mr. G. S. Watkinson, Mr. & Mrs. T. Wintringham, and others, did a great work amongst them, many were found work, children were born, and there were hree deaths. The inhabitants shewed true hospitality, and the Belgians will ever remember their exile as a difficult period relieved and made pleasant by the kindness of Grimsby and Lincolnshire people. The whole of the refugees were sent home early this year and had a good send off.
Curiously enough, Grimsby has not played a big part in Red Cross work at home.
The War Office opened a Military Hospital in Brighowgate in March, 1916, and it has only recently been closed. It had accommodation for 120 men, and a large number of patients passed through it. Major C. B. Turner, Major A. Westlake, Captain A. Miller, all of the R.A.M.C., and Dr. Grierson, were the medical staff. A number of local ladies gave their services as V.A.D. nurses. A number of Grimsby ladies also worked at the St. Aidan's V.A.D. Hospital, where 966 patients were received, but this work properly belongs to Cleethorpes. In the early days of the war the Grimsby ladies equipped the Harold Street School as a Hospital, but by order it was dismantled.
In a small brochure of this character is is only possible to hint at a great deal of the work. Some mention should be made of the R.A.M.C., under Lieut.-Colonel Pockett, of whom we have heard very little during the war; of the St. John Ambulance men who have put in duty away with the forces and at St. Aidan's Hospital; of the Boy Scouts, who watched the coasts and rendered other help.
The Mayors of Grimsby have had much work to do. It fell to Councillor J. W. Eason to secure the darkening of the town, which has safeguared us from danger in the air. Councillor Barker and Alderman T. C. Moss had to negotiate a number of fishery questions, and to approach various Government Departments on the question of coal, food and shipping. A Local Food Office, under the direction of the Town Clerk, has become one of the features of local government, Mr.s Holmes having done a remarkable work in this connection, and a Coal Control Office under Mr. H. G. Whyatt has organised the local coal supply.
Many men have set themselves, through the Allotment movement, the task of helping the food supply, and with the great generosity of Sir Alec Black -- what a boon he has been to the town and the country during the war -- and the help of the teachers, the school children have cultivated two large fields.
Innumerable Flag Days have kept the ladies busy, and let it be remembered here that Grimsby held the first flag day in England -- Union Jack Day.
Many clubs for the service men have been opened -- The Fisherlads' Institute, the Union Jack Club in Flottergate, and the one at the corner of Victoria Street and Cleethorpe Road are notable ones. The B.W.T.A. played an important part in this work.
The Labour Exchange, under Mr. Rose, has played its part in securing men and women for war work at Immingham and elsewhere, helped by a local Committee, under Mr. C. F. Carter, and the Grimsby Post Office has added to its multiplicity of labours during the war.
There are probably other things which we have forgotten, but we have said enough to show that Grimsby played its part in the war and the visit of Their Royal Highnesses, King George and Queen Mary, was an acknowledgement of this.
Containing the Names of Grimsby men who have
made the Supreme Sacrifice during the Great War.