Bid to trace the stories of people who were involved in the conflict

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Colin Coates, who is spearheading the Saltaire History Club project Colin Coates, who is spearheading the Saltaire History Club project

A major effort to honour war heroes from a Bradford village is gathering pace.

A history club stalwart has unearthed details of 185 Saltaire people who were involved in the First World War. But as almost 600 in all served in the conflict, there is still a long way to go to complete the roll of honour.

But Colin Coates, the Saltaire History Club member who is spearheading the project, has vowed to complete the task by July.

All the information he gathers is going on to a website which features the tribute as part of events to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War in 1914.

“There might be some people I can’t get details of,” said Mr Coates. “But if the information is there, I will put it on the website.”

The club wants to create a special ‘war trail’ around the village whereby poppy wreaths and inscriptions will be placed on the doors of the homes of men who were killed and injured or who fought. Members are now writing to all residents to gauge interest and, where necessary, get permission.

And in August a special on-line diary will go live, charting events as they unfolded. “The war involved more than just those who went to fight,” said Mr Coates. “The entire community was affected. The diary will feature bullet points about what was happening, with links to access any further details.”

Through poring over ancestry websites, Commonwealth Graves records and copies of the Shipley Times, Mr Coates is gradually building a vivid picture of Saltaire’s war history. He has also received lots of information from people who have read about the venture and who have details of relatives who served in the war.

“The whole thing is snowballing,” he said.

Mr Coates has found that 128 Saltaire soldiers died in the First World War. Hundreds more served but survived. At the time, the village’s population was 3,500.

“We intend to put a biography of everyone on our website,” he said. “I am up to 185 at the moment, so there is a long way to go. But I will complete the work by July.”

Mr Coates stressed that he is working on behalf of Saltaire History Club and praised the help given to him by webmaster Pamela Reynolds. “Her input is invaluable,” he said.

Other events in the pipeline include a ‘drama walk’ aimed at bringing wartime Saltaire to life, and a music hall presentation.

“I am delighted with the progress so far,” said Mr Coates.

The website featuring the wartime biographies is at saltairevillage.info

Poignant Biographies Of Those Who Served

Many of the biographies in the Saltaire roll of honour are heartbreakingly poignant.

Some bear details of letters from the Front, giving a vital insight into the daily lives of those serving in the conflict.

Most paint simple pictures of ordinary men caught up in unimaginable horror.

Here are two examples of what is available on the History Club’s special website:

Fred Campbell, born 1894 Fred was the son of Thomas Hall Campbell and born in 1864 in Baildon.

He married Alice Bradley in 1885. In 1889 the family lived at 32 Victoria Road, Saltaire – remembered now as 75 Victoria Road.

By 1891, they were living in Shipley and by 1901 had moved to Burley, near Leeds. Thomas was a telegraphist with the post office.

In 1911, Fred was learning telegraphy and living with his grandfather, sub-postmaster William Campbell at 16 Victoria Road in Saltaire. Before signing up to fight, he was a telegraphist for the Leeds Mercury newspaper.

Fred was a sapper in the Royal Engineers.

In a letter to his mother, Fred gives a vivid account of the trying times in an evacuation. Here is an extract: ‘No doubt before you read this, you will have read of the ‘Evacuation of Suvla Bay’.

‘I joined the Brigade on Chocolate Hill in Gallipoli, which had suffered more casualties than any other point along our front. I must confess the bullets were a little too lively, whizzing past our heads. I had very little sleep.

Ahead of the evacuation, it had to be decided who would stay behind until the end to keep up communication. We agreed to toss coins for who it should be and I lost. I had to stay behind to the very last.

When it came to the last night, most troops had gone, leaving a few men to hold the whole line. Just fancy! A few men holding a Turkish army on a front of five or more miles. Never have I known time to go so slowly. At last the order to leave came and I was one of the last two British soldiers on Chocolate Hill.

‘We got away without a single casualty. I hope it is some time before we go into action again’.

Chocolate Hill was in Suvla Bay in the Gallipoli peninsula, Turkey. The Gallipoli campaign lasted from April 25, 1915, to January 9, 1916, and resulted in defeat for the Allies against Ottoman Empire forces. The British lost 34,072.

Fred Campbell survived the war. Thomas Hall Campbell also served in the war, as did his younger brother, Tom.

Harold Sands Shackleton, 1897-August 26, 1918

Harold Sands Shackleton was the son of Arthur Shackleton.

Arthur was born c1873 in Saltaire. He married Lily Sands on April 16, 1896, at Saltaire URC.

Harold, the eldest of two children, was born c1897 in Saltaire. In 1901 the family were living at 15 Gordon Terrace in Saltaire with Arthur employed as a clerk in Saltaire Mill. By 1911 they had moved to Wainstall Lodge in Halifax with Arthur working as a cashier manager in a worsted mill.

Harold served as a Lieutenant with the 9th Battalion Tank Corps. He was awarded the Military Medal and Mentioned in Despatches.

Harold died on August 26, 1918, and his grave can be found in Windmill Military Cemetery in Monchy-Le-Preux near Arras in France.

Harold is not remembered on any Roll of Honour in the Shipley area.

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