AN Otley man who was touched and inspired by the horror of a famous First World War battle has completed a four-year labour of love to record the bravery of Otley soldiers who lost their lives.

Amateur historian Bill Mulholland has compiled a three volume manuscript of names and personal details of all the 187 Otley men whose names appear on the 1914-1918 war memorial in the parish church, as well as 95 others who came from the town but had left by 1914.

Mr Mulholland, whose interest was peaked through speaking to his great uncle who was involved in the war, handed the three binders detailing the soldiers to town mayor, Councillor John Eveleigh. It will be housed in Otley Museum where it will be available to the public.

It took Mr Mulholland four years to compile the manuscripts, which contain details of names, ages, rank and number, the regiment as well as the date, place and cause of their deaths, where they are buried or commemorated, whether they were decorated and any other details that have been found.

He said: "I think that it is essential that as we approach the new millennium, that these brave men who are a vital part of Otley's history, are not forgotten and will be permanently recognised.

"I could not fail to be moved by the total sacrifice made by ordinary men who lived out their brief lives in the town where I have lived for 66 years. My respect for these men increased and my knowledge and understanding widened as I researched them.

"My great uncle would never speak of his experiences and it was my interest in researching the circumstances under which he was awarded the Military Medal for bravery that first took me to the Somme.

"The terrible slaughter there as evidenced by row upon row of headstones in the cemeteries made a profound impression on me which lasts to this day. As a result I promised myself that when I retired I would research those Otley men who never returned home. I kept that word."

Mr Mulholland, 66, said his research has taken him to a host of WWI battlefields and has been helped by a host of organisations, records and individuals, including Wharfedale Newspapers.

On receiving the manuscripts, Coun Eveleigh said: "Thanks to people like Mr Mulholland and the care and commitment of Otley Museum's volunteers, another striking aspect of our history will be preserved and made more accessible for the future.

"It seems a particularly fitting moment for the town to receive such a gift spanning the century."

Right: Mr Mulholland

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