The tragic story of how two Otley soldier brothers were killed by the same German shell has been unearthed by an amateur historian.

Almost an entire generation of the town's young men - including 14 sets of brothers - laid down their lives for their country during the First World War.

Now, more than 80 years on, the stories behind the names of those honoured on the war memorial in Otley Parish Church have been revealed thanks to Bill Mulholland.

And among them is the moving account of brothers Ben and Fred Whitaker, of Guycroft.

The pair enlisted in the Otley Howitzer Battery in 1914 and in 1915 were transferred to D Battery with the 312th Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery.

They served side by side until, on the evening of April 5 1917, both were killed by the same German shell at Beaupits, near Arras.

Ben, who was 27, and Fred, 25, are buried side by side at Ervilers in France and a photo of their graves featured in the research.

The roll of honour also includes details about seven Otley men who had emigrated overseas but returned to fight in Europe with the Australian and Canadian armies as soon as war was declared.

Mr Mulholland's labour of love began while researching the story behind his great uncle, Pat Devaney, who won the Military Medal during the conflict for saving his company commander's life.

Now his research - containing information on almost all the 187 men named on the memorial as well as details about a further 95 who came from the town but had left by 1914 - has been presented to Otley Museum where it will be available to the public.

A set of three binders contains details of names, ages, rank and number, the regiment or service the men were with, as well as the date, place and cause of their deaths, where they are buried or commemorated, whether they were decorated, where they enlisted and any other details that have been unearthed.

Mr Mulholland, 66, of Otley, said: "My great uncle survived the war and lived until 1956 but would never talk about his service so I started researching him for our family history. I went to The Somme - where he won his medal in 1916 -- back in 1986 and seeing all the graves made such a tremendous impact on me."

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