ON June 4 we published the story of the three Hill brothers - Archie, Lorrice and Hector - sent to us by Hector Hill, who lives in Settle, North Yorkshire.

They were his uncles. Archie and Lorrice came back from the war gassed and partly crippled respectively. Hector was killed.

The story greatly surprised Carl Howard Riff, of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, for Lorrice was the father of Mr Riff’s mother Kathleen Hill, of Wrose Brow Road, Shipley.

He wrote: “My mother told me not only her wartime stories (this would have been World War 2) but some of the family history. For some reason I did a search under her father’s name, Lorrice Hill. I fell down in shock when up popped the story about the three Hill brothers.

“My mother told me that Mother Hill received telegrams within a month that Hector had been killed, that Lorrice was wounded, and that Archie was not only gassed but was taken prisoner and shipped to Germany where he was forced to work on a farm.

“Some of the horrors that poor man endured in the frontline shock me to this day. My mother said he had one enduring nightmare for decades later.

“They had fixed bayonets and had gone over the top. German artillery opened up as they were in no-man’s land. A shell burst and he was thrown into a deep shell crater. A large chunk of shrapnel had pierced his back, “He awoke an hour later in terrific pain then rolled over in the mud and faced the severed head of his chum lying right next to him.

“On another occasion he was forced to participate in firing squads of British soldiers found guilty of desertion. He said a number of bullets were blanks that allowed members of the firing squad to think they may not have fired the killing shot.

“He told my mother they had a miserable officer that was not liked by the troops. One one attack he was first out of the trench and was shot immediately and that was before the Germans fired a single shot.

“The Great war was not fought with career soldiers but by farmers and factory workers many of whom had never seen a day of anger and now were having to kill or be killed by other gently strangers.”

Kathleen Hill’s sister, Sarah-Hannah, was a single mother whose only child was also called Hector. Although only 16, he allowed himself to be dragooned into volunteering for the Army by the manager of the mill where he was an apprentice.

The Army had come calling asking for ten recruits but had met with a blank response until the recruiter had a private word with the manager - presumably about lucrative Army contracts. The manager returned and offered the apprentices a choice: join up or be fired.

Needless to say, young Hector was killed on the Western Front . His body was never recovered and his mother never recovered from her grief. During World War 2 Kathleen Hill went to the pictures with her Auntie Sarah, who embarrassed her by refusing to stand for the National Anthem at the end of the night.

“The King did not stand up for my Hector and I am not going to stand up for the King,” she would declare in a loud voice, Mr Riff added.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Woodland Trust