JOHN BEVAN HOGG, of New Line, Greengates, is piecing together his family’s history reaching back before the First World War. Here is what he has found out...

I suppose the story starts in or around 1909 with the marriage between Emily Dawson, a weaver at W & J Whitehead and Horace Butterfield, a weaving over-looker with the same employer at Laisterdyke.

The couple set up home at 3 Revel Court, in the same area as the factory. On the October 12, 1912, a daughter, my mother Lily was born. Two years later my grandma was faced with the dilemma of having to go back to work as her husband had joined the Bradford Pals, 1/5 West Yorkshire Regiment and became lance corporal of A Company, 4 Platoon.

Fortunately, my grandma had a good family network. Her mother and father ran a milliner’s shop on Leeds Road and she had two sisters, Lily and Florence. In the course of the war both of them lost their intended husbands.

Little is known of where grandad served or what he did while in France. We have a picture of him in uniform wearing a stretcher bearer’s arm band. It is not known if the photograph was taken before or after he was wounded and sent home for rest and recuperation.

It is thought that Horace, after being cleared fit for duty, returned to France in early 1918. On November 1, Horace was fatally wounded at Famars in the Valenciennes district, Pas-De-Calais region of France, but he was buried in the military section of the municipal cemetery of Thiant – about 30 kilometres away.

Now three sisters had lost their loved ones and had to make the best of what life dealt them. Florence and Lily not having children lived together in a back-to-back at 1012 Leeds Road. Grandma Emily eventually married Fred Lockwood, a co-worker at Whiteheads, Fred was a well known character in the area, being a cricketer with Laisterdyke and Undercliffe, also a pub pianist at the Swing Gate in Laisterdyke.

Aunty Florence had with the guidance of her employer invested in two back-to-back properties in Acton Street, Bradford Moor. When my mother and father married they moved into one property and grandma and grandad Lockwood moved into the house next door.

On shopping trips with my mother and grandma into Leeds Road , we would sometimes bump into a lady. Mum and gran would talk for a while about the lady’s brother and sister. When I asked about the lady I was just told ‘Oh it’s your aunty Salina’, and that was that, no explanation of who Aunty Salina was, it was not until the age of about 11 that the truth came out.

Along with playmates I was playing commandos and I remember running into the house for my toy Winchester rifle..

Asked where I was going I told mum that I was a sniper. Well, that was that. My mum started to cry, the only time I ever remember seeing her cry and I was told ‘don’t ever say that word again in this house’. At this point I started crying, apologising to mum for upsetting her.

She sat me down and said: “I have something to tell you. You are now old enough and I want you to promise never to say anything about what I am going to tell you to any one, especially your grandad.”

She was under the impression that Horace was killed by a sniper while trying to rescue men under fire. She said: “Have you ever wondered why my name before I was married was Butterfield, and my mum’s name is Lockwood?” I can vividly remember saying I had but was always afraid to ask. Mum told me that the person I know as grandad was not her father; her father was Horace Butterfield.

It was the first time I had ever heard of Horace. She also enlightened me on the significance of the lady we used to meet in Leeds Road. Salina was the sister of Horace, along with a brother and another sister whom I never met.

As far as I was concerned the people who lived next door and who brought me up while mum and dad were at work were grandma and grandad Lockwood and nothing was going to change that.

After my mother’s death, while clearing her effects, I found a medal engraved with grandad Butterfield’s name; the ribbon has a bar attached and a clasp of a Yorkshire rose fixed to the top of the ribbon.

A letter from a Sergeant Almond in November 1918 confirmed that the medal was the Military Medal with Bar. He said that Horace was wounded in the abdomen during an attack and did not recover.

I have since been informed this medal was awarded to other ranks for bravery in the field not observed by an officer. The significance of the Bar is that the citation was awarded twice on separate occasions.

Why was my mother so secretive about her father and his bravery in the field? Perhaps it was because even up to her passing it was it too painful for her to talk about. I do recall once, however, when I was taking my family to the continent, mum asked me if I would visit grandad Butterfield’s grave While attending an international sporting event in Holland, along with my eldest daughter and my wife, we decided to make a detour on our way home through Belgium and into the Par-De-Calais region of France.

Grandad Butterfield’s grave is in a well-kept military section of the municipal cemetery in the quaint village of Thiant.

Finding the location of the grave was very easy: the Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site gave me all the information I required. However, we found that the headstone had the wrong inscription, omitting the fact that grandad Butterfield was entitled to have MM and Bar after his name. I contacted the CWGC. I could not believe how helpful they were: virtually by return they confirmed that I was right and apologised most reservedly for the mistake, also they informed me that the matter would be corrected immediately. Within three weeks I had in my possession a colour photograph of the new headstone and inscription along with a letter informing me of the reason for the mistake, citing difficulty of record keeping at the time of 1917 and the fact that the Bar to the Medal was awarded posthumously.

I suppose I was luckier than most as I had three grandads, albeit only knowing one of them; but I still feel incomplete not knowing what happened to grandad Butterfield after the disbanding of the Bradford Pals.

Why he was in Famars and what he was doing when he was killed, maybe someone sometime may be able to give me that information before I too pass on.

Mr Bevan Hogg can be contacted on (01274) 618344.