IN our occasional series about serving soldiers in World War 1, here Tricia Platts, secretary of Bradford's World War 1 Group, looks at the Dean brothers from Ilkley and the strange case of the Steinthal brothers.

Tom, Arnold and Arthur Dean came from the younger end of a family of seven children. Their father William and his brother Isaac ran a building yard on Ilkley's Nelson Road.

Unlike other brothers who joined the same units, who joined together, served together and, ultimately, died together, the Dean brothers joined different regiments, which may explain why two of them survived the war.

Tricia Platts said: "The eldest of the three pictured here is Arnold (centre of photo). He was 24 when war began and had been living in Harrogate. He was in the 5th West Yorkshire Territorials and was later commissioned as a Lieutenant. He went abroad on April 15, 1915 and survived the war.

"Arthur (on the right, age 20 in 1914) joined the West Riding Rifles and was abroad three months later, on July 15, 1915. He was also commissioned and transferred to 4th Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment.

"Arthur was killed in action on July 3, 1917, and is buried at Croisilles Cemetery. He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. The award was gazetted in March 1916 but perhaps the action was in late 1915 when the Territorials were engaged in heavy fighting on the Yser Canal north of Ypres.

"The youngest brother was Tom. He was only 17 when war began but he had been a volunteer with the local territorial artillery unit. As Driver T A Dean, Tom's medal card shows he went abroad on April 17, 1915 - two days after his older brother Arnold.

"Tom is listed on page 176 of D245 Battery Record as going to France at about the same time as the Ilkley Battery but with other units of the 49th Division. He joining the Battery later and survived the war."

The second story involves a man who changed his name. This was not unusual in World War 1, at least before conscription in 1916 and the harsher penalties imposed by the Military Act when the scale of the slaughter and limb-lopping injuries had decimated the volunteers of 1914/1915.

After 1916 men changed their name to avoid being turned into slurry on the Western Front. Before some of them assumed another identity to 'do their bit' with their band of brothers abroad; this was especially the case with those under 19, the age they had to be to serve as soldiers abroad, and those who had German names.

The Steinthal brothers were a case in point. Paul Cuthbert Steinthal commanded the Ilkley Battery of the Royal Artillery under the name of Major Paul Petrie. This crops up in Lyn Macdonald's book 1915: The Death of Innocence, in which one of the Battery soldiers says:-

"Major Paul Petrie was our Commanding Officer, and actually we'd lost him a few weeks before we went to France. It was a strange affair, because he wasn't called Petrie then.

"His name was Steinthal, a German name, and he'd been forced to leave the battery, because the powers that be were suspicious about his antecedents and thought he might have German sympathies.

"He was in the wool trade in Bradford, and there were a lot of families in that business who were German from generations back. Anyway, he was forced to give up the command while they checked all this out and we got a nasty little fat short-arsed fellow in his place.

"Nobody liked him. He had a high opinion of himself and he used to give orders in a high-pitched, snarling voice . . . . Fortunately our own Major came back to us just before we left – as Major Petrie.”

Tricia Platts added: "His brother Francis Eric Steinthal took the same name and served in the Royal Fusiliers as Francis Eric Petrie - the only time I've known two Medal Cards for each of two brothers which record their changes of name.

"Francis Eric had been a school master at St Lawrence College, Ramsgate and became an American citizen in 1949."