Promise extinguished – how a Waifs and Strays’ Society lad fell on the Western Front

In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme we have a post written by one of our Archivists, Helena Hilton, that reflects on the life and death of a former ‘Waifs and Strays’ lad who fell in this corner of France.

Twenty thousand dead on the first day, the worst day in the history of the British Army; eighteen weeks of slaughter that left over a million men killed or wounded on the two sides of the line; all for a scant few miles’ advance (Google Maps calculates that one can cover the whole distance advanced, at its widest extent, in sixteen minutes).  The Battle of the Somme has seared itself onto the national memory as emblematic of the First World War in all its horror.  But sheer numbers can deaden the impact of the story and sometimes to make it real it is better to concentrate on an individual story, one of the names on a war memorial, to stand as an emblem of all the many others.

As we mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, we focus on one of those names carved in stone, a child who was in the care of The Waifs and Strays Society and ended his life in that corner of Picardy.

John Bashforth 1916 004

Sadly many of the Society’s ‘old boys’ were killed or injured on the First World War battlefields, but thanks to the efforts of Martin Bashforth we know a bit more than usual about one of them, John Francis Cuthbert Bashforth (who was known as Frank).  Despite sharing a surname Martin is not related to Frank, but his curiosity was piqued by seeing his name on a memorial and he set about investigating his story.  It is remarkable how much can be assembled from the public record, and our enquiry service at The Children’s Society played a part in fleshing out the picture by providing a summary of Frank’s case file.  (This, of course, is a demonstration of the power of records and the value of keeping archives.)  As a result of Martin’s work piecing together various sources we now know about the entirety of Frank’s life: his article setting out his research and sources can be read in full here.

John Bashforth 1916 005

Frank’s background was slightly out of the usual for applicants to The Waifs and Strays Society.  His parents, Amy Barwis and John Bashforth, were from different social classes and they married against the wishes of Amy’s middle class father.  Amy was the daughter of a well to do clergyman, Revd William Cuthbert Barwis, who at the time of her marriage was the vicar of St John the Evangelist, Hoylandswaine, South Yorkshire.  John Bashforth was the son of a nail maker and had worked as a miner and as a labourer at a local ironworks.  They had to run away to Sheffield to marry in July 1879, such was the opposition of William Barwis: he felt the shock so keenly that he moved to another church as a curate.  The young couple returned to Hoylandswaine and had five children.  Frank was the youngest, born on 5 February 1889.

Tragedy precipitated the application to The Waifs and Strays Society.  In November 1897 when the family was living in Headingley, Leeds, Amy died of a heart attack.  Life would have been extremely difficult for John: becoming a full time father for any length of time was not an option for him in those pre Welfare State days, and provision would have to be made for the children.  Frank was only eight when his mother died, and a few months afterwards, in March 1898 he entered the Society’s Bede Home, Wakefield.  The application form, which was completed by his godmother Frances Annie Booker, revealed continuing tension following his parents’ socially unequal marriage.  She suggested Amy’s ill health was in part due to lack of food “as the father of the boy drinks and is a good for nothing man.  The mother was a gentlewoman, the daughter of the Reverend Cuthbert Barwis, for some time Vicar of Hoylandswaine, Penistone.  Owing to his daughter marrying such a man he gave up the living.”  Miss Booker promised to pay 5 shillings a week towards Frank’s maintenance.

Shortly after arriving at the Bede Home Frank became an orphan: John Bashforth died of pneumonia in April 1898.  Frank remained in the care of The Waifs and Strays Society until September 1902.  He had gained a scholarship to Wakefield Grammar School in September 1901 and the following year his godmother took over responsibility for him.  It was unusual for children in the Homes to continue their education beyond the usual school leaving age, and perhaps this indicates that Frank was seen as being of a higher social class with greater aspirations.  The school archives record that he remained there until July 1907 when he left to take up a post with the Bank of England in London.

Martin Bashforth has managed to construct a picture of Frank’s time in London using the limited sources available.  It appears that alongside his employment at the Bank his strong religious beliefs drove him to work with the poor.  His elder brother was a curate in a deprived part of the city.  Frank found time to go to night classes and in 1912 he left London for St John’s College, Oxford where he studied theology, gaining a degree in 1915.  He apparently intended, in due course, to become a clergyman, but since 1909 he had belonged to the Territorial Army and once his studies were completed and the War was underway he applied for a commission in the Regular Army.

John Francis Cuthbert Bashforth. Photograph from the archives of the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Wakefield

John Francis Cuthbert Bashforth. Photograph from the archives of the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Wakefield

Frank was sent to France on 4 February 1916 as a Second Lieutenant in the 9th Battalion, the Norfolk Regiment.  He features in letters written by a colleague, Lieutenant Cecil Upcher, who survived the War and left his personal records to the Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum, and it is these together with the battalion war diary, that have helped Martin flesh out Frank’s time on the Western Front.  At the beginning of August 1916 the battalion was moved to the Somme Front.  On 14 September they moved into the front line trenches.  Frank was killed the following day during an attack on a German strongpoint known as the Quadrilateral.  His body was recovered from the battlefield and personal possessions returned to his family; however his final resting place is not known and his name is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.

Frank was also remembered by other institutions including The Waifs and Strays Society.  On 10 October 1916 the Secretary of the Ripon-Wakefield Branch of the Society, Lieutenant Colonel Beresford-Peirse sent a newspaper cutting about Frank’s death to the supporter magazine “Our Waifs and Strays”.  In his letter he recalled that Frank was at the Bede Home “where he had a great influence for the good.”  His family circumstances had been sad, as both his parents had died, but he had overcome these difficult beginnings and had worked hard to rise from them while doing his best for others.  Lieutenant Colonel Beresford-Peirse was well acquainted with his history since leaving the Bede Home.  The Society liked to keep in touch with the children it had helped, tracing their achievements and in some sad cases like this one adding their names to the Roll of Honour recording those who died in their country’s service.

One name on a war memorial; one life snuffed out with all its potential.  The work that Frank would have done as a clergyman never happened.  Multiply it by thousands and we have an idea of the seismic impact of the Somme, one hundred years ago.

Fundraising, advertising and the First World War

We continue our series of blogs that look at the impact of the First World War on The Children’s Society. This post written by one of The Children’s Society Archive team, Clare McMurtrie, considers particular issues during the First World War – fundraising and advertising.

The Children’s Society’s Archive holds a fascinating collection of 523 fundraising flyers that were inserts in The Society’s former supporter’s magazine Our Waifs and Strays. The inserts date back to The Society’s beginnings in the 1880s, when it was known as the Church of England Waifs and Strays Society, and were often beautifully illustrated. The Society’s fundraising flyers chart not only the history of The Society itself, but also its place within history – from the workhouses and Poor Law of the nineteenth century, to the First and Second World Wars of the twentieth.

For Church and Country, October 1914

For Church and Country, October 1914

During the First World War fundraising was important to The Society (and other charities) as it sought to raise extra funds through advertising to support families affected by the War. Flyers included the one above from October 1914, which has a photograph of a young man in uniform who was formerly in the care of The Society, alongside the caption ‘For Church and Country’ inside a flag. Another First World War flyer is one which includes an illustration commissioned from Bernard Partridge. This insert was used in January 1918, at the tail end of the War, in the same month as British Premier and Liberal politician David Lloyd George (1863-1945) gave a speech to Trade Union delegates to outline British War Aims. The insert and its caption ‘Stick It!’ reflect the resilient and determined wartime spirit and the message of Lloyd George’s speech.

Sir John Bernard Partridge, known as Bernard, was born in London on 11th October 1861, the youngest son of Professor Richard Partridge and Fanny Turner. His uncle was John Partridge, Portrait Painter Extraordinary to Queen Victoria and he was educated at Stonyhurst College at the same time as Arthur Conan Doyle, before attending Heatherley’s and the West London School of Art.

Partridge had worked as a decorator of church interiors, but freelanced as a cartoonist. His first published work appeared in Moonshine, and he also contributed cartoons and illustrations to publications including Judy, Illustrated London News, Vanity Fair, Illustrated Sporting & Dramatic News, Lady’s Pictorial, Pick-Me-Up, Quiver and The Sketch. On the recommendation of George du Maurier, grandfather of author Daphne du Maurier, Partridge first contributed to Punch in February 1891. He joined the staff later that year, going onto work for the magazine for over fifty years, producing political and joke cartoons as well as theatre caricatures. In 1910 Partridge succeeded Edward Linley Sambourne (1834-1896) as Chief Cartoonist, a position he held until his death.

Stick It! flyer, January 1918

Stick It! flyer, January 1918

Partridge’s style included being particular about figures in his cartoons and disliking using more than two in any cartoon, while tending to draw elaborate, statuesque figures in classical poses. The ‘Stick It!’ illustration is therefore an unusual example of his work in that it includes three figures; a Navy man, a soldier and a baby. Its message ‘To all at home’ was both a plea for donations at a time of economic hardship across the country and one of solidarity to reader’s plagued by war for four years. He was knighted in 1925 by Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin. Bernard Partridge died in London on 9th August 1945.

Browse through publications of Our Waifs and Strays from 1882: http://www.hiddenlives.org.uk/publications/waifs_and_strays/

Browse the Punch Magazine Cartoon Archive: http://www.punch.co.uk

Learn more about conflict and the First World War: http://www.iwm.org.uk/

For information about The Children’s Society Archive’s ‘Hidden Lives Revealed’ web site: http://www.hiddenlives.org.uk/

or you can consult the Archive’s on-line catalogue: http://www.calmview.eu/childrensociety/Calmview

If you would would like to know about how The Children’s Society continues to change children’s lives today, visit the charity’s website: http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/

“Doing good work” – the Kitchener Memorial Home, Hornsey

To commemorate Remembrance Sunday and Remembrance Day we have a post written by one of our Archivists, Gabrielle St John-McAlister, that looks at a particular event during the First World War.

One of The Children’s Society’s most renowned supporters during the First World War was Herbert Horatio Kitchener, Lord Kitchener (Earl Kitchener of Khartoum, Secretary of State for War), possibly best known to the general public today as the face of the ‘Your Country Needs You’ recruitment poster.

Fundraising leaflet, July 1918

Fundraising leaflet featuring Lord Kitchener, July 1918

To show his support he sent a telegram to the Bishop of London in May 1915, noting “I know that the Church of England Waifs and Strays Society has done and is doing good work especially by their care of the families of those who are fighting for us”; this is indicative of the high esteem in which he held the Society. His influence cannot have failed to help raise the profile of the Society and bring its needs and aims to a wider public. The Society was then known as the Church of England Society for the Provision of Homes for Waifs and Strays; in 1946, the title changed to the Church of England Children’s Society.

Telegram from Lord Kitchener to the 'Waifs and Strays Society', 1915

Telegram from Lord Kitchener to the ‘Waifs and Strays Society’, 1915

Lord Kitchener died in June 1916 when HMS Hampshire, on which he was travelling to negotiations with Russia, hit a mine near the Orkneys and sank with the loss of almost all on board. His body was never found. Even in death there was a connection with the Society; Charles West, a Society ‘Old Boy’, also died on HMS Hampshire.

Extract from the Society's Roll of Honour - the entry for Charles West who died with Lord Kitchener on HMS Hampshire

Extract from the Society’s Roll of Honour – Charles West who died with Lord Kitchener on HMS Hampshire

Almost immediately the Society began to discuss how best to show its appreciation for Kitchener’s support. By June 19th, just 14 days after Kitchener’s death, the Society’s Executive Committee had decided that “a life so noble and an example so inspiring should have a monument entirely their own.” The intention for the memorial was noted in the Executive Committee Minutes of June 1916. The idea of the Lord Kitchener Memorial Home was born and a fund to pay for its construction was begun. Lord Kitchener’s sister wrote to the Executive Committee in July to express her approval of the plans. The Home, standing in an acre of land at Hillfield Avenue, Hornsey, was opened by the Duke of Connaught in July 1918, with a dedication led by the Bishop of London.

The Kitchener Memorial Home for Boys, c1920

The Kitchener Memorial Home for Boys, Hornsey, c1920

Fittingly, the Home initially took in 47 boys, all of whom had fathers killed or incapacitated in World War I, thus combining the dual purposes of remembering Kitchener and aiding the families of some of those who fell.

2456

For other information about The Children’s Society Archive’s former children’s homes, visit the Archive’s ‘Hidden Lives Revealed’ web site: http://www.hiddenlives.org.uk/homes/

or you can consult the Archive’s on-line catalogue: http://www.calmview.eu/childrensociety/Calmview

If you would would like to know about how The Children’s Society continues to change children’s lives today, visit the charity’s website: http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/

A funding emergency on the outbreak of the First World War

The First World War had an immediate impact on The Children’s Society (then known as the Waifs and Strays Society). According to our Annual Report for 1914, for the first time in its history the Society took in over 1000 children, partly as a direct consequence of the outbreak of war. (Click the image below to see a bigger version.)

The Waifs and Strays Society Annual Report 1914

Despite fundraising events coming to an abrupt end when war was declared, the Society was not deterred, and it was determined to play a useful part in helping towards the war effort. The Society’s philosophy was

we do not throw ourselves today into “the fighting line” – it is not our place – but we do offer our experience, gained during many years, as a valuable asset “at the base,” – where women’s sorrows and children’s wants are crying out. Our gates are always open to all those who knock at them in real need, and … our door-bell … has been rung incessantly and with intense urgency within the last few weeks.

The nation was in shock, but it was not long before everyone was back at work again, with an overwhelming feeling that every one of the efforts must in some way be linked to the war.  So, rather than dances and fetes (such “frivolous forms of entertainment” were deemed inappropriate in the circumstances) more sober meetings and gatherings, and sales of work continued and provided much needed funds for the Society.

Girls at St Chad’s Home, in Far Headingley, Leeds 1914
The funds raised proved vital as more and more men joined up, leaving increasing numbers of children without guardians. The rise in admissions and the increase in the Society’s costs caused concern, but much good work was done by the Society’s War Emergency Fund which enabled “a really substantial start towards meeting our new obligations.”

Here are a couple of letters we received from supporters in 1914, and which were sent to the editor of our supporter magazine ‘Our Waifs and Strays’.

Dear Sir, – I herewith enclose £5 as a donation to the War Emergency Fund, but I wish to be kept ‘Anonymous’. I have foregone my holiday this year on account of the war, and send you what I have saved in consequence.

Dear Sir, – I enclose postal order for 10s., being a subscription to the funds of your Society from my sister and myself. We are concerned lest, in the necessary demands made by the War Fund, such charities as yours, which are already established and in working order, should suffer. We therefore send part of our subscription to your fund.

The following are just some of the schemes used to raise money for the War Emergency Fund:

The organisation of the Society’s Pageant, small Sales of Work, Meetings, etc.

The Issue of special small collecting purses.

The sale of the Society’s “poster-stamps”.

The organisation of house-to-house collections or special local appeals.

The arranging of “Pound Days” (to provide food and clothing for the inmates of the Homes.

The issue of collecting-boxes, to be placed at church doors, or in shops, or distributed to people for collecting amongst their friends, or for their own weekly donations.

Our Waifs and Strays Supporter Magazine November 1914

(Click the image above to see a bigger version.)

Despite the war the Society decided it would go ahead with its annual Bazaar.  Instead of selling what may be called ‘frivolities’, useful articles, “particularly garments for wounded and convalescent men, for destitute families”, and “for the children in our Homes” would be sold instead.  Many ordinary people contributed items, and in some cases made items to be sold, and acted as sales people for the Society, but that’s a story for another post!

Remembering the First World War

Today marks 100 years since Britain declared war on Germany and the First World War began.

The next four years will be a time to remember and reflect on the war and all those it affected.

Thomas, who was in the care of The Children's Society and later joined up to fight in the First World War, photo dated 1915

People like Thomas, who had entered the care of The Children’s Society (then known as the Waifs and Strays Society) around the age of six. He lived in the Rochdale Home for Boys and left the home in 1903, when he was around 16 years old. Like so many others, Thomas joined the army and went to fight in the First World War. The above photo of Thomas was taken in 1915.

As well as those at the front, the First World War affected those at home, and the Waifs and Strays Society saw many more children coming into care as a result.

We’ll be discussing some of the impacts of the war on the Waifs and Strays Society later in the week, so watch this space.