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A day of very mixed emotions


Today was divided into two very different sections, the first of which was complete joy. In my role as committee member of the Ripon Activity Project (RAP), I accompanied a large group to Diggerland on the outskirts of Castleford. The slogan ‘Muddy Good Fun’ is, I think, a very apt one and the faces of the members enticed out of the restaurant to have their photograph taken say it all.


Fortunately, the day was a mild and dry one, so the fun was only as muddy as everyone cared to make it, but the opportunity to drive full sized equipment was eagerly seized upon.


The less agile (or intrepid) amongst us could go up in the Sky Shuttle and view the proceedings from above!

Hartshead St Peters Church

Having waved off the rest of our group and, as it was only a few miles away, I took the opportunity to drive over to St Peter’s in Hartshead. It has wonderful views over the West Yorkshire countryside, parts of it date back to Norman times and it has connections with Chartists, Luddites, the Brontes and even Robin Hood. However, that’s not why I wanted to visit that little church.

DRD medal and certificate (1)

In 1916, a war widow aged 30 walked down that path to her second wedding. The bridegroom was David Robert Davidson, a local man ten years her junior, who wanted her to have the right to his army pension, should he also not survive. That was his way of looking after the family – for there were also three little daughters – of James Barker Burrows, who had been his friend.  Little is known about David’s earlier life, but it appears that he had been a workhouse child, separated from his brother and sister and sent north to work in the mines. The marriage was to be a very short one, as David was killed in action in 1917. He’s commemorated on the Arras memorial and also remembered now amongst the men of Hartshead who marched off to the Great War. His bride was my Great-Aunt Cissie.

In 1919, she and her daughters went across to the USA to join family members in Ohio and later moved to California, but they took David’s photograph and medal with them and always remembered him with great affection. (As far as I can ascertain, he is the young soldier on the right hand side of the photograph behind the Lewis gun.) On the death of the last of that generation, both items returned to the UK and they are being kept as a sacred trust by one of my cousins until – if ever – a blood relative of David’s come forward to claim them.


I wrote up this part of my family history for Down Your Way magazine and it appeared in the issue dated March 2011, but I’m very well aware that there are details missing and hope very much one day to be able to fill in the gaps.


13 September, 2014 - Make the first comment on this story

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