Project reveals trauma and suffering of returning West Cumbrian war heroes

Posted on 19th Oct 2019

HUNDREDS of Cleator Moor men lost their lives during the First World War; others had to face returning home with life-changing injuries.

Cleator Moor World War One project, which is researching almost 250 men who lost their lives in the war, has received information from families about relatives who returned home.

“The overriding message is that though these men survived the conflict, it had a lasting, profound effect on them that blighted the remainder of their lives,” said project leader, Dave Farrell.

“It’s generally accepted now that The Great War was the first industrial war, which saw widespread deployment and use of new technologies such as artillery, machine guns and chemical weapons, which inflicted death and serious injuries on a scale previously unimaginable.

“We have received numerous accounts from relatives of men who returned home but were in poor physical shape for the rest of their lives”.

For example, Henry Walsh, from Queen Street, Cleator Moor, died in March 1917. He had been medically discharged from the forces in 1916. Dave said: The Whitehaven News report on his death quite clearly attributes his death to gassing in 1915, while he was serving with the 2nd Battalion Border Regiment.”

The roll of honour shows servicemen like Patrick Grant, who was discharged on medical grounds from service and died at his family home, from his injuries, in July 1917.

John Howlett returned home in 1919 and tried to resume a normal life. However, he suffered from the effects of gassing for the remainder of his life. “It is noticeable that many of these men died while still relatively young, in their 30s or 40s,” said Dave.

One volunteer, Lynne Green from Yorkshire, revealed the tale of her great, great uncle Sammy Anderson, who was born in Cleator Moor in 1899.

Aged 17, he was conscripted into the Royal Field Artillery in 1917 as a driver; he suffered spinal injuries and was discharged in 1919.

He was transferred to Sherburn Hospital, County Durham, for disabled ex-servicemen and spent the rest of his life there.

One week a year he came back to Cumbria to stay with his family before his death in September 1942.

Project reveals trauma and suffering of returning  West Cumbrian war heroes