From a plumber to a top marksman

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In 1959 it was reported that 72-year-old local businessman Arthur McNulty passed away at his home in Woodhouse Lane, Brighouse. He left a widow, one son and two daughters. Little did many of the readers of that news know that this unassuming man, who was the head of the very successful town centre plumbers and electricians McNulty and Walker in Police Street (better know these days as Lawson Road), had been in his earlier life a much sought after marksman.

In 1918 he went into business with Frank Walker, which was to become the highly respected plumbers and electricians in Police Street. As the years went by he was to eventually take over the company, retaining its familiar company name.

Prior to the First World War Arthur, like many other young men, joined the local territorial army at the Drill Hall, Wakefield Road, Brighouse. In no time at all he became a member of the rifle shooting team which was led by Sergeant Wardingley.

In 1912 the team took part in the Yorkshire Field Firing Trophy competition, which was held at Strensall with the Brighouse (D) Company of the Territorial Force, which represented the Halifax Battalion. The marksmen from Brighouse brought home not only the Wilson Cup, which had been presented by Brigadier-General G. J. Wilson, but also the coveted Bingham Trophy.

It was Colonel J.E.Bingham who had this trophy made and then presented it to the Yorkshire Volunteers for their annual field firing competition.

This magnificent trophy was valued at £800 (according to an internet comparison website the spending power of a 1912 £1 would be £65.94 today).

What a welcome the winning team received on their way back to Brighouse. The team stopped at the home of the Mayor Robert Thornton, who joined them on the rest of their journey to Brighouse. Arriving at Rastrick Parish Church the whole of the Brighouse Company were in attendance with its commanding officer Lieut Goldthorp along with the National Reserve and its commanding officer Capt. Winterburn. The Laurie Command scout troop with Scout Master Crowther cheered the victors loudly.

Brighouse Temperance Band led the procession through Rastrick into Brighouse along Commercial Street, King Street and then along Wakefield Road to the Drill Hall. It was reported that this was one of the largest crowd ever seen in Brighouse, second only to the 1912 summer visit of King George V and Queen Mary.

Whilst this event was remarkable in its self the firing team went one better in winning the Bingham Trophy and Wilson Cup again in 1913. In 1912 each member of the team had been awarded a silver Connaught medal. For the spectacular win in 1913 each member was again presented with the silver Connaught medal, only this time it was with a gold centre.

In 1912 he was a Lance Corporal and in 1913 a full Corporal and in later years achieved the rank of Company-Sergeant Major.

During the war the enemy had a well equipped and highly proficient sniping team and gradually the battalion came to realise the most effective way of dealing with it was to have their own sniping team. Arthur McNulty had been in the TAs nine years and even before the war was considered to be one of the best shots in the battalion. His sniping skills were put to a real test whilst serving in the trenches at Ypres where he was regarded as an expert sniper.

In 1916 he was awarded the Military Medal and was later also ‘mentioned in dispatches’.

His methods of sniping were soon been shown as training exercises to others. He was appointed the instructor at the 49th Division Technical School and in 1917 at the 147th Infantry Brigade School. He was considered to be so good that he went to America to train the American Army snipers his methods.

At the end of the war in 1918 Arthur returned home to Brighouse and took up his trade as a master plumber. He was good at that too. Just as he trained men to fire rifles, he trained them in the intricacies of heating engineering.

There is a strange end to this story because the Bingham trophy disappeared after the war and to this day no-one knows what happened to it or where it is. It was on display in the Brighouse Library and it is documented that countless people went to view it in its glass cabinet but where it is now, no-one knows......

Special thanks to members of the Great War Forum website: www.1914-1918.invisionzone.com.