Echoes of the past: Remembering the Brighouse men lost during the Somme

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As we approach the centenary of the Battle of the Somme it is a time to reflect on what happened all those years ago.

The Battle of the Somme took place between July 1 and November 18 1916 - a period of time that saw 420,000 British casualties, 200,000 French casualties and 420,000 Germans.

There were more British soldiers killed on that first July morning than there was during the whole of the Battle of Waterloo.

Brighouse and it surrounding communities, like almost all others, was to lose many of its young men during that five months.

The first day on the Somme ( July 1) was the worst day in the history of the British army, which had c. 57,470 casualties. The British troops on the Somme comprised a mixture of the remains of the pre-war regular army, the Territorial Force and the Kitchener Army, which was composed of Pals battalions, recruited from the same places and occupations

On November 3, 1918 a memorial service took place at St Matthew’s Church, Lightcliffe and of the 46 men being remembered many of them had been killed at the Somme.

Some of those being remembered at the memorial service were not all killed at the Somme, They included:

Rev Alban Bodley Mace, CF, October 3 whilst acting as the Chaplain at Salonica.

Rev Mace was the Curate of Brighouse and had earlier been the Curate at St Matthew’s during 1910. Whilst at Lightcliffe he was lodging at one of Crow Nest Cottages and was 31 years old when he died. He was nephew to Sir Algernon and Lady Janet Firth.

On May 5, 1918 a special service was held at St James Church to dedicate a stained glass window in his honour.

Sgt Harry Stuart Riley, July 23, of the Lancashire Fusiliers and lived at Ripley Street, Lightcliffe; Corporal Joe Willie Shaw, October 8.

Second Lieut John Andrew Benjamin Jolley, October 13 and Corporal Fred Booth, October 26.

Private Harry E Minnet was one of those killed on the first push on July 1, he was a member of the Royal Fusiliers and lived at George Street, Hipperholme.

Pte Reginald Naylor, July 18; Pte Bertram Wood September 4 ; Pte Aaron Sucksmith September 4 of the Durham Light Infantry, 27 years of age, who lived with his parents in St Giles Road. Pte Thomas Stocks, September 18 Gordon Highlanders, from 22, East Street; Pte Richard Greenwood, October 3.

Sgt Horace Shaw, September 3 and Corp Herbert Aspinall, September 3.

Sgt Harry Stuart Riley 23 July of the Lancashire Fusiliers and lived at Ripley Street, Lightcliffe; Corporal Joe Willie Shaw, October 8. Second Lieut John Andrew Benjamin Jolley, October 13.