1914 -Conisborough and Denaby Main and the Great War

In 1914 the villages of Conisbrough and Denaby Main were starting to settle down after the trauma of the Cadeby mine disaster two years earlier in 1912.

The year began with normal issues. The Conisbrough isolation hospital had a dearth of beds to deal with a continual flow of cases of enteric and scarlet fevers, typhoid and diphtheria. The Cadeby miner´s were ready to strike in an ongoing fight over wages. Reverent Hawkes, the Denaby Main vicar announced his new appointment at Johannesburg. The Denaby orchestral society made a popular return after a lapse for respect of the sad aftermath of the Cadeby disaster.

In March came the shocking revelation of a child mother´s crime when a 15-year-old Conisbrough girl was convicted of wilful murder of a newly born baby. A Denaby boy fell to his death of a burning tip at Maltby, and a Conisbrough boy drowned in the River Don. Then a two year boy was found strangled from the rails of his cot.

The Conisbrough show enjoyed a sunny day, but a poor crowd

Then the world exploded.

Great Britain declared War on Germany on August 4th, 1914 and the war was upon the population very quickly. Conisbrough and Denaby Main, who had lost 91 sons two years previously were asked to send more of their children to fight and die, this time for their country.

A Recruitment office was quickly established in Hill Street in Conisbrough and in the first few days over 20 men joined the forces from Cadeby colliery alone. Two companies from Denaby and Conisbrough, numbering about 200 each, were quickly formed and marched to a cheering crowd from Denaby and Conisborough to Doncaster. Women wept and cheered and an enthusiastic crowd followed them a long way out of the town.

Two prominent young men, Harry Sargan and Sydney Appleyard were accepted into the Royal Household cavalry with the local papers extolling their virtues. And the papers were full of jingoism and bravado.

Then, in September came the first Conisbrough casualty; Thomas Bemrose had fallen at the battle of the Aisne. Harry Gamble had gone to the front the day after his marriage on August 4 and was shot fatally at the Aisne on October 2. William Hague was wounded and crawled 200 yards to rescue and recovered to take part in in four remaining charges in the Aisne battle.

A Cadeby miner Alex Wood was killed in action in France. Another local man, Private Shakespeare was taken prisoner in Germany and wrote to say how little food there was and Trooper Griffiths , of the Royal horse guards, gave graphic detail of the horrors of the war. Sergeant Perry from Denaby took part in the celebrated charge of the ninth Lancers and Frank Smith, a Conisbrough ambulance man helped to remove the body of Prince Maurice of Battenburg.

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