Mr B Hadfield – Remarkable Public Tribute

December 1923

Mexborough & Swinton Times, December 22

Mr. B. Hadfield

Funeral at Denaby Main

Remarkable Public Tribute

Remarkable testimony to the general esteem in which the late Mr. Benjamin Hadfield assistant under manager of the Cadeby Colliery was held in the Denaby district, was forthcoming on Sunday afternoon, when he was interred in his last resting place attended by a great many mourners, while a still larger assembly of the people of Denaby lined the route from the church to the cemetery.

The Denaby Ambulance Brigade, of which Mr. Hadfield had been a member and official for many years, attended practically at full strength. The Denaby and Cadeby Divisions and the Nursing Division assembled at the Brigade Headquarters in Tickhill street, and led by Corps Superintendent H. C. Harrison and all the other officers marched to the Parish Church.

The body of Mr. Hadfield had lain in the north chapel all night, and prior to the service was reverently conveyed into the chancel. Except for a portion reserved for Mr. Hadfield´s family and some other personal mourners the nave was largely occupied by the ambulance men and the nurses, and the rear of the church was densely thronged by representatives of the various organisations and interests with which Mr. Hadfield was prominently identified.

The atmosphere was very tense and solemn, for most of those present had a real affection and respect for this fine young man, so untimely cut off, and were genuinely moved and afflicted that he should “go hence and be no more seen”, with the best and brightest part of his career unfulfilled. The church was crowded with men and women who had been cheered and helped by one who had spent all his life and energy and mental and spiritual gifts in the service of others. Denaby had not mourned so generally or so generously since the “black week” of July 1912.

The service was conducted by the Rev. Harry Lee, Vicar of Denaby Main, who at the close of the lessons paid an exquisite little tribute to his dead friend. The great company assembled he said, was evidence of the variety and extent of their departed brother´s associations and activities in that place.

He was a man who spent himself eagerly and unselfishly for the improvement of the general lot. He set himself the highest possible standard of conduct and duty, and working cheerful and incessantly among his fellows, he did much to imbue them with the exalted spirit of service that animated him. His illness was brief, but very painful. A few minutes before he died his face, which had been drawn with pain, became overspread with a beautiful smile, and he murmured the opening line of the hymn “How bright those glorious spirits shine”. If ever a man had prepared himself for such a vision by a life spent in Christian love and fellowship, Benjamin Hadfield had. His life and death were an example and a most urgent reminder to all who esteemed the one and mourned the other.

The beautiful hymn referred to by the Vicar was then sung by the congregation and the cortege moved slowly out of the church, the organist playing Chopin´s “Funeral March”. As the organ strains died away the wistful, mysterious melody could still be heard in the church, almost like an echo. It had been taken up by the Ambulance Band which was leading the mourners in the cemetery round by the cricket field where Ben Hadfield keenest of players and best of sportsmen spent so many happy summer afternoons and evenings.

The little cemetery crowded alike with dead and living was swept with an icy wind out of a grey gloomy sky, as the mourners stood bare-headed while the remainder of the sad slant stirring Office was spoken by the Vicar and many lingered to take a last look at the coffin of a good and kind friend. Few men have gone down to the grave more deeply and genuinely mourned. For him no doubt “to die was gain”, but for his friends it seemed to be unrelieved loss, though his life perhaps takes on a new value and influence from the shock of his death. His grave was heaped high with flowers, some of them belated tributes to a worth which was never properly estimated until then.

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