Stories of the Heroes
In total 2100 men from the Conisborough and Denaby went to fight for their country in the Great War and over 300 never returned.
All the Great War Heroes who had been won distinctive honour during the conflict were presented with Gold Watches, 60 in total.
Here are a few of their stories, with special thanks to John Gwatkin for his help in compiling the information and the families for the provision of the stories and photographs .
Company Sergeant Major Fred Rudd, D.C.M., 2/5th York & Lancaster Regiment
At Graincourt on April 12, 1918 the advance was held up by intense enemy machine gun fire. On his own initiative, Sergeant Major Rudd rushed the gun, accounting for all the team to enabled the advance to continue. He showed complete disregard for danger and set a fine example to all ranks.
Following his discharged from the Army with wounds he received during the fighting, he returned to his wife and family at 36 Warmsworth Street. He died in May 1938 and was buried with a full military honours.
Sergeant Harry Ellis, DCM, MM and bar, 62nd Division, Royal Engineers, Signal Unit
Harry Ellis was born in 1893 at 16 corporative Terence, Conisbrough. He began work at Cadeby Main when he left school at the age of 13. As a general haulage hand, then as a assistant chemist and after as assistant surveyor. He volunteered for the Army and enlisted at Glossop Road barracks, Sheffield,
Sergeant Harry Ellis, of Station Villas, Station Road, Conisbrough, was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for restoring lines of communication under heavy enemy shellfire in the vicinity of Bullscourt in April 1917. He was also awarded the military medal and bar and recommended for the Croix de Guerre.
At the end of hostilities he returned to work at Cadeby Main colliery. Harry Ellis died at his home 56. Tickhill Street, Denaby Main in March 1976, aged 83
Srgnt Humphrey `Bunt´ Humphries, D.C.M.,M.M., 116 Machine Gun Section, Machine Gun Corps
He was born in Denaby Main in 1888 and began work at Denaby Main Colliery at the age of 13 and joined the army in 1914. He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal in France in 1916, whilst still a private. His citation reads; ” By carrying a wounded comrades some hundred yards to a place of safety and then returning for two machine guns entrusted to his care, which you succeeded in saving, at Hamel in France.
After the war he returned home to 19 Doncaster road and resumed work underground at Denaby Main Colliery, but as a result of a `fit´ underground he had to leave his employment, and thereby his house and home coals. He managed to get a job as a gravedigger at Denaby Main cemetery. He died in October 1930 at the age of 42
Sub Lieutenant Clifford John Pickett, M.C., Royal Naval Division
Pickett was born in Somerset in 1893, and came to work at Conisbrough at the age of 18. He began working at Cadeby Main Colliery as a miner.
He enlisted in 1914 and served in the Royal Naval Division during the First World War, as a Sergeant. He was one of the last of a party of 14 to leave Gallipoli. He was commissioned to the rank of Sub Lieutenant in April 1918 and severely wounded in France by machine gun fire
He was awarded the military Cross in action at Cambrai for conspicuous gallantry, “in rushing a hostile machine gun next, when the point-blank fire, despatching crews and capturing guns. He led the platoon on to the final objective, and showed great determination in consolidating the position one under heavy shellfire. Throughout the action he set a high example of courage to the remainder of the men and undoubtedly stimulated them to their utmost.
The military Cross was presented by King George V at Buckingham Palace. The band was playing the Merry Widow waltz whilst the presentation will be made
Company Sergeant Major George Oldfield, M.M., 9th York and Lancaster
He was born in 1886 at Bollington, Cheshire where he began work in a local mill at the age of 10, working long and arduous hours. He came to Mexborough, when he was 12, and enlisted in the army in 1914. He was awarded the military medal for gallantry and devotion to duty in action near Orvilliers in 1916. Citation states: He showed great bravery and coolness in getting the men into position for the assault, and when the time came for the advance he led the men with dashand determination. As a result of this action, Sergeant Oldfield was made company Sergeant Major
He began work at Cadeby Main Colliery in 1926 and was a member of the Conisbrough UDC for 25 years. He died in March 1954 , aged 76 and had the distinction of having a street in Conanby named after him – “Oldfield Avenue”
Lance Corporal William Corney, M.M., 9th York and Lancaster
William Corney was born in 1892 in the Whitfield Buildings on Doncaster Road, Conisbrough He was employed underground at Denaby , Main Colliery, starting work there at 13. He enlisted in the army in 1914
He was awarded the military medal in October1916. His citation reads; The Military Medal was awarded to you for distinguished bravery during a bombing attack on the 2 October 1916 in front of Le Sars, France. His Lewis gun being put out of action by a bomb, he immediately passed it down for repair, and threw bombs from the parapet. On the enemy retreating he then followed them through more bombs.
He returned to live at 19 Melton Street and resumed employment underground at Denaby May Colliery. He joined the Auxiliary Fire service and was killed on his way to a fire Service parade in 1940.