Welcome Home – Denaby & Cadeby Prisoners Feted

February 1919

Mexborough Times, February 15th

Welcome Home

Denaby and Cadeby Prisoners Feted

On Saturday, in the Denaby MainInstitute, the Denaby and Cadeby Main Collieries Prisoner of War fund committee held their final meeting, and entertained all the returned prisoners of war who were resident in Denaby and Conisbrough, and who previous to enlistment were employed at the Denaby and Cadeby collieries.

The Denaby and Cadeby prisoners of war fund originated in December 1917. Mss Pownall, 53. Tickhill Street, Denaby, was appointed secretary, and Mr W Astbury, treasurer. The committee consisted of Messrs H.W Smith (Chairman), H.Hulley, W.L.Worsley, R.H.Lapidge, A.Ackroyd, G.H.Milnes, J Engledow and A Dudhill.

Mr Astbury and Miss Pownall have proved very hard-working servants, and since the inauguration of the funds and organise concerts, lectures, etc., those raising their forums to £204. 215 parcels had been sent and 240 letters had been written to 38 prisoners. Of the 38 men, one Private Hutchinson, is now reported as having died in Germany. Five are at present in hospital, and 32, were present at the gathering on Saturday, each with a friend. Avery substantial meals provided, and during the evening there was a plentiful supply of beer, mineral waters, and cigarettes and fruit. Sandwiches and cakes were also served.

Mr H.W. Smith presided in the evening. He said it was his first and foremost duty to say “welcome home!” The people at home thought they had suffered many hardships, but our little troubles had been a picnic. We all grumbled and groused and shouted when we had received short rations, etc. and we had called them hardships, but they (the prisoners) had had a far worse time. They had suffered more than any branch of his Majesty’s forces. Each one present we have been glad to have gone in the trenches. “We try to realise what you have gone through. It gives me a tremendous amount of pleasure to greet you all here tonight.”

With reference to the parcels the committee had hoped to send more and larger portions, but, thank to ourgreat soldiers and sailors, it was not now necessary, so they decided to provide that tea and entertainment and divide the remainder of the money amongst the men. It was to him a privilege to welcome home the men who had suffered so much, and endured it with the true British spirit.

Mr H.Hulley, in proposing the health of the repatriated prisoners, said he was sure there was no other parishes that a given of their men as had Denaby and Conisbrough.

In all, 2100 men had gone from the two collieries alone. The men present had had to bear the hardest lot; we could not learn by reading, or by their own narration, could not realise their suffering. It was heartrending that such a gathering should have to be held in the 20th century. We had read of German “Kultur” and now we knew it was nothing but “brute force.” Our hardships had only been small to theirs. He welcomed them with the best wishes it was possible to express and, on behalf of the committee, he had pleasure in proposing a “toast” and welcome home, and asking all present to drink to the “success of his Majesty’s forces.” And especially to those were present.

Mr W.L.Worsley proposed a vote of thanks to all the helpers and those who had organised the tea and entertainment

Reverent H.B.Greeves (vicar) said he was glad to offer his “welcome,” and he hoped they would have a long and prosperous life that will make them forget all they suffered.

The chairman then proceeded with the presentation of the surplus money. This was placed in separate envelopes addressed to each individual, along with the following letter:

“Denaby and Cadeby collieries prisoner of war fund; cessation of hostilities 1918. The committee of the more fun wish you to set this case as a small token of their appreciation and esteem of the gallant work, which was done by the members of H.M. Forces during the period covered by the Great War, August 1914 to November 1918.

On behalf of the committee

T.Pownall, Hon sec; W Astbury, Hon treasurer

To Mrs Hutchinson (wife of Private Hutchinson), reported died in Germany, the sum of £2.15 shillings was presented. The following five are in hospital and could not attend: private J Mason, Private G.F. Medlar, private W.Reeve, private L.Unwin, and private C.H.Lawrence. To them the sum of two pounds or seven, and to those present the sum of 35 shillings each was presented.

After this proceeding, Mr Smith said he had a very pleasing duty to perform. The committee had decided that it would be there wish that something be given to Miss Pownall, and Mr Astbury. With this object in view, the committee at kept out of the funds. A small amount of money and purchased a little present for both of them. Personally, he wished to express deep appreciation of the work they had done. Mr Astbury had interested himself in everything that was for the benefit of the soldiers and sailors. He had organised concert parties for the local hospitals and Y.M.C.A., Huts etc. Miss Pownall are secretary, had done no duties well and unobtrusively. He really thought that no one had known she was the secretary. To Miss Pownall, on their behalf, he had pleasure in presenting the book of Hood´s poems, and to Mr Astbury the books “interned in Germany.” (H.C.Mahoney) and “face-to-face with Kaiserism” (J.W.Gerard).

Miss Pownall, in acknowledgement, said it was only a tiny bit that she had done, but she had done it with pleasure to help them. It was a greater pleasure when she commenced to receive postcards to say they were getting the parcels safely. She thanked them very much for the beautiful book, which was quite a surprise gift. It would be her greatest treasure. Mr Astbury, in acknowledging the presence, said he thanked them all for their kind gifts, which were quite a surprise to him. What he had done was very little compared with what they had suffered.

During the evening a very enjoyable musical program was capably rendered. Mrs Mawson sang “when you come home” (by request) and “break o´ day.” Miss Watson gave “Roses of Picardy” and “coming home”. Mrs Davies sang “the rustic bridge” Mr W.Moore gave to recitations, “how Bill Adams won the battle of Waterloo,” and “the cricket club at red nose flat.”

Sgt C.Hall proposed a vote of thanks to the committee and the promoters of the gathering. This was seconded by private Mangham.