A visit to Whitkirk cemetery

by Shaun Taylor February. 10, 2020 157 views

I enjoy a walk around a cemetery and the chance to discover some of the history of an area. Whitkirk for those who do not know it is one of the suburbs of Leeds, West Yorkshire

William Bedford served with the Dragoons in the Crimean War

Ethel Agnes Jackson was killed in an explosion at the Barnbow ammunition factory on the 5th December 1916.

At 10.15pm on Tuesday December 5th 1916, several hundred girls and women had just begun their night shift. Their task consisted of filling, fuzing, finishing off and packing 4.5in shells. Room 42 was mainly concerned with the filling and between 150 and 170 girls worked there. Shells were brought to the room already loaded with high explosive and the work that remained to be done was the insertion of the fuse and the screwing down of the cap. A girl put in the fuse by hand, screwed it down and then it was taken and placed into a machine that revolved the shell and screwed the fuse down tightly. This was what was happening in room 42 that fateful December night.

At about 10.27pm a violent explosion occurred killing 35 women and injuring many more. In many cases, identification was possible only by the identity disks worn by the workers. Most were dreadfully mutilated. Machine 2, where the explosion had occurred was completely wrecked. Steam pipes burst open and the floor was a mixture of blood and water. Ignoring the dangers, men and women alike hurried into room 42 to drag the injured to safety. Mr William Parkin, a mechanic, performed heroic deeds. So much so that the girls of the Northern Shell Stores at Barnbow later presented him with an inscribed silver watch for his bravery in bringing out about a dozen girls.

At the end of the war the families campaigned to have the girls remembered on the areas War Memorials but were declined

John Nelson Movley was killed in action in Italy 19th February 1944 he was 24 years old. He was a member of the Coldstream Guards and is buried at MINTURNO WAR CEMETERY

George Edward Dobson served with the 15th West Yorks Leeds Pals and died in France May 4th 1918 aged 38 years. He was born in Halton and enlisted at York. He is buried at DENAIN COMMUNAL CEMETERY

Lance Corporal Arthur William Platt 12745 6th Battalion, The Dorsetshire Regiment. 17th Division Killed in action 5/9/17. Aged 46 Son of The Rev & Mrs G.M. Platt of Whitkirk, Yorkshire.Born in Leeds and enlisted in London. St. Pancras Memorial Buried in Sunken Road Cemetery, Fampoux

Charles Edward Wikeley was Brigade Surgeon in the Army Medical Department, he was buried at Blackpool. Like many who served in India he wife Georgina Masson Wikelley had died whilst they were stationed in the country

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