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William Lonsdale c1885 - 7 March 1946

Follow up to article in Leeds History Journal 7, 2006

by Michael Meadowcroft

Married, 1909, in Leeds, Ethel Mansell (born c1885, Bloxwich, Staffs died 1929 Rotherham), daughter of a coal miner and herself a dressmaker. They lived at 5 Fraser Road, Burmantofts.

Daughter, Lily K (or Lilian) born 1910, Cragland, Co Durham;
Son, Henry, born 1912, Leeds.

In May 1903, at age of 18 he enlisted in the Territorial Army, whilst continuing his employment (in 1911 census) as a drayman, ie a driver for a brewery. At the outbreak of the First World War on 4 August 1914 he was employed as a tram conductor for Leeds City Council. As a Territorial he was called up immediately - on 10 August - into the 2nd Battalion of the Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment (Regimental number 7471). On 24 August 1914 he and forty-seven other men from the same regiment were captured near Mons. (This was the second day of the first battle involving the British army.)

Then followed the events in PoW camps as set out in the Leeds History Journal. He was finally released and arrived at Leith on 2 January 1919 on a captured German liner and was taken to Ripon Dispersal Camp, travelling to Leeds on 4 January. There is an extended version of his story in the Yorkshire Evening Post, 3 January 1919, having been interviewed by a reporter in the Ripon camp.

Back in Leeds he became a postman. Unfortunately there is a sad end to the story : on 21 February 1923 he was sentenced to one month's imprisonment for the theft of £2 from "test" letters placed by the post office. The Stipendiary Magistrate said that he took his war record into account and the sentence was the least he could give. The theft followed a separation order obtained by his wife. William died in 1946 and his sister took responsibility for his funeral.

There are leads on his son's and daughter's marriage and death dates but they are not definite and need more research.

8 May 2016

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