THE WRIGLEY FAMILY - A SOLDIER'S FAMILY OF SOLDIERS
In the spring of 2013 I received an e-mail from a lady in Timperley, Manchester. She stated that
"(She) had just begun researching my family's ancestry (the family originally came from Oldham I believe but came and settled in Hillsborough) and I am keen to know if you could help by confirming that my maternal grandfather Ernest Wrigley born 1890 ish, died April 1949 is buried at Walkley Cemetery. Both my mother and Uncle are convinced that a family grave is situated at this cemetery and I am hoping that if this is the case there may be other relatives names listed on the headstone to help me in my quest".
Unfortunately I was unable to locate her maternal
grandfather's grave in Walkley Cemetery but a further e-mail gave me additional
information on the family
"Both my Mother and my Uncle have told me that he (Ernest) was one of five brothers and one sister. Their names being; Robert, Jack, Joe, Richard and Nelly. I have been told that there was also another baby who unfortunately died from a flu epidemic in 1914, and his father (my great grandfather) was called John .... have been told that he (Ernest) and two of his brothers Jack and Joe fought in the First World War with the York and Lancs Regiment 12th Battalion. Joe was killed in action at the age of 21 and Ernest and Jack were wounded but survived.
I checked the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database and found a record for her great uncle Joseph
Date of Death: 01/07/1916
Regiment/Service: York and Lancaster Regiment
Panel Reference -Pier and Face 14 A and 14 B. - Memorial -THIEPVAL MEMORIAL
Additional Information: Son of John Wrigley, of 425, Langsett Rd., Hillsborough, Sheffield
The information on the CWGC database then enabled me to find the Wrigley family in 1911 census
Name John Wrigley
Relationship to Head of Household Head
Age 49 Estimated Year of Birth 1862
Occupation Contract Manager Co Limited National Acetelyn
Employed Yes Working at Home No
Place of Birth Oldham Lancashire
Address 425 Langsett Road Sheffield Parish Ecclesall Town Sheffield Type of Building Private House Number of Rooms 8 Rooms Inhabited Yes
Reference RG14PN27719 RG78PN1587 RD509 SD1 ED19 SN58 Administrative County Yorkshire (West Riding)
Registration District Ecclesall Bierlow Registration Sub District Ecclesall North Enumeration District 19
Reference Information Folio 115 Page 1 Piece 27719 RD number 509 SD number 1 ED number 19 Schedule 58
I contacted a fellow researcher and asked if he had any further information on the family and their service in the First World War, He referred me to an article in the Sheffield Daily Independent dated 27th November 1915
1. The father John Wrigley 2. Richard 3. Ernest 4. John 5. Joseph 6. Robert 7. The mother Hannah.
Accompanying the photograph was an article on the family
Two of the brothers were severely injured. Richard served with the 1st Field Co. Sheffield Engineers and was posted to the Dardanelles, The ill-fated Gallipoli campaign ended with Richard being invalided home with dysentery. But prior to his evacuation he received wounds to both legs, an eye, and his head. A later report mentions that Richard was blind for three months before regaining his sight. After convalescence, he returned to the army but in 1916 he was wounded and gassed, and a year later he was gassed again. He was still serving in the army at the end of the war
His younger brother John who served with the 2nd K.O.Y.L.I was also injured that year but his injuries had bee sustained months earlier on the Western Front.
The Sheffield Telegraph dated 1st May 1915 gives a graphic and harrowing account of the events that led to John's injuries
John had enlisted in 1909, he had previously been employed as a clerk in Sheffield's city centre. Prior to the commencement of the war had served in the Far East, primarily Hong Kong and Singapore, But in December 1914 he was recalled and posted to the Western Front, The injury John received in the fighting for Hill 60 was severe. A portion of bone in the left fore-arm was shot away, and he spent the next two years in hospital. He was honourably discharged from the army with a pension, and at the end of the war, had secured a position as a switchboard operator with the Corporation's Tramway .
But 1916 was to be even worse for the Wrigley family. In July 1916, John Wrigley received a letter from Lt Col Littledale, commanding officer of 5th Bat, Yorks and Lancs about his son Joseph.
Joseph had been posted as missing a week after he was last seen on Saturday 1st June 1916
Three months later his father John Wrigley received another letter although this time it was from the British Red Cross
It was only later that the further details of John's disappearance came to light
But it seems as though John's father made persistent attempts to garner information about John's disappearance. Even as late as October 1919 nearly a year after the war ended, John received this letter from the Officer Commanding 94th TF Depot Rotherham, Lt Christmas.
The hint of exasperation in the letter is palpable. Joseph's body was never found and like 73,000 other soldiers whose bodies were lost on the Somme, he is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial
Joseph's elder brother Ernest also suffered a horrendous experience in 1916. Like his brother John John had enlisted in 1909, he had previously been employed as an insurance broker with a local firm. Prior to the commencement of the war had too had served in Hong Kong and Singapore. But in December 1914 he was recalled and posted to the Western Front. Ernest was shot in the hand but worst still, he was buried alive in a shell-hole. Fortunately he recovered but he was re-assigned to be a musketry instructor at Hornsea in East Yorkshire.
The youngest son Robert was the only son to come out of the war unscathed but it seems from the report that his good fortune was largely down to a combination of his young age and his health
At the end of the war the local press paid this glowing tribute to the Wrigley family and its head John Wrigley
I included the contents of this page in book I co-authored with Matthew Bell Long Shadows Over Sheffield - Forgotten Voices of the Great War. It was published in March 2014. Two months later I received this e-mail from John's grandson
"Congratulations on your website and also your excellent book "Long Shadows Over Sheffield. I notice you have a chapter on my grandfather's family the Wrigleys of Langsett Road. I thought you might be interested in some more info and a few additional pictures."
Needless to say I responded and thanked him for his kind comments and said I would be delighted to receive any additional information on the family.
I then received the following information from John's grandson about the family. These are his words and he kindly allowed me to post them to the site. He also sent me some family photographs which are absolutely marvelous. I have incorporated these photographs into the text that was sent to me and captioned them
"Thanks for your e-mail. Mandy got in touch with us and we were able to send her a photograph of her grandfather's grave in Rivelin cemetery. I photographed it in the '70s - sadly it is now vandalised and overgrown. My grandparents are in the grave and it also has a memorial to Joe.
THE WRIGLEY FAMILY 1905 - 425 Langsett Road - Back row left to right: William, John, Joseph, Ernest.
Front Row: Robert, Father, Nellie, Mother, Richard.
Here goes with some family history. My grandfather John William Wrigley (6-10-1861 - 7-1-1940) was born in Oldham. At 17 he ran away from home and joined the Royal Marines. Served from 1879 to 1883 ( served on HMS Hector & HMS Asia). After four years he disappears into civilian life for a year and in 1884 re-enlists in the RAMC. Served with the Gordon Relief Expedition 1885. On his return to England he was posted to the hospital at Hillsborough Barracks. While there he met my Grandmother Hannah Hiles (1867-1937) and they were married at Sheffield Cathedral 1886.
The following year he left the army and secured a job with the National Telephone Company. For the next 15 years or so he was posted all over the country - hence the children being born in different locations. I think my Grandmother got tired of constant removal and insisted that he got a permanent posting to Sheffield returning permanently around 1904.
The children were:
WILLIAM EDWARD (born Sheffield 1889 died 1907)
ERNEST (born Sheffield 1890 died Sheffield 1949) joined 2nd KOYLI 1909 along with his younger brother John. Wounded first day of the Battle of the Somme. He lost a finger when he was shot in the hand and buried in a shell hole. After the war my father secured him a job at the Hawksley Avenue tramways sub-station as a switchboard attendant. In the 1920s he married Lily and had two children - Peter and Joan.
JOHN (my father) born Nottingham 6-4-1891 - August 1964. Enlisted in 2nd KOYLIs April 1909 along with Ernest. In 1910 he was part of Edward VII funeral procession in London and always claimed that he had presented arms to the Kaiser and all the crowned heads of Europe. As you know he was stationed in Singapore at the outbreak of war and in September 1914 he was recalled home aboard the troopship SS Caernarvenshire and in January 1915 he landed at Le Havre.
He was wounded at around 6pm on the evening of 18th April 1915 when the 2nd KOYLIs and the 2nd Duke of Wellington's Regiment launched an attack on Hill 60 which had been recaptured by the Germans earlier in the day. The bone in his left forearm was completely smashed but saved from amputation by the skill of a Canadian surgeon by means of a metal plate that stayed in place till shortly before he died.
THE ACTUAL X-RAY OF JOHN'S SHATTERED LEFT ARM
After being wounded thus he spent two years in hospital and was finally discharged on a pension of 8 shillings a week in 1917. He stayed in his job as a switchboard attendant at Hawksley Avenue until he retired. In 1924 he married war widow Beatrice Toms and had two children - myself John Raymond (born 1927) and my sister Sylvia Brenda (1928-2014)and they lived most of their married life on Findon Road. He also served as a private in the Home Guard in WW2 for 4 years.
JOSEPH (born Northampton 1884 died July 1st 1916) I have his commission which is dated 10th August 1915. He is commemorated on the Free Mason's Memorial in Sheffield Cathedral and on the Owlerton Church War Memorial Hall on Forbes Road, Hillsborough. My grandmother took his death very badly and turned to Spiritualism as a way of coping regularly attending meetings on Campo Lane until she died.
RICHARD WRIGLEY IN POLICE UNIFORM WITH MEDALS c1925
RICHARD (born Northampton 1896 died Manchester c1955) At Gallipoli he landed on V beach at Cape Helles on Sunday April 25th 1915 from the requisitioned collier the SS River Clyde. After the war he married one of his nurses "May" and moved to Manchester where he became a police officer and eventually a sergeant. Sadly the gas attacks he suffered towards the end of the war eventually took their toll and in middle age he died of emphysema.
ROBERT WRIGLEY IN HIS HOME GUARD UNIFORM c 1941
ROBERT (born Birmingham December 1899 died Sheffield 1978) I took a tape recorder and recorded Uncle Robert shortly before he died and he told me how he had enlisted at fifteen and a half and had been in training at Redmires camp for several months when his brother Richard returned home wounded from Gallipoli. When he found his younger brother had been allowed to enlist under age he was furious and immediately informed the authorities, possibly saving his life for although he was later re-instated he never saw active service. After the war he became a Marconi wireless operator in the Merchant Navy and on his return to Sheffield he became bottling manager at the Hope and Anchor brewery on Claywheels Lane. In WW2 he became a captain in the local Home Guard (his unit was No. 9 platoon A Company 68th West Riding Home Guard) When he died I inherited his Home Guard Log Book with details of the men in his platoon - home addresses, previous service
etc. He married twice but had no children.
NELLIE born Birmingham 1903 died Sheffield 1988. Educated at Notre Dame and in the Early 1920s secured a job at the Jessop Hospital where she became the last Lady Almoner until she retired in 1950 when she married and moved to Epsom. On her husband's death she returned to Sheffield and was the last of the family to die in 1988. When we were clearing her flat we found amongst her correspondence a letter addressed to Nellie Wrigley, "The Lady in Armour" Jessop Hospital."
Wrigley boys L to R Joseph, Ernest, John 1912
And the following photo is Hannah standing outside the family home 425 Langsett Road Sheffield
Hannah Wrigley outside 425 Langsett Rd, c1936
I asked a friend to look at the burial registers at Walkley Cemetery to see if he could locate the Wrigley grave which he did.
Burials in Walkley Cemetery - Grave G1338 (Plan G South 1; no MI)
BANKS Annie 19 Feb 1903 12 Eyam Rd. 19m. Chas P. Cook
BANKS Emma 18 Jun 1921 55 Fitzgerald Rd. 13 N.F. Duncan
BANKS Mary Frances 13 Oct 1921 2 Smilter Lane (Pickmere Rd.) 9 N.F. Duncan, Vicar of Crookes
BANKS Edwin 14? Dec 1926 2 Herries Rd. 70 T.M. Archer
STATON Lucy 11 Oct 1928 30 Burton St 62 TM Archer
STATON Joseph 1 Dec 1936 2 Herries Rd. 73 W. Sorby Briggs
WIGLEY Hannah 26 Oct 1937 425 Langsett Rd. 70 H. Holden~?
WRIGLEY John William 10 Jan 1940 425 Langsett Rd. 78 J.S. Broad~?
I sent the information to John who replied
am pretty certain that the Statons are my grandmother's sister Lucy and her husband. I am uncertain who the Banks are though they are probably also relatives of my grandmother.
There does not seem to be a record of William Wrigley - died 1907 of TB. When we last visited the cemetery in the early 1990s it had been pushed off its plinth by vandals and was almost completely overgrown.
I have attached some photos that I took of the grave in 1978."
425 Langsett Road, Sheffield - Photo taken September 2015
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This page was last updated on 15/09/15 15:12