Kingston upon Hull War Memorial 1914 - 1918

The story of Hull in World War One

Our Loss

A great many people from Hull lost their lives in World War 1. 

There are over a hundred families on the Hull Memorial that lost two or more of their family. Each was an individual tragedy.

What follows here are snippets about some of those people.

Over, 7,000 Hull men died in the First World War. Nearly 1,200 of these were sailors working with the fishing fleet, or serving with the Merchantile Marine and the Royal Navy.

There were nearly another 1,500 men who were born in Hull, but who lived elsewhere. They include many who enlisted in Hull or were associated with the City, but are not usually remembered on Hull war memorials. The Kingston Upon Hull Memorial aims to remember all those with a Hull connection who died in the First World War.

There are over a hundred families on the Hull Memorial that lost two or more of their family. Sometimes fathers, sons and brothers were lost on the same day. At least one in six Hull families lost a direct relative. Many others would lose close friends, work colleagues or others known to them. Each death was irreplaceable and an individual tragedy for someone.

Unfortunately, not all deaths were recorded in official casualty figures, particularly if soldiers died of sickness, accidents or were discharged home with wounds. By 1924 the Ministry of Pensions reported that there were 20,000 war wounded living in Hull. Although they survived the war, they are rarely recorded on war memorials. What follows here are snippets of some of those people who died. 

Hull in the First World War

The Outbreak of War in Hull

On Tuesday, 4th August 1914, at 11pm, Great Britain declared war on Germany. It was a gloriously, sunny, Bank Holiday and holiday makers were disappointed that the trains on the North East railway lines had been cancelled for troop transport. The news was greeted by an outbreak of excitment and patriotism. Crowds gathered outside the Hull Daily Mail offices, in Whitefriargate, to hear the news. When Germany refused the ultimatum to withdraw from Belgium, a cheer and patriotic singing broke out. The next day saw hysteria in the shops with panic food buying and hoarding. There was a sudden scarcity of sugar and fruit as the Wilson Line ships were detained in the ports of Hamburg. Prices rose and supplies fell, until order was restored. Hull was full of troops called up and on the move. The Territorial Army was mobilised to defend Britain, while the Regulars were sent to France. The 4th and 5th (Cyclist) Battalions of the East Yorkshire Regiment marched to the coast and dug in, ready for invasion. The Royal Field Artillery from Image may contain: outdoor and textWenlock barracks were recalled to Hull from Dundee. Some 300-400 reservists of the regular army left Paragon station for Chatham and other depots. The Posterngate shipping office was busy with Royal Navy Reserve, 'hard looking, wirey men', responding to the call, to sign on. Guards were placed on factories and power supplies to prevent sabotage, hospitals were prepared to accept casualties, and appeals for volunteers went out. The docks were full of vessels, as Hull's 400 fishing trawlers headed for the safety of home. Hull's Fish Dock was full of a flotilla of ships from the Red Cross and Hellyer's fleets. Amidst of all this activity, the Government passed the Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) on 8th August 1914. This gave it far reaching powers over people. Land and property could be seized for military use, suspected spies could be arrested and imprisoned. Strict censorship of the Press was enforced. In effect, the country was placed under martial law. Tradesman surrendered their horses at the Carr Lane livery stables and motor vehicles were commandeered by army officers in Hull. Sir Mark Sykes, Hull's Central MP, mobilised 1000 Yorkshire farm waggoners from his estates, which caused a blow to farmers and the local harvest. Father Le Clerc, Chaplain of Endsleigh convent, left Hull to join the 13th French Regiment. Lady Nunburnholme, appealed for volunteers to join First Aid classes and nursing courses, at her VAD, Head Quarters, in Peel Street, Springbank.

The Belgium Refugees

The German invasion of neutral Belgium and the stories of their attrocities towards the Belgiums was a powerful weapon in uniting Britain's support for the war and in recruitment. On 9th September 1914 Hull established it's War Refugee Committee to assist refugees until the end of the war. It's HQ was based at Bowalley Lane and it had 500  volunteer helpers, 400 of which were women. This was a registered war charity that relied entirely on voluntary aid. The committe's work was twofold. First, to offer hospitality to Belgium residents in their area and secondly to give relief to those disembarking at their ports. This included giving temporary relief with accommodation, food and clothes and for more permanent cases rent free lodgings and allowances for food, clothes and heating. For those who could work, jobs were sought for them. On the whole the refugees were found to be sober, industrious and gracious and many became self supporting during their stay in Britain. The Hull War Refugee Committe for Belgium , in its final report, stated that 1,249 refugees were asisted of whih 612 were entertained and 637 were given some temporary material aid. In total, the Committee had received £10, 386 in voluntary subscriptions, donations and collections. This was used to assist and maintain refugees and aid their repatriations.

Support Services

'Soldiers Clubs' were raised in Hull to help serving men. A Soldiers Club with reading room was located at Beverley Road baths on Stepney Lane and run by Major A J Atkinson and his wife.

'Soldiers & Sailors Wives Club' was formed on Mason Street by Mrs Hubert Johnson, the wife of the Lord Mayor. It was devoted to provide relaxation for the wife's of servicemen away from home.

Paragon Railway Station housed a popular 'Rest Station and canteen' well used by departing troops. It was set up in September 1914 and staffed throughout the war by Voluntary Aid Detachments (VAD).

'Peel House' at 150 Spring Bank, was the VAD headquarters, and run by the Lady Mayor. Peel House helped train nurses and locate hospital accommodation for soldiers posted to Hull. It also sent out thousands of parcels of clothing and essentials to troops home and abroad. War Correspondents in France were struck by the way East Yorkshire Units were looked after by people back home. Its most renowned work was sending thousands of food and clothing parcels, plus other necessities to Prisoners of War. This work was extended to captured seaman and interned civilians. Peel House raised public funds to fund their work. The residents of Freehold Street created a bread fund and distributed food to Prisoner of War through Peel House.

Recruitment

Large numbers of men rushed to enlist in the Army. Recruitment drives were launched, these appealed to men's patriotism and sense of duty.  Local authorities and prominent people took the initiative in recruiting and equipping 'Pal' Battalions, confident in the fact that the war office would take them over. This allowed work-mates and friends to serve together and was hugely popular. 30,000 men had joined by the end of August 1914, and 2 milllion men volunteered by the time conscription came in 1916.  In eleven weeks Hull raised enough men to form four infantary battalions (4,000 men in all). The battalions were given unofficial names, reflecting the mens backgrounds. For example, the 1st Hull Pal Battalion, were known as the 'Commercials' because its recruits were from Hull's commercial and office sector. Other Hull Battalions were made up of local 'Tradesmen', 'Sportsmen', and Railway workers. The motives for joining were varied - a desire to travel, to escape low paid work, for adventure, but above all a genuine idealism and patriotism. This was the base on which the New Armies and Pal's battalions  were formed. In 1915, the flow of volunteers was insufficient to meet the army's needs and public opinion began to turn towards the 'slackers' - those men who had not enlisted. In October, Lord Derby, the Director of Recruitment asked all men, aged 18 to 41 to "attest" - to say they that they would join up when called. Men were divided into married and single groups and young, single men would be called up first, before married men. Arm bands were issued to attested men, to spare them the humiliation of being labelled as 'slackers'. This voluntary recruitment initiative failed to produce the numbers of recruits needed and was replaced with compulsory conscription.  On the 5th January 1916, the Military Service Act deemed all single men between 18 and 41 to have enlisted, a second Act in May, extended this to all men between 18 and 41. Finally, with the crises of 1918, a third Act in April, extended the age limit up to 51. However, few of the older conscripts saw action at the Front - rather they formed a home defence force. 

Hull's contribution during the First World War is often underestimated. As a North Eastern, coastal City with a population of approximately 300,000, Hull citizens served extensively across all branches of the British Army, Royal Navy, Merchant Navy, Royal Air Force, and the Home Defence. They also died serving Commonwealth nations, such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand where they had emigrated. The outbreak of war in 1914 aroused great enthusiasm in Hull and within the first six months 20,000 local men had enrolled. Hull was also attacked by Zeppelins and it raised its own Pals Battalions. The Great War affected everyone. At home there were wounded soldiers in military hospitals, refugees from Belgium and later on German prisoners of war. There were food and fuel shortages and disruption to schooling. The role of women changed dramatically and they undertook a variety of work undreamed of in peacetime. 

Hull formed its own four 'Pal' Battalions, the 10th, 11th, 12th & 13th service Battalions of the East Yorkshire Regiment, which made up the 92nd Infantry Brigade, 31st Division. Due to its coastal locality and economic and social make up, Hull formed its own 'bantam' regiment made up of men of small stature, with "big hearts". Hull formed  its own heavy artillery and Garrison Brigade to defend the Humber estuary. The 17th Northumberland Fusiliers, a Railway Pal's Battalion was also formed at King George's Dock in Hull. 

Due to its maritime history, Hull men also served throughout the world, in the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Royal Naval Reserve, Merchant Service and the Hull Fishing Feet. Hull's population fell by about 45,000 during the First World War. 75,000 men served in the war effort. Over 7,500 Hull men were killed and over 14,000 were wounded during the First World War. Many of these lived men in the same streets or terraces, which was to make the casualties keenly felt by the local community. The numbers of wounded increased over time, causing considerable hardship for Hull families. The Hull Lord Mayor, Alderman, Hargreaves, reported on 21st February 1919, that 14,000 Hull men had been wounded in the war of which 7,000 had been maimed. Some 12,000 Hull women had also been dealt with by the local Pensions Committee. On 9th September 1924, the Ministry of Pensions recorded that this had increased to 20,000 disabled ex servicemen from Hull, and they were dealing with 2,500 Hull widows, 200 motherless and fatherless children and 3,000 Hull mothers and other near dependents. Hull City Council established a Great War, Civic Trust, to assist with the large numbers of widows, wounded and orphans left after the War. This ran until 1963 and raised £165,000. Below are are some photographs of Hull at the time.

Image may contain: outdoorNo automatic alt text available.Image may contain: one or more people and outdoorImage may contain: outdoorImage may contain: one or more people, sky and outdoorImage may contain: one or more people and outdoorImage may contain: outdoor

 

 

 

Image may contain: outdoorImage may contain: one or more people, crowd and outdoor

 

Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor

 

 

Photographs courtesy of 'Hull Areas, The Old Years' 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/814592902005469/

 


 

Hull Mariners

Many Hull Mariners and experienced Skippers were lost during the First World war. The oldest may have been Joseph William Atkinson, Chief of the Steamship ‘Tummell’ (Hull). He was lost at sea on the 24th February 1916, aged 64 years. The youngest to die in the war were often in the same ship crews. For example, George Edward Johnson, George Edward Plewes and Vincent Michael Nolan were all lost on different ships in 1917. Each was only 14 years old when they died.

Hull's Minesweepers

During the First World War, 300 Hull ships were used as minesweepers and for searching submarines. Hull lost  61 of these Minesweeping trawlers on Admiralty service during the warOn average half the crew of a minesweeper were lost with the ship. By the end of the War, only 91 Hull owned ships were afloat, 9 of which had been built during the war. Hull lost nearly 1,200 merchant crewmen, another 267 Royal Navy sailors and 38 Royal Marines.The majority of these died at sea and have no known grave. To add to the tragedy, there was little compensation for a sailor's family. Sailors' pay stopped when their ship sank, and usually only paid if they died with the ship. Sailors who left their ship in life boats were deemed to have discharged themselves from duty and often had their sea pay docked. 

Dangerous work for fishing trawlers used as minesweepers 

When the Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) was first created in 1859, it consisted of up to 30,000 merchant seamen and fisherman who the Navy could call on in times of crisis. Fishing trawlers were strong, sturdy ships, designed to withstand severe weather conditions out at sea, and in 1907 the Commander-in-Chief of the Home Fleet, Admiral Lord Beresford, recognised that trawlers could be used as minesweepers. His recommendation led to the formation of the Royal Naval Reserve (Trawler Section) in 1910, with approval to mobilise 100 trawlers during any crisis period and enrol 1,000 men to man them. 

It also introduced a new rank, that of 'Skipper' RNR, into the Navy List. By the end of 1911, 53 skippers had joined. In 1912 a further 25 enrolled and the Trawler Section of the Royal Naval Reserve, consisted of 142 trawlers manned by 1,279 personnel. 31 more skippers joined before the war started in August 1914, making a total of 109 skippers. Another 315 more volunteered by the end of the first week in October. By the end of 1915 the Minesweeping Service employed 7,888 officers and men.

The Royal Naval Reserve (Trawler Section):

 

Before the war started there were already 142 trawlers in the Trawler Section of the RNR and 109 skippers enrolled. During the first week of the war in 1914, 94 trawlers were allocated for minesweeping duties and dispersed to priority areas, including Cromarty, the Firth of Forth, the Tyne, the Humber, Harwich, Sheerness,  Dover, Portsmouth, Portland and Plymouth.
 They were supplied with mine gear, rifles, uniforms and pay as the first minesweepers.They were commanded by naval officers, some from the retired list, who had received a brief training in minesweeping. Apart from the skippers, officers were also required to supplement the handful of naval officers of the existing minesweeping service. Most of the trained pre-war RNR and RNVR officers had already been called up for service in the Fleet. For the new minesweeping and auxiliary patrol flotillas, officers and civilians were obtained from the Merchant Navy and given temporary commissions in the RNR and RNVR. To bolster naval discipline, various Royal Fleet Reserve and pensioner petty officers were distributed among the vessels. 
In August 1914 the Royal Navy began to requisition more trawlers and adapt them for minesweeping duties, fitting them out with heavy guns, machine guns and depth charges. By the end of 1916 the Navy had requisitioned so many trawlers, and the war had such an impact on shipping, that the supply of fish to the UK was severely limited. New trawlers were also built. Between 1914 and 1918, 371 trawlers were built in the Humber shipyards and almost all of them were taken up by the Navy and used as minesweepers, submarine spotters and coastal patrol boats. Men were asked to volunteer for the new service, and many did so. The Humber area provided over 880 vessels and 9,000 men from the fishing industry to support the war effort. 
What are mines?
A mine is an explosive device left in the water to explode on contact with a ship or submarine. Mines were difficult to see and very effective once they had struck a target. The minesweepers had to ‘sweep’ the mines using wires, bring them to the surface then detonate them by firing on them. Moored mines only had a short length of chain shackled to them. The rest of the mooring was wire cable or even sisal rope in some cases; otherwise the mine could not support the weight of its mooring, particularly in deep water. This was the part of the mooring, that the sweep wire or any fitted cutter, was intended to sever. Sometimes gathering a group of mines together could lead to multiple explosions. A chain reaction could result in one massive detonation which would often sink the minesweeper. Minesweeping was therefore extremely dangerous work. It required 'nerve, skill and unremitting watchfulness', according to a journalist at the time.  
How did they 'sweep' mines?
Early mine sweeps simply comprised of chains towed over the seabed between two ships, or even by a single ship to drag mines and their moorings out of a channel. These were later replaced with serrated wire cables towed between two ships (Actaeon Sweep). Development of the Oropesa Sweep, with its divertors and depth-keeping kite, allowed sweeps to be towed by a single ship. Sweep wires were made from flexible, steel wire rope and streamed from each quarter of a minesweeper. 

 


Postwar mine-clearing:
The cables were laid right or left-handed according to the side streamed. This helped the wires achieve hydrodynamic lift and spread. A single strand in each wire was laid in the opposite direction to provide a serrated cutting effect. 
The 'Paravane', a form of towed underwater "glider", was developed from 1914–16 by Commander Usborne and LieutenantC. Dennistoun Burney, funded by Sir George White, founder of the Bristol Aeroplane CompanyInitially developed to destroy naval mines, the paravane would be strung out and streamed alongside the towing ship, normally from the bow.The wings of the paravane would tend to force the body away from the towing ship, placing a lateral tension on the towing wire. If the tow cable snagged the cable anchoring a mine then the anchoring cable would be cut, allowing the mine to float to the surface where it could be destroyed by gunfire. If the anchor cable would not part, the mine and the paravane would be brought together and the mine would explode harmlessly against the paravane. The cable could then be retrieved and a replacement paravane fitted. Burney explosive paravanes were deployed from torpedo boat destroyers in a configuration known as the 'High Speed Sweep' to counter submarines. However, most paravanes were non-explosive and were streamed by larger warships and merchant ships as self-defence measures to divert moored mines away from their hulls. They comprised a wire streamed to each side from the bows with a float secured to the end to divert it outwards
At the end of the war, Britain was one of 26 countries represented on an International Mine Clearance Committee dedicated to clearing 40,000 square miles of sea of leftover mines. Several hundred thousand mines had been laid during the conflict by both sides. Each power was allotted an area to clear. The Mine Clearance Service was formed in 1919 and worked to clear Britain’s allocated area until it was disbanded the following year. By the time of the Armistice, the Trawler Reserve now consisted of 39,000 officers and men of whom 10,000 were employed in minesweepers and the rest in the auxiliary patrol. The 10 ex-torpedo gunboats available as minesweepers at the outbreak of the war had been replaced by purpose-built ships, including:
72 Flower Class single-screw fleet minesweeping sloops of the Acacia, Arabis and Azalea types,
107 Hunt Class and Improved Hunt (Aberdare) Class twin-screwed minesweepers,
24 'Class of 24' fleet sweeping sloops,
32 Ascot Class and Improved Ascot Class minesweeping paddle-steamers,
13 Grimsby Class general purpose sloops and
10 Dance Class 'Tunnel Tug' inshore minesweepers.
Total RN minesweeping forces included 762 ships stationed at 26 home ports and 35 foreign bases. 214 minesweepers had been lost during the four years and three months of the 1914-1918 war.
Illustrations of life on board a trawler - "In the Wheelhouse, Mail Day, playing cards, cleaning guns, the Galley cook, the stoker, the radio officer,slipping the "kite" which controls the mine sweeping depth."

 

 

Hull's Minesweeping war

Due to its coastal location many men joined the Navy in its many forms. As a City with long standing maritime history, Hull men served throughout the world in the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Naval Reserve, Merchant Service and the Hull Fishing Feet. 14,000 merchant seamen were to die in the war, over a thousand of these were from Hull. 4,000 of these sailors died in just 3 months during 1917, when the German U Boat attacks peaked.

Hull lost  61 Minesweeping trawlers on Admiralty service during the war. On average half the crew of a minesweeper were lost with the ship. By the end of the War, only 91 Hull owned ships were afloat, 9 of which had been built during the war. Hull lost nearly 1,200 merchant crewmen, another 267 Royal Navy sailors and 38 Royal Marines.The majority of these died at sea and have no known grave.

IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM GALLERIES AT THE CRYSTAL PALACE, 1920-1924To add to the tragedy, there was little compensation for a sailor's family. Sailors pay stopped when their ship sank, and usually only paid if they died with the ship. Sailors who left their ship in life boats were deemed to have discharged themselves from duty and often had their sea pay docked. 

At the end of the First World War, Lord Jellico declared that the Royal Navy had saved the Empire, but it was the fishermen in their boats who had saved the Royal Navy. The Royal Naval Reserve of fishermen was "a Navy within the Navy". They swept mines, escorted convoys, hunted U-boats and carried out countless dangerous duties. While often overlooked by Admiralty officials, there contribution was at least recognized by Admiral Sir Reginald Bacon who said; It is doubtful if we could have defeated the Germans, at any rate as quickly as we did defeat them, if it had not been for the assistance which the Royal Navy received from the fishing community.’ 

Hull ships and crews therefore played a major part in that victory. The ongoing peril of unexploded sea mines continued to take the lives of Hull fisherman, long after the war had ended. For example, the Hull Trawler ‘Gitano’ struck a mine and was sunk with all hands on the 23rd December 1918. The Hull Trawler ’Scotland’ struck a mine on the 13th March 1919, killing 7 Hull men. Two days later, the steam ship‘Durban’ exploded‘, killing another eight Hull sailors. The ‘Isle of Man’ (Hull) exploded on the 14th December 1919, killing a further seven Hull fishermen. The steam ship ‘Barbados’ exploded on the 5th November 1920, taking ten Hull men. These included the two Weaver brothers killed on the same day. Many of these seaman had survived the war, only to be its victims after.

Illustrations of life on board a trawler - "In the Wheelhouse, Mail Day, playing cards, cleaning guns, the Galley cook, the stoker, the radio officer,slipping the "kite" which controls the mine sweeping depth."

  .

Dangerous work for fishing trawlers used as minesweepers

When the Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) was first created in 1859, it consisted of up to 30,000 merchant seamen and fisherman who the Navy could call on in times of crisis. Fishing trawlers were strong, sturdy ships, designed to withstand severe weather conditions out at sea, and in 1907 the Commander-in-Chief of the Home Fleet, Admiral Lord Beresford, recognised that trawlers could be used as minesweepers. His recommendation led to the formation of the Royal Naval Reserve (Trawler Section) in 1910, with approval to mobilise 100 trawlers during any crisis period and enrol 1,000 men to man them. It also introduced a new rank, that of 'Skipper' RNR, into the Navy List. By the end of 1911, 53 skippers had joined. In 1912 a further 25 enrolled and the Trawler Section of the Royal Naval Reserve, consisted of 142 trawlers manned by 1,279 personnel. 31 more skippers joined before the war started in August 1914, making a total of 109 skippers. Another 315 more volunteered by the end of the first week in October. By the end of 1915 the Minesweeping Service employed 7,888 officers and men.

The Royal Naval Reserve (Trawler Section):

Before the war started there were already 142 trawlers in the Trawler Section of the RNR and 109 skippers enrolled. During the first week of the war in 1914, 94 trawlers were allocated for minesweeping duties and dispersed to priority areas, including Cromarty, the Firth of Forth, the Tyne, the Humber, Harwich, Sheerness,  Dover, Portsmouth, Portland and Plymouth. They were supplied with mine gear, rifles, uniforms and pay as the first minesweepers.They were commanded by naval officers, some from the retired list, who had received a brief training in minesweeping. Apart from the skippers, officers were also required to supplement the handful of naval officers of the existing minesweeping service. Most of the trained pre-war RNR and RNVR officers had already been called up for service in the Fleet. For the new minesweeping and auxiliary patrol flotillas, officers and civilians were obtained from the Merchant Navy and given temporary commissions in the RNR and RNVR. To bolster naval discipline, various Royal Fleet Reserve and pensioner petty officers were distributed among the vessels. 
In August 1914 the Royal Navy began to requisition more trawlers and adapt them for minesweeping duties, fitting them out with heavy guns, machine guns and depth charges. By the end of 1916 the Navy had requisitioned so many trawlers, and the war had such an impact on shipping, that the supply of fish to the UK was severely limited. New trawlers were also built. Between 1914 and 1918, 371 trawlers were built in the Humber shipyards and almost all of them were taken up by the Navy and used as minesweepers, submarine spotters and coastal patrol boats. Men were asked to volunteer for the new service, and many did so. The Humber area provided over 880 vessels and 9,000 men from the fishing industry to support the war effort. 
What are mines?
A mine is an explosive device left in the water to explode on contact with a ship or submarine. Mines were difficult to see and very effective once they had struck a target. The minesweepers had to ‘sweep’ the mines using wires, bring them to the surface then detonate them by firing on them. Moored mines only had a short length of chain shackled to them. The rest of the mooring was wire cable or even sisal rope in some cases; otherwise the mine could not support the weight of its mooring, particularly in deep water. This was the part of the mooring, that the sweep wire or any fitted cutter, was intended to sever. Sometimes gathering a group of mines together could lead to multiple explosions. A chain reaction could result in one massive detonation which would often sink the minesweeper. Minesweeping was therefore extremely dangerous work. It required 'nerve, skill and unremitting watchfulness', according to a journalist at the time.  
How did they 'sweep' mines?
Early mine sweeps simply comprised of chains towed over the seabed between two ships, or even by a single ship to drag mines and their moorings out of a channel. These were later replaced with serrated wire cables towed between two ships (Actaeon Sweep). Development of the Oropesa Sweep, with its divertors and depth-keeping kite, allowed sweeps to be towed by a single ship. Sweep wires were made from flexible, steel wire rope and streamed from each quarter of a minesweeper. The cables were laid right or left-handed according to the side streamed. This helped the wires achieve hydrodynamic lift and spread. A single strand in each wire was laid in the opposite direction to provide a serrated cutting effect. 

The 'Paravane', a form of towed underwater "glider", was developed from 1914–16 by Commander Usborne and LieutenantC. Dennistoun Burney, funded by Sir George White, founder of the Bristol Aeroplane CompanyInitially developed to destroy naval mines, the paravane would be strung out and streamed alongside the towing ship, normally from the bow.The wings of the paravane would tend to force the body away from the towing ship, placing a lateral tension on the towing wire. If the tow cable snagged the cable anchoring a mine then the anchoring cable would be cut, allowing the mine to float to the surface where it could be destroyed by gunfire. If the anchor cable would not part, the mine and the paravane would be brought together and the mine would explode harmlessly against the paravane. The cable could then be retrieved and a replacement paravane fitted. Burney explosive paravanes were deployed from torpedo boat destroyers in a configuration known as the 'High Speed Sweep' to counter submarines. However, most paravanes were non-explosive and were streamed by larger warships and merchant ships as self-defence measures to divert moored mines away from their hulls. They comprised a wire streamed to each side from the bows with a float secured to the end to divert it outwards

Postwar mine-clearing:
At the end of the war, Britain was one of 26 countries represented on an International Mine Clearance Committee, dedicated to clearing 40,000 square miles of sea of leftover mines. Several hundred thousand mines had been laid during the conflict by both sides. Each power was allotted an area to clear. The Mine Clearance Service was formed in 1919 and worked to clear Britain’s allocated area until it was disbanded the following year. By the time of the Armistice, the Trawler Reserve now consisted of 39,000 officers and men of whom 10,000 were employed in minesweepers and the rest in the auxiliary patrol. The 10 ex-torpedo gunboats available as minesweepers at the outbreak of the war had been replaced by purpose-built ships, including:
72 Flower Class single-screw fleet minesweeping sloops of the Acacia, Arabis and Azalea types,
107 Hunt Class and Improved Hunt (Aberdare) Class twin-screwed minesweepers,
24 'Class of 24' fleet sweeping sloops,
32 Ascot Class and Improved Ascot Class minesweeping paddle-steamers,
13 Grimsby Class general purpose sloops and
10 Dance Class 'Tunnel Tug' inshore minesweepers.
Total RN minesweeping forces included 762 ships stationed at 26 home ports and 35 foreign bases. 214 minesweepers had been lost during the four years and three months of the 1914-1918 war.

ur_collections/source_guides/ships_and_shipping.aspxhttp://www.hullcc.gov.uk/museumcollections/collections/theme.php?irn=158

http://www.mylearning.org/local-heroes-hulls-trawlermen/p-2631/

http://www.hullhistorycentre.org.uk/discover/hull_history_centre/

http://hulltrawler.net/

http://www.naval-history.net/WW1LossesBrFV1914-16.htm

http://www.scarboroughsmaritimeheritage.org.uk/auboatsarthurgodfrey.php

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-30128199

 

Hull's Railway men

 

In 1914, there were some 120 separate, railway companies in Britain. The North Eastern Railway (NER) had become one of Britain’s largest. When the Great War began, all these private railways came under Government control. Priority was given to moving  troops and materials for the war effort. Many little used stations were closed and normal passenger services were disrupted. Special express trains, like the 'Jellicoes' (named after the admiral of the fleet), were created to transport steam coal to the fleets. This meant extra work for the railways, not helped by losing men to the Front. Key railway jobs became 'reserved' occupations, excempt from military service and staff vacancies were filled by female workers.

The NER saw about a third of its staff enlist, with 18,339 railwaymen or 34% of the workforce, released for military service. Of these, 2,236 of these men died during the war, and 300 received military decorations.  With the large number of men joining the forces, the NER recruited large numbers of women to replace them. Before the war 1,470 women were employed by NER, mostly in clerical positions. By the end of the war, 7,885 females were employed by the NER, working as platform porters, clerks, warehouse workers, engine cleaners, carriage cleaners, motor bus conductresses, policewomen and in other rolesAt the time it was a shock to see women doing such work, and their attire also caused a stir; because skirts were not practical in an engine shed they wore trousers, something rarely seen before the war. 

Carter family.jpg

The Railway Pals

The 17th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers (Railway Pals) were formed in Hull, by the North Eastern Railway, in September 1914. The Officers of the NER Battalion were stationed on the SS 'Rievaulx Abbey', alongside the King George V Dock.  The men were housed and trained in the nearby warehouses, along the King George V dock. 

On 16 December 1914, just four months from the outbreak of war, the North Eastern Railway came under attack from the Imperial German Navy during the Bombardment of Whitby, Scarborough and Hartlepool, resulting in damage to North Eastern Railway buildings, track and rolling stock, and resulting in the deaths of two members of staff. There were also Zeppelin raids at Goole, York and Hull.  The NER formed special fire brigades as part of the air raid defences at twenty-seven different locations, and also provided air raid shelters for both company staff and the general public, including using arches under railway lines at Hull

On St George's Day, 1915, the 17th (North Eastern Railway) Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, held a sports day at King George Dock, Hull, with the men and Officers wearing red and white roses on their caps. Activities included the high jump, tug of war, hurdle race, hammer throwing, relay race and one mile race. B Company camefirst at the end of the day with 21 points, C Company coming second with 17 points.

As the 17th Northumberland Fusiliers were well acquainted with working the railways, it became an important Pioneer Battalion in January 1915.  In June 1915, the battalion moved to Catterick, where it joined 32nd Division, as the divisional pioneer battalion. The division embarked for France in November 1915 and the next six months were spent in the Somme sector around Albert, Bouzincourt and Meaulte. The battalion took part in the opening battle of the Somme at Thiepval. In October 1916, it left the division and joined GHQ Railway Construction Troops until the end of August 1917. It then rejoined the division at Nieuport on the North Sea coast for a couple of months before again joining the Railway Troops. In May 1918 the battalion was transferred to the 52nd (Lowland) Division, which had just arrived on the Western Front from Palestine, and remained with it as Pioneer Battalion to the end of the war. Below are some Hull Railway men stories from the local press.

Johnson.jpgSnow.jpg

 Hill Roland.jpg

Sedgwick & Richardson.jpgPoulson.jpg

Mann.jpgFothergill.jpg

 

 



 

 

Many thanks to Glen Hopkins for the contributions above and his work on the NER Railways in WW1