Servicemen U-Z

Vanham, John Isaac – born at Bingley on 30th June 1888, the son of George Vanham, a carter of 10 Russell Street, Bingley, and his wife, Emma Jane (Nee Goodings). In 1911 John was a wool sorter living at Dowley Gap Farm. On 10th February 1912 John married Ada Robinson Beales. They subsequently had three daughters, Edith, Amy and Jenny, and lived at 34 Smith Street, Cottingley. John Isaac Vanham attested at Halifax on 25th October 1916 and was accepted into the West Yorkshire Regiment with regimental number 38378. On 28th December 1916 he was transferred to the Machine Gun Corps and redesignated No. 82942. On 12th July 1917 John disembarked at Havre, France. In early 1918 John spent seven week in hospital with neuralgia. In April 1918 he was a victim of a gas attack which resulted in him being transferred back home where he spent two weeks in Edinburgh War Hospital. He was demobilised on 18th January 1919 and was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.


Walker, George Francis Douglas – born at Shipley on 5th February 1897, son of George Walker, a chartered accountant, and his wife, Elizabeth. In 1911 he was living at 74 Kirkgate, Shipley. On 19th March 1915 he was appointed 2nd Lieutenant in the 18th Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment (the 2nd Bradford Pals). At this time he was living at Crowhurst, Cottingley . His appointment was reported in The London Gazette of 1st April 1915. He was later transferred to the 3rd Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment. George’s service record has not survived but what is known is that his first overseas action was in Egypt on 21st December 1915. At one time, in 1916, he suffered gunshot wounds to his arm and knee. George was awarded the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and the 1915 Star. On 30th March 1926 George married Hilda Carlisle Swithenbank. He died at Ben Rhydding Hydro, Ilkley on 25th May 1947.


Watherston, Robert James Henderson Fell – born at Hinckley, Leicestershire in 1891, son of Rev. Alexander Law Watherston and his wife Emily Mary (nee Fell). In 1911 Robert was a theological student at the College of the House of Resurrection, Mirfield. He subsequently studied at Leeds University where he became Sergeant-instructor of the Officer Training Corps.  Robert served in the 1/5th Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment and was mobilised on 3rd March 1915. He first served overseas, in France, on 1st June 1917. Robert attained the rank of 2nd Lieutenant and was killed in action on 3rd December 1917 at Cambrin where he is buried in the Military Cemetery there. The circumstances of Robert’s death are graphically described in “The Fifth Leicestershire” by Captain J. D. Hills. Robert was awarded the Victory and British War medals. It is unclear why Robert’s name is included on Cottingley’s War Memorial as there is no evidence to connect him to Cottingley. His name also appears on the War Memorial at Hinckley and the Roll of Honour at Leeds University.

Watmough, Ernest – born on 18th August 1892, the only child of Samuel Watmough, a warp dresser of Sandy Lane, and his wife, Emily (nee Morley). In 1901 the family home was at 5 New Brighton, Shipley and ten years later was at 4 Bairstow Street, Sandy Lane. At this time Ernest was a wool sorter. In 1918 Ernest was resident at Stock House Cottage.


Whitaker, Albert – born at Cottingley on 15th April 1887, the son of George Whitaker, a milk dealer, and his wife Emma (nee Richardson). Albert appears to have thought a military career might be a good course to take as, on 25th June 1902 aged 17 years and 2 months, he joined the 3rd Battalion of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. His military service lasted just three days as, on 28th June 1902, he was discharged by “purchase on payment of £1.” That does not appear to have been the end of Albert’s military involvement, however, as, at the time of the 1911 Census, he was a Lance Corporal in the West Riding Regiment serving in India. Albert married Thirza Birkinshaw on 1st December 1911 at Karachi, India. St. Michael’s Church baptism register shows an entry for 6th March 1915 relating to the baptism of Albert Victor Whitaker. The entry shows Albert’s occupation as “QMS 3rd Batt W. R. Re”. An article in the Bradford Weekly Telegraph of 26th May 1919 which features William and Ernest Batchelor also states “A step-brother is Company Quartermaster Sgt Whitaker of the 1st Duke Of Wellington’s Regiment and is now engaged training Derby men for the Army.”

Whitaker, John William – born 1872, son of Randolph and Elizabeth Whitaker. On 28th March 1896 he married Annie Elizabeth Willoughby and they subsequently lived at 1 Quebec, Cottingley where, in 1911, John was a machine painter. They had two children, Ada and Ernest. After the war the family lived at various addresses in Cottingley including 2 Skirrow Street, 42 Hollings Street, 12 Main Street and 3 Town hill Street.

Whitaker, Thomas Kitson – born on 12th November 1879, the son of Joseph Whitaker, a stone merchant of Idle, and his wife, Sarah Jane (nee Upton).  On 6th May 1905 he married Alice Emma Whitley (sister of James Whitley – see below).In 1911 Thomas was a journeyman plumber,  living at 9 Queens Road, Shipley. Private 18/632 Thomas Kitson Whitaker served in the 18th Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment (the 2nd Bradford Pals). Thomas went with the battalion to Egypt on 22nd December 1915. He was awarded the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and the 1915 Star. After the war Thomas and Alice lived at 13 New Brighton Road for many years.

Whitley, James – born at Cottingley in 1882, the son of James Whitley, a farmer, and his wife, Emma (nee Dean). In 1911 James was a wool warehouseman living at Lower Westgate Farm, Allerton. On 1st August 1914 James married Blanche Brooks. One of the witnesses at the wedding was Thomas Kitson Whitaker (see above).  They had two children, Irene and Dorothy. Private 40003 James Whitley, a wool warehouseman of Florella Court, Cottingley, attested at Bingley on 11th December 1915 although he wasn’t actually mobilised until 12th April 1918. James served in the 3rd Battalion of the West Riding Regiment and was demobilised on 22nd January 1919. James and Blanche lived at 7 Smith Street, Cottingley from 1918 to 1930, then at 26 Manor Road, Cottingley until their deaths. James died in 1955, his wife, Blanche, having predeceased him the previous year.

Whitwham, Harold – born 1894, son of Thomas Whitwham, a mill manager of High Beckfoot, Bingley, and his wife, Jane (nee Allinson).In 1911 he was a pawnbroker’s assistant living at Park View House, Beckfoot. Harold married Miriam Butterfield  on 4th August 1917. According to the marriage register, Harold was  Private 525 in the Labour Corps, Lincolnshire Regiment. Miriam’s address at the time was 16 Hollings Street, Cottingley and this was their home in the years after the war. The couple subsequently had two daughters, Joan Margaret and Audrey Doreen.


Whitwham, Herbert – born 31st January 1898, son of Thomas Whitwham, a mill manager of High Beckfoot, Bingley, and his wife, Jane (nee Allinson) and brother of Harold (see above). In 1911 he was still at school and living at Park View House, Beckfoot.The Keighley News of 17th August 1918 reported “Private Herbert Whitwham (20) Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers of Beckfoot, Bingley, was wounded in the back on August 4, and is in hospital in France. He joined the Army in 1915 and went to France in January 1917. Before enlisting he was employed by Messrs J White and Sons, tanners, Bingley”. He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. Herbert married Lily Christelow on 18th September 1920. At this time Herbert was a farm labourer of Stock House Farm, Cottingley. The electoral register shows Herbert living at Stock House Cottages for several years afterwards.

Wild, Walter Gordon – born at Bingley in 1885, the son of Thomas Wild, a joiner and cabinet maker of 34 Wellington Street, Bingley, and his wife Susannah (nee Purdy). In 1911 he was a general printer living at 36 Wellington Street, Bingley. Later that year he married Ada Smith. An article in the Keighley News of 16th March 1918 points to Walter’s wartime service.  Mr Gordon Wild of Cottingley Bridge has been discharged from the Army with shell shock. He trained at Clipstone Camp in England, saw a good deal of service in France then invalided to England. He received specialist nerve treatment in London. Although no definite military records have been discovered, a possible soldier was Private 203994 Walter G Wild of the West Riding Regiment, later Private 235190 of the Worcestershire Regiment, who enlisted on 10th December 1915 and was discharged on 6th March 1918 due to wounds. He was awarded the Victory medal, British War medal and Silver War Badge.

Williams, Cecil Stanley Norbury – born 1881 in Barton, Lancashire, son of Samuel and Annie Williams. In 1908 Stanley married Sarah Lavinia Pickles and in 1911 they were living at 20 Edenhurst Road, Mile End Lane, Stockport. At that time Stanley was a buyer of shipping merchant’s textiles. After the war Stanley and Sarah lived at 30 Stoney Ridge Road, Shipley.

Wilson, Charles Swithenbank – born at Baildon on 18th May 1895, the son of John Henry Wilson, a nwilson-001avvy, and his wife Sarah Elizabeth (nee Iredale). In 1911 Charles was a dye house piece finisher living at 64 Hollings Street, Cottingley with his parents and sister, Grace. In 1916 he married Ada Grunwell and they subsequently had two daughters, Margaret Emma and Nancy Grunwell. The Keighley News of 4th May 1918 reported Private Charles Wilson of Cottingley has received a gunshot wound in the chest, and is now in hospital at Manchester. Before enlisting Private Wilson was employed in the warehouse by Messrs W.R. Kay Limited, Woolcombers, Cottingley Mills. His granddaughter, Margaret Hope, has this to say about Charles: “I was only nine when he died. He was the most wonderful, kindest man I have ever known. He died leaving seven living grandchildren. My mom became widowed at age 29 and we moved in with our grandparents, so grandfather became the only dad I ever had, as I was a baby when my dad died. He was wounded in the head and survived. I seem to recall Richard (Margaret’s cousin) said that granddad was shot before he even landed at the destination he was bound for, so I will assume he meant France or Belgium.”  Margaret has provided the photograph of Charles. She says “The photo sits proudly on my wall here in the USA.” Charles died in 1957.

Wilson, Jesse – born in 1879, son of William Watson Wilson, a mason of Bingley, and his wife Sarah (nee Suttle). On 24th January 1903 Jesse married for the first time. His bride was Esther Keighley. Their son Sydney was born the following year. Esther died in 1908 and Jessie married Harriet Kelk on 20th November 1909. Their children, George Edward , Elsie, William, Maud and Marjorie, were all baptised at St. Michael’s Church, Cottingley. In 1911 he was a card jobber in the wool combing business, living at 4 New Row, Cottingley. Jesse attested at Keighley on 28th September 1914. He was initially posted to the 2nd Battalion of the West Riding Regiment followed by the 3rd and 8th Battalions. On 1st May 1917 he was transferred to the 26th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry. Finally, from 30th March 1918, he served as Private 47657 in the Royal Defence Corps.He served in France from 18th December 1914 to 21st March 1915, in the Mediterranean from 7th September 1915 to 2nd July 1916 and France again from 3rd July 1916 to 12th December 1916. On 13th December 1916 Jesse was admitted to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary with gun shot wounds to his right thigh, shoulder and arm. He had previously (1915) suffered from gun shot wounds in his left wrist and right knee. He was transferred to the reserves on 22nd March 1919. He was awarded the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and the 1915 Star. His second wife, Harriet, died in 1927 and in 1929 Jesse married for the third time. Laura Yates was his third wife and, in 1930, they had a daughter, Hilda. Jesse Wilson lived at 4 New Row, Cottingley from 1911 until his death in 1934.

Woodhouse, John Arthur – Very little is known about this man, other than that he was living at 16 Stoney Ridge Road from 1918 to 1922 and that his ability to vote was through naval or military qualification.

Woodley, John William – born at Cottingley in 1886, the eldest of five children of Thomas William Knight Woodley, a millwright, and his wife, Annie (nee Hogan). John must have had a taste for the military as, on 25th November 1903, he attested and joined the 3rd Battalion, West Riding Regiment. However, his military career was short-lived as he was discharged two days later “by purchase”. At the time he was a fitter employed by Harold Kay. In 1911 he was a millwright, like his father, living at 24 Main Street, Cottingley. On 5th August of that year John married Blanche Anderson.  Their son Edward Anderson Woodley was born in 1913. In 1915 John was registered at Bradford Road, Cottingley for voting purposes.

Wortley, Harry – born Harry Devaney in 1894 at Oldham, son of John Devaney and his wife, Marian (nharry-wortley-in-deck-chairee Wortley). Harry’s mother died in 1894 (possibly in childbirth or shortly afterwards) and Harry was brought up by his mother’s relatives. In 1911 he was an assistant in his uncle (Hartley Taylor’s) laundry business, living with his uncle and aunt at 11 Hollings Street, Cottingley. Harry enlisted on 2nd March 1916 but was not called up until 12th June 1917. Private 49098 Harry Wortley was initially posted to the West Yorkshire Regiment but was later transferred to the Army Pay Corps with Regimental No. 13639. Harry had spent from 4th February 1918 to 6th June 1918 in York Military Hospital due to a fractured right tibia and fibula. From the notes on Harry’s medical history it seems that a plate inserted after a road accident in 1912 was removed and tendons lengthened. Harry served until 14th September 1918 when he was discharged “no longer physically fit for war service”. His home address at this time was 70 Hollings Street, Cottingley. Harry  was awarded a Silver War Badge. In 1922 Harry married Grace Taylor. They subsequently had three daughters, Hazel, Mary Muriel and Marian. From the baptism records of the children, it appears that Harry was still working in the laundry in 1923 but had changed occupation to being a fish fryer by 1926. Harry lived in Cottingley for the rest of his life. He died in 1964.


Wray, Horace – born at Saltaire in 1885, the son of Mary Ellen Wray, a mill hand. In 1909 Horace Wray married Laura Beaver. The following year their daughter, Kathleen Mary, was born and in 1911 they were all living at 10 Brow Wood, Thackley. At this time Horace was a fully qualified painter and decorator. Two newspaper reports and a medals rolls index card are all the evidence available of Horace’s military activity. The Bradford Weekly Telegraph of 12th July 1918 reported “WRAY Cpl H Borderer Regt. Late of the Royal Air Service of 79 Gawthorpe Terrace, New Brighton, Cottingley has been wounded and is in hospital in Manchester” and the Keighley News of 27th July 1918 reported ” Information has been received that Corporal H Wray of New Brighton, Cottingley, and of the Border Regiment, has been wounded in action and is now in hospital at Manchester. Corporal Wray was home on leave in  April last”.  Corporal 29607 Horace Wray of the Border regiment was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. In 1922 another daughter, Doris, was born. From 1915, for several years, Horace and family lived at 79 Cottingley Cliffe Road, Cottingley.

Wright, W. H. – No definite information has been found relating to this man.