A Village at War
Here are just a few of the many stories which have been told of both the men who fought for our Country and of the village’s activities during various wars.
In 1539 the men of England were called to be on stand-by for a possible war with France. The Township of Otley produced their Muster Rolls. This consisted of a list of local volunteers who also had to provide their own equipment. The more well-to-do was an archer and an able person who could provide a harnessed horse, whilst the willing peasant could only supply his able self and a *billhook”. Mention is made in our archives of the men below who came from Pool.
James Yngland (“Archer, horsed and harnessed, abyll person”); Thomas Rawlyngson; Richard Dunwell (“Archers having no harness, abyll persons”); William Dunwell (* “Bylman Horsed harnessed, Abyll person”); Richard Yngland (“Billman having no harness, Abyll person”).
* A billman fought with a long stick with a hook shaped blade. (hence “billhook”). In this case it was used to pull a rider from his horse. It was also used as a farming tool. The archer would use a longbow.
(Full list of Otley Muster Roll in Otley Museum O/O/dc10)
Boer War (1899 -1902)
Arthur Foster is among the 3rd Battalion Imperial Yeomanry returning from South Africa in 1902
Although not born in the village Arthur Foster arrived in Pool in 1934. His home was on the now demolished Old Post Office Row, locally named “Fatticake Row”. At his death in 1967, aged 84, he was quoted as being one of the last remaining soldiers who had fought in the Boer War. His boat journey to South Africa had taken four months. He was a crack shot and won many awards at Bisley including the Queen’s Cup in 1909. He fought in WW1 and was a member of the Air Raid Precautions Unit in WW2. He was also a keen cricketer being selected to play for the Army during the first tour of the South African team. His cricket interests continued and he played for Pool village, later becoming an umpire. After being employed as a forester on various estates, the final one being the Harewood Estate, he worked at Pool Paper Mill for twent four years, retiring at the grand age of 78.
In June 1902 Pool School acknowledged the signing of the peace agreement between England and the Transvaal and Orange Free State by declaring a half day’s holiday.
At the beginning of the last century Pool-in-Wharfedale had a population of little more than five hundred. The railway station and the village’s close proximity to the military camps at Riffa and Farnley were the main reasons for the activities which were to follow. Few villages of such a small size could have played a more active and important part during the later wars. A fantastic community spirit helped to see it through the many difficulties to come.
First World War Veterans at the opening of the War Memorial in 1923
Names of some people on photo:-
Septimus Gardener, Billy Tankard, Bert Whithead, Snr. Rev. Maddrell, vicar, Jack Edwards, Herbert Pickard, Joe Whiteley, Eddie Oates, Harry Davey, Arthur Denton (in bathchair).
A letter from Maskell Mitchell of Pool (a well known local fisherman) in the London published “The Fishing Gazette” dated January 27th 1917, states that five of his sons, Private Mack Mitchell, Tyneside Scottish; Private Will Mitchell R.A.M.C.; Gunner; Len Mitchell, Liverpool County Palatine-Regt. R.F.A.; Bombardier Bernard Mitchell, R.F.A. and Driver H. Mitchell, R.F.A. were serving in the Army at that time and were all keen fisherman.
He also states
“Out of our little village of Pool over one hundred young men have joined the Army. The place seems dead now the boys are gone.”
Maskell, father of the children above, was a signalman at Harrogate later moving to the North signal box at Arthington Junction, living in the Arthington railway house. In 1906 he moved again to live at 3, Chevin View, Pool. After leaving the railway he bought a fishing tackle business in Leeds from Francis Walbrun of Pool who wrote a book called “Grayling, and How to Catch Them” in 1895.
One of his sons, Bernard, recalls;
“Along with many young lads I joined the Territorial Army in 1912, as a way of getting away for a fortnight’s holiday each year. This was in the 49th West Riding Howitzer Battery in Otley.
In 1914 we went to Pembury, South Wales. We were eventually sent to France to Arras and the Somme. The Germans were in the Hindenberg line, well set up in large wood lined dugouts with bunks and with good stocks of food including tins of jam. Our trenches were not so good although the French complained that we had the best and we swapped over. The Leeds Rifles were on the Somme where it was just barren ground full of shell holes, dead men and horses.
Our gun position had been firing gas shells. You could watch the 18 lb shells going up from our 4.5” Howitzers. We got down for a rest, you could not go deep in the chalky ground and just had a tin cover of corrugated sheeting. I was in a place near the entrance when a Gerry shell came through the top of the dugout. The Sergeant Major pulled me out as it was just breaking dawn. He then pulled Bellerby out and we were taken away on the shell bogey to the 1st Dressing Station. I could not see but asked “Is that you Billy?” He died in that dressing station. I was the only survivor of seven men. The other five were unreognizable and their remains were just put in sandbags.”
Bernard eventually spent nine months in King George’s Hospital in London. He lost one eye and was removing shrapnel from his face for days, the last piece coming out years afterwards. His brother Harold was sent back with trench feet, another brother Harry, was gassed which according to Bernard, resulted in him never again looking after himself.
For fifty years from 1933 to 1983 Mrs. Ethel Mitchell, wife of Ernest, ran the grocery shop at The Bar House on Arthington Lane. During WW1 she went to France serving as both cook and nurse, on her return she worked “in sevice” at Overdale. During WW2 she received a certificate of thanks from Lord Halifax for collecting £1,300 towards the war effort. After leaving the RAF, Dr. John Metcalf arrived in Pool in 1954 when she could be seen in her shop knitting him a pair of socks.
Mrs. Singleton’s father, William Townsend from Holbeck, worked at Pool Bank Quarries before the 1914-1918 war. He fought in the Kings Own Royal Light Infantry Regiment and survived three battles on the Somme. During the third battle he was taken prisoner and because he had worked in the quarry, was considered to be a miner so was transported to Silesia to work down the mines. Although he is recorded as “missing” in York Minster he actually returned home in 1920. Soon after he moved to Old Pool Bank where he again worked in the quarry environs, this time in Whitaker’s brick works.
Eddie Oates was the village blacksmith having his forge on Mill Lane until 1929. He was a blacksmith during his service in WW1. He is seen here under canvas in Salonika. He lived on Chapel Row and Chevin View and had followed the family tradition, his grandfather Michael is shown in the Pool census of 1871 as being a retired blacksmith.
Acting Captain Harry Ridealgh, described as “a Yorkshire Quarryman, an explosives expert from Poole-in-Wharfedale”, received the Military Cross for “conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty” at Cambrai in November 1917. After capturing several prisoners, dismantling two hostile guns, he remained passing back information under very heavy shell fire, he was blown up by a shell extracting the fragments from his stomach with dirty fingers, his wound went septic. Lucky to survive he did not see action again. He resigned his commission from the 4th West Riding Brigade in 1920. Two other members of the family, Wilfred and Alfred, had emigrated to Canada but returned with the Canadian Overseas Expeditianary Force. Alfred returned to Canada in 1919 with gunshot wounds as a result of which he died in 1924. (Wilfred Ridealgh)
Arriving in Pool in 1949 to live in The Rock (previously known as Rose Cottage) Mill Lane, a native of Australia, Capt. Henry Vernon Worrall, D.S.C. and Bar, Croix de Guerre, is quoted in house deeds as being a retired York Aviation company director. He had been a test pilot with Blackburn Aircraft at Brough. In the 1920’s he joined Sir Alan Cobham as his co-pilot on long distance flights of exploration. Until the outbreak of WW2 he was Manager/Secretary and Chief Flying Instructor at Yorkshire Aeroplane Club. In June 1941 he test-flew the first of more than 4,000 Ansons to be built at the Yeadon Avro factory. (“My Mother worked at Avro” – Gerald Myers)
Two young girls, Annie and Edie, from the Davey family, Pool, joined Otley girls working “on munitions”.
“Our munition makers are sharing in the battles now in progress as much as if their workshops were situated immediately behind the firing lines and they were personally engaged in handing the shells to the men who fire them.”
Ministry of Munitions, July 17th 1916.
Since the beginning of the first world war Whiteleys mill had been producing “glazeboards” for ammunition factories. From 27th March 1916 they came under the control of the Ministry of Munitions
Pool Church of England School
Such was the enthusiasm of the children that at the outbreak of the war, they collected 10/-d. towards the Prince of Wales National War Fund. To help in the food economy drive they collected a sack full of chestnuts together with almost seven stones of blackberries from Riffa Wood. They also aided local farmers with potato picking. A Union Jack was presented to the school by Herbert Stanhope of Pool House, who presented prizes each Empire Day. It seems this was almost the only day when mention was made of the war at the school. This was the day when talks included “Great European War and its Causes”, there was singing of patriotic songs, including the National Anthem and saluting the Union Jack. In January 1918 a school holiday was observed to celebrate “the courage and bravery of the 62nd West Riding Division on their success at Cambrai.”
For a short time there were Belgian refugees in the village whose children attended the school. There was a refugee from the Spanish Civil War who lodged at a bungalow on Old Pool Bank. He found life very difficult as his father and his uncle fought on opposing sides.
Throughout the war there appears to have been a shortage of fuel at the school with temperatures of 34-40 degrees Fahrenheit (1–4 degrees Celsius) regularly being recorded in the classroom. The situation would be eased by the delivery of coke.
The sun was going down when news of the ending of the First World War reached Mr. Wigglesworth, headmaster of Pool School. In spite of the gathering darkness he assembled all his pupils and singing hymns they marched through the village to the vicarage, which in those days was The Stonehouse on Arthington Lane.
As a young girl Alice Davey can remember seeing Arthur Denton for the first time after he returned from the First World War and had developed shellshock. His shaking upset her to such an extent that she went home and cried, refusing to venture out for quite some time. Alice and Hilda’s eldest brother, born 1897, went to France and was gassed. He came home very ill and took a long time to recover.
On 11th August 1918 St. Wilfrid’s Parish Church unveiled a stained glass window in memory of John Cunliffe Johnstone of The Tower, Arthington Lane, who was killed in action in France. The window has the inscription “Suffer little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven”
During WW1 Holmes and Kate Whiteley had their home at No.1, Longlands, Otley Road, Pool-in-Wharfedale. Whenever there was a warning of Zeppelin air raids they took shelter in the cellars of the nearby mill house, Riddings House, home of their parents William and Jane. (founder of B.S.& W.Whiteley). Riddings House was demolished in 1929.
In the early 1920’s the Wharfedale Rural District Council built the farms and smallholdings which line Castley and Leathley Lanes to provide a living for homecoming troops. This was on land purchased from the Fawkes Estate for £33,600.
The boundaries of a military site on the land attached to the nearby Farnley Hall had been discussed in September 1915 with the War Department confirming it had taken over the camp in July 1915. It was the scene of a military camp occupied by the Northern Command Signalling School. In early 1916 three signal units were to join them
Developing the land was a major operation. It required levelling; the need for stone and gravel; the laying of cinder paths; improvements were required to gates, roads and stiles. On one occasion the camp Major considered the road to be so bad that no laundry motor vehicle could make it to the camp to collect the 3000 blankets in need of washing, neither was it certain that one ton, two hundredweights of potatoes had been delivered!
Charles John Harcourt Sheepshank, Capt. Died in 17th March 1916. E. R. Sheepshank of Arthington Hall was a Reuter correspondent during the Spanish Civil War. He was killed near Teruel on 31st December 1938
“Pool men served with the forces of the Crown during the War.”
George Denton Hill, a Private in the 11th Brigade Duke of Wellington Regiment, received both the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. His brother Earl Massingham Hill, joined the Royal Navy becoming an Able Bodied Seaman, both lived at Old Pool Bank.
Some who Fought and Returned
In 1936 Freddie Midgley (left) joined the RAF. He trained as an aircraft engineer. He escaped from Dunkirk to England by lying flat on his back in the bottom of a small French boat.
“When we arrived (at Dunkirk) we found the rest of our unit already there and were able to rejoin them. We burnt the lorry and managed to obtain some food.
The next day dense black smoke and clouds of sea mist covered the town. That didn’t stop the German planes from constantly dropping bombs and spraying machine gun bullets over the harbour. Fortunately, they couldn’t see us and, of course, we could not see them but we could hear them and the noise was deafening. All day long we hid under some trees. Later, in the night, the Wing Commander got us together to tell us that he had obtained a small boat and it was to take us home the following night. How he managed to arrange this we never knew. However, on the 30 May 1940, we got down to the harbour and what a sight! Bomb craters, bodies and burnt out vehicles everywhere! We found this very small boat in a small boathouse and our little party clambered aboard. I dropped to the floor and knew nothing more until the following morning when I heard Pop’s voice saying, “Come on son, wake up, we’re home.” (Courtesy Neil Midgley, son)
He was then posted to Africa. It was during his time in the forces that he met and later married Louie. At the end of the war, he returned to Pool with his new wife and soon came to live in the newly built and attractive pre-fabricated Swedish houses on Mill Lane, their home until their death. He spent the rest of his working days as a motor engineer at Whiteley’s mill.
Ronald Brown lived on Manor Crescent with his wife Hetty. This photograph was taken in January 1945 during his three weeks home leave before returning to continue fighting in Burma.
Billy Webster joined the RAF in 1942, aged 17. He eventually trained as a flight mechanic at Halton, Bucks. later being posted to Port Said, Egypt where he became a crew member of the Air Sea Rescue. His final posting was Malta. After leaving the RAF for a short time he became a policeman in Rotherham, returning to Pool to work at Whiteley’s mill. He was a keen cricketer playing for the successful mill team, captaining them to victory in the Wharfedale Cricket League Championship in 1955. He still lives in Park Buildings on Arthington Lane.
The 300 h.p. high speed launch used for air sea rescue. “When it set off it was so fast you didn’t stand at the back!”
Pool-in-Wharfedale Railway Station
There is no doubt that the proximity of Pool-in-Wharfedale railway station to the military camps of Riffa and Farmley made for a very busy village.
The station was a hive of activity during the Second World War. New tanks and stores arriving continuously from Leeds armament factories to be stored at the nearby military camps. For safety reasons, many of these movements were made during the night. A special ramp was built on the platform to ease loading and unloading of heavy equipment.
In order to cross the River Wharfe, Pool Bridge was used as it was considered to be stronger than Otley Bridge, also the route through the village was easier than through Otley. When a particularly heavy tank was moved to the Camps it was unloaded at Arthington Station and driven across the River Wharfe at Arthington’s ancient Castley
Ford. Sometimes soldiers would alight from the train and, headed by a band, march through the village to Farnley Camp.
At one time a large movement of tanks rumbled through the village en-route for the Normandy Landing. About a week prior to all this activity the base camp at Farnely was at different times visited by King George, Viscount Montgomery and Winston Churchill who gave his famous salute when passing through.
Villagers had to contend with this heavy traffic but in March of 1942 police help was requested when military traffic had increased to such an extent that it had become a danger to school children crossing the road. Long queues of tanks and Army lorries could be seen waiting for petrol at the small village garage situated behind Fir Tree cottages. These cottages were demolished in the 1960’s to make way for the Shell station we see to-day.
A number of villagers recall that the King and Queen slept in two royal carriages which were parked overnight in Pool-in-Wharfedale station. When the following day they inspected a temporary Bailey bridge being erected by the military as a practice and precaution. It had an even heavier military patrol all that night. The Pool and Arthington stations, the rail track, Arthington Viaduct and Bramhope tunnel were all continually guarded by the military during the war. (See “Pool-in-Wharfedale Railway”).
“Pool Precautions. Even in country districts gateposts are being painted white
to help those returning home in the dark”. – News cutting 1939
Although Pool escaped the horrors of some of the large cities, bombing did take place at nearby Arthington no doubt aiming for the railway viaduct. Fortunately the bomb landed in a nearby field, killing the odd cow. The area had been secretly photographed in 1936 during a visit by the German Hindenburg balloon which ostensibly was on a good-will mission. Whiteleys later discovered their paper mill had been photographed.
A flare was dropped on the village setting alight a garden shed owned by Horace Bland of Manor Crescent. This was soon extinguished by the stirrup pumps which had already been issued to villagers.
29th D of W (Otley) Bn. Home Guard
The Pool Platoon 26th Nov. 1944.
The Home Guard held their meeting in a Nissan hut supplied by the War Office. This stood in the car park to the west of the White Hart Hotel.
One of the Home Guard duties was to protect the water pipe lines at Fewston, Swinsty and Lindley from possible sabotage. The Lindley reservoir was the responsibility of the Pool detachment.
Billy Webster recalls that the Home Guard practiced using guns on the field where Parklands Estate is now built. “An imitation cardboard tank was erected in the middle of the field and it was hilarious to watch, as no-one could ever hit it!” They also held camouflage practice here when trees and the earth moved! “Great fun to watch for the young village boys” recalls Geoff Perkins. But boys would quickly scatter when they saw the army loading their guns when practicing on the field adjacent to Pool Bridge.
Many years ago, after seeing “Dad’s Army” and with memories still fresh in his mind, Kendal Newby wrote an account of his service in the Home Guard before receiving his call-up papers. Kendal lived at Pool Farm Cottage. Here are extracts from his memoirs:-
“I remember vividly in 1940 me, my father and my mother, we had all the blackout curtains up, as nobody had to show a light. We had no electric anyway on the farm, just paraffin lamps, when there came a strident knock on the door.” He goes on to say that two men, who he later learned were Captain Coghilll and the Lieutenant Smith, came to ask him to join the Home Guard. “So my father said, “Well, what’s ta think about it lad? I said I think perhaps I should join if it would help the war effort.”
He duly reported at the White Hart yard. “The building at the Pool end of the White Hart was the Home Guard stores where I was kitted out with a khaki uniform, tin hat, boots and gaiters, a rifle and bayonet.”
“We used to parade in the White Hard yard on Sunday mornings and during some evenings practising arms drill. On Sunday mornings we were out on exercises trying to come in contact with and defeat Home Guards from another town or village. These exercises were taken very seriously.
I remember Lieutenant Smith showing us how to use a weapon called a Blacker Bombard, which fired some kind of missile. Some week-ends we were taken in trucks to Fewston where some rifle ranges were set up and where we had a taste of shooting with a rifle – it was the first time I had fired a rifle. At weekends we took our turn being taken to Fewston where some tents were set up and we were taken there to guard the reservoirs in case German paratroops were dropped.
In the quarry at Old Pool Bank a barricade of tin sheets had been erected and with officers in charge, we stood behind the tin sheets. We were shown how to throw hand grenades. They were Mills hand grenades which were pear shaped with a lever held down by a pin which, when pulled out, released the pressure on the lever. When you threw the granade the lever came off and you had just five or six seconds to duck before the grenade went off. I can’t remember how far mine went but shouts of “Duck” rang out as the grenade went off. It was all taken very seriously.”
(The quarry face was also used for abseiling by Canadian troops- Mrs. Singleton)
This used to go on every weekend with different Home Guards from other districts. We could hear the bangs in Pool all week-end.
When anybody in Pool Home Guard was called up they organized a little send off in the White Hart. I remember getting very drunk as I wasn’t used to a lot of drink as we never had much money. Anyway, I was told somebody brought me home, just across the road to the old farm. I was told later my parents told some of them off for getting me like that. Anyway, I must have come round as I went off to report to Aberdeen next day as that was where I had to report to.”
The Nissan hut was at one time used for a display of photographs of prisoners who had been held in Belsen. Mrs. Mavis Whiteley can remember men crying as they emerged from the exhibitiion. After the war the hut was offered for sale by the War Office. At the time Old Pool Bank residents were in need of a new village hall but turned down the suggestion to buy it.
The Air Raid Precautions Unit
A.R.P. meetings were held at the rear of Wharfe View and at one time used the Pool Tennis Club room.
The Ladies section of the A.R.P learned the workings of their ambulance. Mrs. Gladstone, a member of the Pullein family, past Lords of the Manor of Pool, was for a time the ambulance driver. In 1941 she received an official letter of thanks from the Wharfedale District Council. This was for saving a boy’s life “by driving him swiftly to Harrogate Hospital”
Womens Land Army
By April 1943 the land army had recruited 58,221 girls to work in farming, market gardening and timber production. Girls could often be seen working on the land around the village. A fire badly burned some of the girls who were housed in a wooden shed on one of the farms at Castley.
Women’s Royal Voluntary Service
Princess Royal visits the W.R.V.S. in the Methodist School Room
In 1939 a communal feeding scheme was organized by the W.R.V.S. for 120 children and their teachers who were evacuated to Pool from Leeds. Electric cookers and other equipment was installed in the Methodist School Room. Dried food was obtained whilst other food needs, were contracted out to local businesses.
First Aid Unit
Pool’s mobile First Aid Unit Jan. 1944
L. Leeming; E M Harrison, F. Wildon, E.M Lamb, E Maud, E Wigglesworth, J.W Gregson, ?J.Rastander, J. S. Thackrah, Mary Washington, G. Smith S.R.N, M Clegg, M. Jackson, W H Smith, W.G.Desmond, S.E.Lee, A.R Leeming, M. E. Johnson, M. J. Tindall, M. M. Mullins, E M Shann, E. Brown.
Prisoners of War – there were many in the area. There was a Prisoner of War Camp at Otley
David Holmes, who until recently farmed from Hall Farm in the centre of the village, recalls his father’s story. During WW2 whilst working in one of their fields he heard a fire engine and commented that someone in Pool had a fire. Looking towards his farm he realized it was his barn on fire! Dashing back he found most of his corn had been saved. At that time German prisoners of war were camped at Otley and each morning were transported to work on farms in the area. It was one of these prisoners who had entered the barn and rescued most of the corn crop, for which they were very grateful.
According to Mrs. Chapman, Manor Farm, Castley, who had Russian prisoners of war working on the farm, did not know how to use knives and forks.
Roland Tankard recalls that towards the end of the war a surveyor on the District Council decided a better water pressure would be obtain to Pool’s private village water supply by enlarging the reservoir at the bottom of Old Pool Bank. A party of Italian prisoners was employed to dig a much bigger reservoir. This of course was a waste of time as it made no difference to the pressure. Leathley Hall had alterations made by the Pool workshops of Kayes and Tankards. German P.O.W’s were employed at the Hall.
B. S. & W. Whiteley Ltd., paper mill – had a large part to play.
Before the death of David Whiteley, grandson of the founders of B.S. & W. Whiteley Ltd. he wrote his memoirs. Here are extracts of his section on the early part of the wartime activities at the paper mill, before he joined the R.A.F.
“Since Hitler’s rise to power there was increasing nervousness over the possibility of trouble due to German rearmament. This became very apparent in 1938. For this and general protection for the works a Dennis trailer pump was obtained with a tow bar fitted to the old Chrysler car. A works fire brigade was formed, and organised so that whichever shift was on duty there would be a crew to handle and operate the equipment. First aid training was also taking place and a works team was formed under David’s charge with Seth Longbottom as assistant. At a slightly later date a squad was formed as a gas decontamination unit with cleansing facilities in the remains of the old barn behind the reel mill. This was led by William Tankard, a veteran of the First War.
“Weird effect given by the protective clothing of a squad of West Riding roadmen, trained at Pool to deal with poison gas”
In 1938 Whiteleys formed a works fire brigade for the protection of the works. First aid training was also given. Soon after a Squad was formed as a gas decontamination unit with cleansing facilities.
In response to government requirements for fire watching a reinforced tower was built on top of the reel mill beater house with slits so that observation could be kept in all directions over the factory roofs and beyond. For the firewatchers on the roof there were some very cold nights, 22 degrees of frost being recorded at 11.15 p.m. during one January night.
Practically all employees who were not in one of the special units were listed in rotas for fire watching duties in the tower. The whole works had to have all windows and openings blacked out, which was a very considerable task in view of the roof lights running the whole length of the single storey buildings.
Entrance to old air raid shelters still visible today
All employees from the directors downwards were numbered and issued with badges indicating their status. When they collected their wages at the weighbridge window of the mill office they had to quote their number.”
Also, in response to pressure from the Air Raid Precaution authorities, three reinforced concrete air raid shelters were constructed on the west side of Torracks Hill drive. The watercourse originating near the old railway line and passing down the side of the grounds was diverted under these shelters to provide a makeshift toilet system. Apart from a trial exercise these shelters were never used during the war and much later were used for storage of old files from the offices.”
(During recent alterations to the original old mill an underground room and tunnel were discovered running underneath Otley Road, used to connect steam and water pipes for the new mill and to make a safe crossing for staff, with a lift at either end )
“The police installed an air raid warning siren on top of the watch tower and the telephone had to be continuously manned in order to switch it on when warning of an air raid was received. When the enemy was overrunning Continental countries and there was a real threat of invasion a unit was formed in Pool of Local Defence Volunteers – later changed to the Home Guard. A number of our men were enrolled in this, principally those who had fought in the Great War.”
To assist in the defence of the premises six double barrelled shot guns were purchased by Holmes, (father of David) who was used to handling these. He conducted practice at a moving target on a long wire set up on the island near the dry loft.
The ”Specials” assembled outside Overdale on Old Pool Bank
Their H.Q was behind Wharfe View which was manned day and night
Holmes Whiteley was the Section Commander of the Special Constables. He was on regular duty in charge of a unit which was housed in a wooden hut behind Wharfe View which served as the local police headquarters.
The duties included guarding Bramhope tunnel and Arthington railway viaduct, as well as explosive stores at the local quarries and the public water supply reservoirs in the Washburn valley. Duties of enforcing blackout regulations were shared with the A.R.P. Arthington viaduct and Pool Bridge were considered possible targets for German aircraft.
There had always been a pigeon loft above the top drying loft. Much to everyone’s dismay the government ordered that all the birds should be destroyed in case they should be used for illegal message carrying.
An interesting sideline developed due to the blackout requirements. We were able to sell off many rolls of non-standard reel material and the news spread to other traders who flocked to the works for supplies. Our stocks of normally unsaleable rolls of black were soon exhausted but then it was suggested that the paper did not need to be black so long as it was thick enough to be lightproof. Many substandard rolls of all other colours of reel papers were accordingly cut into handy sizes for the traders to handle. Business was so brisk on the various local market days that we set up a retail selling arrangement next to the slitting and weighing machines. The youngest members of the family were installed with a cash box and receipt book on the spot.”
John Whiteley, then aged 12, was summoned to stand selling the paper supposedly just for one day – which lasted 2 weeks. The traders tried to barter him down but his father Holmes said “we don’t put our price up to take it off again”. This remained his catch phrase.
Gaps were having to be filled in the workforce by the periodic call-up of the younger men for the forces and later by those who were recruited into the new aircraft factory at Yeadon. More women and girls were being employed.
Fortunately, there were very few bombs dropped in the Wharfedale area, although during the winter of 1940-1 the district was regularly overflown by Luftwaffe bombers on their way to Manchester and Liverpool or up to
Clydeside which caused regular air raid warnings. The nearest bomb to the mill was probably one which landed about 50 yards from the railway viaduct at Arthington. An incendiary bomb was dropped somewhere at the top of the Chevin.
One night I was walking back up to Overdale up the Old Bank when a very brilliant flare was dropped from an aircraft. The Germans then had an excellent photo of the works which was seen by William after the war.”
Many companies and private individuals had their own vehicles converted into ambulances, field vehicles, etc. for war use. B. S. & W. Whiteley Ltd. were no exception. They converted a Rolls Royce into this ambulance which was gifted to help the war effort.
Evacuees from various parts of the country were accommodated around the village. The large houses including Pool House, The Manor House and The Tower were used. Soldiers recovering from war wounds were in Arthington Hall. Reckett & Colman evacuated their offices from Hull to Caley Hall.
Several small private houses were also accommodating – 2 Italian girls from London lived in Manor Crescent and Chevin View.
Children together with their teachers arrived from Leeds and London. They were accommodated in two houses on Chevin View. They were considered unruly. Chairs could be seen being thrown out of the attic windows. A large refractory table was given but soon became covered in carvings, coke was stuffed down the local children’s backs then rubbed in. They ate and were mostly taught in the Methodist Chapel School Room.
Sports Clubs were affected.
Pool Cricket Club 1940
Pool Cricket Club managed to keep going throughout the War. This was not without difficulties as many of the men of Pool had been enlisted and it was not a case of who played in a match but who was available. Many of the local clubs had had to close down and the cricket pitch at Arthington was now a cornfield. Often matches were cancelled due to other teams not being able to field a team. All jobs had to be done and everybody helped in some way, mowing, raking, rolling, marking out, sodding, chasing up
players, collecting subs., care of tackle, arranging fixtures, painting the pavilion, mending seats and carrying water for the tea-tent. Even though tea was rationed and potted meat was scarce the ladies were magnificent in providing a cup of tea and sandwiches for 6d. and no “under the counter”.
In April 1940 Pool Tennis Club had their old club room commandeered by the Air Raid Precautions Unit. That same month their A.G.M. commenced early – 6.45p.m. The reason was that “black-out” restrictions forced the meeting to terminate before darkness fell. A committee meeting in December of that year was broken up rather abruptly when air-raid sirens sounded.
Various events were held to raise money. In 1943 a White Elephant Stall and Whist Drive for the “Wings for Victory” campaign. In 1944 a Whist drive to support “Salute the Soldier” week. In 1945 a Bring & Buy Sale in aid of the National Savings Thanksgiving week.
Allotments were formed in an effort to relieve the shortage of food.
In March 1941 Old Pool Bank Allotment Society was formed, Mr. Hartley (Pool School headmaster) was Honorary Secretary. The membership was 6d. with an annual rent of 5/- plus 5/- per year for expenses. Meetings were held in the “Cabin”, Old Pool Bank.
A little later in September 1942 Pool-in-Wharfedale Allotments and Gardens Society was formed, with William Peart and Frank Cooper in control. The allotments were sited on the land which is now the floodlit football pitch off Arthington Lane.
The Avro Factory at Yeadon
People from the village worked at the new Avro factory at Yeadon, one of whom was the mother of Mrs. Webster of Park Buildings.
When building the factory, broken bricks were used as hardcore for the foundations. These had been disposed of in a pit by B. Whitaker & Sons whose brick works had operated from within the quarry on Pool Bank.
In an effort to foil enemy aircraft into believing the factory was a field, grass was placed on its roof. Cardboard cows, sheep, etc. were placed on top and moved around daily.
Pool Church of England School
The re-opening of the school for the Autumn term of 1939 was delayed for one week owing to the declaration of war. An air-raid shelter was soon erected in the school playground but could not be used by pupils living nearby – they had to go home when air-raid sirens sounded! The school held regular air-raid precaution practices and gas mask inspections. The local policeman, Sergeant Taylor, gave a talk warning children of the dangers of handling bombs, grenades and cartridges, since several scholars had taken cartridges to school. As in WW1, the children collected blackberries from Riffa Wood. This was made into jam for use in the school canteen.
The school was the hub of the village, being used for many activities. Gas masks were issued here, Whist and Beetle drives held, Youth Club, Home Guard parties, Nursing Association dances. This was to the annoyance of the headmaster, Ben Hartley, who states “another dance tonight – more upset”. Tables and chairs were often broken and the piano scratched. However, there was a good side too. When a teacher was absent then an evacuee teacher from Leeds would help out.
As mentioned earlier, there were over a hundred evacuee school children, together with their teachers, living in the village. Some were housed in what the headmaster referred to as “Chevin View Hostel for difficult children”. His frustration is summed up in January 1940.
“A very bad week for weather and for school work. Undoubtedly many people have become accustomed to thinking attendance in war time doesn’t matter. This is due to the Attendance Officer being switched to other work. Attendance Cards just come back as they were sent and it is a waste of time filling them in.”
Again fuel was short. In 1944 although permission had been refused by the caretaker, the Vicar “borrowed coke from a pile in the school yard”.
Otley & Wharfedale Thanksgiving Savings Week 22nd Sept. 1945 shows Pool’s Victory Queen, Joyce Butterill. Her attendants are Marny Woodhead, Pam Shillito, Audrey Bland, Anne Rawlinson and Shirley Lee
This card was given to school children throughout the Country
As can be seen the village was involved in many money raising activities. In 1943 the school, under the direction of the headmaster, spent six months preparing for an “artistic show with really high class entertainment” to raise money during the “Salute the Soldier” week. The backroom boys, made up of Mums and the more elderly members of the village, provided lighting and made spectacular costumes out of whatever was available at the time. The curtain finally went down with a “Salute the Soldier” item. £26 was presented to the Institute Treasurer for investment in War Savings. On another occasion £2.6s.7d. was handed to the Red Cross from plays given by each class. A play was also produced during Wings for Victory week.
A “Victory” holiday was declared on May 8/9th 1945 to celebrate the end of the war in Europe and by June of that year all the evacuees had left.
The official surrender of Japan was made on 2nd September 1945. Celebrations followed throughout the village.
Pat Rawlinson was a young girl during the war. She often wrote to her father who was serving in the RAF. “My father was called up at the age of 36. His first visit to the RAF dentist resulted in him having all his teeth extracted and replaced by a false set. As a curious ten year old my letters often asked how his teeth were!
Here are extracts from some of her letters and her memories.
“School children collected books for soldiers. When you got 250 you became a Field Marshal!
Local dances were a great attraction. Over 200 tickets sold, half of them to soldiers at a camp in Otley. The soldiers made a model tank and raffled it, and they all gave 3d. each to buy a bottle of whisky to raffle (1 ½ p. to-day).
Fancy dress events for children were held. Whist & Beetle Drives for adults.
The Manor House was occupied by refugees from the London bombing.
The schoolmaster, Mr. Ben Hartley, and a team of mothers organised school concerts to entertain villagers. The concerts raised £26 and £29 respectively. Mrs. Rawlinson played the piano and produced both concerts and also helped with the costumes. Much ingenuity was needed to produce the costumes from black-out cloth and old sheets and blankets dyed to make the costumes. A team of “mothers” all helped.
The King and Queen and the two princesses stopped at Pool Bridge to watch soldiers practising crossing the river in case the bridge was blown up. I remember the Queen wearing pale blue and the two Princesses being dressed alike and worrying that they would get their shoes dirty as it was very muddy!. The visit was secret but the school children were allowed to line the road-side to see the Royal Family
Winston Churchill also passed through the village on his way to the Army Camp at Otley. I remember that he stood up in the jeep and gave his famous “V” sign in salute.
During the war a German plane ** crash-landed just over the bridge and the crew were arrested by the local bobby, Sgt. Taylor and members of the Home Guard. Another member of the crew parachuted down and was caught in the trees by the river. The material from the parachute was retrieved and made into underwear by the local ladies! The prisoners were locked in Sgt. Taylor’s greenhouse (he didn’t know what else to do with them) and then taken to Otley on the back of motor bikes. Professor Challenger, who lived on Arthington Lane, acted as interpreter when the men were questioned.” He had spent three years studying chemistry in Germany.
** Yorkshire Ridings magazine Oct/Nov 2001 quote “Two aircraft had collided over Pool, near Otley in West Yorkshire, resulting in the deaths of all ten aircrew”. This was in 1943 and appear to have flown from Driffield.
“The Home Guard kept watch from the roof of the Paper Mill and I remember my mother having a tin hat, a large bucket and a stirrup pump and a whistle.
During the war, some Italian prisoners of war worked on the local farms. Also some prisoners who had been stationed in Jersey were sent to work at Otley Hospital. I remember meeting one called Fritz Anderman, who was a barber by trade and had worked in the hospital at Jersey. I still have the leather writing case he made for me one Christmas. One day a German plane fired at us whilst playing in the school playground. The teacher told us to keep up against the wall. It was very frightening.
Travelling was difficult in war time but I remember going to the pictures in Otley buying fish and chips and walking the three miles home – all for 1/-d. (5p now!)
Occasional film shows were given in the School and I remember seeing a film about Rembrandt with Charles Laughton and Elsa Lanchester.
Arthington Hall was used as a recuperation centre for wounded soldiers and I remember going to concerts given by the staff and soldiers there.
Part of my mother’s (Mrs. Grace Rawlinson) war effort was to wash socks for the soldiers at Arthington Hall using a copper boiler which stood in our old wash house. She washed and sorted some 100 pairs a week and was given a large tablet of carbolic soap and a bottle of ammonia. She always said that the ammonia was to help her recover from the smell of the socks! My grandfather was very envious of some of the wool socks and mother had to watch carefully to make sure that the correct number were returned!
The shop which is now a hairdressers (now a house on St. Wilfrid’s Terrace) was an old-fashioned grocers run by Misses Littlewood and Baker, two stern characters resembling Laurel and Hardy. I remember having take our own paper bags when buying sweets or provisions and the smell of the shop – cheese, ham and particularly the paraffin. The sweets in glass bottles on high shelves and the time taken on how to spend one’s sweet coupons to get the best value for them. Mrs. Gladstone, who lived at No. 1 Mill Lane, was an ambulance driver during the war.”
Yorkshire Ridings magazine Oct/Nov 2001 quote “Two aircraft had collided over Pool, near Otley in West Yorkshire, resulting in the deaths of all ten aircrew appear to have flown from Driffield” **Later information has revealed that the German airmen bailed out over Pool with the plane eventually crashing at Idle on 5th May 1941
Mavis Whiteley recalls walking along Arthington Lane to school when she was stopped by a man who asked the way to the docks. When told there weren’t any here he said his instructions were to enlist at Pool(e) Docks.
The records of Pool Parish Council reveal:- in April 1940 a request was made to the Council to find “common land” for sports, to be used by troops stationed at Riffa Camp. The request was refused as no land was considered available!
In 1940 authority was given for the removal of all iron gates and fences for war salvage. It was reported over half a ton had been collected within two weeks.
March 1944. The residents of Old Pool Bank requested that, in view of residents need to travel to Pool Village facilities be made for the repair or exchange of gas masks in the “Cabin” on Old Pool Bank. Later in 1945 a request was made for them to issue ration books.
The Pool Bank Quarry railway bridge which spanned the A660 was dismantled in May 1941. The scrap metal was removed and taken to help in the war effort.
David Whiteley in his memoirs recalls, “The name of the telephone exchange was always Arthington, although it had always been in Pool since the beginning of telephoney.* During my RAF service I often had trouble trying to make the name clear to operators in the south of England. Various alternatives were offered such as Hartington, Arlington etc. My uncle as M.D. at the mill, made repeated efforts to get the exchange name altered to the same as the postal address, without any success, even after the new exchange was built below Avenue des Hirondelles. The name only went out of use when we became 84 on the Leeds exchange.” *(Roland Tankard says the exchange was originally at Arthington, at the bottom of Creskeld Lane, in the first house on the left going up.)
A sense of humour was maintained.
“A bit of a pusher she is. Been blackballed at all the best queues in the district.” (Sheffield “Star”)
Wherever possible, the villagers kept livestock usually poultry or pigs. It was a great day when a pig was killed. “Every little bit was eaten.”
A Pig Tale. Food was short during the war. This story is about Clifford Midgley whose family ran Pool’s coal and haulage business for almost a hundred years.
“Lup” Lupton had a smallholding on Castley Lane. Clifford decided he would buy a pig and pay Lup to look after it alongside Lup’s own pigs, so that when it was fattened up it could be killed and eaten by Clifford’s family.
Later Clifford delivered sand for Lup’s pigsty and whilst there asked if he could he see the pigs. “Aye” said Lup “but yours’s deead.” When Midgley’s bill arrived for the sand, Lup considered he had been overcharged so delayed paying. Eventually when Lup did pay he showed Clifford their Midgley calendar hanging on the wall. Underneath the words “Sand and Gravel Delivered” Lup had written “AT A PRICE“
The Churches were mindful of the feelings of the village.
Mr. Thomas Walsh of Pool House agreed to part of his servants’ cottages, which had lately been used as a billiard room, be used to take Catholic Church services for the duration of the war.
The Church and Chapel were on standby to act as temporary mortuaries if required
Letter sent by Pool Methodist Church to members of the armed forces still serving after the ending of the war.
On 10th May 1981 the Royal British Legion replaced the old Standard with the dedication of the new Standard taking place in St.Wilfrid’s church
In February 1946 a decision was made to build two Memorial Halls one at Old Pool Bank and one at Pool-in-Wharfedale. These were to commemorate those who fought in both WW1 and WW2. This prospect was tackled with enthusiasm by both villages with a tremendous number of events being held to raise sufficient money before building could begin. Eventually Old Pool Bank Memorial Hall, the majority of which had also been built by the villagers, was opened on 17th May 1952 by Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal.
On 2nd August 1958 the Pool-in-Wharfedale Memorial Hall was opened by the Countess of Harewood. This also commemorated William L. Whiteley, who before his death in 1937, had given much to the village. (He and his brothers, Ben and Samuel, had in 1886 founded B. S. & W. Whiteley, Pool’s paper mill, after purchasing from the executors of Nicholson & Co.
Old Pool Bank Memorial Hall
Pool-in-Wharfedale Memorial Hall
For around 30 years before his death in 2016, Eugene Black came to live in Pool with his wife Annie and his four adult children. In 2005 he gave to Pool History Group an account of his experiences as a German Nazi prisoner. This is his story which is abridged: –
“At school you had to wear the Star of David. When the Germans came we were rounded up very quickly and the Jewish quarter became the ghetto.” Eugene was classified as a Hungarian Jew and came from a town called Munkács, now part of Ukraine.
Within a matter of weeks most of the surrounding town’s 30,000 Jews were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland. Eugene, his parents and two older sisters arrived there after a gruelling three day train journey. “We had no idea where we were going although I think my parents knew what was happening.
We got separated the moment we got off the train. My mother and sisters went to the left and me and my father went to the right. I saw them being taken away but I didn’t have the opportunity to say goodbye. A few minutes later I was separated from my father. I was marched to the sauna, ordered to strip, had all my hair removed, showered and given a striped uniform and sent to barracks with those deemed fit enough to work
I was born in 1928 (records in the camp show 1926). The father of a friend of mine had told me to lie about my age” Eugene also told the History of Pool group that he was told say he was an engineer so he would be useful to the Germans and therefore would not be sent to the gas chamber. All I could see that night were these flames coming out of the chimney and there was a horrible smell. The next day a friend of my father’s Mr Kornreich came over and said he was sorry but the smell was the bodies of our families burning. My family perished within two hours of arriving. They were sent to the gas chambers and that’s what I watched that night – that was my first experience of Ausvhwitz-Birkenau.“ Eugene later found out his two sisters had survived the gas chamber and were sent to a munitions factory but unfortunately, had been killed by an allied bombing raid because the SS would not allow the Jewish prisoners into the bunkers.
After three weeks he was loaded on to another train with as many as a hundred to a single wagon. “In the middle there were two barrels, one with water in and the other to relieve yourself. The smell was terrible”
He was being taken to a concentration camp at Buchenwald, from there he was taken to a labour camp called
Mittelbau-Dora. At Dora there were underground factories producing Hitler’s V1 and V2 rockets.
Eugene spent six months in the tunnels, which were up to a mile long, loading huge rocks onto small wagons ready for transportation. “We worked a 16-hour shift, lots of the time with no lights. To describe that, what can I say? I can’t find the words. The Germans knew they were losing the war but the conditions were unbelievable, it was one of the worst camps. If you survived three months you were lucky”. He recounted that If any of the prisoners made the slightest error or disobeyed, they were rounded up into a group, all the rest of the prisoners made to assemble to watch them being shot or hanged. (Dora was one of the most notorious labour camps because of the harrowing conditions workers were forced to endure. Originally, prisoners were made to work and sleep underground in one of the many tunnels, sleeping on shelves cut from the rock.) Eugene worked in these tunnels. After a bout of pneumonia his weight dropped to six stones.
Early in 1945 he was sent to Bergen-Belsen (where Ann Frank died.)
Conditions inside the Bergen Belsen were horrific, and prisoners did anything to stay alive, pockets of the dead were searched to see if there were any crumbs, “you were so desperate. It’s difficult to come to terms with what happened, it’s difficult to put into words and hard to explain to people how you suffered – the hunger was unbearable.”
Belsen was liberated on 15th April 1945, on Sunday afternoon at 3 o’clock, the only concentration camp taken by the British – a day Eugene will never forget referring to the moment the German commandant handed over control of the camp.The level of degradation that greeted the British soldiers was unimaginable with piles of rotting corpses, some of which were half eaten.
“After the war ended I suddenly realised I was free, but I had lost everything.”
Eugene finished his account by saying, “It was not only Jews but everyone who suffered in the war. It’s a
tragedy which must never be forgotten and must never reoccur”
Eugene became an interpreter for the British army where he met and married his English wife Annie and
came to live in England. Eugene worked for Marks and Spencer all his life, retiring as a manager. In his
retirement he spoke to thousands of young people about the Holocaust in his mission to promote peace amongst all. His story is one of 16 now featured at the Holocaust Exhibition and Learning Centre in the University of Huddersfield. http://holocastelearning.org.uk/
Awards received by some of the People from Pool-in-Wharfedale
Harold Ellis Denton D.C.M. killed during W.W.1.1914-1918.
Actg Captain Harry Reginald RIDEALGH M.C. bravery during W.W.1
William Lumb Whiteley 1937 sworn in as Justice of the Peace
Holmes Whiteley. Award for “services to the Country in the capacity of Special Constables” during the General Strike, dated “Downing Street, May, 1926 “
Harold Ellison, B.E.M. for keeping Whiteley’s Paper Mill going during W.W.2.
Seth LONGBOTTOM. B.E.M. 1960’s for working at Whiteley’s (First Aid)
Walter WOODHEAD B.E.M. for services during the war.
This B.E.M. was the last to be presented actually at the Palace.
Frank RACKHAM, B.E.M. The Bungalow, Old Pool Bank for development of the Iron Lung.
Holmes Whiteley Coronation Medal on 2nd June, 1953 as “an inspector of the special constabulary of the Otley Division in the W.R. of Yorkshire”.
William Whiteley O.B.E. New Year honours list of 1965
Chas. Wm. WHITELEY. O.B.E 1978. He had been president of Leeds Chamber of Commerce and a long serving member of BEAMA (British Electrical and Allied electrical Manufacturers Association.) Son of above William Whiteley O.B.E.
Eric Cryer received Maundy Money from the Queen in 1985 in Ripon Cathedral for services to St Wilfrid’s Church, Pool for being organist for 50 years also choir master.
Kendal Newby the Queen Mother’s Honorary Birthday Awards 1988 for keeping the two villages of Pool and Arthington tidy.
Jeannie Barber M.B.E. for services to the Insurance Industry. 1992.
Hazel Lee (Old Pool Bank) Chairman of the Parish Council for her “Women of Achievement” award. In the presence of the Prime Minister in 2001.
Trevor DAVEY M.B.E. New Years Honours List 31st Dec. 1990 Services to the West Yorkshire Constabulary, becoming the Police National Superintendent of the Association of England and Wales.
Honorary Citizens Award issued by Pool Parish Council. Kendal Newby Oct 2006 received the first Connie Cartwright 2007; Roger Bareham 2008; Pat Lazenby 2009; Harry Wardman 2010; Margaret Plasting 2011; Lorri Clemie 2012; Pat Walker 2013; Peter Wilkinson 2014; Jim Smith 2015
At the end of WWII a council letter of thanks went to:
Seth Longbottom (FirstAid)
W Tankard (Decontamination)
Dr Hunter (Medical)
E H Wilson (Store House)
J Holden (Old Pool Bank)
H Leeming (11 Manor Gardens)
H Stephenson (Riffa Farm)