John Edward Hebblethwaite (1898-1919)
John Edward Hebblethwaite was born in Wooldale, the son of labourer Wilson Hebblethwaite and his wife Emma.
He worked as a joiner.
He enlisted in February 1917 and served in the 2/6th Battalion of the North Staffordshire Regiment. He was discharged in June 1918, "being no longer physically fit for war service" with a "tubercle of lung". It was recommended that he be sent to a sanitarium for 3 months — "he is very weak, has constant cough [and] is feverish".
He died on 3 July 1919 and is commemorated on the Holme, Holmfirth and Newmill War Memorial.
Lives of the First World War
John Edward Hebblethwaite was born in Holmfirth in 1898, the fourth son of labourer Wilson Hebblethwaite and his wife Emma. In the 1911 census, the family are living on South Lane, Holmfirth and John is still at school.
John Edward enlisted in Halifax on 20 February 1917 aged 18 years and 7 months, giving his occupation as joiner. He was posted to France on 31 July 1917 and, having been admitted to military hospital in France on 29 September 1917, he returned home to hospital in Ripon at the beginning of November that year suffering from a ‘tubercle of the lung’. He was treated in hospital for 51 days and discharged on 22 December that year. He was readmitted the following year on 2 March 1918 suffering from the related condition Phthisis. He remained in hospital until the middle of May when he was discharged from the Army as permanently unfit for service.
John Edward died on 3 July 1919, his ‘In Memoriam’ notice in the local paper containing the phrase “He hath fought a good fight”.
One of John's letters home was published in the Holmfirth Express newspaper and Was transcribed by Holmfirth Local History Group for the "Lives of the First World War" project.
19 August 1916
"WOOLDALE LAD’S IMPRESSIONS QUAINT CUSTOMS ON THE CONTINENT
J. Hebblethwaite, a Wooldale ‘lad’ who is with the colours, in the course of a letter to a friend in Honley, Mr. J.R. Simpson, gives an interesting account of life in (blank). He writes: ‘Since I wrote to you last, we have removed. We have left camp life and gone into barracks. This place is more in the country, away from the crowded streets. We landed at this place on the 6th of July. What a day we had! Up by 4am., cleaning up the camp etc. The heat during the past few weeks has been terrible, from 139 to 147 degrees in the sun. On June 27th it was 145 degrees in the sun, and 96 in the shade, while on July 18th it was 147 in the sun, so perhaps you can form some idea of what it was like. It’s not very pleasant walking outside when the heat is so great, but I ventured out the other morning after coming off night duty. This part of the island is very beautiful, and consists mostly of small farms and gardens which contain a great variety of fruit. One thing strikes me, and that is the method in use for threshing the corn. A circle is made in the ground. Inside the circle the ground is beaten until quite level. On the level part the sheaves of corn are spread, and a couple of oxen and a donkey tread out the corn; at the same time, they draw a roller with spikes on it, which cuts the straw into very small pieces; then finally it is finished off at an old-fashioned wind-mill. Everything in farming seems ‘as old as Adam’ as we say in Yorkshire.
There are a few fine buildings in the village roundabout, and the method they adopt when building these places is the same; no cranes are used. Two ladders are placed up against the building about a yard apart, and the large stone are carried up by means of a chain wrapped round each, and a pole is pushed through a large ring in the chain. Two men, one at each ladder, each takes one end of the pole and place it on their shoulder and by this means carry the stone to its position. It’s surprising how these men carry on day after day at this heavy work and, mind you, they have bare feet. The women folks do the cementing on the roof, and are good at the job. It looks comical to see them up the ladders. I wonder how some of our wives or sisters would like a job such as this?
In one part of the letter the writer says that all the soldiers like to receive picture post cards with views of the district they belong to. It reminds them of the dear homeland.”
- Imperial War Museums: Lives of the First World War (ID #1819847)