Langley Mill Baptist Church WW1 memorial tablet within the church.

The quotes from various publications regarding memorial services for Baptist Church members and some biographical detail were all provided by Gill Hall of Heanor Historical Society, to whom I am indebted.

Only the photo and words in italics are mine.  Monty Wood November 2014.

From Ripley & Heanor News  27th April 1923

UNVEILING OF MEMORIAL TABLET AT LANGLEY MILL

A beautiful tablet, erected in the Baptist Church, Langley Mill, to the memory of seven of the Church members who fell during the great War, was unveiled on Sunday afternoon, before a large congregation. Councillor T. Horsley presided.

Mr. W. H. Dodwell read a passage of Scripture, and the Rev. A. Gray, pastor opened the service with an appropriate prayer, after which Mr. N. J. Wright, teacher of the Adult Class, to which most of the lads belonged, said the cause of that gathering took them back to something of the hardship, difficulties, and dangers that the young men passed through. It was a frequent occurrence before the war to hear such taunt as “ England ’s Last Hope.” “Tin Soldiers,” etc., but strangely ever since there had not been a word thrown out against their young men. This went to prove that they were tested and found full value, and they were thankful to have had such men. The question came, What were they fighting for? They were fighting for honour and liberty, they were fighting for our homes and for our wives and families, and to make England better than it had been before. He knew in the class and schoolroom, and they were missed in the Church life and in the pulpit. Sunday School influence went with them on the battlefield, as was proved by the letters received from the men. They had been taught in the Sunday Schools and homes to give themselves and their lives to their heavenly father, and as such they were not afraid to meet death. These men saved England ’s honour by keeping the foe at bay, and when they thought of the homes across the water which had been rendered destitute. They could recognise what they had been saved from by the sacrifice of those lads, who had gone to meet the reward for which they gave their lives.

Mr. A. Calladine, assistant superintendent of the Sunday School, said they were met that afternoon with mingled feelings of joy and sorrow, joy when the thought of those whose names were on the tablet and the happy times they had passed together, and sorrow when they thought of the loss the church had sustained by their falling in the Great War. It was not his purpose to refresh their memories; he only wished he could help them to forget their sorrow. All true greatness could only be obtained by being good, and the men whose names appeared on the tablet were all good men in every respect. They were good Christian men, good soldiers, and good moral men. Some of them had entered into the inner circle of his life. And were very close friends, and he missed them deeply in his every day walks of life. Councillor Horsley said in paying his tribute to the dear lads who went from that church the question might be asked, What right had he to do so, but he claimed three or four of them were scholars in his school, and he had watched them grow up. He knew the loss of those young lives to Langley Mill; they were lads who would have been a credit to their homes, Sunday School, and the district in general. They were gathered together to follow the examples of Christians of many generations, to keep in memory the lives of men to whom a debt of gratitude was due for some noble deeds, or for some great deliverance in which they played their part. Today the standing evil was selfishness, and it was no good putting up monuments if they were going to be selfish; they must show a little more consideration for each other, and drop a lot of their petty quarrelling. They could not all be heroes, but they could fill a lifetime with kindly acts and true.

Mr. Wm. Smith, superintendent of the Sunday School, in a short but sincere address, dealt with his personal connections with the fallen men, all of whom, as one of the oldest workers in the church and Sunday School, he claimed to have had acquaintanceship, and afterwards unveiled the tablet, the inscription  upon which reads: “To the Glory of God, and in ever-loving memory of our dear boys, who save their lives for us in the Great War 1914-1919 William R. Williamson , William Eyre, Amos Wood, Frank Tucker, John Hallam, Henry Shaw, Joseph Miller, greater love hath no man than  this he lay down his  life for his friends.”

The last post and reveille were sounded by Mr. H. S. Wright, and during the service an anthem was rendered by the choir, Mr J. Morton presiding at the organ.

Then reports of some individuals mentioned on the memorial tablet

From Heanor Observer   31st October 1918

KILLED BY BURSTING SHELL CORPORAL W. E. WILLIAMSON’S DEATH

A further  loss to the district has occurred by the announcement of the death in action of Corpl. W. E. Williamson, of the Sherwood Foresters, son of Mr. and Mrs. Williamson, Bailey Grove.

Corpl. Williamson left his employment at the Langley colliery, practically at the commencement of the war, so keen was his patriotism and sense of duty, and offered his services, which have on many occasions during his career proved valuable, in the great struggle now being waged in the cause of freedom.

His visits home have been none too numerous since enlistment, and upon the occasion of his marriage to Miss Farnsworth, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. Farnsworth, of Cromford Road, Langley Mill, the gallant fellow returned almost immediately after the interesting ceremony to join his regiment.

In pre-war days deceased was closely connected with the Baptist Church, Langley Mill, where his teachings in the Sunday School were most helpful and earnestly sought by the scholars under his charge. His noble character and genuineness of purpose were indisputable, whilst he had occupied various pulpits in the district with credit by his sincere and forceful utterances.

Corpl. Williamson was also a lover of sport and in addition to having taken part in cricket and football with his church teams, was a member of the Langley Mill Reserve eleven.

Particular relative to his death are clearly detailed in a letter received by Mrs. W. E. Williamson from her husband’s officer, which reads:

“We were waiting in  small holes which we had dug in an orchard for an attack to start, when a shell came over and struck a tree immediately over the hole where he and his friend were sitting. His loss is felt throughout the Company, as he was always respected by his men, and owing to extremely good work in previous attacks was made full corporal.”

The first information notifying his death was contained in a message to Mrs. Williamson’s mother from Pte. William Beaumont, one of deceased’s intimate friends, who wrote:

“I am writing you this letter instead of to your daughter, as I have bad news to relate and I know it would have greater effect if I wrote direct to her. I am very sorry to have to write  you of poor Will’s death as he was killed on the morning of the 17th inst. Just before we went over the top again. I am expecting my leave this next few days and will then be able to tell you all the details. I know just where he is buried and have marked the grave myself. I had a talk to him on the night of the 16th and he was quite cheerful and confident, as he was one of the best lads in the Company. He would have been Sergeant this time out. Please accept my deepest sympathy in your loss and may God in his mercy help you to bear this and the memory in time to come.”

Recent letters received by the widow bear excellent testimony of her husband’s optimism, both as regarded his personal safely and the final issue of the cause for which he so strenuously and ungrudgingly laboured and the message of sympathy showered upon Mrs. Williamson (which she appreciates and treasures greatly) are ample proof of the high esteem in which her husband was held throughout a wide area, and the grief which his death at the early age of 26 years has caused.

LANGLEY MILL

Memorial Service

A special service in memory of the late Corpl. W. E. Williamson was held at the Baptist Church on Sunday evening, when a large congregation assembled, including the widow and members of the family. Mr. N. F. Wright, who conduct the service, paid splendid tributes to the deceased soldier’s character from the time of his connection with the church as a scholar, and later as Sunday School teacher member of the choir and as a local preacher. His death had caused the utmost regret to them all, and the church had sustained a great loss. During the service the favourite hymn of the departed hero was sung and a solo given by Mrs. W. Smith. Violin solos were rendered by Mr. J. Birkin, Eastwood, and at the close of the service the organist Mr. H. Marriott played the “Dead March” the whole of the congregation standing.

From Heanor Observer  5th September 1918

  LANGLEY MILL SAILOR’S SAD END KILLED WHILST SALVING ENEMY TORPEDO

Much sorrow was manifested last week end by the people of Langley Mill when it became known that a young man, highly respected in the district, had been killed, in the person of William Eyre, whose home is at 5 Milnhay Road.

Joining the navy a couple of years ago he was for his initial training stationed at Portsmouth, and at the time of death had risen to the position of deck-hand on board H.M.S. --------- which was engaged in the most dangerous work of clearing the sea of enemy mines, etc., his death being reported as having taken place on August 26th, whilst endeavouring to salve an enemy torpedo.

Deck-hand Eyre in private life was a respected Employee of Messrs Lovett & Lovett Ltd., Langley Mill, whilst his genuineness of personal character in everyday life was admired by all who knew him.

AN EARNEST WORSHIPPER AT THE LOCAL Baptist Church, his eagerness for the advancement of Christian principles led him to devote his spare time in educating himself for the ministry, and upon several occasions had occupied the pulpit with credit, the last time he did so being some six weeks ago when home on leave, and those present will remember the singing, by hiss selection, of the hymns, “God be with you till we meet again.”

No better testimony as to his character, both at home and sea, con be given than the letters received by his father, from the secretary of the Baptist Church (Mr.. N. J. Wright) which reads:

“I is with deepest regret that we hear of the death of your son William, and though we cannot possibly realise your feelings as his father yet I can assure you that we sorrow with you. His Christianity was most real and you have the great comforting knowledge that he was fully ready for the Master’s call. His place in our midst will be hard to fill. We have been looking forward in joyful anticipation to the time when we should have the delight in giving him a real welcome back.”

And from the officer of the ship to which he was attached, who writes:

“I deeply regret to write you under such sad circumstances, but feel I must express my sympathy with you in the death of your son. He served under me for 20 months and earned the respect of his officers and shipmates, and as a member of the service was a most reliable, conscientious and capable man. His death is a great loss to the service. I am aware that nothing can console you for the loss of your son, but it may be a little satisfaction to you to know that he was appreciated as a man and member of the service by all of us. The officers and men join me in expressing the deepest sympathy with you in your grievous loss.”

Deceased during several seasons assisted the Langley Mill Cricket Club as a member of the reserve eleven, and also took part in the Winter pastime with the local team.

His death at the age of 29 years is deeply deplored, and the utmost possible sympathy is extended to his invalid father and to the family.

A memorial service for deceased, is we understand to be held at the Baptist Church on Sunday evening.

Another son of Mr. Eyre’s, Gunner Charles Henry is stationed with the defenders of our shores somewhere in the North Sea.


From Ripley & Heanor News  10TH May 1918

LANGLEY SOLDIER MISSING

Pte. Amos Wood, 36 years of age, married, of Clara Mount Road, Langley, is reported missing. He joined the Staffs, on May 20th 1917, and went to France last November with the machine gun section of his regiment. He had not been heard of since March 21st. Previous to joining up he was employed by Mr. T. W. Wotton, Langley Mill as a bricklayer, and was a member of the Baptist Society.

Heanor observer 27th June 1918

LANGLEY SOLDIER DEATH

We regret to hear that Private Amos Wood, of the South Staffs., of 22 Clara Mount Road, Langley is reported as having died in Germany . He was reported missing on March 21st. He was formerly employed as a bricklayer by Mr. R. W. Wotton, and was highly respected.

From Heanor Observer 7th November 1918

BAPTIST WORKER KILLED LATE OF LANGLEY MILL

We regret to be informed of the death in France , of a former Langley Mill resident. Mr. J. S. Tucker, of Nottingham, writes that his brother, Frank C. Tucker, of the Lincoln Regt., died of wounds at Ytres, near Ypres, on October 13th. He was formerly in A.P.C. being transferred to the Lincolns in April 1917. Information of the deplorable event was sent by the chaplain of the Canadians, but no details could be given. The dead soldier was a late pupil of the Heanor Secondary School, and a student at the Nottingham Art School. He was for many years connected with the Langley Mill Baptist Sunday School, and was secretary on his departure. The country is ------ by the loss of such good and useful lives. He leaves a widow and one child.

From Ripley & Heanor News 15th October 1915

KILLED IN ACTION

Mr. and Mrs. J. Hallam, of 39 Ebenezer Street, Langley Mill, have received official notification from the War office under date of the 12th inst., that their son Lce. Corpl John Hallam, of the 2nd Sherwood Foresters, previously reported missing was killed in action in France on August 9th. Lce. Corpl. Hallam reached his 21st birthday in May last, and prior to joining the army was engaged at the Kilburn Pit of the Shipley Colliery Co. Another son of Mr. and Mrs. Hallam is at present doing duty in France with the Sherwood’s.

This comment came subsequently from Gill Hall regarding Harry Shaw

From Gill Hall, Heanor Historical Society

This is only a thought: Did Harry Shaw have two names? if so this maybe him but Leslie did have a Baptist connection  Maybe you could check your marriage records. - Gill

LANCE-CORPL. LESLIE SHAW  NORTHUMBERLAND FUSILIER'S

Died of wounds in France 3rd June 1917

I CAN ONLY SAY HE WAS A VERY FINE SOLDIER”

The above is taken from a letter received  by Mrs. Shaw, Bridge Street, from his officer, conveying the news that her husband had died after having been carried down to the dressing station in a badly wounded condition.

The officer pays tribute to fine work well and thoroughly done by the dead soldier, and this is borne out by further letters received from his soldier comrades, one of whom refers to him as being “one of the best.”

Lance- Corpl. Shaw saw active service for the first time at Salonia, and was later stationed in Egypt . Suffering from frost bites he was confined to hospital, and returned home in June, 1916. Upon having recovered he was sent to France , where he had been some eleven months when he met his death, at the age of 27 years. Prior to enlistment he did useful service on behalf of the Baptist Church, his services being suitably acknowledged on the occasion of his marriage, when he was made the recipient of a handsome present by the members.

He left a widow and two young children  (Langley Mill and Aldercar part in the Victory booklet)