‘As they saw it’ - how Calder Valley people reacted to war

Speaker Mike Crawford, whose book Going To War tells the story of how Calder Valley people reacted at the start of the First World War
Speaker Mike Crawford, whose book Going To War tells the story of how Calder Valley people reacted at the start of the First World War

Forty-five people attended the January meeting of Mytholmroyd Historical Society.

Father John Gott welcomed members for the Church of the Good Shepherd.

President Tony Wilson thanked Father Gott and announced that Rodney Collinge had put together a very interesting programme for 2015, which would include a Heritage Day on May 16.

Rodney Collinge introduced Mike Crawford, retired head of History of Calder High School, who gave an illustrated talk on “Views on the Eve of the First World War in Calderdale and Germany”.

After the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand on June 28, 1914, it was thought that war between Britain and Germany was unlikely, because of Free Trade arrangements, and life in Calderdale went on as normal.

However, Britain declared war on Germany on August 4, 1914, after German troops invaded Belgium. Reservists then rushed to enlist and many others volunteered.

Sadly some of the volunteers were under age, and a poignant audio visual clip of Martha Lord from Cornholme described how her brother had joined up at the age of 17, saying that he was 18, as no proof of age was needed.

The wives left behind learnt to cope as best as they could. Mytholmroyd War Distress Committee was formed and there was a massive reliance on voluntary workers throughout Calderdale.

In Germany there was panic buying of food and a woman left with several children asked the local mayor to pay her midwife.

Tony Wilson thanked the speaker.

The next meeting will be at the Church of the Good Shepherd on Friday, February 13, at 7.30pm when Ian Dewhirst will speak about “Victorian and Edwardian Leisure”.

New members and visitors are welcome.