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Bells to ring out in tribute to Knaresborough's fallen soldiers

11 men from the town died on the first day of the battle of the Somme in 1916
11 men from the town died on the first day of the battle of the Somme in 1916

Church bells are to ring out in honour of each Knaresborough soldier who died on the first day of fighting on the fields of the Somme.

Organised by the Knaresborough Ringers the memorial at St John the Baptist Church on July, 1 will see a number of short bell rings every 15 minutes to remember the 11 men from the town who died during the battle of the Somme in 1916.

The group normally holds events for Armistice Day, July 11, but wished to organise a special event for these soldiers. Derrick McRobert of the group said that with the population of the town numbering only close to 5,5,00 the loss of life that day was devastating.

He said: “The end of World War One is major event to mark and must have been a dreadful time for so many people, with many people left behind after battles like the Somme.

“We thought that with Knaresborough losing so many people from the town that day it was important to mark it in this way.”

It is hoped the memorial will also help draw attention to those whose names are not recorded as having died fighting on the day.

Mr McRobert said: "It must have been devastating to be around at that time, we know about these deaths but you have to think about the people who came away with injuries on that day, survived and then died later. They are not on the lists or memorials for the battle."

While paying tribute to the fallen soldiers, the day will see funds raised for the Royal British Legion by the Ringers to support former members of the armed forces and their families.

It is hoped that relatives of the 11 soldiers will join the Ringers for the short tribute in the Ringing Room. Those wishing to join them should email Derrick.mcrobert@live.co.uk

Thanks to the efforts of the local history group at Knaresborough Library details have been collected of the 11 soldiers and are as follows:

Henry Earnest Armstrong aged 24, of Park Avenue. Sergeant, Northumberland Fusiliers

Robert Asdale aged 19, son of Mary Jane Grafton, nee Asdale of Meadley Square. Private, West Yorks.

George Broadbelt, aged 20, of Raw Gap. Corporal, West Yorks.

Ernest Drury aged 24, son of Edward and Mary of Briggate. Lance-corporal, West Yorks, Buried at Mametz.

Gordon Lund DCM, aged 38, son of Henry and Elizabeth of Plompton Mill. Company Sergeant-Major, West Yorks. Buried at Serre Road.

Thomas Luke O’Brien, aged 25, son of Thomas O’Brien of Bowling Green Cottages, Kirkgate. Company Sergeant-Major, West Yorks. Buried at Fricourt.

Harry Powell, son of Mrs Powell of Gracious Street. Private, Durham Light Infantry

Alfred Younger aged 35, husband of Louisa of Union Street. Private, West Yorks

Richard Winn aged 22, is recorded on the Scriven War Memorial. Private West Yorks, buried at Fricourt.

Frederick George Atkin, aged 23, lived with his grandmother Anne Topham in Church Lane before the war. Private, West Yorks. Buried at Mametz.

William Potts, who is recorded as being born in Harrogate and a resident in Knaresborough. No known grave but is recorded at the Thiepval Monument.