Hebden Township Historical Data


We are fortunate indeed that those associated with Hebden who fell in the Great War are brilliantly commemorated on the "Craven’s Part in the Great War" website. Those who served and returned, however, although not having made the ultimate sacrifice, played just as an important role and had to live with the horrors of warfare, should also be remembered. This page is intended to do just that. It is an on-going process, but eventually it is hoped to have a section on all who appear on Hebden's Role of Honour, which records all those from Hebden who served and returned.

Cover of the book 'Craven's Part Part In the Great War'
Cover of the book "Craven's Part Part In the Great War".
A Roll of Honour presented to all those from Craven who served in the conflict
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Fred Longthorn

Fred Longthorn was born 17th October 1894, the 4th son of William and Sarah Longthorn, who lived on Brook Row (now Brook Street) in Hebden. Fred attended Hebden school, leaving when he was fourteen to become a grocer's assistant.

Fed joined up in 1915, although it is not possible to be more precise as his Army Service record no longer exists. Presumably he joined the Northumberland Fusiliers, as his uniform has the badge of that regiment in the photograph below, but he was transferred to the 6th Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI) Battalion on the 30th November of that year.

Photograph of Fred Longthorn in 1915 wearing his Northumberland Fusiliers uniform
Fred Longthorn in 1915 wearing his Northumberland Fusiliers uniform.
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We know that he didn't serve in France until 1916, as his medals don't include the 1914-1915 Star which was awarded to those who saw active service between the 5th August 1915 and the 30th December 1915. However, he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Fred's first major offensive was the Battle of Flers- Courcelette, part of the Battle of the Somme, in September. The initial attack on the 1st July 1916 had proved to be disastrous, with 60,000 British casualties in a single day - 20,000 dead, and 40,000 wounded. After that, the battle became a series of battles within a battle. Every village had been heavily fortified by the Germans, and they had to be taken one by one at a very high cost of life. The Battle of Flers - Courcelette began on the 15th September. The 6th KOYLI's had been ordered to flush out the last remaining Germans occupying the eastern end of Delville Wood, to prevent them stalling the advance on the village of Flers.

That morning, Fred Longthorn and his comrades witnessed the introduction of Britain's new secret weapon in the war - the tank. Ten Tanks were committed to the overall battle, three of which were assigned to the KOYLI's attack. Unfortunately, only one was operational, and that was knocked out by a shell soon after it advanced forward, and the KOYLl's completed the attack by bomb and bayonet. The village of Flers was taken later that morning, with four Tanks leading the way. The village of Courcelette was taken on the 22nd September.

The 6th KOYLI's went onto to fight in many major battles in the following year, including the 1st and 3rd Battles of Scarpe (April and May 1917), the Battle of Messines (June 1917), the Battle of Langermark (August 1917), and the 1st and 2nd Battles of Passchendaele (October-November 1917.

They were disbanded on 19 February 1918, and Fred was transferred to the 9th KOYLI, where he saw action at the Battle of St. Quentin (March, 1918), the 2nd Battle of Kemmel (April 1918), and the Chemin des Dames German offensive (May 1918). It was during the latter that Fred sustained a wound to his left hand severe enough for him to be honourably discharged with the rank of Lance Corporal. He was 24.

Fred Longthorn's copy of 'Craven's Part Part In the Great War'
Frontispiece of Fred Longthorn's copy of "Craven's Part Part In the Great War"
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Fred returned to Hebden, and found employment as a gardener at the CHA Guest House, and later as a postman. He married Lily Hodgson in 1922, and together they had three children, Doris, Freda and John. Fred died on the 21st June 1967, aged 73, and has a memorial stone in the new cemetery. Lily died in 1979.