It would be great to have your stories about you ancestors and relatives who lived in Bradford during the First World War whether they lived here permanently, were recruited into one of the Bradford Battalions or they just passed through the War Hospitals. There is only so much that can be learned from the archives, personal stories add so much more so please email me with your stories or names and details of your ancestors in remembrance of them and I will post them online.
Manningham boot maker enlisted with Lancashire Fusiliers died at Somme leaving young family - Joseph Baker (1878-1916)
Joseph’s family had moved to Leeds shortly before he was born and later moved to Bradford. When Joseph was 23, in February 1901, he enlisted with the Yorkshire Imperial Yeomanry on a short service contract to fight in the Boer War. He served 211 days, of which 181 were in South Africa, he was discharged as a Private with a note saying “Not likely to become an efficient soldier.”
On his return he married Alice Elliott and he eventually followed his father and grandfather into the boot making/repairing profession in Manningham. When the war broke out Manningham was a hive of activity with the Territorial’s taking over Lister Park as they prepared to leave the city and the first recruits for the Pals battalions learning to parade up and down Manningham Lane in September 1914.
Joseph enlisted in October but not in Bradford despite the huge recruitment drive the first Bradford Pals Battalion already having been filled by 26th September. Instead he went to Salford and joined the 15th Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers (Salford Pals). We don’t know why he chose to enlist at Salford but it may have to do with his previous record as a soldier. Men who had previously had military experience were quickly marked out to be N.C.O.s however, Josephs previous record from the Boar War and the fact that many of the existing Bradford N.C.O.s were Boar War veterans and might have known him, may have counted against him. He might well have had better opportunities with a different Battalion.
At the time Joseph left, his wife’s name was listed in the local trade directories as a boot repairer and they had a daughter Emma aged 9. Unfortunately Joseph was at the Battle of the Somme and died on the first day of the battle the 1st July 1916 by which time he was a Lance Sergeant.
During the war his wife is no longer listed as a boot repairer and although she managed to stay at their family home in Lily Street until 1920 we don’t as yet know what happened to the family after that or indeed if she had to find alternative work during the war.
Joseph Baker has a memorial at the Thiepval Memorial in France and at the Sacred Trinity Church, Salford.