Lucky escape and one dad’s tragedy

PROUD PROJECT Coun Liz Smaje, chairman of Batley History Group Malcolm Haigh and Alison Fell at the opening event of Project Bugle. Every month the newsletterreports on Batley's WWI heroes.
PROUD PROJECT Coun Liz Smaje, chairman of Batley History Group Malcolm Haigh and Alison Fell at the opening event of Project Bugle. Every month the newsletterreports on Batley's WWI heroes.

This month, WWI centenary newsletter the Bugle reports a soldier’s lucky escape and the tragic death of a father two days after his son’s birth.

Driver George William Batley, of the Royal Engineers, was on a flying visit home to Birstall after avoiding serious injury in the Battle of the Aisne.

Within three days on the front, after arriving in Boulonge, Driver Batley was struck by a German bullet.

He explained to the News in 1914: “But for the knife I carried in my puttees, the bullet must have passed through my leg.”

George had worked at Birstall Gasworks and was secretary of the village’s Working Men’s Club before being posted at extremely short notice.

After his brief stay, George was due to rejoin his squadron and expected to be sent back to France with an Indian contingent.

Pte Wallace Booth, of the Durham Light Infantry, had no such escape and died on October 21 – two days after his wife Laura gave birth to their son. His name is recorded on Soothill Upper Memorial.