Upper Hopton remembers its heroes

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Fallen heroes from a north Kirklees village will be remembered in a special exhibition next weekend.

Despite its small population, Upper Hopton had a large proportion of its men killed in action in WWI, with as many as 12 believed to have lost their lives in battle.

Chris Breare, from Upper Hopton Community Association, said: “We originally knew there were two graves of soldiers who had died in WWI, but when we looked into it there were so much more from the area.”

Organiser of the event Roger Leedham said: “Upper Hopton is a small community, and it was even smaller back then, so for it to lose so many men to battle had such a devastating effect on the village.”

Upper Hopton’s heroes include brothers Ernest and Robert Lewis Oates, who both met their ends in Flanders, France.

Robert worked as a gardener and was a talented footballer when he enlisted in 1916, a year after his younger brother Ernest.

As one of the earliest tank commanders, Robert was a trailblazer in modern warfare, showing a steady hand with what was new and untried military technology.

At the age of just 21 Ernest was awarded both the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his efforts during the Northumberland Fusiliers’ crossing of German trenches on the first day of the battle of the Somme. He eventually rose to the rank of corporal.

Ernest was killed in action on October 19 1917, a year before Robert, who met his end on July 23 1918.

Roger added: “There are so many stories, and we would love to hear from relatives of soldiers from Upper Hopton who were killed in battle.”

The exhibition takes place in Croft House, Upper Hopton from 10am-4pm on August 2-August 3, for more information, contact roger-andrea@tiscali.co.uk.