History Society – “In Grandfather’s Footsteps”

Anne Grimshaw is well-known locally as an historian in war history; her recent revelatory work concerning the life and career of Capt. John Shepherd who fought for Britain in the Napoleonic wars, demonstrated her devotion to determined and detailed research. In her talk to the Foxearth and District Local History Society on 10th November these characteristics were clearly evident as Mrs Grimshaw described the vast amount of information she had uncovered about a relative she never knew – her grandfather.

By delving into the records at the National Archives at Kew and the National War Museum, Anne discovered that Ben Howarth had been called up in mid 1916 and had served until the end of the war, in spite of several episodes of serious illness, as a driver of a horse-drawn wagon delivering ammunition from its store to the front line. Before the war, Ben – who hailed from Oldham – had worked as a groom and driven a local doctor on his rounds and his love and knowledge of horses was perpetuated in his service in the Royal Field Artillery. In his private life he acquired a considerable local reputation as a singer, an interest which he pursued on his return to civilian life. Unfortunately no family records, in the form of his medals, postcards etc., had survived so Anne’s research beginning in 1975 had to start from scratch. Ultimately the thirst for knowledge took her to the site of the four day battle of Arras in which, so the army records showed, her grandfather had been involved. “In grandfather’s footsteps” was the entirely apt title that Anne gave to her absorbing talk and on behalf of about 30 members and guests she was warmly thanked by Chairman, Alan Fitch.

Mr Fitch reminded members that the next gathering of the Society would be the Christmas dinner on 17th December. Anyone wishing to attend who has not booked with the Chairman is asked to do so as quickly as possible.

Ken Nice.

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