Haydn Hirst


Private 19472, 8th Battalion Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment)

Died 24 February 1917 aged 32

Buried Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension, France

Son of Ephraim and Elizabeth Hirst

Lived Hollinbank Terrace, Heckmondwike

Twenty five year old Ephraim Hirst was working as a cotton warp salesman in 1881. With his wife Elizabeth Ann (née Collett) aged 27 and their 11 month old daughter Ethel, he lived on Turnpike Road, Batley. Haydn was born on 8 February 1885 and was baptised on 2 April 1890 together with his brother Tom, born 29 January 1890. The family lived at Providence Villa, Staincliffe and Ephraim described himself as a warehouseman. By 1901 Ephraim and Elizabeth were at 145 Leeds Road Birstall. Ephraim was now an employer in cotton spinning. Two daughters, Ethel and Hilda, and Haydn all worked in cotton warping and winding. Tom and the youngest daughter Beatrice May were at school. Haydn had attended Leeds Higher Grade School in central Leeds.

1911 saw further changes. The family now lived in Hollinbank, Heckmondwike with one servant, a 30 year old widow called Alice Hanson. Ephraim was an employer in cotton warp manufacturing at Ephraim Hirst & Co, Smithies Mill, Birstall. Ethel, aged 30, had no occupation given; Hilda, 27, was a manageress in cotton winding; Haydn, a manager in cotton doubling; Tom, 21, was a traveller (salesman) in warp manufacturing and Beatrice, 18, was a student at Leeds University. Haydn was a keen cricketer and played firstly with Birstall before captaining Heckmondwike First XI in 1914.

On 25 November 1915 Haydn volunteered for the Army under the Derby scheme and as was usual with that scheme he was immediately placed on the Reserve, at home, until called up for the 3rd Battalion on 2 March 1916. When he was medically examined on that day the report shows that he was 5ft 4ins tall and weighed 119lbs. The doctor noted a health problem, but considered it not serious enough to reject him. Later that year he had an operation in Newcastle and a newspaper report published after his death said he had not fully recovered. Despite this, when he was examined again on 3 December 1916 he was passed as A1, fit for service abroad. He left Folkestone on 20 December 1916 and arrived the following day at the Base Depot at Etaples. He joined the 8th Battalion on Christmas Eve 1916 at Arquèves north east of Albert. Knowing they were going into the front lines the Battalion had ‘observed’ Christmas Day two days earlier. On the 24th the Battalion were moved to the reserve trenches between Albert and Thiepval arriving around 5:30pm. After three days in those trenches they took over the front line trenches at around 8:00am on the 28 December. They were in the front or reserve trenches until 19 January 1917 when they moved to the rear.

On Monday 19 February 1917 Haydn was ill with nephritis and was taken from Beaumetz to the east of Abbeville firstly to 35 Field Ambulance, then on the same day to 1st South African General Hospital in Abbeville. Nephritis was sometimes called Trench Nephritis, a condition affecting the kidneys and made worse by cold, damp conditions.

He died at 8:55am on Saturday 24 February 1917. A telegram with that news was received in York Records Office on Sunday 25 February and a telegram was sent from there to his parents on Monday 26 February. They had received a telegram on Saturday 24 February warning them of Haydn‘s serious illness. The Matron of the hospital wrote a letter about their son to his parents which they received on Tuesday 27 February.

By 1919 the Hirst family were living at St Elmo, The Grove, Harrogate. None of the three daughters or son had married, but Haydn had been engaged to Blanche Bailey, daughter of Councillor Mark Bailey of Market Place, Birstall. In May 1917 Haydn’s estate was valued at £840 15s 2d and Ephraim received his balance of pay of £6 12s 1d and the war gratuity of £3.

Haydn is buried in Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension, Plot 2, Row C. The inscription on the headstone reads: He Cannot Pass Beyond Our Boundless Love. Duty Nobly Done. For this addition the family, like all others, was charged 3½d per letter. The first part of the inscription is probably taken from a very popular poem by John Oxenham.{AG-072}

It is not uncommon for a particapant of The Great War to be remembered on more that one war memorial, Haydn is one of these. Please follow the link below to view other information about him.

Haydn is also remembered on the Batley Roll of Honour which can be viewed by following this link - BRoH


The Society thanks The War Graves Photographic Project (www.twgpp.org) for providing this headstone photograph.

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