June 11, 1918...
This is the face of a 19-year-old man, who today would have been barely been out of school, looking forward to a long life of exciting prospects ahead of him.
This is the face of a man who, because he lived in a different generation, died a hideous death, succumbing to the effects of German gas.
This is the face of Private Percy Mawby, who had been adopted at an early age by a Kibworth family, educated in the village Grammar School and had enjoyed a home leave with parents and friends just three weeks before returning to the battlefields of France and being killed in action.
The Mawby family are not the only ones in Kibworth who are grieving for a lost son. Private Arthur Warner of The Bank, who had also been a pupil at the village Grammar School, had been in khaki since December 1915 and ‘had seen plenty of fierce fighting in France’. But he too has been killed in action after being hit by a shell while on patrol. He was 29.
These two brave young men bring the total of Kibworth soldiers killed to 25 – a staggering figure for a tiny community and one that is rightly given focus in the June 11, 1918, edition of the Market Harborough Advertiser.
Their deaths are not the only ones reported in this week’s paper.
Seargent D Hancock, 25, of Wilbarston had survived various battles since joining up right at the beginning of the war in October 1914.
Initially, there were few details of his health officially passed on to the family which had given them some hope – but they have now learned he has died of his wounds.
There is also a report of Driver M Metcalfe of Newcombe Street, Market Harborough, who has died ‘from the effects of a shell wound to the head’. He leaves a widow.
Slightly better news for another Newcombe Street family as Signaller E Maycock is ‘progressing favourably’ after receiving shrapnel wounds in the shoulder, arms and legs. He is convalescing in a Liverpool hospital.
Private E Coleman of Charles Street, Market Harborough, is also being treated in an English hospital for wounds but ‘he is going well’.
However, the agony of waiting goes on for two other families: Private Harry Randall of Heygate Street, Market Harborough, and Private Walter Cousins of Main Street, Great Bowden, are both prisoners of war in Germany.
Will they survive the privations of being a PoW and return home with their health? This will be the question that haunts their families every night.
- This column is published every Monday by John Dilley on the Newspapers and the Great War website and will continue until the 100th anniversary of the final armistice in November 2018.
- My fellow researcher and De Montfort University lecturer David Penman is conducting a similar real-time project with the Ashbourne Telegraph. Check out his Great War Reports.
- Check out this week’s Harborough Mail for current news from the Market Harborough area.