Wednesday 18 September 2013

A Tale of two dates

While researching the mobilisation of Bradford’s territorial forces I came across an instance where the date of a particular event published in several books did not match the date that I believe to be true according to newspaper reports at the time. This is a lesson for us all in checking and rechecking source information and not just reprinting previously published errors.

The event was the departure from the City of Bradford of the 6th Battalion Prince of Wales’s Own West Yorkshire Regiment Territorials. At the outbreak of war they quickly started preparations for mobilisation at their Belle Vue Barracks, engaging recruits up to the full battalion strength and kitting them out. Within just a few days they were ready to depart.

Two modern local publications on the First World War contain two different dates for the event. The earlier of the two publications states
“At 7.30 am on Tuesday, 11 August the 6th West Yorks marched down Manningham Lane to the Midland Railway Station at Foster Square”
                                                                       Raw, D (2005) Bradford Pals

This contradicts the date in a second more recent publication which states
“Having recruited to a high standard the extra men they needed and purchased the necessary horses and mules, they left Bradford for East Yorkshire on 10th August”      
                                       Woods, M and Platts, T (eds) (2007) Bradford in the
                                                                                                    Great War

I checked the notes I had previously made at the local studies library of newspaper reports of the event and I believed the 10th August to be the correct date. However, I considered it wise to consult a contemporary source to verify the facts. Published in 1920 the West Riding Territorial’s in the Great War was thought likely to be an accurate record of events, it states
“On August 11th the Battalion went by rail to its war station at Selby”
                                    Magnus, N (1920) The West Riding Territorials in the
                                                                                                   Great War

Oh! Not what I expected to find. I then remembered that I had looked at a souvenir booklet of the Territorials mobilisation at West Yorkshire Archives I checked my photographs for the text which stated
“The 6th Battalion, popularly designated the Bradford Rifles, left the city early on the morning of Monday, August 10th
                                 Yorkshire Observer (1914) The Mobilisation of the 
                                               Bradford Territorial’s: Pictorial Souvenir

Surely the souvenir brochure written just days after the event had the correct date! I finally managed to double check the edition of the Bradford Daily Telegraph for Monday 10th August 1914 which reports that
 “When the bugle sounded for breakfast parade at the Belle Vue Barracks at five o’clock this morning the signal was more momentous than the men at first realised... And, at 6 this morning, the men were ready to leave Belle Vue... they marched to the Midland Station... it was not until nearly 9 o’clock that the first train left”

Although I haven’t yet checked the battalions war diary to see if their mobilisation from Bradford is recorded in it, I can breathe a sigh of relief confident that my original research notes were correct. It just goes to show that is always worth checking as many contemporary sources as you can to confirm details rather than relying on secondary sources.

p.s. will report back on my trip to London and other activities in next weeks blog

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