Saturday, 8 November 2008

Acts of remembrance

Sgt Fred Lindley

I found this the other day it’s from the Barnsley Pals website the soldier described Fred Lindley came from the village I grew up in, he lived at the bottom of the village, the opposite end to us up on the “common”. He seems to have lived down Spark lane so named after the nail works that were once beside the road. He probably worked in the pit next to my primary school, its’ dark seams extending under our hillside village and causing bits of it to sag and subside. The pits gone and there’s Italian restaurant and a tanning shop at Four lanes ends but he’d probably recognize bits of it.

His family name sounds familiar and as kid I probably unknowingly stood in front it every November during our Church’s service of remembrance. Fred’s name should be on our village memorial in the little walled off garden opposites the Foster’s baker shop.

Fred more than likely had a hard life and seemingly was old for a soldier being 32 when he enlisted and went onto survive only a couple of years of the Great War. The surprising figure of George Orwell gives us a glimpse of the harsh world Fred came from in a description of miners cottage in our village some 15-20 years later here it is.
(from “the road to Wigan Pier”)
“House in Mapplewell (small mining village near Barnsley). Two up, one down. Living-room 14 ft by 13 ft. Sink in living-room. Plaster cracking and coming off walls. No shelves in oven. Gas leaking slightly. The upstairs rooms each 10 ft by 8 ft. Four beds (for six persons, all adult), but ‘one bed does nowt’, presumably for lack of bedclothes. Room nearest stairs has no door and stairs have no banister, so that when you step out of bed your foot hangs in vacancy and you may fall ten feet on to stones. Dry rot so bad that one can see through the floor into the room below. Bugs, but ‘I keeps ‘em down with sheep dip’. Earth road past these cottages is like a muck-heap and said to be almost impassable in winter. Stone lavatories at ends of gardens in semi-ruinous condition. Tenants have been twenty-two years in this house. Are L11 in arrears with rent, and have been paying an extra 1s. a week to pay this off.”

All this (or similar) and 15 odd years down the pit and then off to the front. I not going to speculate about what he thought about all this I think the one thing he’s earned is the right to his own opinions. Far too many people are quick to put words in the mouths of the dead.
Anyway Fred rest peacefully.


al_uk said...

Thank you for that piece. Two things I never knew. I knew about the Acrington Pals but never that the fate of the Barnsley Pals was so closely linked to them, nor did I know that Orwell had visited Mapp. I feel I must visit the Battle fields and cemetries one day.

BLTP said...

When I was in town the other day they had number of books on the "pals" in the chronicle's shop window next to Ashley Jackson art shop. For none Barnsley readers that's the shop just down from the old NUM head office "King Arthur's Castle" just down from the The techincal college, up from the Town Hall you know opposite the old hosiptal.