Ethel Kirkham Beal & Thomas Ellis Ashley
Steve Horsfield’s Gran & Great Uncle Tom
These are photographs of my Gran Ethel and her brother Thomas. I believe these photographs were taken during the First World War as Gran is wearing a VAD nurse’s uniform and Thomas is in army khaki but I have not been able to find any information about their war service. The British Red Cross holds VAD records, they confirmed that this is a VAD uniform but have no information about her and there are no badges on her brother’s uniform that might help to pinpoint his regiment. See Voluntary Aid Detachment for more information on VADs.
Gran was born in December 1885 in Hyde Cheshire and was three years younger than her brother. From the age of 12 she attended school in the mornings and worked in a cotton mill in the afternoons; she became a full time mill worker at age 13. Gran died in 1974 aged 89.Gran’s husband Herbert was born in 1873 and would have been too old for military service at the start of the war. From June 1916 men aged 18 to 40 years old were liable to be called up for military service unless they were widowed with children or were ministers of a religion. The age limit was also eventually raised to 51 years old.
Herbert’s occupation was as a Heavy Glove Slitter and he may have been exempted from the military due to his occupation as no doubt he would have been involved in the manufacturer of military kit. One of his proudest memories was of the time when he chose the skins and cut out the leather gloves for Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men on their expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic. Herbert died in 1951 aged 78.
|The original exhibition display: Ethel Kirkham Beal & Thomas Ellis Ashley|