Remembrance Day may have been and gone for another year. But this coming Saturday will see another special act of Remembrance here in York.

Members of the Fishergate, Fulford and Heslington Local History Society have published a new 48-page booklet dedicated to the seven men named on the beautiful Great War memorial window in Heslington Church.

The new booklet - which as well as short biographies of each of the seven men includes several pages looking at life in the village at the start of the 20th century - will be presented at a special event in front of the memorial window on Saturday from 10am to 12 noon.

Each one of the seven men's biographies will be read aloud. "Other local people will be reading descriptions of the village the men would have known," says Chris Rainger, the local history society chairman.

While being held at the church, the history society is stressing the presentation will not be a religious occasion but a historical one - a chance to remember the seven men, the times that they grew up in, and the sacrifice that they made...

  • Presentation of the booklet The Men of Heslington, Heslington Church, 10am-12 noon, Saturday November 18. Entrance free to FFH Local History Society members, otherwise £2. Copies of The Men of Heslington booklet will be available (price yet to be fixed, but likely to be about £5).


Private Frederick William Fothergill, 1893-1918

Frederick and his twin brother Allan were the sons of post office clerk William Fothergill and his wife Ann. The twins were born in Fishergate, but by 1901 had moved to Main Street, Heslington.

By 1911 Frederick was 18 and working as a 'hall boy' for Sir Reginald Graham of Norton Conyers near Ripon.

The exact date of his enlistment is not clear, but at some point he joined the Highland Light Infantry as a private. In April 1918 he was killed in heavy fighting at Neuve Eglise near Ypres. He was 24.

Private Charles Edwin Herbert, 1897-1917.

Charles was born in Murton but by 1901 the family was living in Heslington, where his father, Arthur, was an agricultural engine driver working on farms around the area. At 14, Charles got work as a farm labourer.

He either volunteered or enlisted some time after war broke out, and joined the West Yorkshire Regiment's 2/6 battalion. The battalion sailed to Le Havre in January 1917. In May 1917 his unit was part of an assault on the Hindenburg Line at the village of Bullecourt. The West Yorkshires reached the outskirts of the village, but without reinforcements were driven back, with heavy losses on both sides. Charles was killed in action on May 3, 1917. He was 20 or 21.

Private George Edward King, 1899-1918

George was born in Heslington. His father, James, was a horse dealer and groom, and later a corn miller for Leetham and Sons.

George went to Heslington School. He seems to have been conscripted as soon as he was eligible, and joined the 5th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment.

He saw active service in both France and Flanders, but was badly wounded during the German Spring Offensive of 1918, which attempted to drive the British out of Ypres and back to the Channel. He died of his wounds on April 18, 1918, at the age of 19.

Private George Richard Lea, 1886-1918

George was born in Berkshire, and for a while the family lived in Marylebone, London. He became a gardener, and by 1911 had moved north to work as gardener to Lord and Lady Deramore, of Heslington Hall. He married Sarah Brown in Heslington Church in 1913.

He enlisted in Malton in October 1916 and joined the 5 West Yorkshire Regiment. By early 1917 he was involved in heavy fighting as the Germans retreated to the Hindeburg Line.

At some point he transferred to the Leeds 'Pals' as a stretcher bearer. In early 1918 he came home for a brief period of leave, but by March was back on the front line. He was posted missing in action on March 27.

Lance Corporal George Leeves, 1887-1918

George, the third child of bricklayer Horace Leeves and his wife Rachel, was born in Heslington in December 1887. By 1911, Leeves of Heslington had become an established building firm, with Horace and his two sons, George and another Horace, all registered as bricklayers.

George married Jane Coutts in Heslington on October 12, 1915. The date when he enlisted is not known, but he was initially assigned to the Yorkshire Regiment before transferring to the Northumberland Fusiliers. He was killed in action on September 14, 1918, just two months before the end of the war

Private John Hotham Varey, 1881 - 1917

Born in Huntington to George Varey, a cattle dealer, by the time he was 20 in 1901 John had moved to Heslington, married Margaret Metcalf from Osmotherley, and was was working as a cattle man on local farms. Margaret died in 1903 and John married again two years later, this time to Mary Imeson. They had two children, Annie and George.

He spent some time working in an ironstone mine near Loftus, then returned to York, perhaps to work on the railways.

He was probably conscripted, and joined the West Yorkshire Regiment. Little is known of his service, but the King's Book of York Heroes at York Minster records that he was 'killed on or since May 3 1917 while a prisoner of war'.

Gunner Robert Walker, 1889-1917

Robert was born in Wheldrake, the son of agricultural worker William Walker. By the time of the 1911 census he was 22 and working as a foreman at Naburn Hill Farm, Fulford.

He enlisted in York and joined the Royal Field Artillery - probably because of his experience with horses. He was killed in action in France on March 17, 1917 - although the circumstances of his death are not known.