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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Desmond7's Blog

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Ch 10




Ch 10

TWO days later, I got the call from Mark (in Belfast).

The message was simple: “You’re in luck mate. I’ve got some stuff for ya. But me scanner’s broke. Gimme a few days.”

Scanners are spawns of the devil. Beelzebub has one which works perfectly every time. The rest of us suffer.

But at least I knew the Swinton end of the trail had started to show promise.

Me? I’d been busy too, calling in a few favours in the search for the mysterious Mr. Hartley. You thought I was in a jam … but enough frivolity. On with the story, such as it is.

Anyway, there’s this guy called Terry Denham. Bearded bloke by his picture on the web. Big on commonwealth war graves. In fact, he’s pretty much the ace face when it comes to that enormous database of information compiled on all the soldiers of ‘Britain and Empire’ who died in two world wars.

You want to visit their site sometime. It’s amazing when you log on for the first time and you can easily lose an hour keying in the surnames of all and sundry to see what comes up. Every Great War researcher has it on their favourites list. Bar none.

But Terry was more than a doyen of the database, he was also from Hillbury and that, according to the London Gazette, was where Hartley hailed from.

Look, as Tony Blair would say, it’s getting to be a pain explaining the rituals of research. So I’ll make it quick.

The London Gazette or LG to the initiated, is the on-line version of the newspaper which announced all the medals in World War One. It does a lot of other stuff right to this day. But if you want to know more about it, do a google. And God help you.

After a frustrating struggle with the search engine, I was lucky enough to strike gold.

HARTLEY, John 2nd Lt. Mudshire Rifles. For conspicuous gallantry in leading an observation patrol near Langemarck on August 11, 1917. 2nd Lt. Hartley returned from a patrol with vital information on enemy strongpoints. His dedication to duty and keen eye for detail provided intelligence staff with much useful information. 2nd Lt. Hartley had volunteered for this patrol which was heavily engaged while in front of the German trenches. He was the only survivor.

A Military Cross no less. Nice one. Medals make research so much easier.

“Hello, is that Terry Denham?” I asked the phone.

“That’s me,” boomed the reply. “How may I help you?”

“Terry .. my name’s Des. From the forum. The Mudcaster type?” I offered.

“Des, Des, Des!” roared the voice. I had a vision of Brian Blessed doing his best pirate vocal. “Great to hear from you! Not everyday a fellow forumite is in the blower! Need a hand with something then?”

That’s my kind of language so I wasted no time with further pleasantries.

“Actually Terry ..it would be a great help if you could dig anything out about one of your Hillbury lads. He was an officer .. name of Hartley, John. Mudshire Rifles. MC.”

I suppose you’ve noted that we researchers talk in shorthand? Makes things easier. Understood? OK.

“Ah,” said Mr. Denham. “I know the very man you mean. You haven’t picked up his MC by any chance?”

It was obvious that Terry had no idea of my financial circumstances. MCs are expensive items, much sought after by collectors of Great War Medals. Now there’s a sub-clan within the sub-clan of World War One buffs. Normal guys most of the time but when it comes to gongs .. they lose all sense of proportion.

“Sorry Terry. No such luck,” I piped merrily (as if I could afford one). “He’s just come up in a memoir from one of my local lads down here in Mudcaster. Just checking to see if there was anything springs to mind from your end.”

“It just so happens that I have few bits and pieces about Hartley,” said Terry. “Terrible what happened to him after the war though.”

My jaw dropped.



Recommended Comments

At this point, I think the phrase has something to do with "bated breath"

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Hartley - you may require an oxygen tank while I decide which of the many fates suggested is suitable.

Mrs. Wills .. Kate .. dahling. I di think Forum Most Foul would do!!!!

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Des, will you pick your jaw up off the floor and get the next chapter written?


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John has said it! waiting with baited breath!

Enjoying this Des immensely.


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John Hartley discovers he is a Southerner.

Now that would be worth a very considerable bung to keep quiet.

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Beard fancied being tied to a waggon wheel - but I had to disappoint him. I'm saving that one for Amanda!! har har ....

Hartley's an utter cad .. or is he?

All will be explained.

Cue .. music.

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wagon even ... it's food thing.

Wait till I do me chapter on cooking perfect Corned Beef Stew. There will be much drooling.

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