War heroes from Northamptonshire who gave their lives in First World War remembered in exhibition

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An exhibition featuring the stories of servicemen from a Northamptonshire village who gave their lives in the First World War attracted more than 100 people at the weekend.

Hackleton Parish Council sponsored the exhibition, entitled Discovering Our Heroes, which took place in the Dudley Winterbottom Memorial Hall, which was itself built by the family of Capt Dudley Dickson Winterbottom who was killed in action in August 1915. The exhibition included information about the servicemen, their families and where they fought and died.

Joanne Wilde, of the Hackleton World War 1 History Group, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the response from our villages. More than 100 people came to view the exhibition. Our local Group Eight Theatre Company sang selections of songs from the era during the two days, creating a wonderful atmosphere.”

Joanne added: “We hoped to provide a fitting tribute to the bravery of our servicemen 100 years ago. One of our visitors said that, until the exhibition, those who died were just names on our War Memorial. Now they have become real with a character and voice of their own which is so richly deserved.”

Voluntary donations received amounted to £201.37 which has been given to the local branch of the Royal British Legion.

Among those attending were descendants of Harry Batchelor, who died from injuries sustained in the front line when rescuing a wounded soldier.

Harry Batchelor was born in London and was a plumber by trade. He came to this area to carry out some work at Horton Hall and married a local girl, Florence Elliott.

They had three children.

Harry was a bit older than many of the servicemen; he was 33 when he, along with two friends from the village joined up in 1915. Those three stayed together during their service.

Researchers have seen accounts of the fighting where he was that day, and it is plain that there was considerable disorganisation and uncertainty probably partly caused by communications being difficult. One order which stands out is that anyone using the word “retire” would be treated as enemy and shot at once.

Far from retiring, Harry was killed in 1917 when heroically he went to the aid of a wounded soldier to bring him in, was wounded doing so and died of his injuries.

The two friends who went with him told his family this story.

His widow Florence had been a cook and she supported herself and her three young children by running a small shop at the top of New Hackleton. She also helped to bring up two other children whose mother had died in childbirth. Florence never remarried. She went to visit her husband’s grave in France on at least one occasion and died in the 1960s.

Harry’s grand-daughter, great grand-daughter and great great grand-daughter all attended the exhibition.

Harry’s grandchildren still live in Northampton and they, with the widow of one of his sons, were the first to come forward with their story about their brave grandfather to whom with many others we owe so much.