Separation Allowance

The Military War Pensions Act 1915 provided for the payment of a Separation Allowance to all married soldiers, their children and also any adults who could prove they were dependent on the soldier prior to his enlistment.  In the case of an unmarried soldier it was payable to the mother, father, sister or other member of the family where the soldier had contributed to his or her support for a reasonable period before mobilisation or date of enlistment.   This was a huge undertaking so the state asked Soldiers and Sailors Families Association (SSFA) to carry it out using their network of volunteers spread across every parish throughout the country. This however caused a few problems as one on the criteria for claiming the allowance was that the wife should be ‘of good character’ leading to questionable subjective moral judgments by the SSFA representative.

As an indication, using online sources I have calculated one shilling in 1918 would be the equivalent of £1.63 today but of course its buying power would be quite different.

Royal Naval Volunteer Reserves

Royal Navy Divisions comprised 2 brigades of 4 battalions each, all named after famous naval commanders.  They were formed of men not required for active service aboard ship and comprised solely lightly equipped infantry with no medical, artillery of engineer units.  The men were poorly equipped with out of date weapons drawn from stockpiles.


Rastatt was a prisoner of war camp in south West Germany.  It was one of 300 camps accommodating 2.4 million prisoners of whom 185,000 were British.   For those who survived the brutal regime repatriation was swift, by February 1919 all prisoners of war had been returned to their home country.  Rastatt is now twinned with Woking.

Military Medal

Established on 25th March 1916, the Military Medal was awarded to non-commissioned men for bravery in battle on land.  Other ranks were awarded the Military Cross.  This distinction finally came to an end in 1993 when the Military Medal was discontinued and the Military Cross awarded regardless of rank.

The Boyne Estate

In 1796 Brancepeth was bought by William Russell a Sunderland banker. The Russell’s of Brancepeth became one of four great coal owning families in the north: William’s son Matthew became the richest commoner in England. Later Brancepeth became the property of Lord Boyne; in 1866 the seventh viscount was created Baron Brancepeth. During the First World War the castle became a hospital for convalescents from Newcastle General Hospital.   It then became the regimental headquarters for the Durham Light Infantry.  The castle is now privately owned.

Houghall Isolation Hospital

Brancepeth and Houghall collieries were owned by the same company.  Work at Houghall started in 1841 and houses built to accommodate workers families but by the 1880s the coal being mined was so poor that the colliery closed and the houses were demolished.  The picture on the left shows Cross Street, Houghall Colliery in the early 1900’s.

The few people that remained didn’t warrant their own school so this also closed but in 1893 opened as an isolation hospital to treat contagious diseases.  It was demolished in 1956 but an area of Houghall is still referred to as hospital field.  This aerial photo shows the hospital just prior to demolition.

Father John Parker

Fr Parker was born in Preston and educated at Ushaw College where he was ordained on 29th April 1894.  He succeeded Fr Joseph Thorman as parish priest at St.Patrick’s, Langley Moor on 29th December 1906.  It was during Fr Parkers tenure that St.Patrick’s church was built, replacing a galvanised metal structure that had been used as a combined school and chapel since 1878.   During 2011 a series of events were held to mark its centenary.

Fr. Parker left the parish in 1935.

Fr. O Mordaunt Burrows

In 1916 Senior Assistant Curate Father Burrows was put in charge of the Parish when Father Harry Hayward joined the forces in France where he served as a Padre.  Fr Haywood returned in 1919.  Fr Burrows name appears on several forms confirming information from relatives entitled to a Separation Allowance.

2/1st Southern General Hospital, Birmingham

The 1st Southern General Hospital in Birmingham was one of many large military hospitals developed to treat casualties repatriated from the fighting fronts.  It was established in buildings belonging to Birmingham University. From the first convoy of 120 casualties that arrived on 1st September 1914, expansion was exponential as more buildings were annexed including the City Asylum and large private houses.

In May 1917 the Dudley Road facility (left) was separated as a hospital in its own right, adopting the title 2/1st Southern General Hospital.  At this time there was a total of 8827 war casualty beds in the city.

London Gazette

The London Gazette is the official paper of the Government.  It was first published on 7 November 1665 as The Oxford Gazette to inform the Royal Court of events while they were resident in Oxford during the Great Plague of London.  It became the London Gazette when they returned to London in February 1666.  In time of war, dispatches are published in supplements to the Gazette giving details of promotions and awards of gallantry and meritorious service.

Sutton Veny

Sutton Veny Camp was made up of a number of individual camps and a 938 bed hospital in the Upper Wylye Valley in Wiltshire.  It was used to train troops prior to deployment to France.



Boyne was once a separate village/hamlet from Langley Moor on the road to Alum Waters and sometimes referred to as North Brancepeth.