Thomas Chilton

Thomas was the eighth of 11 children born to William and Annie Chilton.  Annie gave birth to 12 children of which 11 survived, no mean feat in the late nineteenth century.  The family were living at West Farm when Thomas was born in 1891.  Between 1901 and 1911 they are living at 7 Saw Mill Cottages at the bottom of Sawmill Lane.  Thomas, his parents and most of his brothers and sisters occupied a four room cottage.    William and his sons appear to have been employed on the Boyne estate.

Are you descended from this large family?  Do you remember Sawmill Cottages?

Thomas was unmarried and working as a bricklayer when he enlisted in Durham on the 10th December 1915 into the 22nd Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry (Pioneers).  He is described as 5’6½” tall with a fair complexion.   He embarked from Southampton on 15th June 1916 and was killed in action less than two years later on 31st March 1918.  His mother was awarded a Separation Allowance of 12s6d (£20.37) per week but only until October 1918. By this time the family were living at Laurel House, Rhodes Terrace, Nevilles Cross.

Sawmill Cottages.                        Beamish Photo Archive

Samuel Culley MM
(appears as Cully on the memorial)

Samuel lived with his wife Evelyn at College View, Brandon Colliery.  They were married at St.John’s in Meadowfield in 1911 and by the time he enlisted in November 1915 had two children, Sam aged 3 and Evelyn 18 months: both born in Brandon Village.  Samuel was 24 when he became a gunner in the Royal Garrison Artillery on 4th November 1915.  He was sent overseas on 26th January 1916 and within two weeks was serving it a trench battery.  He was promoted to Bombardier a year later.

Do you know how Samuel won his Military Medal?

Samuel died of his wounds on 16th June 1917 at 103 Field Hospital in France.  Evelyn had to wait till November before his personal effects were forwarded to her at 1 Brandon Village.  She requested that her husbands’ medal be presented to their son at a parade of troops.

Did the parade happen?  Where was it held?  Were medals presented to other families from the area at the same event?

Personal effects returned to Brandon included: dice; Military Medal ribbon; letters, postcards and photos; note case; cigarette holder; pencil holder; matchbox holder; comb; watch with chain and dust proof cover; pocket book; a testament; mirror in a metal case; collapsible drinking cup; pipe lighter; cap badge; leather belt; and, 30 francs cash were credited to his account.

Evelyn was awarded a pension of 24s2d (£39.39) per week, her declaration as widow was signed by Fr. John Parker who was parish priest at St.Patrick’s, Langley Moor.  By 1919 Evelyn and her children are living at 28 John Street North.

Frankland Smith

Frankland was born to George and Jane on 29th August 1895 at 47 Brandon Village, their next door neighbours were the Guyll family who will also lose a son in the War.  George was a stonemason born near Scarborough and Jane was from Stockton. We know that Frankland was working as a stonemason when he enlisted with the Durham Light Infantry on the 4th September 1914.  He transferred to the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserves six days later and served with Anson Battalion for only eight months before being killed in action on 4th June 1916.

The 1911 census says Frankland and some of his siblings were born in Weisdale Zetland in the Shetlands but this is contradicted by other sources.  Weisdale is an area of Shetland and the local council on Shetland was called Zetland until 1974 but the Earl of Zetland had interests in Weardale so this could simply be a misunderstanding on the part of the enumerator.

Had the family lived in Shetland at some point? Can you explain this anomaly?