Private Cyril Denison, 237, Lincolnshire Regiment, 10th Battalion
Cyril Denison was born in Ossett in summer 1892, the seventh child and youngest son of eight children born to farmer Edward Denison and his wife, Annie (nee Haldane) who married at St Peter’s Church, Stanley, Wakefield on the 19th December 1877. Before Cyril’s birth, in 1881, Edward and his wife and young family were living at and working the 106 acre Swithens Farm at Rothwell. In 1891, Cyril’s mother and her three children were living at the Wakefield home of her sister, the wife of political agent George Cottam. Cyril’s father, Edward Denison was not in the household.
In 1901 Annie and six children, the youngest born in 1896, had moved to Cleethorpes, but Edward was again not present in the household. In 1911 Cyril appears to have moved to Grantham where he found work and lodgings at the home of grocer and provisions dealer, Frederick Cheshire and his family. Cyril was working as a grocer’s apprentice.
The whereabouts of Cyril’s mother, Annie, in 1911 is unknown but on the 14th April 1907 Cyril’s father, Edward, died, aged 68, at the Victorian Home for the Aged & Infirm, Royal Park, Brunswick, Melbourne, Australia. He is buried in Springvale cemetery. It is possible that there may have been some family crisis and Edward abandoned his wife and family then sailed for Australia.
Edward’s death record suggests that he was in Victoria for 24 years, but were this the case, then at least five of Annie’s six surviving children were not fathered by Edward. If the death record should have read 14 years this suggests he arrived in Australia in about 1893, which was a year after Cyril’s birth but two years before Annie’s youngest was born in 1896.
On the 18th September 1914 at Grimsby, Cyril Denison enlisted in the British Army for the duration of the war. He was 22 years and 185 days old and a fish porter born in Ossett near Wakefield. Cyril was 5’ 7” tall, weighed 126 lbs with a fresh complexion, blue eyes and light brown hair. He was passed fit for service and joined the 10th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment with service number 237.
Cyril embarked at Folkstone for France on the 20th February 1916 and was admitted to hospital at Etaples, three days later, on the 23rd February 1916 suffering from ototis media (an infection of the inner ear). He was hospitalised back to the UK and by 3rd March 1916 he was admitted to Oakbank War Hospital, Possil Road, Glasgow where he died due to otitis media septicemia at 11p.m. on the 25th March 1916. He was buried at Cleethorpes Cemetery.
Cyril’s next of kin are recorded as his father (deceased), his mother, Annie, of 21 Nicholson Street, Cleethorpes and his brother, Donald of the same address. It is not known when the next of kin were recorded on his papers but on 20th November 1917, the War Office in London wrote to the Infantry Record Office at Lichfield indicating that if and when any medals were awarded to Cyril they were to be sent to the deceased soldier’s mother Mrs Annie Denison, 75 Highgate, Cleethorpes who must be informed that by law the medals are the property of the father Edward Denison to whom they must be handed over in the event of his appearing & claiming them.
This suggests some uncertainty, at least on the part of the War office, as to whether Edward Denison was indeed dead even though Cyril’s service record indicates that his father was deceased. Cyril’s effects comprising only correspondence and 3 penny stamps were returned to his mother at 75 Highgate Cleethorpes Grimsby in June 1917.
In March 1920 Annie Denison of Number 3 Bungalow, Clea (?) Road Cleethorpes, wrote to the War Office to request a copy of the Memorial Scroll in respect of her son...Private number 237. Batt 10th Regt Lincolnshire “Chums”.
Cyril’s army service and medal card record does not show to whom his medals were subsequently issued but he was posthumously awarded the British and Victory medals. Cyril is not recorded on any Ossett Memorial or Roll of Honour most probably because whilst he was born in the town the record suggests he and his family were here only for a very short time around the time of his birth in 1892.
He is remembered in this 2014 biography and Roll of Honour because the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and/or the U.K. Soldiers who Died in the Great War 1914-1918 listing records him as born or residing in Ossett.
Private Cyril Denison died on the 25th March 1916 and is buried at grave reference H.O.18 in Cleethorpes Cemetery,1 Lincolnshire. Cleethorpes Cemetery contains 77 First World War burials. Thirty-one men of the 3rd Manchesters, billeted at Cleethorpes, were killed in a zeppelin raid on the 1st April, 1916; 24 are buried in one grave, under a Special Memorial erected by subscription, one (Bodsworth) in another unmarked grave in this cemetery is also named on the memorial. Six were buried elsewhere. A War Cross is erected on an island site in the main drive.
Cyril Denison’s birth was registered in Dewsbury in June quarter 1892. A different Cyril Denison’s birth was registered in Wakefield in the same quarter. He was baptised at Wakefield All Saints Church in August 1892 , the son of architect Charles Henry and Clara Denison of Howard Street Wakefield and he too served in WW1. He joined the 10th battalion Prince of Wales’ s Own (West Yorkshire) Regiment and rose to the rank of Lance Corporal. He died of his wounds in France on the 16th February 1917.