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Lewis Hidle

Lewis HidlePrivate Lewis Hidle, 13089812, Pioneer Corps

Lewis Hidle was born on the 6th June 1907 in Morley, the son of cloth tenterer George Hidle (1876-1939) and Mary Ann née Whitwam (1877-1940) who married at West Ardsley on May 28th 1898. He was one of seven children, though his oldest brother Joseph and his youngest sister Eliza had both died prior to the family moving to Ossett in 1910.

George Hidle was a hewer at one of the local collieries; quite possibly Old Roundwood, since the Hidle family lived close by at 82, South Parade. Mary Ann was a weaver, probably working at home, where she could keep a watch on her young family. Living at South Parade with them was Mark Whitwam, Mary Ann's father, who was also a coal hewer.

Mark's wife Harriet and their 15 year old son Cyril lived at Teal Town (Teall Street) in the home of coal hewer Joe Bowers. Perhaps the fact that Mark Whitwam was, over many years, in and out of Wakefield Prison had some bearing on these separate living arrangements?

Teall Street was once known as Teal Town Road and before that as Teal Town. Named as such because of the prevalence of a family named Teal who lived there.

The photograph below is taken from close to the junction with South Parade which was once known as Low Common Road. Before Queens Drive was built Teall Street stopped at the junction with South Parade and the latter road continued along the short stretch of road now known as Haggs Hill Road (leading to Teall Court). It then continued in front of cottages (which still exist) before it joined the unmade Haggs Lane which ran from that point to Ossett in the north west and to the Malt Shovel pub near Roundwood in the south east.

Teall Street then and now

Above: Teall Street then and now, recent photograph by Rachel Driver.

Lewis Hidle married Doreen Smith of Ings Road, Wakefield on June 17th 1931 at West Parade Chapel, West Parade, Wakefield. By this time the Hidles had moved to Farrand's Yard in Horbury where Lewis's father George Hidle was now a newsagent. Lewis was working as an engineer's fitter, but later worked for Horbury UDC as a scavenger, which means he was a dustman or street cleaner.

Birth and marriage certificates for Lewis Hidle

Above: Marriage and birth certificates for Lewis Hidle.

After their marriage in Lewis and Doreen Hidle lived at 23, South Avenue, Horbury and then in 1938 at Fern Cottage, Tithe Barn Street, Horbury. There were four daughters: Sheila, born 1934; Vera Ann, 1935-2005; Brenda, born 1938 and Doreen, born 1942.

The Pioneer Corps was formed in 1939, and amalgamated into the Royal Logistic Corps in 1993. Pioneer units performed a wide variety of tasks in all theatres of war, including full infantry, mine clearance, guarding bases, laying prefabricated track on beaches, and effecting various logistical operations.

Heavier engineering work remained with the Royal Engineers, but the light engineering tasks of the Pioneer Corps included building anti-aircraft emplacements on the Home Front, working on the Mulberry harbours for D-Day, and serving during beach assaults in France and Italy. Pioneers also carried stretchers, built airfields, repaired railways, and moved stores and supplies.

There was no British theatre of war in the world where Pioneers were not to be found. In November 1942 Pioneers made their first amphibious landing in North Africa with the First Army and earned a great name during the six months campaign. One Company went into the line as infantry for three weeks and acquitted itself with great credit.

Private Lewis Hidle, 13089812 Pioneer Corps was killed during a German air raid on Strood, Rochester, Kent on March 2nd 1944. He was 36 years old, the son of George and Mary Ann Hidle; husband of Doreen Hidle, of Wakefield. He was buried at Horbury Cemetery, Section H, Grave 395 with full military honours.

Strood after German air raid in March 1944

The attack on Strood on March 2 1944 resulted in the demolition of many of the homes there and it was the worst attack in the Strood area during World War 2. At least 21 people were killed, many were injured and around a thousand buildings were damaged.

Lewsi Hidle grave in Horbury Cemetery

Above: The CWGC grave of Private Lewis Hidle and his wife Doreen who died on the 2nd November 1998 aged 87 years in Horbury Cemetery. The original epitaph on the grave read "RESTING WHERE NO SHADOWS FALL IN PERFECT PEACE HE AWAITS US ALL".

In 2005, the following information was submitted to the BBC People's War website by Bridie Wright of Wakefield Libraries & Information Services on behalf of Brenda Wigglesworth, the daughter of Lewis Hidle:

"I remember going for my gas mask to a large house on the top of Quarry Hill - where the green is now in Horbury. It was a Mickey Mouse mask and my sister had a larger one - a box type for a baby to be put inside, a bit like a ventilator. We used them when the air raid sirens sounded and everyone went into the shelter.

My father Lewis was killed along with his two friends on the 2nd or 3rd March 1944 in Station Road, Chatham, Kent, whilst helping to evacuate people from their homes. Bombs coming over the docks demolished the houses. I remember my father's military funeral as a grand affair at St. Peter's Church, the coffin being carried by six soldiers to the cemetery.

I remember thinking that my dad had been buried in Australia because the grave seemed so deep. I was only 6 years old. I remember the school assemblies in which we would hear every few weeks that someone had lost a father or an uncle. It was Easter time when my dad died and I remember a local lady making eggs with cocoa using her own moulds".

Lewis's birth was registered in Dewsbury but he was born in Morley. Almost 80 years after his death we have discovered that he once lived in Ossett and therefore meets the criteria for having his name added to those at the Ossett War Memorial in the Market Place.

My thanks to Anne-Marie Fawcett for her detailed research on the life and death of Private Lewis Hidle that made this biography possible.

References:

1. BBC People's War

2. Chatham Historic Society

3. Royal Pioneer Corps

4. Find A Grave website - Lewis Hidle

5. Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site