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Percy Garthwaite

Driver Percy Garthwaite, T/158719, Royal Army Service Corps.

Percy Garthwaite was born in early 1917. the son of George Garthwaite and Eliza Squires who married at the Parish Church of Gawthorpe and Chickenley Heath on the 23rd December1911. George was 22 years of age, a miner of Tingley, West Ardsley who did not reveal his father’s name on the marriage register. Eliza Squires was 20 years of age of Belle Vue Terrace, Gawthorpe. George and Eliza Garthwaite had another son, Sydney, born in summer 1915.

In 1911, Percy’s mother, Eliza Garthwaite, born on the 8th June 1891 in Chidswell, and one of eight children, only five of whom had survived to 1911, was living with her parents and some of her siblings on Owl Lane, Ossett. Eliza, the eldest daughter, was working as a rag sorter.

Percy’s father, George, born 6th May 1889, was the child of Jane Garthwaite, who was one of three single women from the Dewsbury Workhouse who had a child baptised at St John The Evangelist, Dewsbury Moor on the 23rd May 1889. Jane, born in 1865, may only have been in the Workhouse during her period of confinement with her child and in 1891 she, and young George, were boarding at 67 Thornton Street, Dewsbury where she lived while working as a cloth weaver.

In April 1894 at Woodkirk ,Jane Garthwaite, aged 29, married George Richardson, a lamp man at a colliery and by 1901 the couple were living at Kitson Street, West Ardsley with their two children and also George, aged 11 years, who had the name Richardson rather than his mother’s maiden name, Garthwaite.

In 1911 the couple lived at New Scarboro, Tingley with their three surviving children of eight born to their 17 year marriage. George was also living with his mother, stepfather and step siblings but by this time he was once again known as George Garthwaite and working as a surface labourer at a colliery.

In Summer 1939, Percy Garthwaite married Margaret Campey. The marriage was registered at Spen Valley, which was the registration district for Ossett and Gawthorpe at that time. By September 1939, Margaret Garthwaite, born 14th November 1916, was living with her parents, Joseph and Lavinia and her 10 year-old sister Joyce at New Houses, Owl Lane, Ossett. One name is redacted in the 1939 Register record of the family.

WW2 Despatch Rider

Above: WW2 Despatch Rider.

At some time during WW2, Percy Garthwaite joined the Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) where he served as a motorbike dispatch rider at the time of his death in a road accident.

The Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) was a corps of the British Army. It was responsible for land, coastal and lake transport; air despatch; supply of food, water, fuel, and general domestic stores such as clothing, furniture and stationery (but not ammunition and military and technical equipment, which were the responsibility of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps); administration of barracks; the Army Fire Service; and provision of staff clerks to headquarters units.

There was a report of Percy Garthwaite's death in the "Middlesex Chronicle":1

"Dispatch Rider Killed - Driver Percy Garthwaite, aged 25, a dispatch rider of the Royal Army Service Corps received fatal injuries as the result of a collision between an Army motor-cycle he was riding and a goods van owned by Messrs. Thomas Tilling and driven by Alfred Mark, of 60 Gassiot Road, Tooting. The accident occurred in London Road, Isleworth, near the junction with the Grove on January 4th. Garthwaite died in West Middlesex Hospital. An inquest opened by the West Middlesex Coroner at Brentford on Saturday, was adjourned for a week after formal evidence had been taken."

Garthwaite was admitted to hospital on January 4th with multiple injuries and second degree burns to the face (caused when his motor cycle had caught fire whilst trapped under the goods van). An operation was performed on the following day and he died on the 7th January. The injuries which were on the left side included several fractured ribs. Death was from bronchial pneumonia, following the fractured ribs and a ruptured spleen. Normally Garthwaite would have been a healthy man.

The accident was caused by the driver of the van, Alfred Mark, turning right straight into the path of Percy Garthwaite on his motor cycle.

The "Ossett Observer" had this obituary2 for Percy Garthwaite:

"LOCAL SOLDIER'S DEATH - The funeral took place on Tuesday of Driver Percy Garthwaite (25), R.A.S.C. whose address is 474 Crossley's Buildings, Wakefield Road, Dewsbury. It appears that he was involved in an accident in the South of England and died three days later in hospital. A native of Shaw Cross, he was the son of Mr. and Mrs. G. Garthwaite, 772 Co-Op Buildings, Shaw Cross.

Educated at Shaw Cross Council School, he was afterwards employed as a piecener by S. Lyles and Company Ltd., Yarn Spinners, Earlsheaton, and then later as a bus conductor by the Yorkshire (Woollen District) Transport Company Limited. He volunteered for service with the Army in January 1940, and following service in France, was evacuated from Dunkirk. Previous to the war, he was a regular attender at St. Mary's Church, Gawthorpe.

The funeral took place in Dewsbury Cemetery conducted by the Rev. R. N. Shelton, who also officiated at the service in St. Mary's Church. He leaves a widow, whose parents live at New Houses, Owl Lane."

Percy Garthwaite of New Houses, Owl Lane, Gawthorpe, Ossett died on 7th January 1943, aged 25 years, as the result of a road traffic accident. Administration (with Will) was granted at Wakefield on the 4th March 1944 to his widow, Margaret Annie Garthwaite. Percy’s effects were £355 1s 2d. Percy Garthwaite’s death was registered at Brentford, Middlesex in early 1943. He is buried at Cons. Sec. H. Grave 7 at Dewsbury Cemetery.3

A child, Joyce C. Garthwaite, was born in Spring 1943 to a woman with the maiden name Campey. The child was probably named after Margaret’s sister, Joyce. The birth was registered at Spen Valley. Margaret Garthwaite (nee Campey) subsequently married Willie Farrer in late 1951. The marriage was registered at Lower Agbrigg, which was then the registration district for Ossett.


1. "Middlesex Chronicle", 16th and 23rd January 1943

2. "Ossett Observer", 16th January 1943

3. Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site