A Soothill man’s story of injury and love in WWI

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An 88-year-old Batley woman has spoken about her father’s experiences of injury and love in World War One.

Phyllis Tolson, born in 1925, wanted to keep the story of her dad, Sam Bateman, alive.

Fighting with the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, Sam had his forearm blown off after his regiment had taken over German trenches.

Because the enemy knew their exact location, Sam and his pals were constantly shelled.

The wound later became gangrenous, so a further section of his arm had to be taken off.

Phyllis, of Soothill Lane, said: “But he was the most peacable man you could have ever met.

“If we were falling out when we were young, he used to say ‘Now we don’t want falling out, there’s enough falling out in the world.”

She does not know where he fought, but thinks he was in his late teens or early 20s at the time of his accident.

He had signed up to go to war with his brother Edwin and friend Willie Riley, who both died in the conflict, so that their nerve-stricken brother Willie Bateman did not have to.

Phyllis said that siblings were less likely to be drafted if others in their family had already been called upon to fight.

Following what was thought to be a long stay in Queen Mary’s Hospital, Roehampton, a specialist centre for fitting prosphetic limbs, Sam moved back to France Street, Batley, to look after his parents.

He later took a job cleaning in Stubley’s Mill, in Hick Lane, for which he received a “boy’s wage,” according to those who knew him.

But during his time in Roehampton, Sam met someone who was to come back to live in Batley with him – his future wife Dorothy.