Page 84.

The Skelton Brothers who met in the Ypres Salient in 1916.
And waited a long time to meet again.

James and Alec Ross at 7 North Terrace, Skelton.

The family and military research in the following article has been kindly contributed by Owen Rooks of Sunderland, a native Skeltoner and Ray Wilkins of Middlesbrough.

At the census of 1881, a Scots lad, James Ross, aged 28, was lodging with a family called Sanderson at 119 High Street, Skelton in Cleveland.
The following year he married a 25 year old lass from Ormesby, N Yorks, called Hannah Maria Kidson.
At the census of 1891 they were living in Skelton, High Street and had 5 children - John, 7. William, 6. Hughina, 3. Emily, 2 and James Ernest, a baby born in that year.
Also living in the small house were George Craggs, age 35, listed a Boarder/Grocer and Elizabeth Lumley, age 12, recorded as a Servant/Needle Girl.

The Minute Books of the Skelton Co-operative Society, pages 59 to 65, show that James, the father, worked there as a delivery man, driving their horse-pulled rolleys and coal carts.
The entries show that he was not the kind of person to be messed about:-

1894 10 Aug. Manager with Mr Ross be directed to purchase a Horse suitable for Butcher's Department.
1895 19 July. Mr J Ross be paid the of 6s 6d for extra attendance to the Horse and Trap.
1896 17 Jan. Mr Atkinson, the Manager, be instructed to wait upon James Ross [coal leader] in connection with the Assault case and point out the Committee intention if he is convicted.
1897 Jan. The account for "mannureing" the Field as presented by Jas Ross to be paid.
9 Feb. Resolved to purchase a new oven for the Manager's house. The applicants for "tennants" of the Manager's house was balloted for.
H Hodge 3, J Ross 3, J Sanderson 2.
Next voting Ross 5, Hodge 2.
30 Dec. J Ross interviewed by the Committee concerning the engagement of R Dunning's Horse and Rolley to cart New Marske Groceries.
1899 13 Jan. The account presented by J Ross for carting fencing from Ricey Hill [area between Lingdale and Boosbeck] to be paid.
16 June. Mr Ross to be paid 5 shillings per week for 2 weeks for attendance to the new Horse.
29 Sep. A complaint was received from J Buttery that Jas Ross had abused him without reason.
29 Dec. Mr J Ross be given 14 days notice form Dec 30th to leave the employ of the Society.
J Buttery to be cautioned as to his future conduct while on Business for the Society.
1900 9 Jan. The Chairman reported an interview with Mr Ross, who wished to offer an apology to the Committee and asked for his Notice to be withdrawn. Resolved he must attend a meeting and give an explanation as to his conduct.
12 Jan. Mr Ross's notice to be withdrawn and that in future Willie Ross [James's son, age 14] be permitted to take charge of the Horse and Cart when necessary.
6 July. Mr J Ross was called up re his conduct with the Mare and Foal.
1901 18 Jan. J Ross instructed not to give the Butcher's pony any Corn for one month.
10 Aug. Decided to have Mr Ross's old Waterproof Coat on the Board for inspection before passing the order for a new one.

By the time of the 1901 census the family were living at 88 High St, presumably the Manager's house referred to above, next to the Co-op.
Another 4 children had arrived - Mabel, 8. Alexander, 6, Kenneth M, 3 and Hector, aged 1.

James Ross, senior, died in the June quarter of 1906, aged 53.

In 1910 James Ernest, "Ernie", just 19, emigrated to Canada. On the 14th September 1915 he enlisted at Winnipeg in a Unit of the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force. His enlistment papers are shown below.
It is not known when his Unit first arrived in France.
His brother, Alexander, "Alec" still lived in Skelton and had volunteered for military service. He was enlisted in the local unit of the Territorial Force, "G" Company of the 4th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment.
The full story of the 4th Yorks Battalion in the First War can be read on my website here.

The ruins of Ypres.

They went to France for the first time on the 18th April 1915 and were immediately involved in hard fighting, when the Germans used gas for the first time and the Yorkshire lads gained a reputation for gallantry, but suffered many losses.
It is likely that Alec joined them later in the year as one of the reinforcements.
During 1915 the 4th Yorks had been sent to hold the line further South from Ypres, first at Kemmel and then Armentieres. By January 1916 they were back in the Ypres Salient.
By chance Ernie Ross's Canadian Unit was sent to the same area.
A report in a North Riding newspaper tells the story of their meeting at Ypres and how they did not see each other again until they were old men and Ernie visited Skelton on holiday.

A young soldier from the Canadian Division pedalled in the mud at Ypres on a borrowed bicycle.
It was January 1916. The soldier was James Ernest Ross, who had emigrated to Canada in 1910 and joined the Canadian Division on the outbreak of War.
His mission was to find his brother Alexander Ross, who was serving with the 4th Yorkshires.
It was successful and the two brohers met on the battlefield and later had a short leave together.
Last night they met again, when Mr Ross visited his native Skelton on holiday from home in Saskatoon in Saskaatchewan.
Recalling their last meeting Mr Ernie Ross said last night -
"I met some Yorkshiremen near Ypres and they told me that the 50th Division had just come back out of the line.
I obtained a pass, borrowed a bicycle and after travelling about seven miles I finally found the 4th Yorks with Alec and some of my school pals among them.
The reunion took place last night at the home of Mr Alec Ross at 7 North Terrace, Skelton.
There are two other brothers, Mr John Ross of Peterlee and Mr Ken Ross of Skelton.
After 43 years with a food brokerage firm as branch manager in Canada, Mr Ross retired 3 years ago. He is a prominent figure in the Canadian Legion and has served as treasurer for 14 years and was President for 2 years.
On holiday he is accompanied by his wife, a native of Hartlepool, whom he met in the First World War. Mrs Ross went back to Canada as a War Bride.

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