Skelton Scoutmaster, who fought in the First World War
The Sad End of Old Age.
The family research for this article has been kindly contributed by Owen Rooks, a native Skeltoner, now living in Sunderland.|
Herbert's photograph and service details Army form were contributed by John Richardson, Herbert's Great Nephew, presently living in Wolfenbüttel, Lower Saxony, Germany.
Additional Army Forms by Ray Wilkins of Middlesbrough.
Herbert was born in March 1891 at Hutton Lowcross, Guisborough, N Yorks. He was the eldest son of John Pigg, a Woodman, born in Yorkshire and Annie Russell Pigg, born
in Kildale, N Yorks.
At the 1901 census, the family were still at Hutton and another 4 children had arrived, Elsie M, aged 8, Dorothy Ellen, 6, George Henry, 3 and Ethel, 1.
Sometime before 1908 the family moved to Skelton in Cleveland, as on the 18th October of that year, Herbert, aged 17 and 223 days, enlisted in the local Territorial Force,
Skelton "G" Company of the 4th Battalion, the Yorkshire Regiment.
He gave his occupation as a "Forrester", 5 ft 8 ins tall and weighing 142 pounds. He won a Recruits Shooting Cup in his first year.
At the 1911 census, they were living at 2 Prospect Place, Skelton and another 2 children had arrived, Annie, aged 5 and John Oliver, a few months old.
Medal Card showing Herbert first went to France on 18th April 1915. |
When War was declared in August 1914, Herbert, must have volunteered for service abroad, as did all our local Territorials, and went off for training, first at Darlington and
His Battalion number was 721, and when the whole British Army was re-numbered in 1916, he became 200032.
As his Medal Card shows, he was among the first men of the 4th Yorks Battn to go to France on the 18th April 1915. He must have been in the first action, when the Battalion
famously held a German advance at Ypres, after the enemy had used chlorine Gas for the first time.
The full story of the 4th Yorks in the First War can be read on my website - Click here.
As with all the lads in the War, details of exactly what they were involved in are hard to trace.
But we know from Army forms that have survived that Herbert was in Hospital at Reading for 129 days from 30th September 1916 to 5th February 1917, recovering from a gunshot wound, most likely received when the 4th Yorks were
ordered to attack German trenches near Martinpuich on 15/16th Sept 1916, in the later stages of the Battle of the Somme and suffered many casualties. He was at this time a Lance Corporal.
In May 1918 he was again in Hospital at Hornsea with gastritis. This result of many trials of life in the trenches, possibly saved his life, as in that same month the Battalion, now full of new recruits, was virtually wiped pit
on the River Aisne and took not further part in the War.|
In the second quarter of 1918 Herbert married Elizabeth A Thornton in Northallerton.
He was disembodied from the Army on the 19th February 1919. by which time, his Medal Card shows, he had been promoted to Sergeant and reported to have been an Instructor at Rollestone Camp, near Hornsea.
Silver War Badge roll. Issued to all wounded men to prove to the public that they had been in the War.
Charles Holmes as a Skelton Scout.
He returned after the War, to his old job with the Skelton Castle Estate and at some time became the Skelton in Cleveland Scout Master, a role which he is reputed to have
served for many years.|
He was certainly the Scout Master in the years before the Second World War, as three letters, which he wrote to one of his Scouts of that time have been preserved and loaned
to this website.
The Scout was Charles Holmes, who served in Bomber Command [see page 82] and the letters have been contributed by his son, Chris Holmes. Charles lived at 3 East Terrace
and Herbert on West Terrace.
They were written in the 1970s, when Herbert was approaching the end of his life and include comments about Skelton at that time, as well as showing the sadness of
becoming old and frail.
1974 - LOSES HIS WIFE.
106 High St,
Skelton in Cleveland.
6 May 1974.
Dear Charlie and Peggy.
We were pleased to have your letters. Thank you very much.
We had to read the one you sent Elizabeth, as she was unable to read herself at the present.
She was quite pleased to hear from you and thought it was very kind of your giving her such a sum of money to get herself something useful while in Hospital and will be
pleased to do so.
We have to take her Wincarnis and a few more things she has to find for herself while in Hospital.
So your kind gift will be a big help to her.
At present she is in an isolated room on her having contracted a bad heel on her injured leg, which is infectious. We have to wear masks when visiting her.
She will get back to her room, when the infection clears up. She has been isolated over 2 weeks. 7 weeks in Hospital so far.
With being very lame before her mishap, she is unable to walk now she had her leg put in place.
Nurses said she cannot make any progress.
She is rather home sick, especially on her own, when she sees us.
Sister at the Hospital says she is not bad when we are not there, only when she sees us on our visits.
She also as one or two ailments which trouble her and she does not talk much yet, but is quite cheerful.
Let's hope she may improve if she can get back her strength.
We shall now have to cancel all our holidays and outings.
It is rather an hectic job getting to Hospital, she may be sent to Guisbro, but will have to improve a lot before being removed there.
The weather round here has been very cold, much better this week, still a big wind.
See the Castle have started cricket, were playing last Saturday when passing in the bus.
Yorkshire mean business this year, to read about them.|
But its hard for them nowadays to get a good team out of their own county, although its the largest county. Overseas players are good and other counties have them.
I'm not doing any gardening this year, it's time I had a rest now I'm 83.
Nothing great happened lately here.
The Health Centre is a good place at New Skelton. All the doctors are there, quite a busy place with plenty of receptionists.
I'm closing, we send our love to Peggy and yourself and we can only hope for the best of luck regards Elizabeth to improve.
Thanks once again for your kindness. Once a Scout, always a Scout.
[Help other people at all times]. one Scout Promise line.
Elizabeth and Herbert.
Skelton 1st Wolf Cubs in 1933.
Those identified are Charles Holmes, centre row fourth from the Left.
The lady standing on the Right in the back is Ethel Pigg, Herbert's sister, who was the Akela for a number of years.
Standing on her Right is Alan Richardson, and third from the Right in the Middle Row is his younger brother, Denis.
These two were the sons of Herbert's sister, Dorothy Ellen.
[Photograph kindly contributed by Charles' son, Chris of Carshalton Surrey.]
1978 - LOSES HIS NEW COMPANION.
Skelton in Cleveland,
26 September 1978.
Just had your letter forwarded on to me, including your very kind sympathy card.
It was quite a blow to me, losing Madge.
She used to tell people she hoped to get well again, just for my sake, being with her over 4 years and got nicely settled down in Carlin How.
The doctors tried and I'm sure did their best for her, with X-rays and tests, she went through.,br>
She was a few months from being 84 years of age, above the average slightly.
I've been given a home above. Sister Ethel was on her own after losing sister Anne and Olive got married after he retired.
I liked Carlin How and the folks there were very friendly.
They are not so neighbourly at Skelton.
Jenny went home, she just has a small place for herself.
She is bringing a van from Northallerton to collect Madge's furniture and taking if for sale at Northallerton.
They still want me to keep in touch with the family. I'm going to Northallerton on Wednesday, market day, people from Carlin How giving me a car ride.
I'll be 88 at Xmas and sorry to say my eyes are not so good, its only natural.
Mrs R Wharton wrote to tell me Mr Morris has completely lost his hearing, having to to have everything wrote down, same as myself.
[Morris had been the Skelton Castle Agent in 1940s/50s. I remember him myself. To irreverent, young Skelton backstreeters like me, he was called "Rubberneck".]
He is still in a Nursing Home, well into the 90s, he will be 94 if not more, but he will be alright in the home, well looked after.
Wimpeys, the builders, are putting the houses up fast at New Skelton. They have an estate office on the site for anyone to order a house.
Wimpey Homes, they call them. They are also building a row of shops.
We have not had the best of summer or Autumn weather this year, it is so cold when the sun has out.
The farmers have made most of the last good days for the harvest.
I went to Carlin How Chapel harvest festival last night. There was a good gathering with plenty of harvest gifts.
Sister Ethel has a nice bungalow here, just had gas Heating put in by the Council in place of coal fires.
Did not manage an holiday this year, on account of Madge's illness. Always looked forward to the holidays. Madge was very disappointed not getting to the bungalow at Filey
At present I'm short of news for you, but will keep in touch with you and you will be very welcome at No 43, one of the bungalows they built nearly 50 years in old
Hollybush, surrounded by new houses.
Nice of you to remember Madge.
All the best from
Skelton Scouts at a Jamboree, Raby Castle in August 1936, where 7,000 Scouts were inspected by Lord Baden-Powell.
Herbert Pigg is standing, third from the Left in the Back Row.
Only other person identified is Alan Richardson, Herbert's nephew, fourth from the Left in the centre row.
[Photograph kindly contributed by John Richardson, Herbert Pigg's Great Nephew presently living in Wolfenbuttel, Germany.]
A photograph sent to Charles Holmes of 3 East Tce as a special Scout prize.
1979 - LAST LETTER FROM HOSPITAL.
Skelton in Cleveland.
27th August 1979.
Dear Charlie and Peggy,
Pleased to have your letter this morning. One finds a bit of time to write while passing the time away in hospital.
I would have liked to have seen you naturally with getting on in years now, its always a pleasure to see your old friends.
One thing you also like is to see the old faces, which only naturally will be passing some day.
Since losing Madge last year, I've been rather unsettled there, back in Skelton.
I would have been pleased to keep away from Skelton as there is really nothing to interest
Its been really poor summer and been poor all the year so far.
I thought when I had to come to sister's here, I might get about seeing all haunts perhaps in the woods.
But I changed with my health, soon sort of collapsed with any exertion.
I could manage as far as the Health Centre, which is a really busy place, more like a hospital,
5 to 6 doctors, all their own surgeries and changing rooms.
Nurses galore taking blood pressure and blood tests, bandaging etc.
What a change to the old days.
People are benefitting by being more cared for, living longer, more to entertain them, going on weekly coach tours, over 70 and 80, some 90.
I could not manage it now. Long bus rides down to the south coast would be all too shaky.
Mrs Pigg and I went to them when it first started. £11 each by Bee Line Company to anywhere.
Now the coach tours are over £80. Heard a holiday club at Skelton fancied Yarmouth, but £90 for the week was a lot for them, so they had to knock a coach off.
Money sounds big, but its not nowadays. Look at the cost of petrol and you get some good meals for a week.
When four of us workers at the Estate had between 40 and 50 years service, Mrs Ringrose Wharton had us at the Castle [that would be a nice few years] our wives as well.
We had a good do, white wine, duck. Mrs R W talks about that meal.
When we got on chatting after a film show that she had fixed [about a holiday in Scotland], we mentioned we hadn't a holiday in those days.
She was surprised, thought everyone had a holiday annually. So she said have a holiday. She gave us £50 each, that would be for service.
After she said have a holiday on that, Mrs Pigg and I had a week at Bournemouth. It was only £17 each.
We had a day in London sight seeing.
We had to keep an eye on the guide, who was taking us round. He had a big umbrella up for us to see where he was going.|
I was often in trouble. I used to watch the guards at drill and they lost me at the Tower.
I spent too much time watching them getting ready to go on Guard somewhere.
We stopped outside Park Hotel. Guide said, don't go in there, its 12s 6d for a cup of tea.
We finish seeing "North Holt Air Port", let us look round shops, folks going to Canada. You can buy pills and things for all travel.
I always wanted a flight.
Mrs Laughton gets all over in jets. Goes to Malta and over sea stations. Barbara, the daughter married a Royal Marine
They have just come back to England for a 3 years change.
Pleased that you have seen a few of the lads. A Horner and Joe Reed [Sqn Ldr, Bomber Command and holder of DFC. see page 51].
I see Joe is a specialist wine maker for a hobby. There is a gang of them us Church rooms.
I haven't been far this summer. I have a cousin at Kildale.
Had a day or two there. Went with one of my other sisters and her grandson and family.
Had a day on the ling seeking bilberries.
She wants me to go and live at Kildale. I don't think I'll stay at Hollybush. Too hilly up to the village and all new neighbours.
All I knew have gone somewhere, but Jenny was in too big a hurry to get cleared up at Carlin How and me away.
She went to my sister at Hollybush to see about having me. I would have kept away from Skelton.
Perhaps at first I should have stayed in 106 High St, like G Hoggarth and J Hewling on their own, little rent if any.
They are lucky to stay in their houses on retirement nowadays.
Years ago they were put in those old houses and got new men.
Now they all stay [look at Mrs Kirk in one time butler's house.]
But it would have been bad for me with my disability on my own. Neither J Hewling or Hoggarth have any help.
Housekeepers and helpers cost a bit nowadays. 6 shilling a house, home help.
J Hewling is having trouble with his eyes.
If I pick up a bit, I'll try and go into a home, like F Bell and Mr Morris, both mid 90s.
F Bell often comes up to Skelton.
Don't know Mr Brittan, MP. He has a farm out Whitby somewhere.
Tony Wharton is coming out of his shell, see he has plenty of people at do's. He likes shooting.
Poor year for grouse, too bad weather for them when they were chicks.
I remember hundreds of them on the corn stooks, on farms round moor.
They would shoot a lot those days. Farmers are killing game with the weed stuff they put on crops.
Nearly all Estates breed pheasants like poultry in pens. Put them in the woods and coverts just before shooting time, October.
Keeper at the Castle rears about 50, I hear. Used to be 6 or 7 hundred. You wonder what they did with them.
Don't worry at not seeing me, you would only have had half an hour, would not get much news wrote down for me.
I haven't seen sister. No doubt you would see her. She is 80 and its hard work for her.
I'm scribbling a bit, this make up for lost news.
You managed to Danby again, there homely shows, those Esk valley shows.
Went to Egton to see the big gooseberry show when I was at 106. Used to go with Ford [policeman]. He had a brother used to show them, some are like apples, good big uns.
Often fancied a cutting or two.
Cricket been poor this year. Yorkshire want another good bat or two.
I'm watching India. India don't trouble about who wins, they play for sport, they all like to be jolly, win or lose.
There is plenty of money to be won. Young Gower [Leicester] has had nearly £4000 offered to play with promoter Packer.
England want to stop him. He would play in S Africa this winter.
You wouldn't find much changes at home this time. Perhaps my letter got confused in places.
I'm either going too fast or my fading eyes get me out of line.
I have received the following emails giving more information about Herbert and his family.|
From John Oliver Richardson, Herbert's Great Nephew:-
I think the last time I met Herbert was at my Gran’s (his sister Dorothy Ellen) funeral in 1973, he was deaf as a post, but could lip-read very well.
His deafness was a great disability, it was an effort to talk to him as although he could lip-read well, you had to repeat things. Once as a woodman he walked into a hornets’ nest – of course he couldn’t hear them – and got quite
Then, when he died he left me his medals and a shooting cup, must have been 1980, I was on a long course at the time, we had a Major from the Green Howards with us, he was very interested in Herbert’s story.
I was up in Skelton last year in October, I called in to see my Auntie Ruby, unfortunately she died in January this year, so I was glad to have made the effort.
Only my cousins Barry and Colin left there now.
Herbert was my Great-Uncle, his sister Dorothy Ellen was my Grandmother, married to Albert Richardson, they lived at 3 Hollybush, until 1960, when Grandad retired from the railways and moved to Grasmere Crescent, which
had then just been built.
Since leaving the Forces I have lived here in Wolfenbüttel, Lower Saxony. My full name is John Oliver Richardson (see reference to 1911 census).
I can confirm that the “Akela”, in the photograph above, is my Great-Aunt Ethel.
I seem to recall Herbert telling me that at the end of the war he was being employed as an instructor, I have a faint recollection that he mentioned Rollestone Camp near Hornsea.
My Dad, Ronald (“Ron”), was the eldest son of Albert and Dorothy Ellen Richardson [nee Pigg], born 1918.
His brothers were Alan (father of Barry and Colin), who remained all his life in Skelton, for many years delivered Rington’s tea round Skelton and district, and the youngest, Dennis
(after the war he became a schoolmaster at Loftus for several years, before moving away to head schools at Gilling West, then later at Stillington near York).
Dad left school in 1932 and worked for Co-op Insurance at Whitby.
He was obliged to join the TA in March 1939 (one of Hoare-Belisha’s “Militiamen”) and on 1st September he was mobilised with the 4th Battalion Green Howards.
He rode back tout-de-suite on his motor-bike, collected his kit and reported to Skelton Drill Hall.
One of his best mates was Joe Scuffham from Skelton, they went to France together, Joe was captured at Dunkirk, Dad made it onto one of the ships.
They didn’t meet up again until 1985, when both happened to be having Sunday lunch with their wives at a pub in Rosedale.
After the war he worked for the Co-op in Guisborough as a milkman (complete with horse and cart) and in 1954 he managed to get a job with the North Riding Ambulance Brigade which meant a move to Scarborough
where I was born a few months later.
My great-uncle (mother’s uncle) Sgt. Percy Rayner – also of the 4th Battalion- was killed on 31st May 1940 aged 29 at Dunkirk. He is buried in Skelton Cemetery.
From Barry Richardson, Herbert's Great Nephew:-
Herbert never had any children. I think that's why he made a lot of his nieces and nephews.
I remember every year he would call at home with a Christmas tree. A thing he never missed.
Some time ago I called on Anthony Wharton [Skelton Castle] to have a look through his family album for pictures of Herbert. There were some, but I didn't get photos of them.
The next time I pop down I'll ask to see them again and copy them. Through the Scouts and being Woodman at the Castle he was very well thought of by Mrs. Ringrose Wharton.
His wife was Elizabeth, we called her Lizzie.
I am certain that in the Cubs photograph above my father, Alan Richardson, son of Dorothy Ellen, is stood on Ethel Pigg's right and his younger brother Denis is third from the right in th middle row.
It's starting to come back now. I found those letters a bit upsetting.