West Yorkshire market town of Pontefract
 
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Pontefract Years in Focus 1948

YEARS IN FOCUS
LOCAL NEWS AND EVENTS OF THE 1940s

PONTEFRACT IN 1948

1st October 1948
JOINED THE ARMY IN 1870
OLD SOLDIERS DEATH

In a cardboard box in a neat little house in St Oswald Avenue, Pontefract, is a collection of well polished medals and well-worn ribbons. They belonged to ex-R.Q.M.S. Edmund Withers, the oldest ex-serviceman of the K.O.Y.L.I. who died on Friday at the age of 95.

Hundreds of Pontefract people knew this veteran soldier whose fine features and erect figure bespoke the pride of the British Empire, and carried the dignity of a Roman consul. They missed him when, over a year ago, after enjoying particular good health, he fell ill and his appearance outdoors became less frequent. Although born at Bosham, near Chichester, he had lived in Pontefract many years, and upon his discharge at Belfast in 1895, after nearly 25 years service, he took work at the Barracks Canteen, Pontefract, and later rejoined the Army to serve at the Barracks for four years in the 1914-1918 war. During this time the papers of thousands of recruits passed through his hands. Even then he could not dissociate himself entirely from the Army atmosphere, so for five years he served with the Ministry of Pensions.

At the age of 85 M.r Withers broadcast to the world on his experience in the second Afghan War, for which he held a medal and the Ali-Musjid clasp, and recalled his experiences in a four months route march from Fyzabad to Peshawuf which covered over 900 miles. He served at one time with General Sam Browne who introduced the famous belt. His father was wounded at Inkernman and received a bible from Florence Nightingale. His two sons were killed in the first World War and a stepson died later from the effects of war service. His only remaining daughter Mrs Munson of Hull, lost her husband in the 1914-18 war.

Mr Withers has lived for nearly 40 years with Mrs Southerington of St Oswald Avenue, Pontefract, who nursed him throughout his illness until some weeks ago he was taken to Northgate Lodge, Pontefract. Many Pontefract veterans, medals "shining", were at the funeral on Monday, when the service was conducted by the Curate of Pontefract Parish Church, (the Rev J,A. Griffiths) The bearers were officers and N.C.O's of the K.O.Y.L.I. and the Pontefract branch of the British Legion was well represented. The Interment was at the Pontefract Cemetery.

1948 INDEX


 

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