Candles lit for brothers who fought together

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MEDALS placed in frames and mounted on a wall at Derek Wise’s home are reminders of the sacrifice of an earlier generation.

His father William and Uncle Tom both served in the Bradford Pals, but Tom never came back.

A century after Britain entered the war Mr Wise is urging everyone to get behind a Lights Out campaign to get a million people to light a candle or put on a single light on Monday, August 4, a century to the day since Britain declared war on Germany.

Councils and Royal British Legion branches across Yorkshire and the country are preparing for a “shared moment of reflection” between 10pm and 11pm to mark the centenary.

Mr Wise, 78, from Normanton, near Wakefield, has purchased several commemorative £4 candles from Marks & Spencer and intends to mark the occasion alone in quiet reflection.

His thoughts, he said, would mainly be with his uncle Tom, whom he never got the chance to meet because he was killed in action aged 22 in France.

Lance Sergeant Wise was a member of the 18th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own) and came from Ripon.

He died on November 13 1916, shortly after he had given evidence in a court martial involving two colleagues, Herbert Crimmins and Arthur Wild, who had wandered off before a battle and got drunk.

Despite pleas for mercy, the pair were shot.

Mr Wise, who is a former West Riding policeman and an ex-National Serviceman, will wear miniature medals awarded to his father and uncle on the August 4 anniversary.

He has spent many years researching the war service of his uncle and has visited his grave in France on four occasions. He has been unable to find out much about his father’s war service as he never spoke about it and did not write anything down.

Stories passed down by the family suggest that his father was injured by a bullet during service with the Bradford Pals on the Western Front.

Apart from that, Mr Wise has drawn a blank.

When he was five, he recalls being told that his father had fought in the First World War. He said: “I heard that my dad got wounded by a bullet and that they cured him.

“He never revealed the wound and never spoke about the war. He overcame his injuries and carried on working. When I was five it didn’t mean a lot to me.”

“My dad was a 100 per cent gentleman and had quite a responsible job after the war with Prudential Insurance.

“He didn’t like the war. I think he shut it underneath like a lot of cases who came home in a sorry state.

“I think they went off to war very happy, with the view that they would sort it out, but it took some doing. When I have visited his war grave and others I have found it very affecting.”

After the war, his father married and his parents had eight children.

He said: “I want to remember and lighting a candle is a good way of remembering. I will put candles in the window that night for an hour. I want to thank them for doing a wonderful job.

“I have got three commemorative candles and will light them and think of Uncle Tom and my dad. Mainly, I will think of Uncle Tom, the Bradford Pals and those that got killed.”

Mr Wise, who has been active in the Normanton branch of the Royal British Legion for many years, will be urging Legion colleagues to buy some candles as profits from sales will benefit the Legion.

He also wants schools and schoolchildren to consider marking the event in their own way.

He said: “I would like everybody to light a candle to say thank you for giving us the freedom that we enjoy today.”

The Lights Out campaign is being organised by 14-18 NOW, the official cultural programme for the centenary commemorations and is supported by the Royal British Legion.