Village counts its wartime blessings

Linda Samuel and Tony Hawkett with Emyr and Mr Fox
Linda Samuel and Tony Hawkett with Emyr and Mr Fox
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Charlotte Richardson reports on a village giving thanks for those who came back from the wars – and the horses who didn’t.

There is no cenotaph in Catwick, no plaque or memorial to the fallen. That’s because Catwick, near Hornsea, is not only a “Blessed” village but is also one of only 14 “Doubly Blessed” or “Doubly Thankful” villages across England and Wales.

Blessed villages are those where every man who went to serve in the First World War returned, and there were only 51 of these across England and Wales,. The Thankful Yorkshire villages are: Catwick, Cundall, Helperthorpe, Norton-le-Clay and Scruton.

Doubly Thankful villages are those where every person who went off to both the First and Second World Wars returned home. Catwick is the only Doubly Blessed village in Yorkshire. There are no blessed villages in Scotland or Northern Ireland and only one in the whole of France.

Along with service personnel many thousands of horses were sent to war, most of which never returned.

Now a group of villagers have joined with the local vicar to offer a service with a difference this weekend. Catwick’s first Horseman’s Sunday will take place tomorrow on the village 
green with the aim of recognising the vital part horses played in both of these conflicts.

In Catwick, 30 men went to the First World War. Before leaving the village each man nailed a coin onto the wall inside the Blacksmith’s Forge, near a lucky horseshoe.

During the Second World War another 30 men went from Catwick and another 30 coins were nailed onto the wall. When the Blacksmith’s Forge closed down the coins and horseshoe were removed and nailed onto a plaque. Now the plaque belongs to John Hugill, grandson of the blacksmith during the First and Second World Wars, who was also called John Hugill.

John said: “It’s a very special piece to both my family and the village. It’s particularly special when you realise that many other thankful villages don’t have any kind of memorial or item like this, so we are very lucky.”

Rumour is that one man returned missing part of a limb, so a notch was removed from one of the coins to recognise this.

Before the war many horses had worked on local farms and pulling Wolds Wagons. These Wagoners were some 
of the first horses and men to be requisitioned during the war. One of the men from Catwick was one such wagoner, listed as T.Jordan, Wagoner 686 from Catwick.

Linda Samuel, one of the organisers of Horseman’s Sunday, said: “Locally many horses were taken into both wars and very few returned. I have heard of similar Horseman’s Sunday events elsewhere and wanted to 
do something here it Catwick.”

Linda joined with Jean and Tony Hawkett and they were helped by The Rev Andy Simpson to organise their own Horseman’s Sunday.

Tony said: “It won’t be too formal, we want it to be a service of thanksgiving, for both the men who returned and the horses who didn’t.”

Horses and riders are invited along to the village green at 3pm tomorrow.

The Rev Andy Simpson will bless all the horses and their mounts in small groups then there will be a short service including two hymns before the riders move off on a five mile hack around the local countryside.

Even the hymns have been chosen with equines in mind.

“We’re going to have When a Knight Won His Spurs,” explained Linda, “as it seems very fitting and allows people to have a good sing song.”

Taking part costs £10 per horse and rider which will be donated to the Thankful Village Fund.

For more information or to book a place, please ring Linda Samuel on 01964 544480.