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Private Norman Blackburn


Harrogate Herald - 6th January 1915

Private Norman Blackburn, of the 2nd West Yorkshire Regiment, writing to his mother at Starbeck, says :

Dear Mother, Just a line to let you know I am all right and in good spirits. We have been told off for a draft to go to the firing line. We will be having our Christmas dinner in the trenches. Wish I could have had a bit of leave, but I did not want to Miss this draft. I am longing to have a pop at the Germans. The weather here is much the same as at home. The people here take some understanding in their speech, but we get used to them. Will write a letter later and give more news. Give my love to all at home. With love, Norman


28th December, 1914

Dear Mother, Just a line, hoping you are well, as it leaves me so at the present. The weather here is rotten. It has rained a lot since we came, and is very cold, but can keep warm. The only thing we cannot keep warm are our feet. I have been lucky to keep with my pals, as nearly all the lads that came up here with me are in different companies. I am with three good lads. We have plenty of cigarettes and tobacco. We got a present from Queen Mary; it was a pipe and twenty cigarettes and a packet of tobacco. We also got a postcard from her with a photo of the King and Queen, and a photo of Princess Mary. Hope all at home are well. Has Harold joined the Army yet? Did you get that pc I sent you a week ago? We spent Christmas in the trenches. It was a merry one. Hope you enjoyed Christmas, and I wish you a very prosperous New Year. Give my love to all at home, and hope to see you all when we get the Germans beat, which I think we will. From your loving son, Norman.


Claro Times - 27th March 1915

Two Starbeck men, Private Norman J Blackburn, 2nd West Yorkshire Regiment, and Private Arthur Wells, 1st West Yorkshire Regiment, have been wounded in the battle of Neuve Chapelle.

Private Blackburn, whose home is at 55 Stonefall Avenue, went to the Front a fortnight before Christmas. Several letters have been received from him, and on Monday, the 15th of he present month, an Army postcard was received stating that he had been wounded. On the 23rd, a British Red Cross Society postcard, was received at his home, stating that he had been wounded, and admitted to the 2nd Northern General Hospital, Leeds.

The following letter, dated March 17th, was received from Private E W Jackson, of the same regiment as Private Blackburn. The latter became acquainted with Private Jackson shortly after he had arrived at the Front, and they became "pals" :

"Wanstead Hospital, Margate,

Wednesday, March 17th.

Dear Friend, Just a few lines to let you know who I am, and why I am writing to you. I want to know if you can give me Norman's address. Your son and I were very great pals in the trenches. You know, I have been wounded as well as your son, and he does not know I was wounded the next day. I am the lad from Hartlepool, and I believe your son mentioned me in one of his letters. I got a piece of shell through my shoulder, but I am going on all right, thank God! It was a terrible battle, but Norman and I clung together until we got wounded. You see, I am anxious to know where he is, and how he is going on. Your son was wounded in the thigh, as he will have told you by now".

The writer then mentions that Corporal Crispin was killed the day after he, the writer, was wounded. In closing the letter, he says he is at Margaret, and going on well.

Mrs Blackburn replied to this letter, and received the following one back, dated March 20th.

"Dear Friend, I am sorry you have not heard from Norman yet, but you need not worry. I think it was only a flesh wound, and he will pull through all right. He has plenty of pluck, and that is what you want when you get wounded. We had to retire from our trenches for a little while, and then we came back and took them again. When we came back, that was when Norman was hit.

We had an officer shot through the head the same time as Norman. But your son did not worry much. He bandaged himself up, because we could not get to him until dark. But again I say, your son is a brave soldier, so don't you worry yourself. He will be all right soon.

Don't send anything, because we get plenty of everything here, thanking you all the same. Would you like to know where we are fighting? Well, we were in the thick of it round Neuve Chapelle, but you see God spared the two of us, and so all is well,

Your son's chum".

On Wednesday a picture postcard of the hospital ship "Asturias" was received from Private Blackburn. It stated :

"2nd Northern General Hospital,


Dear Mother, I arrived here on Monday night, and I am going on well. This is the boat we came over on. I am wounded in the thigh. It was on the 12th when they hit me, at Neuve Chapelle. Send me some 'cigs', and a few envelopes and paper. They say I can send you a pass, and some of you can come and see me,


A photograph of Private Blackburn will appear in our next issue.


Claro Times - 3rd April 1915

Photo - Private Norman Blackburn, of Harrogate, who was with the 2nd West Yorkshire Regiment, has been wounded.


Harrogate Herald - 3rd January 1917

W H Breare letter

Another Xmas visitor was Private L Ambler, of the Mechanical Transport, who formerly lived at Knaresborough. he came home on Boxing Day for ten days' leave after being out 18 months. He has two reasons for thankfulness. He is married and he has never had a day's illness. He is son-in-law of Mrs Blackburn, Stonefall Avenue, who, by the way, has sons fighting for their country. Albert is in Salonica, after being wounded in France; Harold, wounded in France, is now in Egypt; and Norman is also in Egypt. The latter was wounded at Neuve Chapelle. Ambler met Cosgrove, who was formerly employed at Wardman's Garage, and "Billy" Bell. These are the only two Harrogate boys he has come across. I was glad to hear from Ambler that you all still look forward with pleasurable anticipation to the arrival of your weekly Herald.


Harrogate Herald - 11th July 1917

W H Breare letter

Rifleman H Blackburn, KRR, got leave on account of illness of his mother, but he was not in time to see her ere she passed away. Blackburn is the fifth son of John Blackburn, 55 Stonefall Avenue, Starbeck. His eldest brother, William William, was with the Canadians, but had rheumatic fever, and was discharged. He may be well enough later to rejoin. The second brother, Albert Blackburn, is in Salonica; the third, Norman Blackburn, in Alexandria; Horace Blackburn, the youngest, is in Ireland. With my caller at the Front is Bob Wardman, Regent Street, who worked at the Co-op, in High Harrogate; Corporal Mount; Ireland, of King's Road; and Suttill, of New Park. Fifteen months since Blackburn was home. He is continually meeting Harrogate boys, though his regiment is a London one. It was formed by the late Earl of Feversham.