Harrogate Herald - 6th January 1915
Private Norman Blackburn, of the 2nd West Yorkshire
Regiment, writing to his mother at Starbeck, says :
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
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
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
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.