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Private Patsy Donovan


Harrogate Herald - 29th December 1915

Harrogate and District men who are serving with the Colours at the Front and are on the list to receive papers every week.

Private Patsy Donovan, 26th Section, D Company, 7th Labour Battalion, Royal Engineers, BEF, France


Harrogate Herald - 29th December 1915

Writing to Alderman Binns, Patsy Donovan, the well-known athlete, who is with the Royal Engineers in France, says :

Just a line, hoping you are in the best of health, as I am pleased to say I am in the pink at present. Well, I have not much to tell you about the war. I daresay you get to know more about it at home than we do out here. I hope you will spend Christmas well, and have a prosperous New Year. We have had plenty to do out here repairing trenches and barbed wire entanglements, but the weather has been terrible these last three months. I have had another job this last fortnight. I am attached to the military police, and I get all over the place, as I am pretty well always on duty. Fancy me being a policeman! Well, Mr Binns, I am pleased to see by the Herald that the Harrogate men are responding to the call of King and country. I believe every young man in England would join up if they only saw half the things I have seen out here - the ruins of beautiful churches and people's dwellings. I have only one Harrogate man out here, and he is in my company - Sapper Joe Smith. He has the Herald sent to him every week, I believe, by Mr Breare, whose notes are very interesting reading to me, also the photos. I often see several old friends. Well sir, I think I must now come to a close, hoping that you are in the same good health as myself, and wishing you and all the Harrogate people that are not able to come out here a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

PS. The heavy guns are going it strong tonight whilst I am writing this.


Harrogate Herald - 9th May 1917

The following are men who have sent us the Army post-card briefly stating that they are well and have received papers and parcels, or whose letters contain views that have repeatedly been expressed by other correspondents, but show their friends that they are all right :

Patsy Donovan


Harrogate Herald - 16th May 1917

W H Breare letter

You Harrogate lads, when at home, have doubtless noticed the flower sellers at the Sulphur Well and in James Street. You will probably know by sight Patsy Donovan's wife, who carried on quite a business in this line. You will also have seen a man assisting her. His name was J W Dixon. He enlisted in July, 1915. well, he is now a soldier, and has been attacked in the Front by trench feet. At first in hospital in France, he was next transferred to London. He arrived home on Wednesday at 3 o'clock, and immediately came to see me. He still has a bit of a limp, and doesn't look so very strong. Moreover, he is 46 years of age, so I should imagine that he is likely to be given a lighter job, possibly at home. With him out in France was Sergeant-Major Horner, Sergeant Cole, and Sergeant Jackson, all of whom he talked to me about. His leave is for ten days; after that he will probably have to report to his depot. I often wonder how these lads do who are discharged from hospital. You know, they get no pay whilst there; it is deferred, and they have to wait until it is sent to them. I questioned Dixon on this point, and found that he had not the ready cash. However, I was able to tide him over until he received his arrears of pay. Mind you, the man did not ask me for any assistance at all. I suspected how it would be, and drew the facts from him. Dixon is a single man and on his own resources. I hope he will soon get strong again, for, as you know, trench feet are troublesome things. It speaks well for him at this age he should have volunteered for service. I can assure you he had gone through a good deal, for I have seen the list of affairs that he has been in. I had forgotten that he had only just then come in by train, so when I asked him if Harrogate didn't look nice, he smiled and replied that he "hadn't seen much of it, so far". I hope he will see a good deal of it, and derive comfort and enjoyment from being at home, even for ten days.


Harrogate Herald - 23rd May 1917

Patsy Donovan, who, as indicated in our casualty list, has been wounded, says :

We are not allowed out of hospital, but we have everything we want inside. We have two huts supplied by the Church Army. They run a cinema in one three times a week, and occasional concerts, so you see they study us quite a lot. I looked in one of he Church Army huts last

night and stayed a bit. I am a Roman Catholic, but I came away quite impressed. When I got in the chaplain was just finishing his sermon. There would be an attendance of about 150 patients, wounded or otherwise, and what impressed me most was the way in which these men forgot all about their own sufferings and though of others. The chaplain said, "We'll now sing a hymn. What shall it be?" From all parts of the hut - about 50 voices said, "Let's have hymn 47". I

wondered what it was. It was a most beautiful hymn. I have heard it many a time while serving in HM Navy. Although I am a Catholic I knew it by heart, and I found myself singing it with the remainder last night - "O hear us when we cry to Thee for those in peril on the sea". Then we had "Lead, Kindly light". I am getting hungry now, and the bugle will soon go for tea. I should like to be remembered to Mr Alan Best [Probably William A Best, Warriston, 53 Kent Road]. The safety razor he sent me nearly two ears ago has been a great pal to me. Kind regards also to Alderman W Binns, Mr and Mrs Jack Carrick, Mr Walter Wood (dentist), Mrs Markham (The Grange, Spofforth), and Mr Barlow (Pateley Bridge); also my best wishes to you, Mr Breare, and staff. PS - What a pity about those strikes when everything is going so well for us now.


Harrogate Herald - 30th May 1917

Thanking Mr W H Breare for the Herald, Driver J Jowitt says :

I have had a stroke of good luck today. While I was busy interested in the good old paper I was surprised to find another Harrogate young man busily reading the other side. His name is Private Donovan, of Ship Yard, so I told him he could have the paper after me; so you see how the old town lads get brought together all through the good old paper. I should be very much obliged if you could do me the favour of sending me a mouth organ (a Vamper preferred), as I have had he misfortune to break my other while I was being sent down the line to hospital, and I feel very lonely without one, with always being used to having one and able to pass away many weary hours. (We have sent Driver Jowitt a mouth organ we had in stock - Ed)


Harrogate Herald - 30th May 1917

Pioneer H Daniel says :

I have received the safety razor in good condition, and written Mrs Murray to thank her for it. I got your letter and Driver G Beer's address, and wrote him tonight. There are two Harrogate men billeted next camp to us - Sapper J Smith and Patsy Donovan, but I hard that Donovan has gone done to the base with a fractured arm. Thanking you again for what you have done for me, and wishing you and the Herald every success.


Harrogate Herald - 30th May 1917

Photo Page

Wounded - Patsy Donovan, RE, who is in No 4 Stationary Hospital in France, suffering from shrapnel wounds.


Harrogate Herald - 11th July 1917

W H Breare letter

Corporal S Sm A Suffield, 50th Battalion, RFA, is a son of Mr J Suffield, 18 Ashfield Terrace, Harrogate, van driver for the NER. The son has been nine years in the regular Army nearly three years, next month, in France. His last lave was in November, 1915. you will remember Padgett. He was Suffield's best chum, and was killed the other week. My visitor had seen our old friend Patsy Donovan; Sergeant Elsworth, RE, son of Mr Elsworth, blacksmith, Tower Street; Frank Leggatt, of Oatlands and the Somerset Light Infantry; and Fred Ward. The latter he had not seen since the Somme last year. Ward is a son of our clever Corporation head gardener. Mr H Ward, who, you will remember with regret, had a son killed at the front. Suffield also saw, about six weeks ago, Gibson, of the West Yorks, who lived at High Harrogate. His brother Corporal H Suffield, of the West Yorks, has been wounded for the third time. The last occasion through the ankle. He is in hospital in London. When he received his third wound he had only been back from leave, after his second wound, a short time, when caught again.


Harrogate Herald - 22nd August 1917

W H Breare letter

The other day I was summoned to my room to see a caller. Judge of my satisfaction to find friend Patsy Donavan seated in the chair you know too well, his genial face broadened with that smile so familiar to his friends. You know Patsy has been in hospital, then allowed to come to Blighty, but not to Harrogate. He goes back today, Tuesday. He had seen Sergeant Mandrill, who was a booking clerk at the station, likewise Corporal Smith, of the Engineers. He had also met Sergeant Henry Nelson, of Ripon, who belongs to a West Yorkshire regiment. You know Patsy used to get up some entertaining boxing exhibition in Harrogate and thereabouts. Well, Nelson is a bit of a boxer, and he had a turn at one of Patsy's shows a few years ago. Rather singular that he should meet him out there, isn't it? But, after all, in one respect the world is very small, for we keep running up against our friends in the most unlikely corners.