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on Leave in U.K. Visit Their Ancestral Scarborough, During Two World Wars: Part 1


The following is Copyright © 2015 by Clayton Barker, all rights reserved. It was published on the editorial page of The Burford Times, Nov. 5th 2015, in Burford, Ontario, Canada.



Three cousins soldiering in the U.K. 1917-18: Maitland Brooks, Howard Disher and William Disher.



 During WW1 Howard Disher, William Disher and Maitland Brooks, three ‘Barker’ cousins, all of Burford Township, were in England on leave at the same time, so they billeted at a relative’s place in Scarborough, Yorkshire England. They had signed up late in the war (October 1917) and were only overseas a short time.

It was the 4th year of the war, Vimy Ridge had been fought with victory, and the third battle of Passchendaele, and the U.S. were finally involved in the war. By the time these three Burford boys were cleared to go over to take part, the Germans had commenced a large-scale offensive on the Western Front and British coastal areas were being bombarded by German submarines and raided by German airships and aeroplanes.


     In 1914 Scarborough, had been shelled by German destroyers, primarily the Scarborough Castle / fortified headland area, and in September 1917 German Submarines bombarded Scarborough again, so though it was quite a distance from the front-line, it was still being hit. Air raids were conducted as well, both daytime and night attacks, in the summer of 1917 and a “moonlight bombing” in September 1917. Casualties were low. Because there were no real important targets for the Germans there, German planes sometimes merely emptied out their left-over bombs from other raiding expeditions as they passed by on their way back to their base



The Barker Family of Binnington:


The story of the Barker family in England goes back to medieval times; however, going back to the late 1700’s in North-east Yorkshire, my ancestors hailed from two hamlets within a few miles of Scarborough: Suffield and Snainton. My great, great, great, grandmother Hannah Ashwell was from Suffield near Hackness, which was just on the edge of the ‘Moors’, and my great, great, great, grandfather John Barker was from Snainton, which was sheep country on the ‘wolds.’ A moor is like a wilderness area, with rock outcrops and undulating ground not suitable for large-scale farming. A ‘wold’ is a large linear hill, or moraine left over from the ice age. Since it was hard to use the land for fields of crops, it consisted mainly of grassy open areas for sheep. So, these ancestors of mine were sheep herdsman.


     When John and Hannah were married at Hackness, in 1822, I believe they moved to “Binnington Wold farm” which had been built high on the top of the wold overlooking another hamlet of Staxton, in the Willerby Parish. I met the historian of the community of Saxton, Edwin Cooper who gave me a very pleasant tour of his area, which included the Binnington Wold Farm. According to Edwin, in medieval times, the monks would herd their sheep from the lower grassy areas up across this wold on the way to the monastery. Since the monks had a wooden enclosure on the site of the Binnington Wold farm hundreds of years ago, it wasn’t a surprise that in the first decade of the 19th century the Lord of the land created a large farm there on his estate. In 1822 John Barker became the herdsman for the Lounsbury estate and may have lived on the ‘Binnington Wold’ farm where he and Hannah raised 9 children and one god-daughter there on the wold: William, Anne, Elizabeth, Amey, John, Thomas, Hannah, Alice, Rachel and Emma.


     John Barker (Jr) and Thomas came to Canada after the Crimean War and the rest of their siblings remained in England. After John Barker Sr. died and was buried at St. Peters churchyard, Staxton, in 1869 Hannah, his widow moved to Staxton and lived out her years in the village, until she died in 1884. Rachel, one of the youngest siblings of my great, great grandfather john, came to Canada in 1890. Staxton is a village about the size of Cathcart, about 7 miles from Scarborough. Not much is known about the other siblings that remained, except that Alice (Alice Ann Sawdon) lived at Scarborough during the two world wars, where she kept a boarding house. Her boarding house was used to billet soldiers, which in turn was how she and her family come to meet her brother John’s descendants, who were stationed in England during the 1st World War and 2nd World War.


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LINKS To Check Out


About The Author















Burford Boys on Leave..,



Burford Boys on Leave..,



Putting on The Putties (WW1 1914-1918)


BURFORD – The Home Front (1914-1918)