Gomersal & The Great War
The Royal Flying Corps (later the Royal Air Force) was formed in 1912 and at the beginning of the First World War; powered flying machines were relatively new.
. . . . in the air
The first warplanes acted as reconnaissance craft to spot enemy lines and in helping to direct artillery fire on land and sea. However, following encounters with enemy planes, British aircraft and their pilots had to be adapted and trained in order to be capable of shooting down enemy planes or dropping bombs onto specific target areas.
In the spring of 1915, German air ships or Zeppelins caused panic when they first appeared above British skies as these vast slow-moving machines could drop a hail of bombs at any moment.
JOHN HARDY JACKSON
Died: 31st December 1917 - Age 32
93221 : Air Mechanic, Royal Flying Corps
Lived : Bleak Street, Gomersal
John Hardy Jackson was born in Birkenshaw on 9th December 1885 to David and Mary Jackson. On the 1911 Census, he is listed as working as a Fireman at a coal mine.
In December 1912, he married Olive Willamet Bilton at St, Mary’s Church, Gomersal where his occupation is listed a ‘rag grinder’.
They lived at 42, Lower Bleak Street Gomersal.
John became an Air Mechanic with the Royal Flying Corps (56th Kite Balloon Section).
He was killed whilst on board the Troopship HMS Osmanieh which sank after hitting a mine at the entrance of Alexandria Harbour, Egypt, killing 199 crew members and nurses.
John has no named grave but is commemorated on the Chatby Memorial to the Missing, Alexandria, Egypt.
On this day, two Zeppelins bombed Hull. Snow on the ground made Hull an easy target and with no anti-aircraft guns protecting the city, the Zeppelins stayed overhead for two hours.
Over the duration of the War, Gomersal received eight air-raid warnings.
As early as 1914, households and businesses were being offered insurance against damage caused by air raids. The financial records of Gomersal Moravian Church show that they took the threat seriously and from May 1916, aircraft insurance was taken out at a cost of 14s 5d per year (approx. £54 today)
5th March 1916
Snow during day and in evening.
Alarm that Zeppelin raid imminent.
Moravian Minister’s Diary