In 1887 Ralph Chiton, age 20 married Amelia Tate, age 18. They went on to have 13 children before Ralph died in 1909.
In 1911 Amelia, widowed and struggling to provide for her children, lived in Low Street, South Milford. Her eldest son, Fred had died in 1907 and eldest daughter Edith married John Schofield in that year. Ernest, age 19 was working as a painter and Ralph, age 17 as a postman whilst Arthur,14 was at school. Her next 4 children were not living with her as presumably she could not provide for them in addition to her youngest ones Nellie, age 7 Clifford, age 5 and Fred, age 1. Hilda had died, age 2 in 1909, the same year as her father.
The children who were not with their mother were Wilfred, age 13 who was at Leeds Industrial School at Shadwell which was described as for ‘boys out of control’ and Frank, age 12 and John, age 9 who were both at an orphanage in Sherburn run by John Lee Cover and his family. Finally there was Kathleen who we have not been able to trace at that time.
As if Amelia’s life had not been hard and tragic enough up to that time the Great War brought further tragedy as her four eldest surviving sons enlisted and two of them were never to return.
Ernest joined the 9th Battalion off the West Yorks (Prince of Wales Own) Regiment which sailed from Liverpool on 3rd July 1915 and landed at Suvla Bay in Turkey on the 6th August as part of the Gallipoli campaign. Ernest was killed on the 9th August and is remembered on the Helles memorial and buried at Canakkale in Turkey.
Wilfred lived with his Aunt (Amelia’s sister Elizabeth Tate) in Leeds from age 3. At Age 13 he was sent to Leeds Industrial School having been an habitual truant and ‘out of control’. In April 1913 he was apprenticed to a Tailor in Bedale and in June 1915 joined the West Yorks Regiment as a Tailor. Wilfred was wounded at Arras and died from his wounds in No 9 Red Cross Hospital on 23rd May 1917. He is buried at Calais Southern Cemetery.
Ralph and Arthur also enlisted but we have been not been able able to find military records for Arthur.
Ralph joined the West Yorks in January 1915 and served two spells in France from January to August in both 1916 and 1917 and was wounded twice. He was commended in the London Gazzette as follows:
“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. When wounded in the shoulder, arm and chest, as stretcher-bearer attending to wounded men, he continued his work regardless of his own wounds and dressed and carried men until he was again wounded and collapsed. He has done other fine work”.
He was discharged “no longer fit for active service” in January 1918. He married Annie Worth in 1922 and died in 1963.
Arthur married Alice Shepherd in 1924 and died in 1979.
Amelia died in 1948. Nine of her thirteen children outlived her.