Remnants of a lost life: A brief encounter with life and WW1

The December meeting of our society held its first meeting since March albeit a virtual one courtesy of Zoom. Our guest speaker was the well- known expert in genealogical research, Jackie Depelle. Jackie lives in Pudsey in West Yorkshire and in a house in which the Hyland family once lived. Her research into the family revealed that one of its occupants, Frederick Hunter Hyland, was a casualty of World War One.

The purpose of Jackie’s talk was to highlight the use she made of the many sources that can be accessed in tracing the life of Frederick, and there were many, of a life cut short by the war.

Frederick attended the local Moravian School at Fulneck, Pudsey. Later he studied medicine at Leeds University. He joined the Yorkshire Regiment as an observer in the Royal Flying Corps. He died in 1915, along with the pilot, in an unfortunate accident, near Hazebrouck, France. This was caused by an exploding hand grenade carried in the plane.

Jackie had a varied and large collection of photos, copies of documents and memorabilia that she had collected using family and local and national sources. Among these were war memorials in the local church, school and university as well as the magnificent one near Pudsey town centre. An example was an advertisement of a bazaar held at the parish church in Pudsey in which ‘Freddy Hyland’ was an assistant on the sweet stall!

Use of census returns, parish register entries, Army records, personal diary extracts as well as official War Diary extracts, were available to Jackie. She also accessed some personal items from Freddy’s family such as medals, a handkerchief bearing the laundry mark, a walking stick, novels and photos that Freddy had taken. These consisted of the type of plane Freddy had flown in, of comrades and of his family.

Jackie had joined an organised tour in 2014 in which she visited the Commonwealth War Grave cemetery near Hazebrouck where Freddy lies buried along with the pilot.

Jackie revealed that she is a distant cousin of Freddy which added poignancy to her detailed and absorbing story.