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Family at War The Rowntree Family Friends Ambulance Unit

An Introduction to the Rowntree Family 
 One Branch in the First World War Era

Contents - Index page

Letters to Colin from Arthur and Ella Rowntree

49 Bootham York.

11 Nov 1914

From Ellen H Rowntree – wife of Authur Rowntree

Dear Colin

You may be sure we are all thinking continually of you 14 old Bootham boys who are out with the first corps. – and we have followed keenly every scrap of news we can get hold of. If you can spare a minute for a card of news now and again we should love to have it –r share in any home letters that we are allowed to.

I lunched with Joe Baker the day after he got back, so heard lots first hand. He told how badly off you were for things to put on your poor patients -- so Lady Newman in London and I up here are hurrying all we can to get things together to send out to you

{Joseph Samuel Baker – Bootham boy - in the first Corps with Colin}

Tell Laurie his Grandfather ordered 50lbs of cocoa for you directly I mentioned it to him and I hope it got off safely last night.

It was to be a particularly nourishing kind, not the kind that we are allowed.

{Ref to Laurence Rowntree and his Grandfather Joseph Rowntree II }

Laurie began cutting bread and butter before he was off the boat didn’t he ?

What dramatic good fortune you had at the very start with the Hermes ! I understand there was fierce dispute between cousins as to whether Donald or Charlie or Harry went overboard.

We were at Hammersmith Terrace for a night at Mollies lately and heard lots of odds and ends --- then down to the Newmans at Harrow Weald where we heard more. It was so hot that Sir George and Constance carried their big bowls of porridge out onto the virandah and made an impressive picture. But we could not help contrasting the quiet and comfort and autumn colouring there with all the terrible sights you are seeing and we wished it were possible to rush over to Dunkirk and help. Does V.Alexander do much interpreting and how does he manage the Flemish.?

Our Belgians are all right here, very grateful most of them, if a touch grasping. 8 families are out at New Earswick now. The 2 boys we have in school are very nice fellows and picking up English fast. Tell Donald his old footer shirt is coming out directly and in fact there are many family garments. Is Richard Barrow { Bootham and FAU } the prize officer for height. I was vexed to miss seeing you all off at Charing Cross. The perpetual tramp of soldiers from 6am along Bootham is so monotonous that we get hardened to its meaning We are all anxious about Roy Hamilton in the London Scottish. Clarence Bentley was killed a week ago in action. Best of greetings to all old boys

Yours affect. E.H.Rowntree.


Sir George Newman married in 1898 in Nottinghamshire to Adelaide Constance Thorp – Lady Newman died 1946.
Lived at the time Grims Wood Harrow Weald.

27 June 1918

From Arthur Rowntree Bootham School

Dear Colin

One of the old Boys has recently fallen and I am writing to ask if you can send me any particulars as to where he lies. His name is Geoffrey Birdsall, down on my list as London Regiment. He was shot through the head on Monday 17th June, was taken in dead to No.4 Casualty Clearing Station and was buried in the neighbouring British Cemetery. He only left us last summer so that we feel it keenly in the School.

I hope you are having as good a time as you can under all the conditions imposed on you. I was glad to see Mary at Jordans for a few minutes and hope that I may see some of the Hammersmith people when I am in London next Week.

All the best wishes for good luck

Yours Sincerely Arthur Rowntree

Answer :

Geoffrey Birdsall buried in Plot 2 B10 No4 casualty clearing station.