Remembering ‘Dad’, Flo, Nell and Jack Middlehurst

I generally buy postcards related to the Salonika campaign on the basis of the image depicted, whether it’s a landscape or pictures of soldiers. If there’s a message on the back, then that’s an added bonus – although those I have with spidery French writing are rather a challenge – and one with a nice clear message in English is a treat.

This is my latest purchase, with an image I haven’t seen before. It’s an Italian, hand-tinted card showing a ‘suburb of Salonika’ and two mounted gentlemen – I don’t know whether they are are Italian cavalry or Greek cavalry or gendarmes – riding down the road watched by a gaggle of children.

Hand-tinted postcard showing a suburb of Salonika, with children following two mounted soldiers or gendarmes.

As an added bonus, it is one of those with a nice clear message although, having been ‘Passed by the Censor’, it doesn’t give much away.

30.9.17 On active service

Dear Flo

You are getting quite a cleaver [sic] little girl, and will soon be big like Nell, now. Ask Jack if he would like a pair of red pants like the little boy on the P.C.

XXX Dad

Reverse of a postcard sent by 'Dad' in September 1917 to Flo Middlehurst in St Helens, Lancashire
Of course, with names and an address there is some scope for research but that’s for another day. A quick glance at Google Maps shows that Park Road is now the A58 and the family home is long gone. A look at the excellent CWGC website identifies just one Middlehurst – of the Labour Corps and 12/King’s Own – who died in July 1918. His parents lived in Liverpool – so not far from St Helens – but the inscription by his parents suggests to me a younger man than the father of Flo, Nell and Jack; although maybe that’s just because I would like to imagine him returning safely to his family!

Consulting the National Archives WW1 Medal Index Cards gives us 78 men named Middlehurst. Quite a few served in regiments local to St Helens which were with the BSF – Lancashire Fusiliers, South Lancashire Regiment, Manchester Regiment, Liverpool regiment – but he may not have served in a local regiment or, for that matter, in the infantry at all. So, for now, the trail goes cold – but it’s nice to be able to remember another soldier of the Salonika Campaign and his family.

Author: SCS Web Editor

Robin Braysher joined the SCS in 2003 and soon after became editor of the Society's journal - 'The New Mosquito' - a role he held until 2008. He then became the Society's web editor, a role he seems unable to shake off. His interest in the campaign comes from his grandfather, Fred, who served as a cyclist with the BSF from 1915 to 1917, mainly in the Struma valley. Opinions expressed in these posts are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Society.

One thought on “Remembering ‘Dad’, Flo, Nell and Jack Middlehurst”

  1. My thanks go to SCS member, Keith Roberts, who has provided this information on ‘Dad’ Middlehurst and his family:

    The 2011 census shows the father as John Middlehurst aged 28, a manure salesman working for the borough council. his wife was Florence Jane aged 26, and there was just the one child Ellen, 6 in 1911. It seems likely that John survived the war as there is an entry for a John of the right age with wife Florence and daughter Florence living in Whiston which looks to be not far from St Helens.

    Having the first name – John – reduces the number of likely candidates in the medal index cards to just twelve but, with a good sprinkling of local regiments (East Lancs, South Lancs and Liverpool) plus the ASC and RAMC – all of which were represented in the BSF – the unit he served with remains a mystery. It’s good to know, though, that he returned safely home.

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