Soldier honoured 100 years after his death

Soldier honoured 100 years after his death

A BATLEY soldier was remembered and honoured at a service to mark 100 years since his death.

Descendants of Private Michael Hunt attended a ceremony at Batley Cemetery organised by the Project Bugle group and a wreath was laid on his grave.

Pvt Hunt died aged 35 on April 17, 1919, of tuberculosis, in Staincliffe Hospital, which had been commandeered by the military as a base infirmary.

Serving with the Labour Corps as well as the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry during the Great War, he was buried with military honours at the top of Batley Cemetery on April 22, 1919.

Family members including his granddaughter Margaret Conley and great grandson, Cpl Richard Conley of the RAF, were present for the service. Standard bearers from the Royal British Legion also attended and a World War One re-enactor, Kevin Morley, stood silently in full British Army battledress throughout.

The ceremony, led by Tony Dunlop, was the 63rd event for Project Bugle – a five-year project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund that aims to remember the thousand men from Batley and Birstall who were lost in the First World War.

On the 100th anniversary of a serviceman’s death, a brief ceremony is held at the graveside of those who are buried locally to mark their sacrifice. 

Research volunteers also rediscovered the graves of Pvt Hunt’s parents a few hundred feet away in Batley Cemetery, which had been long forgotten.

According to census and other local data, Pvt Hunt was born on September 3, 1884, to an Irish family living in Carlinghow.

He was employed as a Corporation ‘scavenger’ at the age of 16, meaning he likely worked as a street sweeper or dustman.

In 1911, at 26, he worked at a sewage works and married Mary Ellen Cairns in 1912, settling in a new home at 6, Back Crescent Street in Batley. Their first child, John, was born in 1914 but died aged 11 months. They had a second child, Thomas, in 1916.

No information has been found about his time in the services but he joined the KOYLI’s 3rd/4th battalion before transferring to the Labour Corps.

Nothing further is known until a classified notice was placed in a local newspaper on April 26, 1919, announcing his death in Staincliffe Hospital. 

Pvt Hunt is also remembered on Batley war memorial and at St Mary’s RC church.

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