Lees, near Oldham 6 months 4 weeks ago #67563
Lees is a large village, east of the Oldham urban area, and was in Lancashire until 1974 (now in Greater Manchester), with the former county boundary with the West Riding of Yorkshire being at the east end of the village. The memorial is in Leesfield Cemetery, although the newspaper report refers to it as Lees Cemetery.
In 1903, there were no interments in the area behind the memorial, such as those seen in the first photograph.
TO THE MEMORY OF
JAMES WM. DRANSFIELD
OF THE 23RD COMPANY
WHO DIED AT
KIMBERLEY SOUTH AFRICA
NOVEMBER 27TH 1900.
PRIVATE JAMES BRENNAN
OF THE 5TH BATTALION
WHO DIED AT
JANUARY 10TH 1902
AFTER BEING INVALIDED HOME
FROM SOUTH AFRICA.
THIS MEMORIAL WAS ERECTED BY THE SUBSCRIBERS TO
THE LEES SOUTH AFRICAN WAR FUND AUGUST 15TH 1903
Whitehead Bros., King street [Oldham]
Looking east; the monuments and gravestones that can be seen are contemporary with the memorial, and the far hillside used to be in Yorkshire.
DEATH OF TROOPER DRANSFIELD.
A VICTIM OF ENTERIC.Trooper Dransfield, of the Oldham troop of the Duke of Lancaster's Yeomanry Cavalry, who went out to South Africa with the Oldham section of the 23rd Company of Imperial Yeomanry, succumbed to enteric fever at Kimberley on November 27th. The sad news has created a painful sensation in Lees and Springhead, where he was widely known. He had been ten or eleven years in the employ of Messrs. Chadwick and Co., the coach proprietors, of Springhead, and was the driver of one of their 'buses between the Royal Oak, Oldham, and Springhead. His widow resides in West-street, Lees. Dransfield was a big, fine-looking fellow. Corporal J. B. Wild, in a letter printed in our Supplement to-day, says "Dransfield is now (Oct. 29) well again, and is with us here looking as well as ever he did." As will be gathered deceased had been separated from his companions prior to that through illness.
The Oldham Chronicle, Saturday 1st December 1900
DEATH OF A WOUNDED LEES SOLDIER.
Information has reached Lees of the death of Private James Brennan, whose parents reside at Mellor-street, Lees. Deceased was a finely-built young fellow 19 years of age, and belonged to the 5th (Militia) Battalion Manchester Regiment. He went out to South Africa with his regiment in company with another Lees young man named Jerry Sargeant last August. Brennan was wounded very severely in the arm, and was invalided home a few weeks ago, and during the voyage had an attack of enteric fever. On arriving at Southampton he was sent to Netley Hospital. Information was sent to Lees early last week that he was in serious condition, and his father at once proceeded to Netley and remained with his son till his death on Friday morning. He was interred with military honours on Monday at Netley.
Oldham Evening Chronicle, Tuesday 14th January 1902
THE FALLEN BRAVE.
LEES WAR MEMORIAL.
INTERESTING UNVEILING CEREMONY.The ceremony of the unveiling of the memorial to the late Trooper James William Dransfield and Private James Brennan took place in Lees Cemetery on Saturday afternoon.
A procession was organised by Councillor J. W. Smith, the indefatigable secretary, to whom every praise is due for the completeness with which the arrangements were carried out. The procession, which left Lees-square just after two o'clock, by way of High-street, Warrington-street, and Thomas-street, to the cemetery, was in the following order: -
Police (under Sergeant Haimes),
Lees Prize Band,
Volunteers, under the Command of Captain Jas. Travis;
Ambulance Corps and Nurses (under Inspector Jones),
Men from the district who had been in active service,
The Members of the Committee,
(Mr. James Davenport, C.C., Councillors J. Dawson, D. Shaw, Joseph Mills, William Jones, H. Winterbottom, and J. W. Smith), and others of the public.
Notwithstanding the extreme inclemency of the weather, large numbers of spectators lined the route and attended at the cemetery. Councillor W. Higson left his sick room and proceeded to the cemetery by cab, where he joined the procession. All being arranged, he said: -
Friends, - I much regret that, owing to my having been confined to the house suffering from a severe cold, coupled with the inclemency of the weather, my remarks to you must necessarily be very brief. I greatly appreciate the compliment which the committee have paid me in asking me to perform this interesting ceremony, inasmuch as I was personally acquainted with one of the young men whose patriotism and devotion for duty we desire to acknowledge, and to record by our presence here to-day. I thank you all very much for your attendance, and especially do I note with pleasure the presence of members of his Majesty's Auxiliary Forces. I will not proceed to unveil this beautiful monument, which stands, as it were, under the very shadow of the cottage homes of the two young soldiers, to perpetuate whose memory it has been erected. On behalf of the subscribers, I now hand it over to the local authority in the hope that it may be guarded and cared for by them for generations to come.
Mr. Higson then called upon Councillor Smith, the secretary, to read the "deed of gift," and letter from Colonel Kemp, M.P.
Mr. Smith read the deed.
71, Portland Place, W.Dear Sir, - I very greatly regret that it is impossible for me to be present at the unveiling of the memorial to Trooper J. W. Dransfield and Private Brennan, on Saturday next. I should have made a point of coming had it been any way possible, but I have been engaged for some months on that date. I am all the more sorry because Trooper Dransfield could not have served me better than he did, and when I lost him I lost a friend. Again expressing my regret, yours faithfully,
August 10, 1903.
Mr. Higson then handed the document to Mr. Dawson, vice-chairman of the Council.
Councillor J. Dawson, in accepting the deed, said it was his pleasure and privilege on behalf of the Lees District Council to accept the gift of the memorial from the Lees War Fund Committee. With the interesting function of the unveiling which had been performed by Councillor Higson, the anxious and important duties of the Lees War Committee had come to an end. When the recent war in South Africa commenced, the Government appealed to the people in the spirit of Lord Nelson that the sons of the Empire would then do their duty, and there was a generous response both from the United Kingdom and all parts of the Colonial Empire. Amongst the many thousands who generously gave heir lives on behalf of their country were their two dear friends whose memory they honoured and cherished. They had lost their lives, but the result of their sacrifice would be seen by after generations. He hoped when youths in future looked on that beautiful monument they would learn the lesson of self-denial from them. The gift now made by the committee imposed one small but important condition on the Lees Council, namely, that they would undertake to protect and care for it. That was a very proper stipulation, and he ventured on behalf of the Council to faithfully promise to comply with that request. For himself he should consider it a sacred duty to look after it as a member of the Council, indeed, as long as he was identified with the village of Lees. Mr. Dawson concluded by cordially thanking the president, secretary, and committee for the gift of the handsome memorial.
Councillor D. Shaw, member of the committee, moved a vote of thanks to Mr. Higson, who, though not recovered from illness, had come through the heavy rain to perform the unveiling on that interesting occasion.
Mr. Simeon Whitehead, another member, seconded the proposition, which was put by Mr. Dawson to the assemblage and silently carried.
The Volunteers gave the royal salute, and the proceedings terminated with the singing of the National Anthem.
The memorial, which is of grey Aberdeen granite, is in the form of a circular column, and stands 11ft. high. The bases are of best freestone, and the monument, which is imposing and attractive, is surmounted by cap and urn*, and the whole reflects great credit on the contractors, Messrs. Whitehead Bros., King-street, Oldham. The inscription is as follows: -
"To the memory of Trooper James William Dransfield, of the 23rd Company Imperial Yeomanry, who died at Kimberley, South Africa, on November 27th, 1900. Also of Private James Brennan, of the 5th Battalion Manchester Regiment, who died at Netley Hospital, January 10th, 1902, after being invalided home from South Africa. This memorial was erected by the subscribers to the Lees South African War Fund, August 15th, 1903."
Hundreds of persons visited the cemetery during Sunday afternoon and evening, and many were the expressions of admiration of the monument.
Oldham Daily Standard, Monday 17th August 1903
*The urn is no longer there.
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Lees, near Oldham 6 months 3 weeks ago #67608
Trooper Dransfield was subsequently buried at West End cemetery Kimberley, his original metal cross remains extant upon his grave, sadly, enteric was a real killer.
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