Rotherham in The Great War


Many Rotherham men had never fired a shot in their lives before they enlisted in what quickly became known as the Great War. Some of them had never traveled further than Sheffield or Doncaster and had only used lathes and plough shares, prior to conscription. Now those same men were suddenly thrust into the mayhem of battlefields, trenches, violence and destruction. Whilst fathers, brothers and sons were fighting abroad, Rotherham townspeople found themselves in the midst of anti German riots that took place on the weekend of Friday 14 May 1915. Violence and revenge was turned towards former neighbours and friends who were of German origin, even though they had lived peaceably in the town for many years. Reports of attacks by Zeppelins resulted not in local people taking shelter, as was recommended, but rather taking to the fields and parks, often lifting children out of their beds to view these ‘monsters’ of the sky. The few lucky men and women who returned back to the town found that life in Rotherham would never be the same again.

Illustrated with over seventy five period and modern day photographs of the town and the men and women who contributed so selflessly to the war effort, Rotherham in the Great War is a perfect companion for military and social historians wishing to learn more about Rotherham’s role in the First World War.


Foreword by Sarah Champion MP for Rotherham

Chapter One: War clouds gather

Chapter Two: The realities of warfare

Chapter Three: Life in the trenches

Chapter Four: Impact on family life

Chapter Five: Anti-German feeling in Rotherham

Chapter Six: Modern technology

Chapter Seven: The RAMC and wounded soldiers

Chapter Eight: The Rotherham police force

Chapter Nine: The end of the war


News filtered into the town on Friday 14 May 1915 that even in the usually quiet districts of Mexborough, Conisborough and Denaby, German families had been attacked and shops and premises smashed by angry neighbours. That same night the riots started in Rotherham at the site of Messrs Leonard Fishers, a pork butcher’s shop

on St Ann’s Road. It was reported that the premises were so looted that ‘it was not long before little that was thought worth taking away, was left’. The rioters then moved on to Hannemann’s butcher’s on Frederick Street, where half-bricks were thrown at the windows. Once again, not content with just taking merchandise out of the windows, the house behind was broken into and domestic goods removed. So bad was the damage that it was later reported that only the kitchen table was left intact.

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