BY the summer of 1916, the shocking total of the number of young men from Craven killed in the First World War was 277.

To mark the second anniversary of Britain entering the war, on August 4, 1914, the Craven Herald printed the names of every man to have lost his life since the start of hostilities. It was the second time the paper had printed a Roll of Honour - the first time had been at the end of December, 1915, when the number killed had been 157.

In the period between January and August 1916, a further 120 had been killed - taking the total for the entire two years to 277.

In a leader column, the paper said the war had left a 'terrible mark' on Craven, before adding: "The Skipton district has nobly played its part, as it did in the wars gone by, in upholding the cause of Right, as opposed to Might."

The names inscribed on the roll of honour would be regarded for generations to come, the leader writer continued, with patriotic pride in that 'casting everything on one side, they responded to the call of King and Country and went forth fearlessly, with one object only, to do and die so that peace should reign on earth.'

The anniversary edition of the paper included the details of three Skipton men who had been in the same dug-out on The Somme front line, when it had been hit by an enemy shell, killing two of them instantly, and severely injuring the third. Six other men in the dug out were also killed.

In the same week, the paper reported on two other men from Skipton who had died from their wounds.

Lieutenant Henry Brian Fisher and Private Thomas Cartman died in hospital after being wounded. Sergeant Fred Stork and Corporal Ernest Cowgill died in the dug out, and their friend, Private Roy Windle suffered serious injuries. Sgt Stork, Corp Cowgill and Pte Cartman were all former pupils of Skipton Parish Church School

Lieut Fisher was the younger son of Dr GE Fisher, of Skipton. His family learnt in a letter from the Army Chaplain that the 'fine young man' had died in hospital, in France, just ten minutes after being admitted with severe wounds in both thighs. He was just 20 years old and had been educated at Winchester College before travelling to Canada, where he was engaged in farming with his uncle, Arthur Fisher.

After the outbreak of war, he returned to England to enlist, received a commission and was gazetted to the 5th Northumberland Fusiliers.

Sgt Fred Stork, 23, lived in Russell Street, Skipton, and before the war had been a weaver at Hartley's Union Mill, Skipton. He and Cpl Cowgill were with the Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment.

Capt WJM Sproulin, in a letter to Sgt Stork's father, said his son's death had been a great loss to him and the remainder of the company.

"He was an extremely willing and efficient soldier. I sincerely trust that the knowledge that he died bravely doing his duty for King and Country will be some consolation in your great bereavement," he wrote.

Another of his colleagues, Lieut Ralph Robinson, went on to describe him as "one of the bravest, most hardworking and most unselfish fellows I have ever met".

The Lieutenant continued that they would all miss him badly. "You will be glad to hear he suffered no pain. He and his friend, Ernest Cowgill, were killed instantaneously. Roy Windle got a nasty wound, but the doctor thinks well of his chances. Mr Shipman, of Long Preston, took the funeral. All the machine Gun Corps officers were present, as well as several from the 6th West Ridings. He was buried in a beautiful little valley between two woods with a river at the bottom, between two poplar trees. I know how deeply your sorrow must be at the loss of such a son, but at the same time if you only heard what both the officers and men say about him, you would feel the proudest father in Craven."

Mr Stork also received letters from the Rev R Shipman, Chaplain, and Corporal A Gough, a Skipton soldier.

Mr Shipman, from Long Preston, said: "I buried your son to the sound of guns, close to the front line. A cross will shortly be placed on his grave. He was very popular and a good soldier."

Cpl Cowgill, a former weaver, and member of the 1st Skipton boy scouts, had been with the Skipton Territorials at the outbreak of the war, at which he immediately went into serious training for the front. He went to the France with the Duke of Wellington's in April, 1915.

Capt Sproulin, in a letter to the family, said he could not have wished for "a more promising, keen and fearless young NCO".

Lt Hunter Ward also wrote he was "charming, cheerful and smiling in circumstances when brave men could have been pardoned for giving away".

The lieutenant added Cowgill had probably been a full corporal at the time of his death, as he had forwarded his name for promotion some time earlier.

The Long Preston chaplain also wrote to the young man's family that he had buried their son that morning, along with eight others.

Lit Ralph Robinson said he had been speaking to him shortly before. "I have never mer a nicer lot of fellows than the machine gun section, there was none I liked better or could trust more fully than your boy. He was so quick and clever and could turn his hand to anything."

Roy Windle, of Westgate, Skipton, was reported as doing well after suffering wounds to his left arm, side and face.