Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1919, Private Michael Hunt, 3rd/4th Battalion, the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, died in the Staincliffe Hospital for wounded servicemen in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, of complications due to wounds received in action during the Great War.
Private Hunt was one of six children of an Irish-born quarryman from County Mayo. He was transferred to the Labour Corps towards the end of the Great War. The formation of the Labour Corps was sanctioned by the Royal Warrant on the 21st of February, 1917. The object of the formation was stated thus: “to obtain more fluidity in utilizing the services of men in Infantry Labour and Work units and to simplify administrative work.” Some infantry battalions were transferred entirely to the Corps, and in 1918 the Corps was used as emergency infantry and for salvage work.
The Corps was manned by all ranks, officers and enlisted men alike – apart from those transferred with their battalions, they were soldiers who had been medically rated below the A1 condition required for fighting on the front lines. Some were men who had been wounded and not recovered enough to be sent back to the fighting, yet fit enough to work. Others were men who had been turned down by recruiters prior to February of 1917, deemed as unfit for service perhaps due to a disability or other health issue.
While it is not clear how Private Hunt came to be wounded, it is known that the men of the Labour Corps were at great risk, as the units were frequently sent to work within range of the enemy guns for often great lengths of time. Being so positioned to work, not fight, made them vulnerable. He was buried with full military honours in the Batley Cemetery, and his name is engraved on the Altar of St. Mary of the Angels Church in Batley.
Michael, from Batley in Yorkshire, was 35 years old and married with two sons, born in 1916 and 1918.