Men from Keighley district helped turn the German tide in 1914

Men from Keighley district helped turn the German tide in 1914

The Keighley Old Contemptibles Association standard is proudly held aloft at a ceremony in 1968, shortly before being laid up in Keighley Parish Church

The standard of the Keighley Old Contemptibles Association (centre) is paraded in Town Hall Square

The standard of the Old Contemptibles Association's Keighley branch

Keighley soldier George Kershaw, featured in a decorated good luck photograph taken before he was deployed to France with the British Expeditionary Force

The standard of the Keighley Old Contemptibles Association (centre) is paraded in Town Hall Square

The Keighley Old Contemptibles Association standard is proudly held aloft at a ceremony in 1968, shortly before being laid up in Keighley Parish Church

First published in Keighley
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KEIGHLEY district men were among the first British troops sent into action in the early days of the war on the Western Front.

They were part of an expeditionary force dispatched to the Continent, which was reputedly dismissed as a “contemptible little army” by the German Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm.

Despite being outnumbered, the British troops acquitted themselves well, delaying the invading Germans at the Battles of Mons, Le Cateau, the Aisne and Ypres.

Their skill and bravery helped decide the future course of the entire war.

As a humorous gesture of defiance, the remaining British soldiers who were part of the force later enthusiastically adopted the Kaiser's alleged insult - referring to themselves as the Old Contemptibles.

The Old Contemptibles Association was founded by Captain John Patrick Danny, of the Royal Artillery, on June 25th 1925.

At one time the association had 178 branches in the UK, including a section in Keighley which had its own standard.

It produced a magazine, appropriately called The Old Contemptible, and all its members were known as "chums":

All members of the association were survivors of the first British Expeditionary Force of August-November 1914.

One of the association's Keighley branch stalwarts, who was present when the branch's own standard was handed over to Keighley parish church for safekeeping in 1968, was 73-year-old George Kershaw.

He was born in Keighley in 1895. When the war broke out he was already a regular soldier and was immediately deployed to the front. He won the military medal for his courage, and after the war lived in Bradford Road, then at Woodhouse Avenue, Keighley. He died in 1971.

Mr Kershaw was one of only two surviving members of the Keighley Old Contemptibles Association to attend the ceremony to present their standard to the parish church rector, Canon EC Hamer.

As reported in the Keighley News last year, members of the Men of Worth project, helped by Keighley Town Council, took responsibility for looking after the historic standard.

They stepped in to safeguard the artefact, as there was nowhere suitable in Keighley Shared Church for it to be displayed.

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