On 24 November 1917 the Co-operative News printed an article recalling a tale of heroism from an employee of the Co-operative Wholesale Society flour mill in Sowerby Bridge.
Although suffering badly from trench foot, Private Whittaker carried messages from his company headquarters to the battalion headquarters under heavy enemy attack. On the very same evening, he endured appalling conditions to find his company commander, who had been lost for five hours.
For this Whittaker was given the Distinguished Conduct Medal, a prestigious award for bravery, second only to the Victoria Cross.
Co-operative News, 24 November, page 1113.
WWI co-operative voices
This post is part of ‘WWI co-operative voices’ which shares the stories of co-operative workers and members during the conflict. In order to mark the centenary of the WWI, the Rochdale Pioneers Museum is staging an exhibition entitled ‘From shop floor to front line’ and the accounts of these soldiers, shop workers and conscientious objectors will run alongside it. They are tales of death, duty and of those who chose not to fight.
Through ‘WWI co-operative voices’ we will be releasing new posts about these individuals throughout the duration of the exhibition (due to open mid-May 2015 and run until May 2016). Read about the co-operative movement’s involvement in a war that shook the world by selecting a name from the column on the left. You can also follow us on social media for regular updates.
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We wish to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for supporting the ‘From shop floor to front line’ exhibition and project.