AS we mark Remembrance Day Ilkley and District Motor Club is looking back at its own long history and the part its members played in two world wars.

As early as the First Annual Dinner and Prize Presentation at The Crescent Hotel in November, 1911, the Toast list included “The Army and the Navy and the auxiliary forces”.

Club historian Janet Kitching said the hope was that members of the Ilkley Club would seriously consider joining the territorial forces as motor cyclists.

“Should the country be invaded and the communications and telegraphs cut, they would have to trust to motorists riding with the despatches and keeping open communications. However, it was to be 1914 before this necessity became apparent and many members heeded the call of Lord Kitchener to ‘join up’.

“Both founder Secretary Norman Longfield and founder member F H Thompson had joined the army as Sgt Artificers attached to the Royal Horse Artillery. They had been under a course of machine gun instruction at Hythe and the latest machine gun had been mounted onto an armoured chassis attached to a Scott motor cycle. They had previously demonstrated the capability of the Scott machine at Buckingham Palace, before the King and representatives of the Admiralty and one of the feats accomplished was to jump a trench.”

Roy Cowling had joined the club just after it had been formed in 1910. In September, 1914, along with many others, he joined the Ilkley Pals.

Janet said: “They were given a huge send off and the Ilkley Gazette reported that never had such a scene been witnessed before in Ilkley. The Ilkley Brass Band led the march and crowds lined the streets to wish them well. Roy Cowling was with the 9th Battalion Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment and had only been in Flanders a few weeks when news came through that he had been killed in action on the 13th August, 1915. He was aged just 21."

She added:"The officer in charge of the company wrote to his parents, following the death of their youngest son, who had been a great favourite with all ranks and one of the most popular men in his platoon. He had volunteered for the difficult and dangerous work of night patrolling which he had taken to so readily and with such obvious keenness and intelligence. He had established a reputation for coolness and fearlessness and his papers had been signed and sent to the War Office for promotion to commissioned rank. Only two nights before his death he had volunteered to go out alone, as a scout, during the night and penetrated the German lines, returning safely. He was killed whilst apparently looking over a trench parapet at the Germans’ trench."

She said:“Roy was buried at Ridge Wood Military Cemetery, West Vlaanderen, Belgium and his name lives on on the Ilkley War Memorial and the Memorial of Ilkley Grammar School, of which he was a former pupil.”

Janet added: "When the club was re-organised in 1919, the founder Secretary, Norman Longfield, recently returned from France and having been promoted to Captain, was elected President. He said that he had often thought, when in France, that no club had a better war record than the Ilkley Motor Cycle Club and they had lost some of the very best chums. Little Roy Cowling was one of the most enthusiastic and jolly good fellows he had ever met. Many more had gone and they missed them tremendously and should think of them a little that night but the world could not stop and those who were left should see that their memory was cherished.

"Another founder member was Fred Marshall, who had recently returned from France and had been awarded the Military Cross. He took the chair at the meeting of the re-organisation of the club in June, 1919 and was appointed a Vice President. He later served as President of the Club from 1933 to 1935 when he became President of the Yorkshire Centre of the ACU."

Syd Duxbury had been a despatch rider during the war and was also a Scott Works rider, like so many other club members. As a rider he won many awards and was president from 1957 until his death in 1958.

Janet said:"In 1939, war was again looming, and many members again responded to the call to serve their Country. Members serving with H M Forces would retain their membership, without payment.

"Allan Jefferies, who was a member of both the Bradford and Ilkley clubs, had been selected to ride in the International Six Day’s Motor Cycle Trial to be held in Germany in August, 1939. He set off with the other members of the English team (being the only Yorkshireman) but just as the trial started, the order came to leave and the convoy of 60 vehicles left by road for Austria and Switzerland and home.

C H (Harold) Wood was another rider with membership of both the Bradford and Ilkley Clubs and, like many other riders, he joined the Scott Motor Cycle Company, firstly as an apprentice fitter and later became chief road tester and then designer. On the failure of the company, Harold founded his own business as a photographer and freelance journalist.

"During the Second World War he developed a device which enabled pilots to be trained in night flying during the day and his MBE was awarded for creativity and inventiveness during WW2."

Janet added:"It was the great Eddie Flintoff who steered the Club through from 1939 – 1947 and the Club’s activities were revived, after the War, on the 6th December, 1945. Reference was made to the several members who had died or been killed since the last meeting and it was remarked on the loss to the Club by the passing of these enthusiastic members.

"As was said in 1919, those who were left should see that their memory was cherished and the sentiment is relative to all those who died in both actions and those since.

We will remember them."