John Hart - Photographer
179 & 181 City Road, E.C. and 275 Leytonstone Road, E. London, England
The ambulance man in the above photograph is identified on the reverse as Luke Suthers of Barnoldswick. The inscription states that Suthers was "reported" in the Nelson Leader - a local Barnoldswick area newspaper but fails to mention the nature of the report. Suthers is outfitted in foreign service order and was undoubtedly preparing to ship out to South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War.
The Queen's South Africa Medal roll shows Luke Suthers serving as a private with the St. John Brigade Field Hospital which was attached to the Rhodesian Field Force. He was entitled to the "Cape Colony", "Transvaal" and the "South Africa 1901" clasps to his medal. He would have also been entitled to the St. John Ambulance Brigade Medal for South Africa.
Left: A clipping from the 15 August 1900 issue of the Burnley Express
reporting the movements of Private Luke Suthers while in South
Africa. It is highly unusual to trace a man's wartime movements with
such precision. Although uncertain, this could be the newspaper report
referenced on the back of the above photograph. This clipping was
kindly provided by Mr. Kevin Parry via The British Newspaper Archives.
Luke Suthers was born in Barnoldswick, Yorkshire about 1879 the son of William F. Suthers and Mary Thoms. The family, like many others in the area, were weavers by trade. Not long after the end of the war, Luke turns up at Ellis Island in New York arriving on the RMS Campania on 19 August 1905. On the ship's manifest, he is listed as being born in Barnoldswick and a weaver by trade. His trip to the United States seems to have been more than a mere holiday since he is listed in the 1910 census for Fall River, Massachusetts as married - his wife's name is given as Annie - and still making a living as a weaver. He married Annie Ormrod in Fall River on 19 March 1908. She too was born in England being the daughter of Frederick J. Ormrod and Mary Brown.
Suthers' does not seem to have ever applied for naturalization and in the 1910 U.S. Census he was still shown as a resident alien. While in the U.S. Suthers attended several courses relating to wool manufacture as was listed in the 1908 and 1909 editions National Association of Wool Manufacturers Bulletin as earning certificates in Plain Loom Fixing, Box and Dobby Loom Fixing, and Ring Spinning. The last reference that I can find of Luke Suthers in Fall River is in the 1914 directory for that city where he is listed as a weaver and living at No. 87 Sutcliffe.
Luke Suthers along with his wife Annie and an unnamed child returned to England on 18 July 1915 onboard the American Line S.S. St Louis. The Suthers family's return to England was to assume control of the family business - W.F. Suthers and Sons Ltd. - on the death of his father. Luke Suthers ran the firm until it was liquidated in 1926. He continued in the textile trade with his brothers and later was the proprietor of a petrol station. Luke Suthers died at the age of 51 at Preston, Lancashire in 1930.
Luke's brother Frederick Suthers, apparently also served in the St. John's Ambulance Brigade during the Anglo-Boer War.
Below: A group photo of the newly formed company of the British Naval & Military Veterans Association of Massachusetts from the 1 February 1913 issue of the Fall River Globe (Fall River, Massachusetts) showing an older Luke Suthers standing at far right. Suthers wears his Queen's South Medal with three clasps and the St. John Ambulance Medal for South Africa. The association held its meetings at the local Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) hall and one can only imagine the war stories that were told by members of the two organizations when their paths crossed.