We’re looking for a surviving family member of Lance Sergeant Henry Kay Evans. Known by his family as Harry, he was a 17th Bttn. casualty at Flers on 12th October 1916. Born Levenshulme. Killed in Action. Aged 28 Son of Thomas W. and Agnes Evans, of 28, Ashwood Avenue, West Didsbury, Manchester. Trained with IX Platoon of “C” Coy. Educated at Manchester Grammar, played football for the YMCA. Father T.W Evans, Manager of the Manchester Evening News. He is buried in A.I.F. FLERS Henry was mentioned in the Official History as part of a machine gun crew that did good work at Montauban. .
Jon Stack was a very welcome visitor to the GUEST BOOK section of this site. Jon has inherited two letters to Harry Evans mother. They were stored in a small bible, likely to have belonged to Harry and carried with him on the Somme. Jon is enthusiastic to return these treasures to a suitable family member. From the perspective of the Battalion History, the letter record one family’s loss, but also a little more explanation on the circumstances of C Company’s roll – with A Company following – in the disastrous assault on Flers.
The letters from 90th Brigade Padre Robert Balleine were quite commonplace and perhaps a little standardised. This included a similar letter to Ralph Miller‘s father. The return of the pay book and photographs were probably Harry’s only possessions, indicating the Bible had not belonged to him, or was not taken with him to the front.
The second letter was sent to Harry’s mother and father on 18th October, six days after his death. It was sent by Harry’s Pal, 8976 Private Arthur Wilkinson. Arthur had trained in XI Pln of C Company.
C Company occupied the right flank in the Battalion’s assault at Flers. Two Companies advanced followed by the two remaining Companies in the second wave. They were then followed by the first two Companies of A Company, before CSM Ham stopped the stalled advance before the second two companies of A Company went over the top. It is recorded that the men were mown down by machine gun fire, advancing no more than 50 yards.
In the context of the War Diary and other records, it is assumed that Arthur Wilkinson, John Kenyon (of IX Pln) and Harry Evans went over the top and made some progress forward before sheltering from the storm of machine gun fire in a shell hole. Arthur and John were awarded Military Medals in January 1917, most likely associated with their action in the shell hole at Flers. Harry was clearly part of this action.
John Kenyon returned to the UK after the reported wounds. The Lord Mayor awarded his Military Medal in a ceremony in April 1917. He was discharged fit for duty in April 1919.
Arthur Wilkinson was less fortunate, being fatally wounded at Heninel in April 1917.
It is interesting to note former Manchester Grammar School Master, Captain Brown was Harry, Arthur and John’s OC. It is doubtful there was a direct connection, although the active Old Boys network would suggest the two men would have been known to each other. Captain Macdonald Warriner Brown is commemorated at Thiepval.
Returning to the machine gun crew at Montauban, the gun remained at work until the Battalion was relieved. In addition to Harry (Henry) Kay, the gun was manned by Privates Clough, Gordon, Worthington & Wright. As can be seen below, Harry Evans had been employed by Barlow & Jones and it appears he had enlisted with O. Clough. 8102 Oswald Clough had trained with Harry in IX Platoon and later transferred to the Royal Engineers and Labour Corps.
It was a privilege to visit Cheadle Hulme School in early September, as guests at their Heritage Day. The experience was shared with my father, who is the son of a former Foundationer of the School when it was known as the Manchester Warehouseman and Clerks’ Orphan Schools. Allan Arthur Bell attended the school in the first decade of the 1900s alongside his sister Dorothy and brother Douglas. My cousin joined us a second grandson of Arthur Bell.
The pupils, staff, friends and wider community produced an excellent and well balanced commemoration of the history of their school, especially during the period of World War One. The day started with a production introducing some characters of the school during the war period. This included the portrayal of a number of girls and boys familiar to my research and definitely associates of my grandad, great uncle and aunt. A long term research question was also answered when the production introduced the Ashworth sisters and their brother. My father confirmed the ongoing friendship with Mr Ashworth as he and Arthur Bell’s other children had always purchased sports equipment at Ashworth’s sports outfitters of Stockport when they were children. Arthur Bell was employed as a clerk in a sport outfitters in 1911 and it’s quite possible the young men worked together.
We were subsequently taken on a tour of the grounds and buildings. Highlights were the dormitory where Grandad will have slept as a boy and the indoor pool where he learned to swim. This led to his life saving award from the Humane Society of the Hundred of Salford, but also a possible explanation for subsequent generations passion for aquatic sport (missing my dad!).
A general display was provided showing the full heritage of the school. This includes the first ‘whole school’ photo in 1906/07 – including grandad and his brother or sister. The gems then kept being presented commemorating the pupils and staff during the war. The impact on the community and use of the school as a Hospital was also provided. Ultimately I had to accept my cousin and father were less enthusiastic to read every ounce of detail – more interested in eating sponge cake in the dining hall! This did provide the chance to pick up a copy of Melanie Richardson’s excellent book ‘Heads and Tales’, which provides further gems on the 150 year school history.
I hope Charlotte Dover and other members of the school community record all of Charlotte’s hard work. She has done a wonderful job and it was delightful to see that I had been able assist with one or two bits and bobs.
Congratulations to Cheadle Hulme School for their successful Heritage Day. (no marking of my spelling or grammar thanks)
For a start a gallery of some photographs are below for identified connections of the school with the Manchester Regiment, please see Manchester Warehouseman and Clerks Orphans’ School – Manchester Regiment
Genuinely NOT a collector, but:-
Our World War first programme of the series surpassed expectations. Featuring the defence and retreat from Mons, the personal stories of the Royal Fusiliers provides a clear interpretation of events on the ground, with helpful graphics to reflect the strategic perspective. Let’s hope the vivid and accurate portrayal continues next week with the 18th Manchesters.
On a recent visit to East Yorkshire we took the opportunity to climb the tower of St Helen’s Church in Welton, E. Yorks. It was not possible to leave without noting the War Memorials for the Crimean War, WW1 & WW2. Colin is the researcher for the Parish and is making good progress, particularly with 5 brothers from one family – 3 of whom lost their life in hostilities.
Good luck Colin.
The volume is dedicated to the 17th Battalion and provides an insight into a mother’s role when the Pals were still in Britain. Martha Bagshaw wrote the book in 1920 and illustrates her own thoughts on grieving and helping other young Canadian men in the City. The beginning of the process of recognising a need for Memorials is also shown, with Martha meeting the Lord Mayor and gaining his support to arrange a commemoration event for British and Canadian men.
As the son had the same first name as his father, the boy was known as Herbert. It’s interesting to see his surname spelt Bagshaw and Bagshawe.
Specific material on the 17th Battalion provides:-
“In March 1915, my son, who was in training at Heaton Park came home hurriedly one day telling me he had been injured inwardly through drilling, and that the Medical Officer had told him he must be discharged or have an operation for hernia. Captain Taylor [#1] (who knew me very well) sent him home to me to ask my consent, I left it entirely to the boy, who chose the operation at once, saying he did not want to leave the army while the war was on.” The provision for consulting Herbert’s mother would not be expected outside the Pals Battalions and reflects the ‘civic’ nature of the City Battalions integrated with commerce and families of Manchester.
The young men clearly had access to health care functions, but not always succesful. “He went back to camp, and I received a post card the next day telling me he had gone into one of our Military Hospitals. Four more men from his Battalion were admitted at the same time for the same operation, one of whom died under it. Herbert’s operation was very successful and when he was discharged from hospital he looked fine, fit, healthy, and strong”.
During Herbert’s absence the Platoon photos were taken for the Book of Honour. As a result, he is not included on any of the Platoon Rolls and his assigned Company is not known. Current speculation suggest Herbert was part of C Company.[#2] “Meanwhile, his Regiment had become transferred from Heaton Park to Grantham for further training where he joined them a month afterwards. After Grantham, they went to Salisbury Plain to complete their training, and in the early part of November 1915, they went to France.”
My ever dear boy was in France exactly three months to the day when he was killed. [#3] I need hardly say that words fail me to frame or express the agony of a mother’s or father’s heart when this news comes… I received the news of my son’s death from the Chaplain [Probably Padre R W Balleine's letter] on the Thursday….My other dear son [William Thomas] had arrived home to dinner when the news came, and how grateful I have always been that this was so, for he was such a wonderful comfort for me.
Thanks to George Johnson of The Manchester Regiment Group Forum for bringing this material to my attention.
#1 Captain Taylor of RAMC must have been the Medical Officer who ordered M&D (Medicine & Duty) for Arthur Bell when he injured himself in an acrobatic game.
#2 G H Bagshaw is included in the Roll of Honour (below) for Barlow & Jones, 2 Portland Street, Manchester. He was 23 years and 8 months old when he enlisted on 3rd September 1914. He was previously a warehouseman. The family lived at 23 Albion Street, Miles Platting when Herbert enlisted. He was 5′ 8 1/2″ tall. The Service Records show Herbert was hospitilised with tonsillitis for 4 days in January 1915. There is no record of a hernia.
#3 Herbert’s Medal Index Card shows his arrival in France with the bulk of the Bttn on 8/11/1915 and Killed in Action on 28/1/1916