Credit to BBC Centenary Progamme – Our World War

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.

Welton com Melton Roll of Honour

Welton cum Melton Roll of Honour

Welton cum Melton Roll of Honour

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.

15th Century BellView fromSt Helen's Church

Maple Leaves in England – Dedicated to 17th Bttn Manchester Regiment

Maple Leaves in England
This digitised book is written by the mother of 8432 George Herbert Bagshaw who was killed on 28th January 1916. See The Cost of Trench Life

Mrs Bagshaw

Mrs Bagshaw

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.”

Bagshawe G H 17-8432 28011916My 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.

Martha Bagshaw grieving IMartha Bagshaw grieving II

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

Barlow & Jones Roll of Honour

Barlow & Jones Roll of Honour


ICRC Digitised Records

ICRC Records

Well done Red Cross!  Prisoner of War Records can now be searched.  When I have learned what can be found, more posts should follow.  Here’s a record relating to a recent Guestbook visitor:-

ICRC Record Charles Selby

ICRC Record Charles Selby.

CWGC Concentration record showing original burial of Charles Selby

CWGC Concentration record showing original burial of Charles Selby









The records cover Prisoners of War, but also German citizens interned during hostilities.  These included my gt gt Uncle Ernst Wissel who was married to Aunt Lily and provided a roof over my Grandad’s head in 1911

Ernst Wissel Internment Record

Ernst Wissel Internment Record

8241 Alec Mitchell, XIV Pln, D Coy, 17th Btn. Manchester Regiment

Alec Mitchell’s parents lived at 4 Warrener Street, Sale – next to Number 6 as the home of my Grandfather, Arthur Bell.  Alison Mitchell is Alec’s great niece as the granddaughter of his brother.

XIV Pln D Coy - Book of HonourXIV Pln D Coy Photo - Book of HonourClick on these imaged of Alec’s Platoon photo and roll.  It’s quite strange that relatives of two other members of XIV Platoon have made contact with the site.  George Royle‘s granddaughter Dianne Norwood has built her own site and records. Helen Wolfenden has also researched her great great uncle 8223 Private J W Lewis

Alec died of wounds in the action where Arthur Bell was wounded and evacuated home.  This is his profile on Anniversary 12th October 1916 – Flers Losses Alec MITCHELL 8241 – Born St Bride’s Manchester.  Residence Sale.  DoW. Age 25. “D” Coy. Son of Charles William and Kate Mitchell, of 4, Warrener St., Sale, Manchester. Native of Brooks’ Bar, Manchester.   DARTMOOR

Newly released records CWGC – Alec Mitchell  show his father Charles arranged an epitaph on his son’s grave “Grant him O Lord thine eternal peace.”

Frank Heath Mitchell and John Anderson Mitchell were two of Alec’s brothers.  More to follow, particularly on Frank, who is Alison’s grandad.  Manchester Regiment seems unlikely.  Frank was born in 1893 and became a Clerk for the Great Central Railway on 7th June 1909.  Railway records show he enlisted in military 20th January 1915 and he returned to his job after hostilities on 14th April 1919.


Commonwealth War Graves Commission – Digital Archive Launch

Vernon Street Cemetery was in this valley with Talus Bois and Maricourt in the background.  Fifty Five graves were lost when the area was shelled leaving a current war grave.

Vernon Street Cemetery was in this valley with Talus Bois and Maricourt in the background. Fifty Five graves were lost when the area was shelled leaving a current war grave.

The immaculate cemeteries in northern France and throughout the world are huge credit to the hard work of people in CWGC.  Their website has also provided an excellent resource for finding information on military casualties and it’s now leaped forward with the digitisation of further records.

Information on headstones is now published, including the epitaphs written by family members.  For example III Platoon’s Ernest Stelfox’s grave had a personal epitaph requested by his parents “Blessed are the pure in Heart” . The site is also more user friendly with tools including the ability to upload casualty lists to excel.

Perhaps more significantly ‘Concentration’ information is now available. Arthur Bell’s cousin’s death remains a mystery.  Belgium research had indicated1095 L/Cpl. Alfred Ridge had originally been buried in Menen Wald German Cemetery before he was exhumed and re-interred in Harlebeke.  CWGC now confirm the original grid reference of Alfred’s burial.  It also describe’s the location as Ram’s Wood – presumably the name given to the wood when the allied troops had withdrawn back to the Ypres salient.

From the 17th Battalion perspective, the review of the new data set has only just started.  This has revealed the original resting place of three 17th Battalion Officer casualties who were subsequently relocated to Dantzig Alley in Mametz.  The walk through the fields from Maricourt will be even more poignant when I next pass Machine Gun Wood where Captain Vaudrey was originally buried.  Close by was 27321 Private C R Felstead.

The track heading down to Talus Bois from Montauban is also significant as leading to the original battlefield graves of Captain Kenworthy and Arthur Bell’s OC Captain Ford from A Company.  It is anticipated this area was previously:-

VERNON STREET CEMETERY, CARNOY, in the valley between Carnoy and Maricourt, at a place called “Squeak Forward Position”. 110 soldiers who died in July-October 1916 were buried here by the 21st Infantry Brigade and other units.(Courtesy CWGC)

Other 17th Battalion men whose remains were relocated to Dantzig Alley include 9005 G Blundell from D Coy,

Vernon Street Cemetery was later hit by shell fire and 55 (half) of the original graves were lost.  These included six men from the Manchester Pals and the majority of others were from 30th Division, notably 21st Brigade and the Kings Liverpool Regiment.  The men with lost graves are now commemorated with individual grave stones along the wall and the Vernon Street / Bottom Wood Cemetery Memorial at Dantzig Alley. Memorial at foot of Page
I’ve always known the importance of the land I’ve wandered across – perhaps the CWGC have helped frame a little more significance.  Quoting the Memorial “Their Glory Shall not be Blotted Out”

Original Burials moved to Dantzig Alley

Trench Map showing Vernon Street

Trench Map showing Vernon Street

Montauban Assembly Positions showing Vernon Street as part of the front line.  Crown Copyright.