8223 Private J W Lewis

Following a visitor on GUEST BOOK this post made to remember John William Lewis of 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment.  John Was Killed in Action at Guillemont on 30th July 1916 with records showing he had been born and resident in Pendleton, Salford.  He has no known grave and in common with many men from the Battalion, John is commemorated at Thiepval Memorial

XIV Pln D Coy - Book of HonourXIV Pln D Coy Photo - Book of HonourThese images (Click to enlarge) show John Lewis in the Roll of XIV Platoon of D Company.  The Platoon photo doesn’t identify individuals, although Lieutenant Whittall is clearly visible, sat in the middle of the 2nd row.  Other notable members of the Platoon include 9014 George Royle DCM as well as 8197 Sergeant Mark Jackson who had been posted to Arthur Bell’s III Platoon when he was killed by a sniper on 1st July 1916

John’s Medal Index Card (MIC) confirms his entry to France with the majority of the Battalion on 8th November 1915.  This entitled him to 1914/15 Star, along with the British War Medal and Victory Medal.  His relatively low 8*** Regimental Number suggest Private Lewis had enlisted on 2nd September 1914, alongside Arthur Bell, on the first day recruitment started for the 2nd City Battalion – Pals.

More details to be added with the help of Helen Wolfenden – John’s gt gt niece.

Helen should also make inquiries on http://themanchesters.org/forum/index.php Mack and Harribobs have already researched John for another family member – Pippa Lewis – as shown with a photo here. http://www.rootschat.com/forum/index.php?topic=210178.0

Book of Honour

Book of Honour

Pippa confirms the further initial of John William G. Lewis which leads to the likely Roll of Honour for J W G Lewis of the Callico Printers Association at Poland Street.

Also see http://salfordwarmemorials.proboards.com/ A photo is available showing John’s commemoration on St Thomas’ Church, Pendleton and St Ann’s Church Brindleheath Memorial boards.

17th Battalion Manchester Regiment War Diary. Afternoon of 9th July 1916 at Trones Wood on the Somme.

War Diaries at the National Archive

As time goes by the Anniversary project for digitising all unit War Diaries is coming to a head.

I have now discovered the newly digitised version of the War Diary for my Grandad’s Battalion – the 2nd Manchester Pals.  The 17th Battalion, Manchester Regiment for 1915-18 is @ 540 pages long and cost me £3.10 to download.

I have some happy hours ahead digesting the original notes concerning the men and events covered in this site and written by some of the Officers who now seem remarkably familiar.

The photo for this post concerns the disastrous withdrawal from Trones Wood This page of the Diary doesn’t mention the losses on on 9th July, nor the failed communication resulting in most of A Company being left behind and captured / killed.  Lots more reading is required.

Until corrected (?) I believe I can post these Crown Copyright images, because this site is non-profit. If the images later disappear we will know why!


Merchiston Castle School - Roll of Honour 1914-19

Merchiston Castle School – Pals and Chaps from Edinburgh

New Material Under Review

The pupils and masters of Merchiston School provided a large number of Officers for the Manchester City Battalions.  Thanks to the recent online publication of the Roll of Honour, a full schedule of Manchester Regiment Merchiston men can be compiled.  In alphabetical order:-

2nd Lt Alistair Cameron

2nd Lt Alistair Cameron

Lieutenant Alastair Gregory Cameron (17th E Coy. XVIII Pltn.).  Pupil 1903-08. Entered France 2/11/15 – ahead of the Battalion.  Wounded France February 1916  Promoted Lieutenant and attached D.A.D.A.  N.C. Survived the war. Later A Cameron and Co, Merchant Shippers, 2a Upper Thames Street in the City of View PostLondon.  He later lived at Ilchester Mansions, Kensington High Street.

Captain Henry Rodham Cook Private RAMC Commissioned 2nd Lieut. (16th) 18/6/1915. & later Capt.  Arrived France (22nd Bttn) June 1916. Wounded July 1916. KiA 7/9/1917 serving as Intelligence Officer with (12th) aged 34. SUNKEN ROAD CEMETERY, FAMPOUX (b 1883) Pupil 1896-1903 Rugby, Cricket and School Captain. Son of Rodham Home Cook and Mabel Cook, of “Kilmory,” 4, Ollerbarrow Rd., Hale, Cheshire. Also included on Foreigners’ Great War Memorial, Yokohama, Japan. Born in China, Amoy and included as inmate in 1901 School Census return.  Left Estate to brother George Home Cook at Woodville Road, Altrincham.

Wilfrith Elstob VC

Wilfrith Elstob VC

Lieutenant-Colonel Wilfrith Elstob VC DSO MC Private Public Schools Bttn. Gazetted for his commission on 3/10/14 (16th), but probably appointed prior to this.  Killed in Action in command of defence of Manchester Hill 21/3/18. “Here we fight, and here we die.” Alumnii Manchester University. Preparatory Assistant Master 1912-14.  Full details at  The Men Behind the Medals, along with details of Hubert Worthington (volunteered 12/9/1914) who encouraged childhood friend Wilfrith to join the Regiment.

Lt Col Elstob seated Centre.  Major Rupert Roberts seated to his right.

Lt Col Elstob seated Centre. Major Rupert Roberts seated to his right.

Lieutenant-Colonel Edmund Fearenside DSO OBE MID Twice. Received commission (17th)  after volunteering on 19/9/1914.  Survived the war after wounding in March 1917 and returned to teach at Merchiston.  Classics Master 1905-14 & 1919-35.  See Edmund Fearenside

2nd Lieutenant R M Gourlay (10th) Alumnii 1913-17

Lt Aubrey Harris

Lt A Harris

Lieutenant Aubrey Harris  Killed by a shell 04/09/1916 age 22. Manchester Regiment. Thiepval Memorial.  Gazetted 2nd Lieutenant in 21st Battalion 23/12/14 (III Pln. A Coy).  Son of William and Mary Elizabeth Harris, of Oak Bank Villa, 72, Alexandra Rd, Wrexham. B.A. (Hons.) Manchester University. Senior language master (Merchiston, Edinburgh).  Commemorated on Wrexham War Memorial.

Capt.S Kenworthy. OC D Coy.

Capt.S Kenworthy. OC D Coy.

Captain Stanley Kenworthy MiD (C Coy. 17th) KIA 1/7/16 Montauban. Preparatory Master 1909-1914, Grad. Queen’s College, Oxford. Captain Stanley Kenworthy had died in the assault. As a former pupil of St Bees, it is poignant Stanley’s last resting place is also Dantzig Alley, with former St Bees Master, Captain Ford of A Company. Stanley was 32 when he died and left behind his wife Dinah T Kenworthy and father John Dalziel Kenworthy, of Seacroft, St. Bees, Cumberland.  Stanley played cricket for St Bees, Queen’s College and Edinburgh Nomads.

2nd Lieutenant James Dunlop Kirkwood.  (A Coy. 17th)  Commissioned 2nd Lieut. 5/1/1915. Left the battalion with shell shock. Pupil 1899-1903. Inmate for 1901 Census, born Peterborough 1885.

Lt J D Kirkwood

Lt J D Kirkwood

2nd Lieutenant Douglas M Lander School records indicate Douglas served in 8th Battalion and the Medal Card for specifies 2nd/5th Battalion.  At some stage he was wounded and received a Silver War Badge in November 1917 – aged approx. 19.   He was a Pupil 1912-15. Later resident of Glasgow with parents John and Maggie Lander.

Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Leslie Macdonald DSO with Bar MiD 2x (Capt. & Major 17th & Lt. Col. 19th) Pupil 1895-1900 BA Emmanuel College, Cambridge 1903 MA 1919. Born 22/9/81) Son of Charles, a cotton broker from Alder Bank, Bowden, Cheshire. Also Master and member of OTC. Head of Amesbury School, Hindhead from 1920, where he died in January 1939.

Capt John Madden

Capt John Madden

Captain John Madden DSO MiD C Company’s Commanding Officer was one of the few teachers (1912-14) from Merchiston College  to have survived hostilities.  Originally, the OC of Herbert Vernon’s (Arthur Bell’s brother in law)  VIII Platoon in B Company, he had clearly taken further responsibility with promotion to Company Commander and records suggest he may have commanded the Battalion at Trones Wood on 9th July 1916.   He is known to have spent time with the 3rd Battalion in Cleethorpes during 1917 – presumably after wounds – and retired from the Regiment as a Major.

2nd Lt Robert Mansergh

2nd Lt Robert Mansergh

2nd Lieutenant Robert Forbes Mansergh MC was III Platoon OC from March 1915, to the summer of 1916, although other officers seem to have fulfilled this role from July onwards.   He was also Battalion Adjutant in August 1916 and a member of the Battalion Bugle Band.  Arthur Bell had referred to his prior bravery in preventing injuries during an accident in grenade training.“Perhaps a notch towards an honour later.  In fact, he was awarded the M.C. in September, 1916.”The former Merchiston pupil (1912-14),  was promoted to Captain during service and retired at the end of the War.  School Records show he had been wounded at some stage.  He was living at Farmwouth in Belle Vue, Morecambe when he collected his medals in 1923.

Lt P J Meade

Lt P J Meade

Lieutenant P J Meade (16th) Commander of 17 Pln E Coy and then 4 Pln of A Coy. Wounded France 1915. Preparatory Master. Applied for his medals in 1929, while resident in Norwich.

Major Rupert Roberts. Daily Sketch

Major Rupert Roberts. Daily Sketch

Major Rupert Edward Roberts (16th)  Wounded at Etrelliers 26/3/18. Died of Wounds 26/03/1918 in Hospital at Rouen. ST. SEVER CEMETERY, ROUEN   Photo Assistant Master (Maths) 1905-12 and Captain in OTC .  Previously teacher at Dunstable Grammar School.  Born 1881. Son of the late James and Ada Roberts, of Worcester. Educated Worcester Grammar and Graduate of Jesus College, Cambridge.

2nd Lieutenant J S Watson (21st) Pupil 1907-08




Acknowledgement of help with these records from Manchesters Forum and Great War Forum


1095 L/Cpl. Alfred Ridge Manchester Regiment, Cousin – Died 1917/18

Alfred was Arthur Bell’s cousin as the son of aunt Isabella – who was one of his mother’s younger sisters.  Isabella, Alfred’s brother Ernest and Arthur Bell’s sister Dorothy lived in Hall Street, Greeheys in 1911.

Alfred is the only family member identified as a professional soldier and pre-war member of the forces.  He had been born in Hulme in 1887.  His father Alfred Snr. was a Tailors Salesman who died in 1901.  Records show the brothers had spent a period of 1902 in Chorlton Union Workhouse when their father had died.

Alfred joined the 6th Manchester Militia Battalion on 25th March 1906 and transferred to the regular Battalion in 1907.  By the time of the 1911 Census, he was serving in India with the 1st Battalion. 

At the outbreak of the War, the 1st Battalion remained in India and set sail from Karachi to France on 29th August 1914, arriving in Marseille on 26th September.  Alfred’s Medal Index Card indicates his entitlement to the 1914 Star, with arrival in France on 27th August.  Records of some other men (Below*1) with this date as arrival indicate departure from Karachi on 27th August and arrival at Marseille on 26th September.  There is no explanation why a group of men are recorded as leaving India in advance of the Battalion.

Nearly 700 Manchester Regiment Reserves arrived with the 2nd Battalion at the Curragh in Ireland.  The 2nd Battalion arrived in France on 16th/17th August and had taken part in the withdrawal from La Cateau by the time Alfred arrived on 27th August.  It is possible Alfred had  being called up as a Reserve after returning Home at the end of his Service*.  Records indicate he enlisted in Ashton, which would be consistent with the initial place the Reservists arrived; it may also refer to his initial attestation on 1906/07.  It is possible the Reservists arrived after the main 2nd Battalion force on 27th August.

Alfred’s second Medal Roll page relates to his British War Medal and Victory Medal.  This shows postings with the 1st, 12th and 11th Battalions.  Other records (Below) indicate Alfred went on to serve with the 18th Battalion – the 3rd Pals or City Battalion – by late 1917.  There are numerous examples of other Regular soldiers bolstering the ranks of the Service Battalions; notably after returning from wounding.  The posting to four Battalions certainly indicates wounding on one or more occasions.

At some stage in late 1917 or early, Lance Corporal Alfred Ridge died.  CWGC and SDGW records indicate he was Killed in Action on 21st January 1918 and buried in Harlebeke New British Cemetery, Belgium.  This creates another anomaly because the 18th Battalion were 140 km south, near St Quentin in France on this date.  Furthermore, Alfred’s grave was actually relocated from a German cemetery, somewhere near Ypres during 1923/24.

For the moment, the principal likely circumstances of Alfred’s death were that he had taken part in action with the 18th Battalion at Ypres in late 1917.  It is then presumed he had been wounded, captured and then died in captivity before the Germans evacuated him to a Prisoner of War Camp.

Alfred’s 1914 Star Medal records indicate he was ‘Missing’; consistent with him being captured.  It seems possible the official recorded death on 21/1/18 was reported by the Germans via the Red Cross.  Alternatively it may have been the date Alfred was acknowledged dead, rather then the date he was known to have died.

Following the assumption that Alfred died as German prisoner has lead to research of the possible engagement when he was captured.  One prime possibility would be the defence of the Polderhoek sector of Ypres on the 11th – 15th December 1915.  The 18th Battalion War Diary records 119 Other ranks Killed, Wounded or Missing.

This research of the only family member who is known to have died in the War is unsatisfactory.  Alfred was and Old Contemptible (Pre-War Regular) and died serving as one of the Manchester Pals.  His records of service and death are inconclusive.

If visitors wish to assist in remembering Alfred Ridge, the following would be helpful:-

1.      Photo of Alfred’s grave at Harlebeke.

2.      Copy of his Obituary in the Manchester Evening News of 30/5/18 (Not yet digitised).  This includes his photo and possibly more explanation of his service and demise.

3.    Red Cross or German military records concerning Alfred’s treatment or captivity.

Watch this space?

*It is also possible Alfred had been on leave at the outbreak of hostilities, or possibly he had been accepted for Overseas service when he left India.

*1 7232 Private Terrence Roe is also shown on the Medal Roll to have arrived in France on 27/8/14.  His Service Record has some aspects that are unclear(including correspondence about missing pay), but one document referring to his ‘Mark of Distinction to 1914 Star’ indicates service in France from 26th September 1914 when the 1st Battn arrived in Marseille.  This suggests the August date may have been wrong for Terrence and possibly Alfred.

1656 Robert Rothwell’s Service Record also survives.  This shows arrival in France on 27/8/14 and confirms he had been in France at the outbreak of the War.  It is interesting to note the records indicate Robert was transferred to the 11th Battalion, after his arrival in France.

1932 Sidney Frank Riva’s record also indicates arrival in France on 27th August 1914 and states that he left India the preceding day.  This is contradicted by Sidney’s Casualty Record sheet which clearly specifies disembarkation from Karachi on 27/8/14, as well as arrival in France on 26th September.

635 Arthur Robin’s Casualty Record also indicates disembarkation from Karachi on 27th August and arrival in France on 26th September.  The Medal Roll specifies 27th August for entry in France and qualification for the 1914 Star.  Arthur was a member of B Company of 1st Manchesters.  He had extended his service by two years on 5th August, just after the commencement of the War.

Thanks to the Members of The Manchester Regiment Group for help with these records.

BBC Real Lives: I wish I could go back in time to help my great-grandmother – Liverpool Echo

The BBC reached new heights with this documentary film showing people from WW1 being interviewed in the1960′s.  A pregnant Mancunian lady was filmed talking about the loss of her husband in 1916.  Thanks to the Liverpool Echo article below, we find all was not lost.  Percy served with the Loyal North Lancs Regiment.

BBC Real Lives: I wish I could go back in time to help my great-grandmother – Liverpool Echo.

If you haven’t seen the programme, check out iPlayer.  Not to be missed.