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

Sergeant George Royle MM DCM – New Website

Here’s the link to Dianne Norwood’s site in her grandad. www.manchesterpals.co.uk. George was Signal Sergeant for the 17th Battalion, surviving hostilities and finishing the war as an Officer Cadet.  Dianne is seeking a Menu for her Grandad’s Christmas Dinner in 1916!  More to follow…

George Royle Snr & George Royle Jnr

George Royle Snr & George Royle Jnr. Courtesy Dianne Norwood

Here’s some photos to help Dianne with the photo ID in the Xiv Platoon Pic.  I think George is in the middle of the second row from the back, behind Lieutenant Whittall.

Gerorge Royle Xiv Pln 17th Bttn

Gerorge Royle Xiv Pln 17th Bttn?

George Royle Courtesy Dianne Norwood BBC Memorial Wall

George Royle Courtesy Dianne Norwood BBC Memorial Wall

XIV Pln D Coy Photo - Book of Honour

Signal Sergeant George Royle with 3 stripes on his lower sleeve signifying no. of years service overseas.

Signal Sergeant George Royle with 3 stripes on his lower sleeve signifying no. of years service overseas.

Dianne’s site clearly shows George’s Service Medals, his Distinguished Conduct Medal and Military Medal.

8852 Sergeant  George Royle of the 17th Manchesters also won awards for valour (Croix de Guerre) and I’m seeking further details of Dianne’s grandfather’s MM.  This information is not included in the Official Record but Michael Stedman’s schedule for the DCM does recognise George’s MM.  Here’s the link for Dianne’s further work https://livesofthefirstworldwar.org/lifestory/3848370



Vimy Ridge Visit – Thanks Canada

As a gesture of thanks to Canada, here’s an off-piste gallery of images of our visit to Canadian National Vimy Memorial.  It was refreshing to look at an area and element of the conflict away from my usual ‘field’.  This was especially rewarding as a result of the presentation of the site, memorial and visitor centre; but principally because of the smart, informative and enthusiastic staff.

Ernest McNamara 18th Battalion

18th Bttn C Coy IX Pln

18th Bttn C Coy IX Pln – Book of Honour

Ernest McNamara was killed in action at Montauban on 1st July 1916. His great niece introduced herself on the GUEST BOOK and asked if there may be further information on Ernest and his brother Arthur.

For Anne Warn these pages from the City Battalions Roll of Honour show Ernest in IX Platoon of C Company.  If Anne has a portrait of him, it would be great if you could identify the man in photo.  For other possible records, I firmly recommend asking the experts on The Manchester Regiment Group Forum.

18th Bttn IX Pln Roll of Honour

18th Bttn IX Pln Roll of Honour

The Manchesters website includes painstaking research of the men from the Regiment reported killed on 1st July 1916 and included in the 1st Anniversary of the Somme 1st July 1917 edition of the Manchester Evening News.  These entries were made for Ernest and include a reference to Arthur:-

McNAMARA – In loving memory of our dear brother
ERNEST (10555) Manchester Regiment (3rd Pals), killed
in action July 1st, 1916.
ROBERT, SUSIE, and ARTHUR (in France).

I’ll have a scout around some other resources and add to this post if I find anything more.

I heard the Last Post from a bugler at Thiepval Memorial yesterday morning.  This is where Anne will see Ernest’s name inscribed in the stone panel.  We’re off to Ypres today where I will see Arthur’s name at Tyne Cot and my Grandad’s cousin at Harlebeke.