Montauban Church in January 1916

Montauban Church - German postcard likely Winter 1915-16

German postcard thought to be Montauban Church in Winter 1915/16

This German postcard shows a church in winter time and a pencil note on the back says Montauban.  Therefore it’s likely this is the village church in the Winter of 1915/16.

The 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment were based in trenches a mile south of Montauban near the village of Maricourt.  On this day 100 years ago the men could have peeked over the parapet to see the shell-damaged church on the distant ridge.   It will be seen this was no a good idea.

On 16th January 1916 the 17th Battalion were relieved after their first tour of the Maricourt defences.  The 16th Manchester took over their positions as the 17th withdrew to Suzanne. Maricourt Defences

On 1st July 1916 the Manchesters and other men of 30th Division liberated Montauban.  After the week-long British and French bombardment there was little left of the village and the Church had been flattened.

© IWM (Q 4281)  Montauban Church Bell Sept 1916

Montauban Church Bell

The 17th Manchesters repeatedly served in these trenches and suffered the cold, wet and German bombardments.  Private John Pownall Holt was the first casualty in Suzanne and 2nd Lieutenant William Russel Tonge was killed on 12th January.  His body was never recovered due to the terrible conditions in the trenches and he remains buried in an unknown place near Maricourt Wood.  Reports tell us William was killed by a sniper.  There were few subsequent losses due to snipers as the men will have learned not to look out at the church on the hill, or other surrounding features.

Holt JP

AWM E00058 Australian Cookhouse in ruins of Montauban Church Dec 1916

AWM Ruins of Montauban Church Dec.1916

Lt W R Tonge A Coy II Pln

2nd Lt W R Tonge. The 17th Bttn’s 1st Officer casualty in the trenches,




2nd Lieutenant Kenneth Henry Callan Macardle KIA 9th July 1916

2nd Lt. Kenneth Callan-Macardle. One of the most prolific diarists of the opening days of the Battle of the Somme. IWM HU37057

2nd Lt. Kenneth Callan-Macardle. B Company, 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment. IWM HU37057

Born in Ireland, Kenneth Macardle was working for the Canadian Bank of Commerce in California at the outbreak of the war.  He left his post on 18th January 1915 and returned to join the 17th Manchester Regiment.  He had been employed by the Bank sine February 1911.  He was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant and later took command of a Platoon in B Company.  He entered France on 2nd February 1916.

Kenneth was a committed diarist and his well composed notes provide a vivid and expressive view of the events on the opening days of the Battle of the Somme.

Regrettably, Kenneth was left behind in Trones Wood when the Battalion withdrew on 9th July.  His body was never found and he remains commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing.

Kenneth’s diary provides a direct source for the events of 1st July and his prose has been a further catalyst for the commitment to record and present events on the Somme.  On visiting Thiepval, I have scanned the multitude of names of the lost men to identify the neatly carved name of my favourite diarist.  Here’s an extract:-

© IWM (HU 117311) Kenneth Callan Macardle“We were relieved in a hurricane of shells. We trailed out wearily and crossed the battlefield down trenches choked with the dead of ourselves and our enemies – stiff, yellow and stinking – the agony of a violent death in their twisted fingers and drawn faces. There were arms and things on the parapets and in trees. Shell holes with 3 or 4 in them. The dawn came as we reached again the assembly trenches in Cambridge Copse. From there, we looked back at Montauban, the scene of our triumph, where we, the 17th Battalion, temporary soldiers and temporary officers every one that went in, had added another name to the honours on the colours of an old fighting regiment of the line – not the least of the honours on it.”

“A molten sun slid up over a plum coloured wood, on a mauve hill shading down to grey. In a vivid flaming sky, topaz clouds with golden edges floated, the tips of shell-stricken bare trees stood out over a sea of billowing white mist, the morning light was golden. We trudged wearily up the hill but not unhappy. All this world was ever dead to Vaudrey and Kenworthy, Clesham, Sproat, Ford and the other ranks we did not know how many. Vaudrey used to enjoy early morning parades. Clesham loved to hunt back in Africa when the veldt was shimmering with the birth of a day.”

Kenneth’s father, Sir Thomas Callan Macardle, K.B.E., D.L. was the Irish brewer and proprietor of Macardle-Moore & Company Ltd of Dundalk. Ireland.   Macardle was knighted (Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for his contributions to the war effort, particularly in supplying grain and ale to the war effort. Kitchener Letter.  See

Kenneth’s mother, Minnie Ross Macardle was English.  Her father, Lt. Col. James Clarke Ross had served in the Scots Greys. (courtesy Who’s Who)

Part of Minnie and Sir Thomas’ tragic loss is shown as their thoughts will have developed from hope to despair in their correspondence held in the Imperial War Museum – Catalogue P210.

Initially, Adjutant Major C L Macdonald wrote to Sir Thomas with a glimmer of hope and real admiration for Kenneth on 14th July.

“I regret very much too have to inform your son has been missing since the recent fighting in Trones Wood.  The wood changed hands…it is possible he was captured…it is impossible to build on this hope.  The wood was shelled so heavily…it was almost impossible for anyone to live in it….Whether captured or killed, he will be a very great loss to the regiment.  I assure you there is not a braver or more gallant officer living.  After the capture of Montauban, when the Battalion went back into action for the second time, your son, in spite of his junior rank, was put in Command of a Company [A Coy], and he handled his Company with great skill and dash…I shall miss him greatly…I had become very much attached to him…Whether alive or killed in action, I shall always be proud to have known him, and I assure you you may be very proud to have so gallant a son.”

Acting 17th Battalion Commanding Officer, Major J J Whitehead’s letter on 17th June gave a strong indication to Kenneth’s parents that he may have been captured by the Germans.

“…I saw him in the wood about 1.30pm and when I gave the order to withdraw…he failed to rejoin – this was about 3 pm.  I waited myself with a few men to cover his retirement, up to 5.15 pm, but as the enemy began to counter attack, can only assume that he was taken prisoner.  He was a most promising officer…I miss him very much indeed.”

The finality of Kenneth’s demise was concluded from one of Arthur Bell’s comrades in III Platoon, who had been captured with Lieutenant Humphrey.  The Red Cross Zurich wrote to Sir Thomas on 6th October with the report.  “…Communication from Private Arthur Watts, No 8941, A Comp.. 17th Manchester Reg:-“I saw Lt. Macardle badly wounded in Trones Wood on 9th July 1916, when I saw him I took him to be dead, as he had been lying on the top of the trench for 2 hours without moving but I could not say for certain if he was dead.” Signed Pte Arthur Watts, Prisoner of War at Dulmen.”  

The Macardles had four children including Kenneth and a daughter, Dorothy; who became a renowned Irish Republican author.  She was imprisoned on more than one occasion but – like her brother – continued to write in adversity.  The siblings may not have shared the same ideals if Kenneth had survived to discuss them.

2nd Lt. Kenneth Callan-Macardle Killed in action at Trones Wood 9th July 1916 IWM HU35936.

2nd Lt. Kenneth Callan-Macardle Killed in action at Trones Wood 9th July 1916 IWM HU35936.

Thanks to George Johnson of MRF for identifying US employment.  Previous records suggest Kenneth was ‘Ranching’.  A comparison with cowboys and bankers would be more 21st Century. Letters from the front. Being a record of the p….

17th Battalion Service Records

This post provides a synopsis of the surviving Service Records held at National Archives – where these can be identified as 17th Bttn.  On the whole, the original 2nd Manchester Pals who left for France in 1915 have numbers in the sequence 8000-9000.  This is the first search with a clear understanding that this will always be work in progress and inconclusive due to at least two thirds of records being burned in the Blitz.  Alphabetically:-

Cpl 8360 Arthur William Adams. Enlisted 3/9/1914 II Pln aged 20y 9m. France 8/11/1915. L/Cpl 2/7/1916. Cpl 22/9/1916. Home Depot 27/8/1917. Disch 29/3/1918 SWB GSW Neck, Chest & L Shoulder 31/7/1917. Treated Lord Derby War Hosp, Warrington. Seriously Ill 28/8/1917. Draughtsmans Clerk employed 5 yrs by Mather & Platt Ltd, Park Works, Newton Heath born Harpurhey. Resident 56 Park Lane, Irlam O’th Heights. Mo Frances Anne. Sis Laura Emily. 56 Park Lane, Irlam. SR SWB

Pte 8362 Percy Ainsworth. Enlisted 3/9/1914 aged 24y 7m.  Promoted Cpl & L/Sgt 19/9/1914.  Chooses to Revert to Cpl 25/11/1914. Discharged to Commission 16/4/1915. London Gazette 2/Lt 17/4/1915 9th Manchesters 42nd Division, then, 4th Training Squadron Royal Air Force, Captain. Warehouseman. Fa Edwin James, Mo Isobel, Bro Jack, Sis Isobel.

Pte 8365 Francis George Allsopp. Enlisted 3/9/1914 V Pln aged 21y 7m. France 8/11/1918. Unpaid L/CPl 9/12/1916. PoW April 1918. Repatriated Leith 11/12/1918. Warehouseman. Demob 17/7/1919/ 29 Richardson Street, Collyhurst, then 26 Birley  Street, Liverpool Square, Seedley. Mo Isabella, Bro George Henry, Sis Martha. 9 Collyhurst Street, Collyhurst. Married 23/3/1919.

L/Sgt 8047 Percy Alfred Amos Anniversary 1st July 1916 – III Platoon

Pte 8369 Edward Rose Ashworth.  Enlisted 3/9/1914 aged 25y 2m IX Pln. L/Cpl 23/10/1914. Chose to revert to Pte 29/10/1914. Trained as Machine Gunner. 3 days CB for creating distrubance on barrackroom after lights out. France 7/11/1915 with Bttn Transport. Minor wound treated in Field 11/1/1916. GSW Right buttock 17/6/1916 at Maricourt. Treated 97 FA, 21 CCS,2nd Gen Hosp Abbeville 19/6/1916. Evacuated on Hosp SHip Salta.  Home Depot 22/6/1916. Tidworth Gen Hosp 23/6/1916- 8/7/1916. 10 days Furlough at parents. 25th TR Bttn 18/7/1916.  3rd Bttn 30/9/1916. Officer Cadet 25/101/1916. Disch to Commission 2/Lt in MGC 24/2/1917. Trained with 4th Bttn at Clipstone Camp, Notts in March 1917. Killed 28/3/1918 with 5th (56th? See John Hartley’s Book) Bttn MGC. Buried Orchard Dump Cemetery.  Originally buried near Gavrelle.  Clerk working at William Deacon’s Bank Chorlton 0n M Branch. Born St Pauls, Withington. Fa Edmund of same Bank, Mo Zillah, Sis Liliian Maud. 26 Pine Road, Didsbury.   Also See GM 1914 and Edward Ashworth. Commemorated at Didsbury War Memorial.

Pte 8449 Paul Backhouse. Enlisted 3/9/1914 XIV Pln aged 24y 1m. Posted Depot at Home 20/6/1916.  Disch 26/9/1916 unfit. SWB.  Insurance Inspector born C-on-M.

Pt George Herbert Bagshaw.  Enlisted 3/9/1914 aged 23y 8m.  Tonsillitis Heaton Park Hosp 4 days 19/1/1915. Killed in Action 28/1/1916. Warehouseman born Miles Platting. Fa George, Mo Martha Elizabeth, 23 Albion Street, Miles Platting.Bro William Thomas. 37 Leach Street, Prestwich. See   Maple Leaves in England

Pte 8451 Robin Bailey.  Enlisted 3/9/1915 XIV Pln aged 20y 6m. L/Cpl 19/9/1914. CPl 26/11/1914. Choose to revert to Pte 27/7/1915. Embarked Soton 7/11/1915.  Pyrexia of Unknown Origin 16/11/1916. 43 CCS, 11 & 24 Gen Hosp Etaples.  Home on HS Formosia Entric Fever 5/1/1917. Depot 7/1/1917. Mill Road Infirmary, Liverpool 7/1/1917 ?Addington Park War Hosp 26/2-22/8/1917. 3rd Bttn 8/5/1917. 30 IBD 16/7/1917. 17th Bttn 15/7/1917.  14 days Leave 12/3/1918. 1/6th Bttn 3/9/1918. Leave in UK 28/12/1918 2 weeks. Heaton Park retained 11/1/1919. Demob Class Z 8/2/1919. Tailor apprenticed Blackburn? Thornton? 4 1/2 Yrs 22/2/1915. 49 St Charles Road.  Fa Samuel, Mo Agnes, Bro Mansergh, Sis Mary. 26 High Street, Rishton.

Pte 8388 John Bardsley

Enlisted on 3rd September 1914  II Pln, two months before his 20th birthday.  John spent more than three years, almost continual service, in France from November 1915 to the end of January 1919.  His entry on the Absent Voters List in December 1918 shows him still serving as a Private with 90th Brigade HQ and a home address as 14 Ashwell Street, Pendleton.  Brothers Ambrose and Charles were serving with the Labour Corps and South Wales Borderers.  John was discharged from 16th Battalion (17th was disbanded) in February 1919.

The only break in John Bardsley’s Service seems to have been two weeks leave from overseas in October 1918.  He took advantage of this opportunity by marrying Annie Hurst at Pendleton Church on the 19th October.  Two years before Pt. Bardsley had been disciplined for overstaying leave.  In view of the prompt wedding in 1918, one may imagine he was delayed courting Annie.

John was demobilised in February 1919, with an conditional weekly allowance of 7s6d.  This principally related to DAH – Disordered Action of the Heart – attributable to Service.  The allowance took account of his wife and new daughter.  They couple lived at 9 Annes Street in Salford.

Pte 8452 John Arthur Barnes. Enlisted 3/9/1915 aged 23y 11m XIV Pln. L/Cpl 21/10/1914. Reverts Pte inefficiency 26/11/1914. France 7/11/1914.  Home 5/7/1916 [Presume wounded 1-2/7/1916. Posted Depot 6/7/1916.  Unfit Salisbury Plain 11/8/1916. SWB 15/12/1916.  Disch SWB 4/2/1919. With Pension. 39 Persia Street, Accrington. Warehouseman born Clitheroe. Resident 1 Bridge Road, Ridgrove Staffs in 1920.   1931 wife made inquiries with War Office. 33 Second Avenue, Kidsgrove, Staffs. Fa John Thomas, Bro William, Sis Mary Jane.

Cpl 8057 Arthur Barratt. Enlisted 2/9/1914 aged 19y 11m V Pln. Machine Gunner. Cpl 2/7/1916.  Wounded 23/4/1917 Waricourt? & captured Prisoner of War. Lachislaga? 18/5/1917. Demob Class Z Depot 7 Cardiff Street, Harpurhey 11/3/1919. Pension for  Nervous Debility & Weakness of Heart.  Buyers Assistant. R Barbour Bros Ltd, Briant House, Granby Row.

Pte 8402 Thomas William Batey. Enlisted 3/9/1914 V Pln ages 24y 4m.  France 5/11/1915?? Wounded / Sick 28/4/1916. Missing PoW Trones Wood 10-11/7/1916. Repatirated Leith 13/12/1918. Demob 14/3/1919 Class Z. Draper born Hesketh, Carlisle. Fa William. Bro John 1 Low Nags Head, Wythenshaw. Later Rose Cottage, Grasmere.

Pte 9434 Walter Beasley. Enlisted 3/9/1914 IX Pln aged 25y 11m. France 8/11/1915. Unpaid L/Cpl 2/7/1916.   Range Finder. Wounded 30/7/1916 Guillemont. Missing reported 1/9/1916.  Death Assumed 17/8/1917.   Commemorates Thiepval Memorial. Soldiers Effects suggests 18th Bttn. Clerk born Hulme. Fa John Henry received Medals, Mo Mary Ellen, Sis Mrs G Earley. Bro Norman. 16 Frimley? Street, Moss Side. Later 4 Monton Street, Moss Side.

Pte 8436 Herbert Leslie Bellamy. Enlisted 3/9/1914 aged 19y 11m. Disch  Bank Clerk born Cheetham Hill.  Disch 30/7/1915 for purpose of enlisting in Inns of Court O.T.C. with a view to taking a Commission. Commission 2/Lt Lancs Fusils 9/11/1915LG .  France 24/3/1915. Retired 28/3/1919 due to ill health caused by wounds LG SWB. Fa Herbert, Mo Louise, Sister Edith.  Heath Bank, Park Road, Higher Crumpsall. 1919 Resident Newlands, Holden Road, Kersal. 1921 Leeds.

Pte 8437 Herbert Bennett CWS

Pte 8453 John Bennett. Enlisted XV Pln 3/9/1915 aged 21y. Labourer. 3 days CB for making an improper response to an NCO 16/3/1915. France 8/11/1915. Missing and Death Assumed 10/7/1916. Mo Mary Jane. Bro Harold & William. Sis Lily. 10 Barnswick Street, Factory Lane, Harpurhey.


William Beresford Pg 24


Pg 24

Pte 8488 A J B Cradems? Commissioned from Ranks see letter in Percy Ainsworth file.

Pte 9375 Lewis Edward Jones Enlisted 17/2/1915 aged 25y 3m.  Transferred to 25th Training Reserve Bttn 30/9/1915,  Folkestone 24/12/1915- Boulogne 25/12/1915 BEF. 30th Infantry Brigade Depot.  Joined 2nd Entrenching Bttn 7/1/1916. 17th Bttn 20/2/1916. Initially reported Wounded, then Killed in Action at Montauban 1-2/7/1916. Reported buried by Chaplain of  1st South African Infantry Bgde. No known Grave, Commemorated Thiepval. Butcher (CWS?) resident 24 Victoria Street, Middleton with Wife, Sarah – new Whitaker married 15/1/1912- and Marian b 25/6/1912 & Eunice 17/2/1914. Father Edward, Bro Arnold, Sis Esther.

Pte 8862 Lloyd Jones.  Enlisted 3/9/1915 aged 28y 9m. Confined to Barracks in April and October 1915 for absences. France 8/11/1915. Hosp with Piles 17/2/1916, 2nd Gen Hosp Le Havre. 30 Infantry Brigade Depot, Etaples 1/3/1916. Returned to Bttn 24/3/1916. Packer. 28 Sedan Street, Hightown. Mother received medals at 6 Percival Street, Hightown. Father, William. Bro Edward, Sis Helen.

Robert Loudon Johnston Manchester Evening News 17 December 1915

Lieut R L Johnston – Centenary of his death on 13/12/1915.

Robert Loudon Johnston Manchester Evening News 17 December 1915


Fred Taylor & SonsRobert Loudon Johnston was born in Plumpton, Devon on 6/9/1891.  His parents Robert Snr and Julia Mary Johnson (nee Ellis) had married in Eccles in 1890 and travelled to Australia soon after; where Robert’s siblings Florence Margaret & George Gordon Johnston were born.  By 1911, the family had returned to Salford and lived at “Yetna” Park St., Kersal.  Yetna is a town north of Perth in Western Australia, where George was born.  Robert was a cotton salesman and George was a clerk in a cotton merchant’s office.  The brothers had worked at Fred Taylor & Sons, a cotton manufacturers and merchants of Bloom Street in Manchester. His colleague was Arthur Taylor, who was instrumental in the raising of the Pals Battalions in 1914 and who subsequently became Staff Captain to the 90th Infantry Brigade Headquarters.

Robert originally enlisted in the 1/6th Territorial Battalion and went to Egypt on 25/9/1914.  This early departure suggests he may have been a pre-war Territorial.  Robert served as Private 2462, until he was discharged for his Commission on 20/3/1915 and Gazetted 2nd Lieutenant on 10/5/1915.  By the time the 17th Battalion went to France, Robert had been appointed Transport Officer and he sailed from Southampton to Le Havre on 7/11/1915.

FONCQUEVILLERS MILITARY CEMETERY Robert Loudon Johnston Courtesy Manchester Regiment GroupIn early December, the Battalion faced their introduction to trench warfare.  On 13th December, they suffered its first casualty and sole loss in 1915.  The Official History records that 24 year old Robert was killed by an anti-aircraft shell at Bayencourt.  The War Diary suggests the his death was caused by a shrapnel shell and this is confirmed by an unknown diarist from the Royal Warks Regiment.  “An unfortunate incident occurred at about 11.30 am. Lt JOHNSTON, 17/Manchester Regt killed by one of our own shrapnel cases. Our guns were firing at a German plane at the time.”

Robert Loudon Johnston is buried in the Fonquevillers Military Cemetery.    Robert attended Salford Municipal School and is commemorated on the Old Salfordians Memorials now situated in part of Salford University.  Robert Snr died in June 1917 and Florence received her brother’s effects and Estate. George served as a Gunner 624710 in the Honourable Artillery Company and 297967 in the Royal Field Artillery.

For more information on the early days in France, see Arrival and travel through France

Pte 19742 Samuel Mort Wynne. Pre-War 5th Bttn Manchester Regiment and Grenadier Guard during hostilities. Great Great Uncle.

Born in Leigh, Lancs in 1888, Sam had continued the family trade as a painter, apprenticed to his uncle, or brother, Robert Wynne of Monton. Sam specified his home address as 46 Perrin Lane, Monton Green with his elder brother Robert. His Attestation form shows he had previously served in the 5th (Territorial) Bttn Manchester Regiment. This previous military background may have assisted his acceptance in the prestigious Grenadier Guards when he enlisted at Eccles on 6/10/1915. He was also taller than the average recruit at 5’10”.

Sam Attested in the 4th Bttn and then served with 3rd & 1st Bttns until he was posted to 5th Reserve Bttn on 14/6/1918.  Sam trained at Marlow in Bucks or Caterham, Surrey until 21/3/1915 when he was transferred to 3rd Btn. He embarked at Southampton when the 3rd Bttn left for France on 26/7/1915, arriving at Le Havre on the next morning.
Sam received a gunshot wound to the left arm and shoulder on 14/9/1916. The War Diary records just on Other Rank wounding on this date, as the Battalion formed up at the assembly point near Ginchy for a major assault towards Flers-Courcelette. The attack took place the next day with many losses including the former Prime Minister’s son, Lt Raymond Asquith. This attack is also notable as the first day that tanks were used in battle, unsuccessfully in this instance.
Sam was admitted to 14 Regtl Aid Post on 15/9/1916 and 11 General Hospital Rouen for treatment. He then returned Home on Hospital Ship Lanfrac on 19/9/1916, when he was admitted to 1st Southern General Hospital, Stourbridge for 19 days and later transferred to Blackpool where he stayed from 7/10/1916 to 20/1/1917. Sam was in London on 30/1/1917 when he was crimed for absence without leave for 8 hours and falsifying his leave pass. He was Comfined to Barracks for 8 days an forfeited a day’s pay.
Following recovery Sam returned to France on 24/10/1917 where he was posted to 1st Bttn. Sam attended the 3rd Army Mine School on 11/2/1918, rejoining 1st Bttn 2 weeks later. He was wounded for a second time with a gun shot wound to the scalp on 29/7/1918, possibly at Bailleuval. Sam was treated in 43 Casualty Clearing Station and 3 Field Ambulance before staying in 13 General Hospital in Boulogne from 2/8/1918. He then returned to Blighty for a final time on 13/8/1918, where he was treated in Aberdeen Hospital for 48 days.
Sam was discharged fit and transferred to Reserve on 7/2/1919, with possible additional Service until 31/3/1920. He had held the rank of Private throughout his Service.
Samuel Mort Wynne was my maternal Granny’s uncle – as youngest brother to Frank William Wynne. There’s a very sad story for this branch of the family, so it’s good to recount one of Granny’s father’s family in a positive light.

Crown Copyright

The 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment arrived in Boulogne 100 years ago

© IWM (Q 6479)

Troops disembarking from the leave boat at Boulogne, 30 January 1918.© IWM (Q 6479)

An advance party had arrived in France on 7th November 1915. The core of the Battalion then left Larkhill  in two trains from Amesbury to Folkestone on the following day.  They crossed the Channel and spent the first night in Boulogne.  It was raining heavily and despite the presence of tents everyone was “soaked through to the skin” (Bert Payne IWM).

This was the beginning of their Service on the Western Front.  Almost one third of these men did not return Home.

Crown Copyright

Crown Copyright