Captain J G Madden DSO June 1918 © IWM (HU 117797)
I recently discovered this photo of John Madden of 17th Manchesters. He was a graduate of Pembroke College, Cambridge who taught at Merchiston Castle School prior to WWI and played cricket for Edinburgh Nomads. He won the Distinguished Service Order at Montauban on 1st July 1916 for “For conspicuous gallantry in action. When the leading waves of attack were wavering after losing most of their officers, he pushed forward, rallied the men and led them into the village. Later he organised and led a party which repelled a counter attack.” He was also Mentioned in Despatches in January 1917. John was wounded at some stage and spent time in 3rd Bttn at Cleethorpes. He was a Major a the end of hostilities.
Post-war John worked at the Ministry of War with munitions research. He was Commissioned again in WWII, when two of his sons were killed.
The image comes from the Bond of Sacrifice collection of IWM – confirming that photos in these records are not necessarily casualties. John Madden was 28 years old at the time of the photo. The clarity and focus of his eyes tell us something of his experience.
This is a recent purchase in my non-collection of WWI stuff. This building was @ 1/2 a mile north of the British Lines in Maricourt and the 17th Manchesters would have seen it in the distance from the Peronne Road in early 1916.
It is a German postcard that I purchased on European Ebay. I’m a little surprised to see the Infantryman looking so relaxed out in the open. It’s possible the buildings shielded him from the view of the British machine gunners and snipers.
The site was know as the Briquterie (Brickworks) to the British and the Germans created a major defensive strong point, or redoubt, there by the Summer of 1916. The week long British bombardment of the German defensives will have flattened any remaining structures by the end of June 1916, but the defenses were still fomidable.
30th Division advanced to Montauban on the morning of 1st July 1916 and the 20th King’s Liverpools secured the Briquterie around mid day. It became something of a British strong point for future attacks on Bernafay & Trones Wood and Guillemont beyond. The 17th Battalion will have trooped past the site before their assaults on 9th and 30th July 1916.
The site had so many buried munitions that it was too dangerous to reinstate the land for farming after the war. We can still recognise and visit the overgown area today. It is about 100 yds south of the Crossroads near Bernfay Wood. DO NOT DIG!
John Morrissey died on 2nd November 1916 as a Prisoner of War in Germany. He is buried in NIEDERZWEHREN CEMETERY which includes many men who have been re interred from other previous PoW cemeterie…
Source: Remembering Private John Morrissey 8734. Died 2/11/1916. | 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment on the Somme
Percy Murch of17th Manchesters, III Platoon transferred to 30th Division Cycling Company, which became XIII Corps Cyclist Battalion of the newly formed Army Cyclist Corps (ASC). Many pre-War Territorial Cyclist Battalion men joined the ASC, including 2nd Lieutenant John Edward Brown, on attachment from 5th (Cyclist) Battalion of the East Yorkshire Regiment. He was the father of wonderful lady in North Ferriby who passed away in August. I know this is not fully on topic, but here’s part of a great collection of photos that I’m hoping site visitors will help with dating and clarifying.
This is useful link to the 25th London Cyclists About.
The Cyclists were not suited to static trench warfare and only made significant impact in the last 100 days. John Brown literally chased the Germans out of France on the 11th November 1918! Please leave a comment if you know anything about the East Yorks / XIII Cyclists, or can help explain the photos.
Thanks to Sue Nelson, David Findley and a number of helpful contributors we’ve created a Biography of Robert Mansergh. He had just celebrated his 18th Birthday when Robert (Bob) was Commissioned in the 2nd City Battalion of the Manchester Regiment and became Arthur Bell’s Officer in Command of III Platoon. Bob had joined a group of masters and old boys from Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh. His Biography covers these valiant men and their service in the Great War.
Any Comments are thoroughly welcome. Readers should enjoy the photos and personal anecdotes.
Image- © IWM (Q 4156) Bombing party practising throwing bombs over a traverse at the training school, Wisques, near St. Omer, 28 August, 1916.
New photo of training on grenade throwing. A very dangerous business apparently. Captain Robert Mansergh MC bravely picked up a dropped Mills Bomb from a trench and threw it away before the fuse discharged. On 18th August two men were killed and one died the next day during rifle grenade training. Others were wounded including Lieutenant Alan Holt MC
See Anniversary 18th/19th August 1916 Rifle Grenade Accident