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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

Troops Embarking at Southampton for the Western Front © IWM (Art.IWM ART 2616)

The first 17th Manchesters go Overseas – Centenary 7th November 1915

On this day 100 years ago three Officers and 109 men left Larkhill Camp on Salisbury Plain and travelled by train to Southampton.  They crossed the Channel with the Regimental Transport and became the first Group of the 2nd Manchester Pals to arrive in France at Le Havre. See Arrival and travel through France

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Crown Copyright

Private 8451 Robin Bailey – Sickness on the Somme

Robin Bailey has a comprehensive Service Record that survived the Luftwaffe bombing to provide a snapshot of History for a representative of the 17th Battalion.
Robin was an apprentice tailor from Blackburn when he enlisted on 3rd September 1914. This was a very different trade for a recruit in the Clerks & Warehousemans’ Battalion.  See Formation of Manchester Pals. Robin was a clearly suited to Military life, being prompted Lance Corporal on 19/9/1914 and Corporal 26/11/1914. He chose to revert to Private in July 1915.
Robin left Southampton for Le Havre with the Transport Section on 7/11/1915 Arrival and served in all of the Somme assaults of 1916. He came through the battles unscathed, but his health suffered with Pyrexia in November 1916, Typhoid in January 1917 and Entric Fever later that year. Having been evacuated Home on HS Formosia, Robin was treated in various Hospitals and returned to duty in France in June 1917. He had been on Leave in England during the German Spring Offensive in March 1918 and returned to Etaples to serve in the 30th Division Transport Section. The 17th Battalion was dissolved in July 1918 and Robin served with 1/6th from 3/9/1918 and possibly 1/7th Battalions. He returned Home on 12/1/1919 and was demobilised fir for duty on 8/2/1918.

There is an hypothesis that few men came through hostilities unscathed.  Most men solely have medal records with very limited information.  Robin Bailey’s Medal Index Card just specifies his discharge fit for duty in1919.  This clearly omits significant health problems during his time on the Somme and supports the hypothesis for other men who were fit at the end of their service.

Flanders 2015 – Lance Corporal Alf Ridge and other places

Somme Tour 2015 – Keeping a teenager interested.


Remembering 9519 Private Ruben Schofield 17th Manchesters KiA 1/7/1916

Roll of Honour showing the names of the men in the Platoon.   This includes Arthur Bell and Robert Schofield.  Ruben joined the Battalion soon after.

Roll of Honour showing the names of the men in the Platoon. This includes Arthur Bell and Robert Schofield. Ruben joined the Battalion soon after.

This blog regularly returns to the original recording and notes of 8055 Private Arthur Bell. Efforts continue to be made to identify the people and places referred to in Grandad’s notes. This post concerns the identification of 9519 Ruben Schofield as the brother of 8284 Private Robert Schofield of III Platoon. Ruben was killed at Montauban on 1st July 1916. Here’s Arthur Bell’s note about his return to happy valley on 3rd July 1916:-
“Our lot were under canvas, and we were told what heart-breaking roll-calls there had been. One particular man in our platoon had lost the younger brother whom he had been at great pains to have transferred from another battalion.”
Service Records show Ruben transferred to 17th Manchesters on 11/4/1915. The Military History Sheet identifies Service at Home from 1/10/1914. This is the date he enlisted as No. 10611 in the “1st Salford Battalion” Lancashire Fusiliers (LF). This became the 15th Service Battalion or the Salford Pals and had been training in Conway. The records confirm Ruben was transferred to serve with his elder brother. He had been 20 years 9 months old, employed as a compositor and is noted as being qualified Res Transport. His Disciplinary Sheet records offences for being dirty on parade at Belton Park in July 1915 and overstaying Leave by almost two days at Lark Hill on 10/10/1915. Sergeant Joseph McMenemy was a Witness. This was probably his final visit to Manchester before Ruben had embarked for France with his brother and the rest of 17th Manchesters, arriving in France on 8/11/1915. Serving in the Maricourt sector he was attached to 90th Brigade Headquarters on 3/3/1916, returning to his Battalion on 20th March.
Ruben’s father, Robert Senior was next of kin and recipient of his son’s effects. Robert and his wife Mary lived at 9 Thomas Street, Brewery Street, Salford. There were no personal items and Robert acknowledged his son’s BWM & VM medals in 1922 His 1914-15 Star was returned. Ruben had Robert as a brother in 1919, with sisters Elizabeth and Mary. His religion is noted as Jewish.
Records show the Schofield family was decimated in the period of the War. Two elder sons died in England (as civilians) in 1915 and Ruben’s third brother, Thomas died of wounds six days later on 7th July 1916 serving as No 19946 with 1st Bttn Kings Own (Royal Lancaster) Regiment. 43 year old Thomas left behind his widow Florence Schofield, of 13, Barton Street, Lumley Street, Barrow-in-Furness, Lancs. He had entered France after December 1915 and is buried in ABBEVILLE COMMUNAL CEMETERY. In 1911 Thomas had been a paper ruler living at 18 Hanover St Cross Lane. Salford.
Robert was the final surviving son of 5 brothers alive in 1914. Robert served in 17th Manchesters and later transferred to 13th and 9th Battalions prior to discharge fit for duty on 21/3/1919. He had been a cloth warehouseman.
Notes from Manchester forum report that Ruben Worked for A.C. Lindley, 12 Albert St, Manchester.