Thomas Henry Marsh Suzanne Communal Cemetery Extension Private 8744, who died on 03 May 1916 Age 25. Husband of Agnes B. Marsh, of 47A, New Lane, Patricroft, Manchester. He was second XII Pln casualty in the Somme defences and worked in CWS Boot Dept. His cousin was XII Platoon’s Private 8626 Willian Leslie Hadcock, who was also a CWS employee. Contemporary information from Pte Hadcock, known as Leslie; is provided by his grandson, courtesy of The Manchester Regiment Forum. This indicates Thomas was killed by friendly fire on a night patrol into no mans land. C Coy were posted in the Vaux area and it is likely the incident took place in the Somme marshes or Trafford Park. Thomas was 25 years old and his body was recovered to be buried near his CWS colleague, John Sumner (above) in Suzanne Communal Cemetery Extension. His cousin, Leslie, will have been present for his funeral service, representing the family. Thomas had written home five days before his death, describing his perilous scouting expeditions “I will not say it is not a bad game, a bit risky patrolling, and it’s a long two hours’ walk from one end to the other, having a word with each post, which consists of a few men, who have not the slightest bit of cover. The only trouble is shrapnel and getting collared…” Referring to the open meander of Trafford Park, Thomas had further described the open nature of the southern Somme defences “…There is a nice great flat field, a champion place-the same place a crowd of about 150 came across and were sent back again (well some of them) by fourteen on this side, and they chased them back with bayonet. They brought one back as a souvenir….”
Edward Seaborn had married his wife Clara (nee Royle) at Openshaw Wesleyan Chapel on 26th May 1896 and the couple had an elder daughter, Ethel [Emily?] and two sons, Frank & George. The family lived at 45 Dunkirk Street, Droylesden when Edward enlisted on 20th July 1915. Edward was 38 years and 3 months old and left his civilian employment as a sugar boiler. His Attestation Form indicates he enlisted in the Manchester Regiment for Home Service. He enlisted at the Town Hall in Ashton under Lyne, which was the home of the Regiment Headquarters. The Town Hall now provides the Museum of the Manchester Regiment.
Edward was posted as Private 27606 in the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, which was charged with manning the Humber defences at Cleethorpes. He was promoted unpaid Lance Corporal on 1st February 1916 and Paid for this Rank on 21st April. On 1st April 1916 there had been a fatal Zeppelin Raid on a Chapel in Cleethorpes. Thirty Two members of 3rd Battalion were killed; leading to the conclusion that Home Service wasn’t necessarily safe.
At the outset of the Battle of the Somme on 1st July 1916, many men were called up from the Reserve Battalions and Home Service Units to provide drafts of men to replace the horrific casualties at the Western Front. Edward arrived in France as part of the British Expeditionary Force on 8th July 1916. He was posted to the 17th Battalion on 10th July, which was one of the days when a draft of numerous men were introduced to the Battalion; following the actions at Montauban and Trones Wood. Many men arrived from Manchester and the north west; although a large number were posted from other Regiments, notably the Royal Berkshire Regiment.
As a member of the 17th Manchesters, William is likely to have served in the assaults on Guillemont and later Flers. William had trained as a bomber and may have been present in the during the bombing attack on the German position at the quarry at Guillemont, led by Captain Fearenside.
The Battle of the Somme ground to a halt in November 1916, as the mud and cold prevented any large scale tactical movement. In early 1917 the Germans were making a tactical withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line and the 17th Battalion were at the Front near Arras. On the 23rd April, a large scale assault was made on the German positions near Heninel. In common with many members of the Battalion, Edward was posted Missing and later presumed dead. He has no known resting place and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial. His name is also included on the Droylsden War Memorial.
Clara received back pay of £3 and War Gratuity of £10. A Pension of £13 9S was awarded in 1917.
It’s been a pleasure to pull these notes together for William’s great Grandson. William was one of numerous casualties for the Manchester Pals; and each man had their own life history. As a father of three, William left a legacy and provides a good example of a middle aged family man who answered the Nation’s call to arms and made the ultimate sacrifice.
Remembered by his Great Grandson Allan Seaborn and not forgotten on this site 99 years after his death.
Sources include Medal Roll, Index Card, Soldiers Effects, Service Record, SDGW & CWGC. Acknowledge help and support from Manchesters Forum. No Obituary found in Newspaper Archive.
“I did kiss the boy first for his Mother & then for myself”
Charles enlisted on 2nd or 3rd September 1914. Towards the end of serving his second month in the Somme trenches in the Maricourt Defences, Charles seems to have suffered the effect of gas shells. See The Cost of Trench Life This likely to have been on 29th February, when the Battalion were in billets in Suzanne and sustained losses from German artillery – although the records don’t show gas shells.
Charles was evacuated to Hospital in Etretat where he was treated for pneumonia, bronchitis and possible gas poisoning. The story is taken up by Staff Nurse Edith Appleton, whose remarkable diary shows the atmosphere of care, support and love for the men under the care of the medical services. See Private Charles KERR Extracts (Courtesy Dick Robinson) show Charlie didn’t die alone.
“My pneumonia boy benefited from the quiet & perhaps… the creature has a chance, & feel he must get better – for his Mother, poor thing, she wrote to me – & said she was heartbroken – however, it was no good for me to pretend he was not dangerously ill. He was – & is.“
A few days later
“My poor little boy Kerr died yesterday, he had been in 15 days suffering from gas – pneumonia, bronchitis & has been extremely & dangerously ill all the time, but only the day before yesterday he realized that he was not going to get well. I am glad to say we never left him night or day & he was fond of us all.
Yesterday was a difficult day to be “Sister” – He kept whispering all sorts of messages for home & his fiancée – then he would call “Sister” & when I bent down to hear – “I do love you” “when I’m gone, will you kiss me?” – & all the time heads would be popping in “Sister – 20 No – so & so – to – – – -.” “The S. Sgt wants to know if you can lend him a couple of men to…” This & that – but in spite of all – I did kiss the boy first for his Mother & then for myself – which pleased him – then he whispered “but you still will when I’m gone.” The night before he asked me what dying would be like – & said it seemed so unsatisfactory – he felt too young to die – & not even wounded – only of bronchitis. Then another time he said, “They wouldn’t let me go sick every time they said it was rheumatism & would wear off – & marching with full pack & dodging the shells was dreadful. Thank Goodness – what I told him dying would be like happened – exactly – a clear gift of Providence. I told him it would be – that little by little his breatheing would get easier – & he would feel tired & like going to sleep – & then he would just sleep – & with no morphia – that is exactly what did happen – without a struggle. He was quite conscious up to 20 minutes before he died. I just asked him now & then if he knew I was still with him. “Yes” – & you’re quite happy – aren’t you? & he distinctly said “Yes, quite”.
Then the last & very trying part for the Sister was to walk along to the other end of the village – beside the poor dead thing – to see him decently put – in the mortuary. With hundreds of French eyes turned “full on”. Our own people always clear out of the way when they see it coming.”
It’s great to report the new Commemoration of Corporal 8937 Joseph Locker as a lost soldier of the Great War and his last resting place would now be recognised as a War Grave.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) commemorates men and women who died during the First and Second World Wars in service or of causes attributable to service. There are some instances where records were not obtained or connected at the time and recognition was not made of a particular man or woman’s loss. With the help of other researchers on Salford War Memorials and The Manchester Regiment Group Forum evidence was provided to IFCP to request CWGC to consider Joseph for a new commemoration. CWGC confirmed acceptance of the case on 12th February.
Joseph Locker had been a pre-war Soldier in the Manchester Regiment, having enlisted in July 1903. He also served in the 5th Manchesters, before starting his time posted to Reserve from July 1906. At the outbreak of hostilities, members of the Reserve were called up for Service and Joseph was mobilised on 5th August. Joseph had been working as a cabinet makers packer for the Co-Operative Wholesale Society Cabinet Factory in Broughton. It is likely he had held this job since at least 1911. He will have refreshed his training serving with the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion at the Humber Defences in Cleethorpes where he was promoted Corporal on 15th September. As part of a draft to the 2nd Battalion Manchester Regiment, Joseph arrived in France on 8th October.
The British Army were fighting a rear guard action in the ‘Race to the Sea’. In October 1914 this focussed on battles at Neuve Chapelle, Givenchy and La Basse. Joseph suffered a bullet wound to the cheek at La Basse on 29th October. He was evacuated home on 2nd November. Pension Records show Joseph received treatment in Hospital for Pulmonary Tuberculosis prior to his discharge from the Army in May 1915.
Joseph will have returned home to 15 Warwick Street, Higher Broughton in Salford where he will have been cared for by his wife Charlotte, who he had married in 1912. Joseph died on 11th August 1916. He was 30 years old.
Joseph’s Death Certificate clearly shows he died from phthisis pulmonalis (TB) rather than complications from bullet wounds. Therefore the records didn’t immediately show his cause of death as being connected with his Army service. Furthermore the Medical records identify the TB as originating in Manchester, rather than arising in his short time back in Service. Nevertheless, the Pension Records held by National Archive makes repeated reference to the condition being aggravated by exposure in the trenches. This is why CWGC have embraced Joseph Locker as dying from causes attributable to service.
Joseph is commemorated on the Co-Operative Wholesale Society memorial in Co-Op’s Old Bank Building in Corporation Street, Manchester. He is also included on the Memorial for St Clements with St Matthias. In the event we find Joseph’s grave, this will also be commemorated by CWGC. Until this time, Corporal Joseph Locker of 2nd Battalion is commemorated in CWGC’s UK Book of Rememberance.
Shrove Tuesday 1915, the 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment were marching through their City on a recruitment march. A year later they were sat in the trenches and mud on the Somme.
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.
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.
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:-
“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 http://soldiersofthequeen.com/blog/category/uncategorized/page/7/
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.
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….