Anniversary 11th October 1916 – 17th Manchesters, Flers

AIF Flers Courtesy CWGC

AIF Flers Courtesy CWGC

The 2nd Manchester Pals and the other men of 90th Brigade had been away from the front line after the actions on July 1916.  The battle of the Somme had continued in their absence and they were called back to action in early October.  An assault was planned to extend the gains north of the village of Flers.  This area had featured the The first Tanks in Battle. B and D Companies took over the line on the morning of 11th October.  During the day, the Manchesters faced a heavy bombardment from the German artillery.  B Company suffered the heaviest losses and had to be relieved by C Company.*  Six men lost their lives.

CSM Jones as VI Platoon Sergeant March 1915.  Liet. Norman Vaudrey sits to the left with L/Sgt. Ernest Greenwood to the left.  Book of Honour Courtesy MRF

CSM Jones as VI Platoon Sergeant March 1915.

CSM Percy JonesCSM Percy Howard Jones 8673Jones Percy H 17-8673 CSM B Company’s Company Sergeant Major was killed in the German bombardment,  Percy was 26 when he died.  He is buried in the A.I.F Burial Ground, Flers, half a mile to the east of the Battalion’s trenches.  His widow Leah Jones, lived at 3 Jackson St., Cheadle,   Percy had been born in Didsbury and was employed by George Robinson & Co prior to hostilities. He had been CQMS when the Battalion arrived in France and Acting WO II when he was killed.


8673 Percy Howard Jones (Left) and 8060 Pte Herbert (Bert) Brown (3rd from Left) probably with other members of V Platoon. Training at Heaton Park in tram Guards uniforms 1914. Courtesy Stuart Brown

Sergeant Harry Sydney Guthrie 26327

Sgt. Harry Guthrie.  Courtesy Tony Bowden - Manchesters Forum

Sgt. Harry Guthrie. Courtesy Tony Bowden – Manchesters Forum

Guthrie HS MM 17-26327 Sgt

Guthrie HS MM 17-26327 Sgt

Harry Guthrie enlisted in 2nd City Battalion after resigining from Manchester Police on 30th June 1915.***  He was 27 years old when he died.  It is not confirmed that Harry was in B Company, However,   Private James Appleyard was also a Disbury Division Police Constable who is shown on the Roll of Honour photo in V Platoon of B Company and it’s quite possible the colleagues had served together. Harry had arrived in France on Christmas day 1915; a short time after the majority of the Battalion arrived in November that year.  He had been awarded the Military Medal for action expected to have taken place in July 1916, although the actual date or deed is not known. Harry is also buried at A.I.F Burial Ground, Flers. Harry had been born in Newton le Willows, Lancs. where he is commemorated on the Earlestown War Memorial.  His widow Florence  Guthrie lived at 56, Cecil Street, Whitworth Park.  Florence provided prose in her obituary entry in the local newspaper.*

“Sweet be your rest, my husband dear,

In life I loved you very dear,

In death I do the same.

From his sorrowing and devoted wife, FLO”

The newspaper also confirmed the MM award for bravery and notes that Harry had been recommended for a commission. Private Robert Jackson 8683 Born in Flixton and resident in Urmston when he enlisted, Robert Jackson had trained with XIII Platoon of D Company, which had occupied the front line with C Company on the morning he died on 11th October.  He has no known resting place and is commemorated at the Thiepval Memorial It’s surprising to note that Robert Jackson’s Medal Index Card does not include a date of entry in France, or qualification for the 1915 Star.  His number indicates he enlisted in 1914 and he may have stayed behind when the Battalion left England in November 1915. Trafford War Dead provides census data and indicates Robert was 25 when he died and previously employed by the Callico Printers Association, Manchester.  He is found on memorials at St Clement’s and St Clement’s Day Schools Roll of Honour in Urmston.


Pte 8230 Alexander (Alex) Mackie (Seated) and Pte 8060 Herbert (Bert) Brown (Standing) Simpson & Son Wharf Road Grantham. Courtesy Stuart Brown. Bert was promoted to Sergeant and killed at Manchester Hill on 21st March 1918, attached to 90th Bgd TMB

Private Alexander Mackie 8230

Mackie A 17-8230

Mackie A 17-8230

Born in Salford, Alexander had been living with his Uncle in Miles Platting in 1911; working as a pattern card maker in a shipping warehouse. He trained with VI Platoon of B Company and arrived in France on 8th November 1915.  He is buried alongside his fellow Manchester men in A.I.F Burial Ground, Flers

Alex Mackie was mourned by Bert Brown’s mother, who wrote “Our dear Alex Mackie killed Oct 11th 1916”.  The Brown family believe Alex was possibly adopted by Mrs Brown, or at least a lodger in her home.

Private Louis Starkie 31155

Private Starkie was the son of Alfred and Sarah Jane Starkie, of 12, Bury St., in Oswaldtwistle,  Lancs. where he had been born.  Louis will  enlisted in 1915 in one of the Training Reserve Battalions and will have formed part of one of the drafts of additional men in the Battalion in July 1916.  He was 21 when he died.  His body was not recovered and he is remembered at the Thiepval Memorial Private Walter Dobson 43161

Dobson W 17-43161

Dobson W 17-43161

Formerly 24439 in the 12th East Lancs. Regiment, Private Dobson is buried alongside his fellow Manchester men in A.I.F Burial Ground, Flers Walter had been born in Baxneden, Lancs and lived at 17 Nelson Street in Accrington with his wife Rose, when he enlisted in his home town in December 1915.  The couple had married in March that year and their son, James was born in November.  His record indicates he was a cardroom hand in a cotton mill in his civilian life. The document isn’t clear, but it appears Walter arrived in France in early July 1916.  He probably formed part of the Divisional Reserve while he undertook further training.  He will then have formed part of the reinforcements to the 17th Manchesters after the losses of July 1916.  His transfer date may have been 1st September. Rose received an allowance from the Army for a short period after she was advised of her husband’s death. Evidence suggests Private Dobson had a battlefield grave and was subsequently re-interred alongside his peers.** *Extract of Battalion War Diary and obituary courtesy Kingo (MRF) **Courtesy Mack and confirmed by Service Record MRF ***Courtesy Marymuseum MRF ****Courtesy Prospectroad SWARM

5 thoughts on “Anniversary 11th October 1916 – 17th Manchesters, Flers

  1. Pingback: George Robinson Cotton Merchants Roll of Honour in 17th Manchesters | 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment on the Somme

  2. Pingback: Anniversary 11th October 1916 – 17th Manchesters, Flers | 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment on the Somme | 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment on the Somme

  3. Roland Haupt

    Where are the german soldiers buried? They was sons and fathers, uncles, brothers, cousins … too!

    1. 8055bell Post author

      Hi Roland, I’m totally on board with your sentiment. Try Fricourt German Cemetery. I visit every year. My distant cousin was originally buried in Menen Wald near Ypres. Off the beaten track but humbling experience to visit.

      1. Roland Haupt

        Hello 8055bell, Thanks for the message. I’m looking for my great-grandfather Karl Reinhold Graske, born March 19, 1886 in Dammendorf, fallen 25.03.1918 at 16:00 clock in Flers (head shot). Will find him there this summer.
        Best regards Roland

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