The volume is dedicated to the 17th Battalion and provides an insight into a mother’s role when the Pals were still in Britain. Martha Bagshaw wrote the book in 1920 and illustrates her own thoughts on grieving and helping other young Canadian men in the City. The beginning of the process of recognising a need for Memorials is also shown, with Martha meeting the Lord Mayor and gaining his support to arrange a commemoration event for British and Canadian men.
As the son had the same first name as his father, the boy was known as Herbert. It’s interesting to see his surname spelt Bagshaw and Bagshawe.
Specific material on the 17th Battalion provides:-
“In March 1915, my son, who was in training at Heaton Park came home hurriedly one day telling me he had been injured inwardly through drilling, and that the Medical Officer had told him he must be discharged or have an operation for hernia. Captain Taylor [#1] (who knew me very well) sent him home to me to ask my consent, I left it entirely to the boy, who chose the operation at once, saying he did not want to leave the army while the war was on.” The provision for consulting Herbert’s mother would not be expected outside the Pals Battalions and reflects the ‘civic’ nature of the City Battalions integrated with commerce and families of Manchester.
The young men clearly had access to health care functions, but not always succesful. “He went back to camp, and I received a post card the next day telling me he had gone into one of our Military Hospitals. Four more men from his Battalion were admitted at the same time for the same operation, one of whom died under it. Herbert’s operation was very successful and when he was discharged from hospital he looked fine, fit, healthy, and strong”.
During Herbert’s absence the Platoon photos were taken for the Book of Honour. As a result, he is not included on any of the Platoon Rolls and his assigned Company is not known. Current speculation suggest Herbert was part of C Company.[#2] “Meanwhile, his Regiment had become transferred from Heaton Park to Grantham for further training where he joined them a month afterwards. After Grantham, they went to Salisbury Plain to complete their training, and in the early part of November 1915, they went to France.”
My ever dear boy was in France exactly three months to the day when he was killed. [#3] I need hardly say that words fail me to frame or express the agony of a mother’s or father’s heart when this news comes… I received the news of my son’s death from the Chaplain [Probably Padre R W Balleine’s letter] on the Thursday….My other dear son [William Thomas] had arrived home to dinner when the news came, and how grateful I have always been that this was so, for he was such a wonderful comfort for me.
Thanks to George Johnson of The Manchester Regiment Group Forum for bringing this material to my attention.
#1 Captain Taylor may have been Staff Captain Arthur Taylor or a Medical Officer who ordered M&D (Medicine & Duty) for Arthur Bell when he injured himself in an acrobatic game.
#2 G H Bagshaw is included in the Roll of Honour (below) for Barlow & Jones, 2 Portland Street, Manchester. He was 23 years and 8 months old when he enlisted on 3rd September 1914. He was previously a warehouseman. The family lived at 23 Albion Street, Miles Platting when Herbert enlisted. He was 5′ 8 1/2″ tall. The Service Records show Herbert was hospitilised with tonsillitis for 4 days in January 1915. There is no record of a hernia.
#3 Herbert’s Medal Index Card shows his arrival in France with the bulk of the Bttn on 8/11/1915 and Killed in Action on 28/1/1916