Harold Knowlson enlisted in the 2nd City Battalion and received the Regimental Number 8207, in the sequence allocated to men joining the Colours on 2nd September 1914. He had left is job at Simpson & Godlee Limited, Salford and lived with his parents Annie and Charles at 235 Ashton New Road, Beswick. Harold had been born in Ancoats on 8th July 1898. He was 16 years and two months old, despite the minimum age being 18 for Home service.
Following the Battalion training in England, Harold disembarked with 17th Manchesters at Boulogne on 8th November 1915. Harold had trained in Heaton Park with VIII Platoon
of B Company under the Command of Lieutenant John Greville Madden*1. Private 8829 Eugene Chevalier Royle was another member of VIII Platoon and former employee of Simpson & Godlee Limited. 23 year old Eugene probably joined the Battalion on 3rd September. He served to the end of hostilities until he was transferred to Reserve on 8th March 1919. He received a Pension resulting from a gunshot wound to his Perineum.
Harold and Eugene served in the trenches and took part in the assault on Montauban on 1st July 1916. Harold was severely wounded in the battle and died of his wounds on 3rd July. He was buried in Peronne Road Cemetery, Maricourt. This was behind the initial line of assault and close to Regimental Aid Posts, including one based at the former Brewery Buildings. The position of his burial close to the front would indicate Harold had been wounded on 2nd July, as he would have been evacuated further to the rear if his wounds had been earlier. Harold was still 18 years old when he died, five days short of his 19th Birthday and the minimum age for overseas service.
One of Harold’s elder brothers, William had also arrived in France on 8th November 1915. William had enlisted as Private 20301 in 22nd Battalion. He trained with V Platoon of B Company, prior to volunteering for 30th Division Cyclists Company. This unit subsequently became XIIIth Corps Cyclists Battalion of the Army Cyclists Corps and William received the Regimental Number 9720. William survived hostilities and was transferred to Reserve on 10th February 1919.
The boys’ father, Charles, died in Manchester on 24th November 1916.
Featured Image – MEN 17/7/1916 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
*1 Lieutenant J G Madden had been promoted to the Rank of Captain by 1st July 1916. He was Officer in Command of C Company was received the Military Cross for his role in the assault. His citation published on 25/08/1916 reads “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.”
Another member of VIII Platoon was my great Uncle Pte 8923 Herbert Vernon.