After the assault at Flers, the Battalion withdrew to Pommern Redoubt. They then travelled to Bailleulval via Mericourt and Le Souich. Returning to the front line in early November, the 17th Battalion spent the following two months of 1916 alternating in Bellacourt trenches and billets in Bailleulval with the 2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers.
On 7th January, the Battalion was withdrawn to reserve an Sus St Leger and a month later returned to Pommern. They undertook various fatigues in preparation for next major Allied assault. In late March, the Battalion took over front line positions near Mercatel. They then moved progressively forward as the German Army made its tactical withdrawal from the Somme defences to the highly fortified Hindenburg Line near Arras. They also spent time on fatigues and in reserve at Mercatel.
Adjutant Captain Robert Forbes Mansergh was attached to 90th Brigade Staff on 2 February 1917. Lieutenant John Duncan received the temporary appointment as Adjutant, confirmed permanent in August. Captain Mansergh returned to the Battalion for duty on 3 May 1917, taking up alternative duties.
Prior to the Arras offensive, the 17th Battalion returned to the front in late April 1917 and improved the trench system in front of the village of Heninel, facing Cherisy. IN the early morning of 23rd April, the men moved forward in preparation for the advance. The Germans carried out a major assault at 9am, and the Manchesters managed to hold their hastily built defences. A second attack followed at 2pm, and the men maintained their positions – but at huge cost. They were withdrawn to Neuville-Vitasse and then Hericourt.
650 men had took part in the offensive at Heninel. Only 290 remained on duty after the withdrawal. 93 men from the 17th Battalion were killed in action on 23rd April 1917, or died of wounds in Casualty Clearing Stations or French military hospitals by the end of May.
The Battalion received significant Honours in the action CSM Harold Bingham 8066 and Private William Flaherty 2729 were awarded Distinguished Conduct Medals.
Capt Thomas Cartman, Lt Alan Holt and RSM Henry Coates were each awarded a Military Cross. Lt Holt was wounded in the neck and injured his knee. He was captured and held as a Prisoner of War for the remainder of hostilities.
Privates Sydney Ackerley 8046, Joseph Farmer 9313, J E Fielden 46461, J Helsby 47427, J Roberts 8818, William R Spratley 43337 and J Ward of B Company were awarded Military Medals for the action.
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My father was in the Machine Gun Corps and served on the Western Front 1917- 18 I think he was attached to the Manchester Regiment. His documents and war medals went to my brother and since he died seem to have been lost. His name was Thomas Mayor from Leyland In Lancashire and he came home suffering from PTSS but in those days nothing was done to help. I am really wanting to find out where in France his regiment was at that time but keep coming up against negatives. It’s easier to find the dead than the ones who served, suffered but lived. I have a feeling it could have been in the Arras region but not sure. I have photos of him in uniform.
Hi Sylvia, Thanks for your comment. I tried to find Thomas, but this was very challenging. Do you have names for his parents, siblings, children and wife + DoB and Marriage? Transfer to Manchesters from MGC is less likely than the other way round. Do you have anyevidence of his Service?
Was his Dad named Robert and resident Alma Cottages, Leyland?
Yes his father was Robert and yes he did live at Alma Cottages he was born 19/4/1899 and married Doris Yates in 1921 I think.
His medals and service notes were given to my brother who has since died and I can’t seem to locate them, I do have photos of him in uniform though and with his Machine Gun Corps badge.
Thomas Mayor enlisted 3/30095 in Kings Liverpool Regiment (KLR) on 12/6/1915 allegedly aged 19 years 2 months. Actual age almost 16 years 1 month. Stated occupation as weaver and resident Alma Cottages, Leyland Lane, Leyland.
Medical Examination at Preston. Relatively tall as 5’ 10”. Chest 34”. Expansion 3”. Weight 117 lbs. Physical development likely to develop, Good. Father Robert Mayor of Alma Cottages.
Posted to 3rd Battalion 18/6/1915. Discharged D Company of 3rd KLR as underage 12/10/1915 at Pembroke Dock. Aged 16 yrs 5 months. Fresh complexion with blue eyes and brown hair. Miliary character – Good.
Thomas’ daughter Sylvia holds a photo of him with a Machine Gun Corps (MGC) cap badge. There are three Thomas Mayors who served in the MGC with whom Sylvia’s father must have served.
No 137514 solely served in MGC was discharged fit 9/7/1919.
No 192343 previously served as 86774 in KLR and discharged 1/5/1920. The higher number in MGC and KLR Service may make this the most likely candidate for Sylvia’s father. Sylvia suggest Thomas suffered PTSD which may suggest he would should have been discharged earlier.
No 171492 previously served in Northants Regiment, Labour Corps and Loyal N Lancs. He was discharged fit 21/4/1919.
If you post the photo on the Great War Forum, somebody may be able to date the uniform or know something about dates of enlistment from numbers.
If we were dealing with Manchesters, I’d be able make an informed guess and I hope you can find someone who can offer equivalent help.
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