Spoil Bank, Ypres – April 1918

At the beginning of April 1918, the 17th Battalion moved to Busseboom, west of Ypres, via Woincourt, Proven, St Sixte and Elverdinghe.  A and B Companies were combined to form C Company 16th Battalion and C and D made up D Company.  The combined Battalion took over the front line near Spoil Bank and Lock 8 of the Ypres-Comines Canal.

On the 25th April the German attacked and forced the Battalion south of the canal, but a counter attack restored position.   In thick mist on the 26th, the Enemy broke through the positions on the Manchesters’ left and completely enveloped the composite D Company.

The survivors of the other composite C Company were withdrawn to the North bank of the canal, suffering heavy casualties. This line was held during two subsequent days of fighting.

On the 29th April the Battalion was withdrawn to Scottish camp and the remaining few members of 17th Battalion were attached to the 2nd Yorkshire Regiment.

Thirty seven members of 17th Battalion lost their lives in April and May 1918, some of whom will have resulted from fatal wounds from prior action, particularly the withdrawal from St Quentin.

2702 Private Fred Stafford was awarded a Military Medal in the Ypres action where he lost his life.  2nd Lieutenant George Leach MM was another fatality who had received the award.  Records indicate the Medal was awarded prior to his commission with the Manchester Regiment, when he served as 200491 Corporal in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.  He left behind a widow, Mrs Jane Ann Leach in Chorley.

Private J J Pickavance 33403 and Lance Corporal C Turner 47317 received Military Medals in the April defence.  Soon after Private J W Walker 203202 received the same Award for Ypres, or earlier action.

Sergeant William Brookes  11760 was awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal  for preventing the Battalion being outflanked at Ypres.   The same Award was issued to Lance Corporal Charles F Carter 9323, for brave action as a runner and Private Robert Allen 27318 as a stretcher bearer.

For the Ypres or earlier actions the DCM was gazetted to Sergeant John Curran MM 38544, CSM Benjamin Green 51290 and Lance Sergeant  George Royle 9014.

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