Inspired by interviews and notes by a member of the 2nd City Battalion of the Manchester Regiment, this site portrays the particular group of volunteer soldiers, from enlistment to their service in the Battle of the Somme. In memory of the contributor of the journal, Private Allan Arthur Bell 8055 and the Pals that served with him. Copyright Bell Family. All rights reserved. Please see acknowledgments and feel free to comment in the Guest Book or individual Posts.
John Morrissey died on 2nd November 1916 as a Prisoner of War in Germany. He is buried in NIEDERZWEHREN CEMETERY which includes many men who have been re interred from other previous PoW cemeteries.
Pt. Morrissey was 21 years old when he died having been born on 15/7/1895. The Service Number indicates he had enlisted in early September 1914 and records confirm he had served with B Company, having trained – alongside Arthur Bell’s brother in law, Herbert Vernon – with VIII Platoon. The Medal Index Card confirms he entered France with the rest of the 2nd Manchester Pals on 8th November 1915; not quite a year before he died of wounds.
Documents released by ICRC in 2014 now provide further details of wounds and Prisoner of War status. These specify John was captured at Trones Wood on 8th [9th] July. He had grenade wounds to both legs and right fore arm. John was transferred through a series of German Camps returning to Ohrdruf on 21/10/1916. It. Is likely that this last transfer was to seek health care for problems with John’s wounds and an indication of his place of death.
John was the son of John and Ada Morrissey, of 3, Bank Place, Salford. John Snr was himself serving in No 336 Prisoner of War Camp, Pembury, as Pte 21153 with the Royal Defence Corps, when he received funds from his son’s estate. The family had earlier lived at 15 North George. The 1911 census records that he had worked as an office boy, aged 15/16. He is recorded on Salford’s St Philip with St Stephen – War Memorial– The Parish where he was born. He also has a commemoration in Weaste Cemetery, Salford
In loving memory of our Dear son John Morrissey 2nd Man Pals Died of wounds received In France Nov. 2nd 1916
Far from his home neath foreign
skies in a soldier’s grave
our dear son lies
Private Frederick Guest Crowe 8488 died in the Lazarette Prisoner of War Camp on 26th September 1916, aged 24.
Frederick was a former pupil of Manchester Grammar School and accountant’s clerk, enlisting in A Company of the 2nd City Battalion with Arthur Bell on 3rd September 1914. The Roll of Honour shows he trained with I Platoon.
I Platoon of 17th Battalion from Book of Honour. Courtesy Manchesters.org
Frederick had been born in Kendal, Westmorland in 1894 and lived with his parents in Cheetham Hill when he enlisted. Private Crowe’s father, Oswald Byrne Crowe, M.A. (Civil Engineer), and Sarah Crowe had two other children; daughter Matilda and a younger son, Randal Byrne Crowe. Randal 301085, served with the 2nd Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and was awarded a Military Medal. Following promotion to Lance Corporal, Randal was killed in action four days before the Armistice on 7th November 1918. He is buried at NIEDERZWEHREN CEMETERY, KASSEL
Frederick’s Service Record survived the blitz. He was hospitalised at Heaton Park with Laryngitis and disciplined for ‘Not complying with an order’. This was witnessed by Lance Sergeant Alfred Norbury* and resulted in 5 days Confined to Barracks, as awarded by Captain Lloyd. In common with the majority of the Battalion, Frederick entered France on 8th November 1915.
The Service Record also recites the sorry times for Frederick’s mother. Sarah Crowe received notice that he was missing on 7th August and record of his capture seems to have arrived in October 1916 – after Frederick had died. Corporal J. Green of the Northumberland Fusiliers and Sergeant J Higgins of the East Lancs. Regiment both wrote to Sarah in October 1916 informing her of the death of her son. She lived at 81 Bignor Street, Hightown, Cheetham Hill.
German records are translated and show that Frederick had been captured on 9th July 1916 – the day of the disastrous withdrawal from Trones Wood . The Manchester Evening News** reported he lay wounded for three days before being picked up by Germans and taken to Dulmen Camp. The German documents show Frederick had died of wounds in the groin. He died at 8am on 26th September 1916 and he was buried in Ohrdruf Camp Cemetery with Military Honours. After the War, Frederick was exhumed and re-interred in NIEDERZWEHREN CEMETERYin Hessen, Germany.
*Lance Sergeant Alfred Norbury 8245 also trained with I Platoon. Alfred was wounded in the assault on Montaubanas recounted by Arthur Bell
“The next casualty I remember, although there must have been many on the way, was Sergeant N. (Norbury) shouting “elbow” in a very queer tone, just as we jumped into and out of the trench – by now we were in open order.”
Alfred recovered and was discharged in October 1917.
Private James Appleyard. Courtesy Tony Bowden, Manchesters Forum
Today is the anniversary of the death of Private James Appleyard.
James had joined Manchester Police in June 1904 and worked in the Didsbury Division. His Police Number was D218.* In common with many Manchester Policemen, James had enlisted in the Pals Battalions in late (25th) January 1915.
The Roll of Honour shows James had been promoted to Corporal by March 1915. He is included in the photograph of B Company’s V Platoon.
Records show James had been wounded in the assault at Montauban on 1st July 1916, at the beginning of the Battle of the Somme. His burial at home suggests James had been evacuated from France and died from his wounds in a British Hospital.
An 18 pounder gun, its crew stripped to the waist in the sunshine, putting over curtain fire from the Carnoy Valley near Montauban 30 July 1916 IWM Q4066
I found this photo on the IWM Site. 18 Pound Artillery had an effective range of three miles and a well trained crew could fire thirty rounds per minute. Guns at Carnoy Valley were within range of Guillemont and no other assaults were taking place in the area on 30th July. Therefore, it is likely these men were assisting 90th Brigade in their attack on Guillemont.
The photograph shows men in the heat of the day and it is assumed this would have been around midday, or later. As such, the support to the infantry had to be necessarily limited to the Western side of Guillemont village. The 2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers had advanced to the centre of Guillemont, alongside the 18th Manchesters. Communication with Brigade HQ in Trones Wood and 16th / 17th Manchesters to the east of the village had been broken by the German bombardment and machine guns – limiting the prospects of British bombardment without hitting their own troops. For more details see Guillemont | 17th Manchester Regiment on the Somme
19 Year old Private Frederick Whatmough died on this day 100 years ago. Records show his grave in Chippily Communal Cemetery Extension in a plot adjoining Private J Redfern of the 16th Battalion, who died on 20th June 1916.
Frederick’s Medal Index Card identifies he died, rather than being killed in action. John Hartley’s painstaking research Stockports Soldier Frederick WHATMOUGH finds Frederick drowned while swimming at Chippily. This is south east of Albert, and west of Vaux, down the river Somme. The Battalion had withdrawn from Vaux trenches the day before to a camp at Bois Celestine. Frederick was in VI Paltoon of B Company. John Hartley (see 17th Manchesters by John Hartley) recounts a letter from his OC, Captain Norman Vaudrey (see 1st July 1916 Anniversary – Officers)
“I very much regret to have to break the news to you of the death of your son, Signaller Whatmough, who was drowned whilst bathing here – a few miles behind the firing line – yesterday afternoon, June 2nd. Though a strong swimmer he must, we think, have been seized with cramp and despite efforts made by his comrades, particularly a man named Hassall, he sank and was drowned. We worked hard to recover him, but it was too late when we did. He will be buried with military honours tomorrow. Since being out here he has always been good at his work and anxious to do his duty; and a favourite amongst his comrades. As you know, he joined right at the beginning of the War, and has been with us all the time, and although his death did not actually occur in the face of the enemy, he died for his country which he served so well. We fully realise how much you will feel this blow and I hope you will accept the sympathy of the officers and men of his company.”
The Regimental Number of 8959 indicates Private Whatmough was one on the original 2nd City Pals to enlist in September 1914. He must have been 17 years old at that time. Casualties of the MANCHESTER REGIMENT 04/08/1914 to 31/12/1916 tells us Frederick was the Son of Frederick W. and Ellen Whatmough, of 9, St. Paul’s St., Stockport. Prior to hostilites, Fred had been employed by Peel Watson & Co of 6 Parker Street, Manchester. 7 men enlisted from the firm, as shown on the Roll of Honour. This includes Harry Hudson, who been at Manchester Warehouseman and Clerks Orphans’ School with Arthur Bell’s brother Douglas.
“I did kiss the boy first for his Mother & then for myself”
Charles enlisted on 2nd or 3rd September 1914. Towards the end of serving his second month in the Somme trenches in the Maricourt Defences, Charles seems to have suffered the effect of gas shells. See The Cost of Trench Life This is likely to have been on 29th February, when the Battalion were in billets in Suzanne and sustained losses from German artillery – although the records don’t show gas shells.
Charles was evacuated to Hospital in Etretat where he was treated for pneumonia, bronchitis and possible gas poisoning. The story is taken up by Staff Nurse Edith Appleton, whose remarkable diary shows the atmosphere of care, support and love for the men under the care of the medical services. See Private Charles KERR Extracts (Courtesy Dick Robinson) show Charlie didn’t die alone.
“My pneumonia boy benefited from the quiet & perhaps… the creature has a chance, & feel he must get better – for his Mother, poor thing, she wrote to me – & said she was heartbroken – however, it was no good for me to pretend he was not dangerously ill. He was – & is.“
A few days later
“My poor little boy Kerr died yesterday, he had been in 15 days suffering from gas – pneumonia, bronchitis & has been extremely & dangerously ill all the time, but only the day before yesterday he realized that he was not going to get well. I am glad to say we never left him night or day & he was fond of us all.
Yesterday was a difficult day to be “Sister” – He kept whispering all sorts of messages for home & his fiancée – then he would call “Sister” & when I bent down to hear – “I do love you” “when I’m gone, will you kiss me?” – & all the time heads would be popping in “Sister – 20 No – so & so – to – – – -.” “The S. Sgt wants to know if you can lend him a couple of men to…” This & that – but in spite of all – I did kiss the boy first for his Mother & then for myself – which pleased him – then he whispered “but you still will when I’m gone.” The night before he asked me what dying would be like – & said it seemed so unsatisfactory – he felt too young to die – & not even wounded – only of bronchitis. Then another time he said, “They wouldn’t let me go sick every time they said it was rheumatism & would wear off – & marching with full pack & dodging the shells was dreadful. Thank Goodness – what I told him dying would be like happened – exactly – a clear gift of Providence. I told him it would be – that little by little his breatheing would get easier – & he would feel tired & like going to sleep – & then he would just sleep – & with no morphia – that is exactly what did happen – without a struggle. He was quite conscious up to 20 minutes before he died. I just asked him now & then if he knew I was still with him. “Yes” – & you’re quite happy – aren’t you? & he distinctly said “Yes, quite”.
Then the last & very trying part for the Sister was to walk along to the other end of the village – beside the poor dead thing – to see him decently put – in the mortuary. With hundreds of French eyes turned “full on”. Our own people always clear out of the way when they see it coming.”
Born in Ireland, Kenneth Macardle was working for the Canadian Bank of Commerce in California at the outbreak of the war. He left his post on 18th January 1915 and returned to join the 17th Manchester Regiment. He had been employed by the Bank since February 1911. He was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in 14th Bttn on 6th April 1915 and later took command of a Platoon in B Company. He entered France on 2nd February 1916.
Kenneth was a committed diarist and his well composed notes provide a vivid and expressive view of the events on the opening days of the Battle of the Somme.
Regrettably, Kenneth was left behind in Trones Wood when the Battalion withdrew on 9th July. His body was never found and he remains commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing.
Kenneth’s diary provides a direct source for the events of 1st July and his prose has been a further catalyst for the commitment to record and present events on the Somme. On visiting Thiepval, I have scanned the multitude of names of the lost men to identify the neatly carved name of my favourite diarist. Here’s an extract:-
“We were relieved in a hurricane of shells. We trailed out wearily and crossed the battlefield down trenches choked with the dead of ourselves and our enemies – stiff, yellow and stinking – the agony of a violent death in their twisted fingers and drawn faces. There were arms and things on the parapets and in trees. Shell holes with 3 or 4 in them. The dawn came as we reached again the assembly trenches in Cambridge Copse. From there, we looked back at Montauban, the scene of our triumph, where we, the 17th Battalion, temporary soldiers and temporary officers every one that went in, had added another name to the honours on the colours of an old fighting regiment of the line – not the least of the honours on it.”
“A molten sun slid up over a plum coloured wood, on a mauve hill shading down to grey. In a vivid flaming sky, topaz clouds with golden edges floated, the tips of shell-stricken bare trees stood out over a sea of billowing white mist, the morning light was golden. We trudged wearily up the hill but not unhappy. All this world was ever dead to Vaudrey and Kenworthy, Clesham, Sproat, Ford and the other ranks we did not know how many. Vaudrey used to enjoy early morning parades. Clesham loved to hunt back in Africa when the veldt was shimmering with the birth of a day.”
Kenneth’s father, Sir Thomas Callan Macardle, K.B.E., D.L. was the Irish brewer and proprietor of Macardle-Moore & Company Ltd of Dundalk. Ireland. Macardle was knighted (Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for his contributions to the war effort, particularly in supplying grain and ale to the war effort. Kitchener Letter. See http://soldiersofthequeen.com/blog/category/uncategorized/page/7/
Kenneth’s mother, Minnie Ross Macardle was English. Her father, Lt. Col. James Clarke Ross had served in the Scots Greys. (courtesy Who’s Who)
Part of Minnie and Sir Thomas’ tragic loss is shown as their thoughts will have developed from hope to despair in their correspondence held in the Imperial War Museum – Catalogue P210.
Initially, Adjutant Major C L Macdonald wrote to Sir Thomas with a glimmer of hope and real admiration for Kenneth on 14th July.
“I regret very much too have to inform your son has been missing since the recent fighting in Trones Wood. The wood changed hands…it is possible he was captured…it is impossible to build on this hope. The wood was shelled so heavily…it was almost impossible for anyone to live in it….Whether captured or killed, he will be a very great loss to the regiment. I assure you there is not a braver or more gallant officer living. After the capture of Montauban, when the Battalion went back into action for the second time, your son, in spite of his junior rank, was put in Command of a Company [A Coy], and he handled his Company with great skill and dash…I shall miss him greatly…I had become very much attached to him…Whether alive or killed in action, I shall always be proud to have known him, and I assure you you may be very proud to have so gallant a son.”
Acting 17th Battalion Commanding Officer, Major J J Whitehead’s letter on 17th June gave a strong indication to Kenneth’s parents that he may have been captured by the Germans.
“…I saw him in the wood about 1.30pm and when I gave the order to withdraw…he failed to rejoin – this was about 3 pm. I waited myself with a few men to cover his retirement, up to 5.15 pm, but as the enemy began to counter attack, can only assume that he was taken prisoner. He was a most promising officer…I miss him very much indeed.”
The finality of Kenneth’s demise was concluded from one of Arthur Bell’s comrades in III Platoon, who had been captured with Lieutenant Humphrey. The Red Cross Zurich wrote to Sir Thomas on 6th October with the report. “…Communication from Private Arthur Watts, No 8941, A Comp.. 17th Manchester Reg:-“I saw Lt. Macardle badly wounded in Trones Wood on 9th July 1916, when I saw him I took him to be dead, as he had been lying on the top of the trench for 2 hours without moving but I could not say for certain if he was dead.” Signed Pte Arthur Watts, Prisoner of War at Dulmen.”
The Macardles had four children including Kenneth and a daughter, Dorothy; who became a renowned Irish Republican author. She was imprisoned on more than one occasion but – like her brother – continued to write in adversity. The siblings may not have shared the same ideals if Kenneth had survived to discuss them. John Ross Macardle received an MC for service with the RFA. Donald joined the Army but was invalided.
Having contributed to the Flickr account of the Manchester Regiment Group’s Photostream, new opportunities continue to be found to build the photographic collection of graves and commemorations for men who served in the Manchester
Harrow Observer 06 May 1910 Hillebrand
These trips correspond with social or family obligations, but I recently took a 17 year old on a driving lesson to a cemetery in north west London and passed by the former home of the man concerned. The memory of every man who lost his life in WWI is important, but Louis Hillebrand is certainly different.
Louis Hillebrand was born in Amsterdam on 22 November 1877. His father Johannas is noted as a locksmith and his mother was Dorothea Hulna D’Enville. At some stage Louis moved to Britain, resident at 52 Market Place, Hyde Park when he was naturalised a British Citizen and noted as a hairdresser. On 29th July that year he married Selina Young in St Michael and All Angels Church, Paddington. Selina was a school teacher and two years older than Louis. Limited records suggest the couple had twin boys born 5 March 1912, Felix Francois and Stephen Louis. The family were living at 12 Conningham Road, Golders Green in 1918.
At the outbreak of the Great War, Louis would not have been an average recruit. His employment as a hairdresser in his mid 30s with two children explains why he was not in the first groups of men to enlist. The date he joined the Army is not known, but records show Louis enlisted in Cricklewood. He may have been held in reserve for some time and probably arrived in France in 1917. At this stage he will have been attached to the Manchester Regiment and transferred to 19th Battalion, receiving the number 51183.*1
The 19th Battalion took part in numerous actions during hostilities, many corresponding with their 17th Battalion comrades. Louis’ Roll for his British War Medal and Victory Medals indicates service in both of these Battalions. This probably relates to the 19th Battalion being absorbed in the 16th or 17th Battalions in February 1918. This transfer renders it difficult to seek to identify an enlistment date, but analysis of the Regimental Numbers suggests men with this sequence probably first saw action at Ypres on 31st July 1917.*2
As some stage Louis was wounded and evacuated Home. He was being treated in Brook War Hospital, Shooters Hill in south London when he died of wounds on 22nd May 1918. He is buried in Paddington Old Cemetery, Kilburn – a few miles south of the family home in Golders Green. It’s possible he suffered wounds earlier, but most likely this was during the withdrawal from St Quentin during the German spring offensive of March 1918 or the Spoil Bank at Ypres in the next month.
Originally having a private commemoration, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone was erected in October 2000.
*1 The Manchesters did not recruit in London and it’s likely Louis arrived at Etaples Infantry Brigade Depot to find himself promptly moved to the 19th Manchesters who will have been in need of replacement drafts of men who regularly joined them through 1916-1918. He enlisted in Cricklewood and may have originally joined for General Service, Middlesex Regiment or other London based Regiment.
*2 There is one casualty in the number sequence who was killed 31/3/1917.