Category Archives: Manchester Regiment

Army Cyclist Corps and men from the 17th Manchesters

Percy Murch of17th Manchesters, III Platoon transferred to 30th Division Cycling Company, which became XIII Corps Cyclist Battalion of the newly formed Army Cyclist Corps (ASC).  Many pre-War Territorial Cyclist Battalion men joined the ASC, including 2nd Lieutenant John Edward Brown, on attachment from 5th (Cyclist) Battalion of the East Yorkshire Regiment.  He was the father of wonderful lady in North Ferriby who passed away in August.  I know this is not fully on topic, but here’s part of a great collection of photos that I’m hoping site visitors will help with dating and clarifying.

This is useful link to the 25th London Cyclists About.

The Cyclists were not suited to static trench warfare and only made significant impact in the last 100 days.  John Brown literally chased the Germans out of France on the 11th November 1918!  Please leave a comment if you know anything about the East Yorks / XIII Cyclists, or can help explain the photos.

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Captain Robert Mansergh MC and Merchiston Castle men in the Manchester Regiment – A Biography

Thanks to Sue Nelson, David Findley and a number of helpful contributors we’ve created a Biography of Robert Mansergh.  He had just celebrated his 18th Birthday when Robert (Bob) was Commissioned in the 2nd City Battalion of the Manchester Regiment and became Arthur Bell’s Officer in Command of III Platoon.  Bob had joined a group of masters and old boys from Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh.  His Biography covers these valiant men and their service in the Great War.

Any Comments are thoroughly welcome.  Readers should enjoy the photos and personal anecdotes.

Specialist Training for 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment- The Bomber

Image- © IWM (Q 4156) Bombing party practising throwing bombs over a traverse at the training school, Wisques, near St. Omer, 28 August, 1916.

New photo of training on grenade throwing.  A very dangerous business apparently.  Captain Robert Mansergh MC bravely picked up a dropped Mills Bomb from a trench and threw it away before the fuse discharged.  On 18th August two men were killed and one died the next day during rifle grenade training. Others were wounded including Lieutenant Alan Holt MC

See Anniversary 18th/19th August 1916 Rifle Grenade Accident

Source: Specialist Training – The Bomber

Centenary of Passchendaele – Corporal 9470 Edmund Kane

Edmund Kane Courtesy sufingbabe2 on ancestry

Edmund Kane Courtesy surfingbabe2

Thirty two men from 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment were killed on the opening day of the Battle Passchendaele – 3rd Battle of Ypres.  A recent visitor to the site is related to Corporal 9470 Edmund Kane and this blog entry commemorates Edmund and the other men that fell on that day.

Edmund was born in south Manchester in the first Quarter of 1893.  His parents were William and Mary Jane Kane.  William worked in an engineering works in 1901 and the family lived at 5 Baxter Street, Hulme.  Mary Jane had been born in Canada and at least eleven children identified on Census records.  Edmund was her second eldest son.  She had been widowed by the time of the 1911 Census, when Edmund was working as a call boy in a theatre.  The family then lived at 31 Leaf Street, Hulme.  The Manchester Evening News of 24 August 1917 reported Edmund had attended St Wilfred’s School.

Based on the sequence of Edmund’s Regimental Number it is thought he enlisted in the 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment during the spring of 1915.  He was initially posted to XIX Platoon of E (Reserve) Company, although he will have probably have transferred to A, B, C or D Companies before they left for Belton Park in April 1915.  This transfer may have been later.

XIX Pln Photo

XIX Pln Photo April 1915

It is unlikely that Edmund had remained with 17th Battalion since their arrival in France on 8th November 1915, yet no records of wounds or illness have been identified.  Medal records illustrate three postings in 17th, 19th and 17th Battalions, indicating two occasions where Edmund may have been wounded. Very few of the original members will have remained at duty by July 1917.

Edmund was killed in action near Sanctuary Wood on 31st July 1917, which was the opening day of the Battle of Passchendaele.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate.

IMG_5136

Mary Jane Kane received her sons Effects.  Edmund’s medals were returned to the War Office, with a slight prospect that these may now be claimed by family members.

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Corporal Edmund Kane’s name inscribed on the Menin Gate

XIX Pln Roll

XIX Pln Roll

9258 Arthur Leonard Sheldon. Killed in Action 29th July 1916

Bill Edwards has a medal / militaria collection, including Arthur Sheldon’s Death Penny, British War and Victory Medals (above).  Bill has some data and asked if there is anything to add.

Pte 9258 Arthur Leonard Sheldon, 17th Battalion Manchester (perhaps ‘reserve’) Regiment. Born 1889, resided 118 Tower Rd, Aston, Warwck, then of 39 Silver St, Miles Platting, baptised (along with his brother and 3 sisters!) at St Johns (Miles Platting) 26 March 1897, then moved to 160 Varley St, Miles Platting. He would have been 24 / 25 when he enlisted. He was killed in action on 30 July 1916 and is buried in the Danzig Alley Brit Cem. Mametz, ref vii U2.

Arthur’s 9258 fits with the sequence for him enlisting in January / February 1915.  He was posted to XVII Platoon of E Company in 17th Battalion.

 

E Company was a reserve company that was mainly merged into A – D Companies when the Battalion left Heaton Park, Manchester for Belton Park, near Grantham.  The men left behind became the 25th Reserve Battalion, which was used for training new recruits and provided drafts to the 16th-19th Battalions after they left for France in November 1915.  Arthur will have been in one of these drafts, arriving in France in 1916 (No 1915 Star).

I would guess Arthur was drafted in the first few months of 1916, before the Battle of the Somme.  He probably fought at Montauban and Trones Wood.

The Battalion were resting in the original British front line on the evening of 29th July.  The moved up to Glatz Redoubt at 9.30pm before reaching assembly trenches between Bernafay and Trones Wood.  Their assault on Guillemont took place in the early hours of 30th July.

Arthur was killed on 29th / 30th July.  Records are inconsistent as the date.

Sheldon Concentration Record

Courtesy CWGC

Arthur was originally buried near the original British front line, in a place known as Squeak Forward Position.  This location and the date of 29th July on the concentration record indicate he was probably killed south of Montauban between 8.30-10 pm.  He was originally buried with Lt James Watson and Cpl E Moore.  Cpl Moore had trained with IX Pln of C Company.  The group may have been together when they were killed, indicating Arthur was possibly in C Company.  They are likely to have been killed by German shelling.

Squeak Forward Position became known as Vernon Street Cemetery.  After the war, the graves were concentrated to Dantzig Alley in Mametz, where Arthur now rests.  Half of Vernon Street’s 110 graves had been lost and these men have commemorative headstones at the back of Dantzig Alley.  Arthur is also commemorated on the family grave in Phillips Park.

Sheldon 17th Battalion Manchester Evening News - Friday 18 August 1916.JPG

Copyright British Library. MEN 18/8/1916

Officers Prisoner of War Statement. Lieutenant Duncan Blenkiron 18th Battalion Manchester Regiment

The static warfare of the Western Front was very different near the Somme River and marshes.  The British held Fargny, Vaux and Eclusier, with the French, immediately over the river to south, defending Frise.

Opposite was the German held village of Curlu and a large marshy meander of the river, known as Trafford Park.  The British held outposts in Trafford Park and regularly faced aggressive patrolling from German Infantry.  The British also patrolled the marshes on punts, otherwise used for duck shooting.  The area is overlooked by a chalk escarpment forming a tranquil bowl.  It is beautiful and very much worth visiting. See

German Trenches on 19th January 1916. Credit Mcmaster.ca

German Trenches (red) on 19/1/1916. The Germans advanced and took the village of Frise on 29/1/1916. Lt Blenkiron was captured in the former French trenches. Credit Mcmaster.ca

Reports my Arthur Bell and 2nd Lieutenant Callan-Macardle have been reported in Maricourt Defences.  The Germans started an offensive on the Kaiser’s Birthday.  The Manchesters were holding defences and the 18th Battalion sent a patrol to investigate the changing situation.  Here’s there report:-

Source: Lieutenant Duncan BLENKIRON. The Manchester Regiment. | The National Archives

Statement 7th November 1918. 2nd Lieutenant Duncan Blenkiron.  Captured at Frise, near Vaux 29th January 1916.. D Company of 18th Battalion Manchester Regiment. 90th Brigade of 30th Division.  Repatriated 21st October 1918.  Arrived England 23rd October 1918. Address at 65 Oakley Square, London NW1

STATEMENT regarding circumstances which led to capture:-

Sir,
For a few days (almost 1 week) before my capture I was assistant Scout Officer  & used  to patrol the English section of the Marshes in front of “VAUX”; four hours by day & four hours by night.  On the night of the 28/1/16 & almost 11-30 pm I patrolled the English section of the marshes returning @ almost 2 AM on 29/1/16.  On returning I received orders from my Adjutant to the effect that “I was to get to FRISE at all costs, & all possible speed & find out from the French, if they were expecting an attack, & any other information.”  I proceeded with the Patrol to “Frise”, but on nearing the French Trenches, I ordered the men to take cover with the exception of Cpl Squibbs [10790 Francis Leopold Squibbs of D Coy](who was acting as a guide, as I had not been in the French sector before) & Pte Whitworth [9942 John Ernest Whitworth of A Coy] who spoke French very well.  We three went on, & into the Trenches, only when we were well inside did we discover we were surrounded by Germans.  We were challenged in French & were told that all was well to proceed in.

I am Sir
Your obedient Servant

D Blenkiron Lt

The War Diary reported the remainder of the Patrol of 30 men waiting for 5 hours before returning to Vaux.  Lieutenant Blenkiron and two other men were prisoners of war for the remainder of hostilities.  Duncan Blenkiron was repatriated prior to the Armistice, due to a stomach ulcer.