Category Archives: Manchester Regiment

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.

 

 

A/Captain John Oliver McElroy 18th Battalion Manchester Regiment. Captured at Polderhoek 14th December 1917

Source: Captain John Oliver McELROY The Manchester Regiment. | The National Archive

L/Cpl Alfred Ridge

L/Cpl Alfred Ridge

This Statement concerns the OC of B Company of 18th Battalion, recounting his capture.  My grandfather’s cousin 1095 L/Cpl. Alfred A Ridge was captured and died from his wounds in January 1918. Alf  was posted to A Company which lost numerous men in the action and John McElroy’s Statement throws more light on events:-

PoW Statement A/Captain John Oliver McElroy 2nd January 1919

“Captured at Polderhoek Chateau [Ypres] 14th December 1917.  Acting Captain with B Company of 18th Battalion Manchester Regiment, part of 90th Brigade in 30th Division.  Repatriated 27th November 1918 and arrived in England 3rd December 1918. Address at Karkallas, Bunninadden, Co. Sligo.

STATEMENT regarding the circumstances which led to capture:-

My Battn held a sector of the line at Polderhoek Chateau about 900 yards in length, the Coy under my command was in the centre, my fighting strength was about 50 rifles and we held from 200 to 300 yards of line, the enemy were from 25 to 40 yards away.  There was no wire in front of our line nor was any available for us to put up.

At about 2 AM on the morning of the 14/12/17 I received a message from Battn HQ stating that the Enemy would attack either during the night or early morning.  I visited the posts in my line and saw that everything possible was done to meet the attack.

At 6 AM the enemy attacked fire was immediately opened upon him and two line of the Enemy who were advancing towards us were smashed.  I sent up 2 S.O.S. signals both failed to work till quite close to the ground I had no telephone.

Some minutes after the attack started I heard a cry on my left saying the enemy were in the trench.  I yelled “bomb them out” at the same time a few of my men left the trench I ordered them back and proceeded up the trench to my left to see what had happened there at this time a few bombs were thrown into the part of the trench I was in by the enemy one of whom I shot.

On passing round a bend in the trench I was confronted by two of the enemy who covered me with a revolver and rifle they ordered me to walk past them when I then found that the post I was to visit was already in the enemy’s possession and the men either killed or taken prisoner including my Coy Sergt Major [CQMS 10867 Joseph O’Connor?] and a Machine Gun Team.

I did not expect to see this post captured or the enemy between me and it.

J O McElroy A/Capt
Manchester Regiment
2/1/1919″

At least fifty members of 18th Battalion were captured in the action, the majority of which were posted in A Company (Alf Ridge).  John McElroy’s B Company was immdeiatley to the right of A Company in a line that was also weakly defended.  John McElroy was repatriated in December 1918.  He was then posted to 3rd Battalion in Cleethorpes.  John contracted Influenza and died in a Grimsby Hospital on 4th March 1919. See Capt John Oliver McElroy (1882 – 1919) – Find A Grave Memorial and Bank of Ireland where John had been employed prior to his Commission in April 1915.

The War Office wrote to John’s mother after his death to confirm that he was not at fault for his capture.  He was buried in Ireland where he is commemorated by CWGC

 

Yorkshire Trench, Boezinge, Ypres

On our recent trip to the Western Front we look at this preserved trench and dugout  located in an industrial estate north of Ypres.  Certainly worth popping in to see.

Centenary of the 17th Manchesters Battle of Arras – Heninel 23rd April 1917

Source: Arras, Hindenburg Line – Heninel 23rd April 1917

43365 Robert Ramsey Died of Wounds 18/4/1917. 17th Manchesters transferred from Royal Fusiliers

Commemorating Robert Ramsey who died on this day in 1917.  The CWGC replaced his headstone and his great great nephew provided the updated photo.

Sadly Matt and I both failed to advise CWGC on the date of Robert’s death being April and not March.  Lesson learned to advise CWGC as soon as I see an error.

Source: 43365 Robert Ramsey Died of Wounds 18/4/1917. 17th Manchesters transferred from Royal Fusiliers