Category Archives: Somme

Remembering Private John Morrissey 8734. Died 2/11/1916.

John MorrisseyJohn 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 Mr and Mrs John Morrissey, of 3, Bank Place, Salford. John Snr was himself serving in a Prisoner of War Camp, 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

john-morrissey
Courtesy Gerald Tiddswell,, who discovered John’s father was part of the Royal Defence Corps acting as guard in a British PoW camp.  The Friends of Salford Cemeteries Trust

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Remembering Private James Appleyard – 17th Manchesters 22/9/1916

James Appleyard Courtesy CWGC

James Appleyard Courtesy CWGC

Private James Appleyard. Courtesy Tony Bowden, Manchesters Forum

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.

V Platoon, 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment from Book of Honour. Courtesy

V Platoon, 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment from Book of Honour. Courtesy http://themanchesters.org/forum/index.php

*Police service record and casualty data courtesy Mack of http://themanchesters.org/forum/index.php

Artillery Support 30th July 1916

 Battle of Pozieres Ridge 23 July - 3 September: An 18 pounder gun, its crew stripped to the waist in the sunshine, putting over curtain fire from the Carnoy Valley near Montauban. Battle of Pozieres Ridge. 18 pdr. Putting over curtain fire or barrage. Carnoy Valley, near Montauban. 30 July 1916.Q 4066


 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

Remembering Frederick Whatmough 8959 – 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment. Died 2nd June 1916

CWGC Certificate

CWGC Certificate

Chippily Communal Cemetery Extension. COurtesy CWGC

Chippily Communal Cemetery Extension. Courtesy CWGC

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.

Not Forgotten

H Hudson in Roll of Honour

H Hudson in Roll of Honour

 

Thomas Marsh Killed by friendly fire 3rd May 1916

Marsh MEN 16.5.1916 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Marsh MEN 16.5.1916 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Thomas Henry Marsh Suzanne Communal Cemetery Extension Private 8744, who died on 03 May 1916 Age 25.  Husband of Agnes B. Marsh, of 47A, New Lane, Patricroft, Manchester. He was  second XII Pln casualty in the Somme defences  and worked in CWS Boot Dept.  His cousin was XII Platoon’s Private 8626 Willian Leslie Hadcock, who was also a CWS employee. Contemporary information from Pte Hadcock, known as Leslie; is provided by his grandson, courtesy of The Manchester Regiment Forum. This indicates Thomas was killed by friendly fire on a night patrol into no mans land. C Coy were posted in the Vaux area and it is likely the incident took place in the Somme marshes or Trafford Park. Thomas was 25 years old and his body was recovered to be buried near his CWS colleague, John Sumner (above) in Suzanne Communal Cemetery Extension. His cousin, Leslie, will have been present for his funeral service, representing the family. Thomas had written home five days before his death, describing his perilous scouting expeditions “I will not say it is not a bad game, a bit risky patrolling, and it’s a long two hours’ walk from one end to the other, having a word with each post, which consists of a few men, who have not the slightest bit of cover. The only trouble is shrapnel MARSH   TH   8744   17TH BN   03051916and getting collared…”  Referring to the open meander of Trafford Park, Thomas had further described the open nature of the southern Somme defences “…There is a nice great flat field, a champion place-the same place a crowd of about 150 came across and were sent back again (well some of them) by fourteen on this side, and they chased them back with bayonet.  They brought one back as a souvenir….

George Robinson Cotton Merchants Roll of Honour in 17th Manchesters

In late August 1914, members of Manchester Council and a group of business men agreed to form and finance a City Battalion of clerks and warehouseman from the commercial heart of the City. Certain commitments were made by principal employers and the organising committee promised that men who enlisted as a group would serve together. The Manchester City Battalions Book of Honour lists numerous Rolls of men who enlisted and some firms that lost numerous members of staff. One example that catches the eye is that of George Robinson & Co, cotton dealers of Princess Street. George Robinson Scroll Most employers Rolls list names and sometimes Regiment / Battalion. In this instance George Robinson provides portrait photographs. This enables us to put a face to the name of sample group of men from 17th Battalion – some of whom feature elsewhere on the site. Many men from the Company enlisted together and were posted to XVI Platoon of D Company. Six months later, only four employees remained in XVI Platoon, but the association with men posted to other Platoons will have remained. George Robinson & Co Photo RollHere are the faces and names for men who enlisted in the 17th Battalion. R L Bryant
Private R L Bryant.
Pte 9024 RL Bryant’s military records, except for his SDGW entry, may be found by searching for Reginald Lloyd-Bryant. He went overseas with 17 Manchesters as a member of XIII Pl, was transferred to the Labour Corps and then 23 Lancashire Fusiliers, with which unit he was KIA on 27 Sep 18 as an acting CSM. He received the MM as a sergeant with this latter battalion (LG Feb 19).[Thanks for help of Mark] Reginald left a wife and son.Charles Critchlow

Lance Corporal Charles B Critchlow 8116. Manchester Grammar School Magazine reported he was wounded on July 2nd 1916 with three bullets through the leg and a scratch in the eye. Treated in 96 Field Ambulance and Hospital at Rouen. Home 7/7/1916. Furlough 86 Conyngham Road, Victoria Park in October 1916 after which he was posted to 69th Training Reserve Battalion. Discharged to Commission 25/4/1917. Various disciplinary offenses recorded some witnessed by Joseph McMenemy. Forfeited pay while in hospital while treated for VD. Former clerk at George Robinson & Co who had been born in Old Trafford. Aged 27 when enlisted 2/9/1914 and trained with XVI Pln, D Coy. Promoted Lance Corporal 9/2/1916. Charles was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant to the Manchesters on 25/4/1917 and killed in action on 22nd October 1917, serving with 21st Battalion.  On this day the Bttn took part in a major assault on the German positions near the Menin Road southwest of Gheveult.  The War Diary provides a vivid description of events in which 7 officers were killed, 1 missing and 5 wounded.  Eighteen Officers had taken part in the assault which commenced at 05.40am.  This was held up by heavy mud jamming all weapons – “almost before the advance commenced” – enfilade machine gun fire from both flanks and disorganisation as other troops mixed in with the Manchesters.   His Commission was published in the London Gazette on 22/5/1917.  He has no known resting place and is commemorated at TYNE COT MEMORIAL Son of Lucie Critchlow lived in 167 Barton Road, West Didsbury with daughters Jessie and Helen. Charles was one of 13 children. His father, Bernard had died by 1911 when the family lived at 68 Bishop Street, Moss Side. He had then been marine insurance clerk. Charles’ estate was left to his mother who remained resident at Conyngham Road. Probate suggests Charles had been posted to 17th Bttn. John Emerson

Sergeant John Emerson 8542. Trained with XV Pln. D Coy. Transferred Fit to Reserve 13/3/1919.

Percy Howard JonesCSM Percy Howard Jones 8673 B Company’s Company Sergeant Major was killed on 11/10/1916, in the German bombardment on trenches near Flers, the day before the Battalion joined a major assault to the north. Percy was 26 when he died. He is buried in the A.I.F Burial Ground, Flers, half a mile to the east of the Battalion’s trenches. His widow Leah Jones, lived at 3 Jackson St., Cheadle, Percy had been born in Didsbury and was employed by George Robinson & Co prior to hostilities. He had been CQMS when the Battalion arrived in France and Acting WO II when he was killed, previously been VI Pln Sergeant. Annersley Hazley

Private Annersley / Ellersley Hazley 8186 . Trained with XVI Pln. D Coy. Arrived in France 8/11/1915. Irish father, Annesley and Oldham born mother, Hannah noted as blind in the 1911 Census when Annersley was a clerk in a shipping warehouse. Born 1893 in Manchester the family had lived at 84 Lower Moss Lane. Annesley married Harriet Bent in the 1st quarter 1917. Sidney Labrey

Private Sidney Labrey 8221. 32 year old Pattern Card maker resident in Longsight when he enlisted 2nd September 1914. Discharged as unlikely to become an efficient soldier 27/1/1915 with valvular disease. 148 Days Service at Home No Medal entitlement. Received Pension from April 1918. Resident 62 Belgrave Road, Oldham. Son of Caroline Hester Labary, 14 Parsonage Lane, Flixton. His brother Ernest Edward Labrey served in 16th Bttn, having previously been in 2nd Volunteer Bttn and 6th Territorials. In 1917 he was attached to RAMC in France.
Private 8224 Henshaw Little was not included in the Roll, but his Service Record identifies George Robinson as his previous employment.  Henshaw was wounded in Spring 1916 and evacuated Home for hospital treatment on 20th May 1916.  He was posted to Reserve in July 1916 and discharged with a Pension on 9th April 1919.
George Harry SedgleyPrivate George Harry Sedgley 8891. Trained with XVI Pln. D Coy. Trained as bomber. Wounded Trones Wood. Cotton cloth clerk living with parents 575 Gorton Road, Reddish (1911). Born 1895. Later served with 2/5th Battalion. Transferred Fit to Reserve24/3/1919. Wilfred Lawrence WrayPrivate Wilfred Lawrence Wray 8354 – Born in York and resident Stretford. Born 1889. Son of William Thomas & Emily Maud Wray of 142, Barton Rd, Stretford, Manchester. Trained with XVI Pln. D Coy. Medal Roll specifies deceased, rather than killed, probably near Trones Wood, 10/7/1916. It is likely he was originally posted as missing. Accountants clerk living with parents (13 children) at 1054 Chester Road, Stretford in 1911. W L Wray also shown on Manchester Corporation, Tramways Dept. Roll. Thiepval Memorial

XVI Pln 17th Bttn Roll of Honour.1

Reflections on the Anniversary of World War I – 1914-2014

Five Historic Archives
Four French Deaths;
Three Shot at Dawn;
Two Football Games
and a Horse left in the German Wire.

PoppiesThe poppies in the Tower of London, my family visit to the Warhorse show and BBC’s Our World War series have provided a resounding success in recognising the anniversary of the Great War. As a WWI researcher, it’s been easy to find fault in publications or programmes. In an effort to avoid being sniffy, I concluded that it was best to accept the spirit on these media and appreciate that the current generation of British people are engaging with the subject on numerous levels. This piece reflects on the direction of the media’s presentation.
The buffeting from crowds of people walking through the City of London on a Saturday afternoon in November confirmed our society’s continuing recognition of the War. I visited with one of my daughters to see Alfred Ridge’s Poppy in the sea of 888,246 and I imagine other people had their own agendas, or were solely spectators. As a football fan, I know the common spirit of a crowd – or indeed a mob – and found

Alfred Ridge - Harlebeke New British Cemetery

Alfred Ridge – Harlebeke New British Cemetery

the effervescent Poppy experience unforgettable.
Further unreserved Anniversary success was the digitisation of records and fresh publication on line. Archive material from numerous sources can now be accessed at relatively low cost. Highlights for 17th Manchesters research in 2014 have been Red Cross Prisoner of War ICRC Digitised Records War Office Medal Rolls; Soldiers Wills for some men; War Diaries at the National Archive; extended data available on the Commonwealth War Grave Commission CWGC site.
As we approach the second year of Centenary and anticipating the Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme in July 2016, some reservations are developing.
The first is the romanticisation or of war. The remarkable story of the 1914 Christmas truce have been lost to popularisation of the media’s obsession with football – particularly the controversial Sainsbury’s advert and factually incorrect dreams. No confirmed sources indicate there was any pretence of a match between German and British troops. There was a kick-about in at least two locations, but the shaking of hands, sharing food & drink and genuine shared experience of a temporary peace are the principle issues that should be remembered.
The second concern is the application of 2014 moral values on our ancestors. I watched the Private Peaceful play with my family and found the presentation of war horrors to be well balanced with the plot associated with a Shot at Dawn (SaD) case. The engagement of the audience was remarkable for itself, but particularly with the number of Primary School age children and teenagers who were engaged throughout.
Regrettably SaD cases seem to be highlighted in every other media opportunity e.g. The Village & Our World War. I accept this is an issue for moral interpretation and I have specific regret and sadness for the three men of the 18th Manchesters who were executed for cowardice. However I feel this 2014 moral question now eclipses the principal issues of hostilities. My grandfather was wounded leaving the same trenches, on the day one of the 18th Battalion SaD men absented himself from duty at Flers. Rather than judging the SaD morality, I always feel the slaughter of hundreds of men on that day may have been a little more significant at the time. Let’s also remember 8135 Harry Evans who was killed that day, along with Grandfather’s School friend 8132 Leonard Edmondson; his neighbour 8241 Alec Mitchell and 8474 Hubert Craig who had served in III Platoon with Grandad since 1914 Anniversary 12th October 1916. I realise the personal connection with these casualties relates to a specific private interest. However, I see no media reflection on the scale of casualties.
Thankfully the troops returning from Afghanistan are contributing to a clear media presentation of the true factors of warfare and the recent casualties in our immediate consciousness. Kajaki is shocking, heart-warming but painful to watch, and should be compulsory viewing for GCSE students – particularly those considering a career in politics.
There seems to be no equivalent presentation of WWI. There may be a inadvertent conspiracy to focus on palatable issues or politically correct questions at cost of avoiding the enormity and horror of trench warfare. I have seen some incredibly vivid photographs of dead soldiers in the Western Front. My choice to avoid publishing may be missing some very moving material out of respect for the men concerned. However I reflect on the prospect that I’m also making the unpalatable nature of warfare more accessible.
Not wishing to be getting ahead of the media, here’s thoughts on four deaths on the Somme recounted by Scout Sergeant Bert Payne in his interviews with Lyn E Smith. Payne James Albert IWM interview In an effort to portray a more comprehensive picture, these events are now added to the static content on the site.
Pals Memorial MontaubanBert served in the 16th Manchesters in Maricourt and was wounded in the First Day of the Somme at Montauban. These places and events are almost the same as the experiences of the 17th Battalion.
Bert first describes the uncomfortable delay in recovering the body of Corporal Pickering after he had been blown out of an Observation Point onto the wire near Maricourt. He then reported the losses in the advance Montauban. “I had a boy with me…out of school for six weeks…He said ‘…I’ve arrived today’ I said ‘Hang on to me.’…He was killed. Shot down next to me”
Bert Payne was wounded in the last dash up into the village. He was hit in the face by enfilade machine gun fire “There was a big shell hole full of dead and dying and blinded. It seemed to me to be a tall man got it through the jaw. A shorter man got it through the eyes.” After recovering consciousness Bert made a temporary dressing for his wound and made his way to the rear with Corporal Bill Brock, who had been shot through the foot.
On the way back over the hard fought battlefield, Bert and Bill came across a British Soldier with terrible wounds. “ A shell had come over and hit this man. Knocked off his left arm. Knocked off his left leg. His left eye was hanging on his cheek and he was calling out for Annie… So I shot him… But it hurt me. …He was just anybody’s boy. He was calling out for Annie…His eye was hanging out pulsing. I had to shoot him… Nobody could have done anything for him. He would have died in any case. I had the courage to do it.”
Later in the interview Bert mentions his repeated thoughts about his part in the death of the young man. It clearly made a deep impression on him and probably contributed to his response to a captured German Medical Officer he came across soon after. I asked this Doctor to bind the Corporal’s foot up and he wouldn’t. I told to do it or I’d shoot him…he said ‘Blame your own government.’ He refused to bind his foot so I shot him.”
These four deaths are not comfortable to address and any interpretation relate to the complete picture and context of hostilities. Following the confused assessment of a kick about at Christmas it may be best to leave the matter for personal interpretation and not the media. However, at the end of this Anniversary year, we will must not forget unpalatable aspects of death and maiming. The generation of men that returned mainly chose not to speak about their experiences. Thanks to Bert Payne and Arthur Bell we do have some first-hand experience that we can hear. Let’s hope the media don’t fail to listen.

Notes
6330 James Albert Payne went on to live a full life being interviewed in his 94 year. After a long period of recovery he worked then worked in a Military Hospital and was discharged with a Silver War Badge in March 1918, aged 24. Bert has been one of the first to enlist in the Pals in August 1914.
Two brothers Horace and Reginald Pickering had enlisted in August 1914 and served together. Lance Corporal Horace Pickering was killed in May 1916. One can imagine the anguish of his friends and brother when Horace’s body remained above their trench, but unavailable until nightfall. Horace was buried alongside Lance Corporal Charles Johnston-who had been killed in the same bombardment- in Maricourt Military Cemetery. Their remains were relocated to Cerisey-Gailly in 1920. Brother Reg had been a singer and entertained the troops with his tenor voice. He was later wounded and returned Home, where he looked for work in music.
William Priestley Brock later transferred to the Labour Corps where he was transferred fit to reserve in March 1919.

16th Bttn C Coy IX Pln Photo

16th Bttn IX Platoon including William Priestley Brock for his grandaughter Anne Wakefield (nee Brock)

16th Bttn C Coy IX Pln