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. 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. Here are the faces and names for men who enlisted in the 17th Battalion.
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.
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.
Sergeant John Emerson 8542. Trained with XV Pln. D Coy. Transferred Fit to Reserve 13/3/1919.
CSM 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.
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.
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.
Private 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. Private 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