Category Archives: Manchester Regiment,

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

*Police service record and casualty data courtesy Mack of

Thomas Marsh Killed by friendly fire 3rd May 1916



Thomas Henry Marsh Suzanne Communal Cemetery Extension Private 8744, who died on 03 May 1916 Age 25.  Husband of Agnes Bolderstone  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….

What was my chance of Survival on the Somme?

How lucky am I that Grandad survived his service in WWI?   This is a fundamental question that remains in the background as I learn more and report hostilities.

Roll of Honour showing the names of the men in the photograph.

As a sample of Manchester Pals, I’ve used the III Platoon Roll as published in the Book of Honour.  We don’t know who’s who on the majority of the Platoon photo.  We do have some information on each of the individuals in the list.

Analysis of CWGC & SDGW records shows 19 of the 64 Men in III Platoon Roll died during hostilities.  A little under 30% of the sample were killed or died.

In view of my wider knowledge of The Cost the proportion of fatalities was surprisingly low.  Further analysis of the Roll shows a group of men that did not leave for France on 8th November 1915, who may be dismissed from a true sample of fifty five men who left England with the Pals.  Part of the excluded Group includes NCOs who’d been transferred to other Battalions or Corps and another man arrived in France during 1916.  However, the majority of the excluded group were not combatants.  These 6 men were either dismissed as unfit or unsuitable for service, or they served as Garrison troops away from Theaters of War.

Following the revised sample, it can be seen that 19 of 55 men died who arrived in France with the Pals.  The chance of survival was 65% – a little over 2/3rds survived.

III Platoon, 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment.  March 1916, Heaton Park.

III Platoon, 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment. March 1916, Heaton Park.




Youngest Manchester Pal and his family

I first had a look at the National Roll of the Great War 1914-1918 and thought it was a great resource providing a useful database of men in the Manchester Regiment.  As shown in the earlier post, reality wasn’t quite so good.  However, one of the gems that popped up through my meanderings was National Roll E BarnettEdward Barnett.  The suggestion that a 13 year old served in France caught my eye and I subsequently verified that Edward was the youngest known member of the Manchester Regiment and almost certainly the second youngest member of the British Army to serve abroad in World War One.  Other researchers have taken an interest and there has been co-operation with Edward’s family members.  This includes and great research by Garry at Swarm

Along the way I was able to help Ally Goodman with some information on Edward’s Service from his Medal Index Card.  Ally is Edward’s great grandson featured with his sprightly grandmother – Edward’s daughter, Eveline Birch – in the BBC piece.  Here’s some photos he was good enough to let me post on the site.

I find it a little daunting that boys were sent to the slaughter in France.  My great uncle was 15 1/2 when he enlisted in the 6th Battalion and was discharged before overseas service.  See Private Harold M. Brown 3929  That makes two lucky boys.

War Diaries at the National Archive

As time goes by the Anniversary project for digitising all unit War Diaries is coming to a head.

I have now discovered the newly digitised version of the War Diary for my Grandad’s Battalion – the 2nd Manchester Pals.  The 17th Battalion, Manchester Regiment for 1915-18 is @ 540 pages long and cost me £3.10 to download.

I have some happy hours ahead digesting the original notes concerning the men and events covered in this site and written by some of the Officers who now seem remarkably familiar.

The photo for this post concerns the disastrous withdrawal from Trones Wood This page of the Diary doesn’t mention the losses on on 9th July, nor the failed communication resulting in most of A Company being left behind and captured / killed.  Lots more reading is required.

Until corrected (?) I believe I can post these Crown Copyright images, because this site is non-profit. If the images later disappear we will know why!


Ernest Ridge 17417 20th Battalion Manchester Regiment – Another Cousin

Ernest was Arthur Bell’s cousin as the son of aunt Isabella – who was one of his mother’s younger sisters.  Ernest was shown as living with Shop keeper, Isabella and Arthur’s sister Dorothy in Hall Street, Greeheys in 1911.  At this time his elder brother Alfred was serving in India with the 1st Battalion Manchester Regiment.  His Records show the brothers had spent a period of 1902 in Chorlton Union Workhouse when their father had died.  In common with his brother and a large number of his cousins, Ernest enlisted in the Manchester Regiment, posted to B Company of the 5th City ; 20th Battalion.

Ernest had just 54 days service as shown in his Pension Records.  He enlisted in Manchester on 17th November `1914, aged 22 years and 5 months. He was discharged as ‘unlikely to be come and efficient soldier (recruit within three months of enlistment, considered unfit for service…) on 9th January 1915 in Morecambe.  The limited medical papers indicate chronic diarrhoea and pains. Ernest had confirmed Good military character.  He had been employed as a waiter in the Reform Club and previously served in the 1st Cadet Battalion of the Regiment.

Later records courtesy The Manchester & Salford Family History Forum show Ernest went on to serve in the Royal Navy 113363 including HMS Caledonia and later Merchant Navy from 20/9/1918 as an Assistant Steward.  He died at sea, aged 42, on 19/10/1935 with the apparent loss of SS Vardulia from Glasgow.  His address was noted as 78 Bickley Street, Moss Side.

Frank Dunn 8528

Frank Dunn’s Grandson, visited the GUEST BOOK and introduced me to his Grandad’s record.   This post was originally to help Clive.  Clive then provided some remarkable photos of his Grandad’s postcards.  They are shown here as a gallery and provide some great examples on photos showing the Pals at Heaton Park and during convalescence.  Many are subsequently used in the static content of the main site.  Huge Thanks to Clive.

Frank enlisted on 2/9/14 and trained / served in the same places as featured on this site for Arthur Bell. Frank was posted in XII Platoon of C Company.  Clive indicated that Frank was “was wounded (shrapnel and gas) shortly after and returned home.”   I am aware that the Germans used gas shells on the night of 30th July (Lieutenant Miller was killed by one); and also during the advance on Trones Wood on 9th July.

Frank recovered at home and was discharged with a Silver War Badge on 10/12/18.  The SWB Roll is on line but I can’t publish it due to Copyright.

Two from the cannon’s mouth men?

This site was always intended to place a context to the places, events and particularly people referred to in Private Arthur Bell’s journal and his interview with Martin MIddlebrook. The necessity to consider obituaries for the men that died contrasts with the more positive aspects of addressing the Honours awarded to men of the Battalion.  These Honours were awarded to a number of men referred to in Arthur’s journal, including Military Crosses to Lieutenants Alan Holt and Robert Mansergh.

It is not appropriate for the grandson of one of the men at the Somme to consider specific Awards that could / should have been made.  However, two men stand out from Arthur’s journal as being individuals he held in high esteem for bravery.  Having recently obtained photographs of these men, we can now place a face to the names.  Only Victoria Crosses were awarded posthumously.  We will never know how the following Pals would have been recognised if they hadn’t lost their lives so soon after their deeds.

Sgt and A/CSM Joseph McMenemy

Sgt and A/CSM Joseph McMenemy

CSM Joseph McMenemy KiA 30.7.16 “Sergt. McM (McMenemy) encouraged us on the last lap…; he had been a heroic figure in the advance on the first.  “Only another rush or two” he called as we lay, much cut up, just outside the perimeter at Montauban

CSM Joseph McMenemy KiA 30.7.16 “

Acting CSM Joseph McMenemy

Arthur recognised the bravery, leadership and humour of Joseph McMenemy at Montauban “Yer wanna be more careful” said newly promoted ex-Sergt. McM (McMenemy); he had been a heroic figure in the advance on the first.  “Only another rush or two” he called as we lay, much cut up, just outside the perimeter at Montauban.” 

Lt Ralph Miller Courtesy Sue Butcher

Lt Ralph Miller Courtesy his niece Sue Butcher

2nd Lieutenant Ralph Marillier Miller

Ralph Miller led Arthur Bell in the rescue of a wounded Sergeant Major near Trones Wood.   Arthur recounted his deep respect for the young subaltern “Brave Jockey!  Not many days after that [Trones Wood rescue] came the report that he had got a gas shell ‘all to himself’ – killed of course.  Would he have been one of Shakespeare’s ‘Even in the cannon’s mouth men’?”

Both men died in the Guillemont assault and have no know grave.  They are commemorated at Thiepval.