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Remembering Private Frederick G Crowe – 17th Manchesters. Died 26/9/1916



Private Frederick Guest Crowe 8488 died in the Lazarette Prisoner of War Camp on 26th September 1916, aged 24.

Frederick was a former pupil of Manchester Grammar School and accountant’s clerk, enlisting in A Company of the 2nd City Battalion with Arthur Bell on 3rd September 1914.  The Roll of Honour shows he trained with I Platoon.

I Platoon of 17th Battalion from Book of Honour. Courtesy

I Platoon of 17th Battalion from Book of Honour. Courtesy

Frederick had been born in Kendal, Westmorland in 1894 and lived with his parents in Cheetham Hill when he enlisted.   Private Crowe’s father, Oswald Byrne Crowe, M.A. (Civil Engineer), and Sarah Crowe had two other children; daughter Matilda and a younger son, Randal Byrne Crowe.  Randal 301085, served with the 2nd Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and was awarded a Military Medal.  Following promotion to Lance Corporal, Randal was killed in action four days before the Armistice on 7th November 1918.  He is buried at NIEDERZWEHREN CEMETERY, KASSEL

Frederick’s Service Record survived the blitz.  He was hospitalised at Heaton Park with Laryngitis and disciplined for ‘Not complying with an order’.  This was witnessed by Lance Sergeant Alfred Norbury* and resulted in 5 days Confined to Barracks, as awarded by Captain Lloyd.  In common with the majority of the Battalion, Frederick entered France on 8th November 1915.

The Service Record also recites the sorry times for Frederick’s mother.  Sarah Crowe received notice that he was missing on 7th August and record of his capture seems to have arrived in October 1916 – after Frederick had died.  Corporal J. Green of the Northumberland Fusiliers and Sergeant J Higgins of the East Lancs. Regiment both wrote to Sarah in October 1916 informing her of the death of her son.  She lived at 81 Bignor Street, Hightown, Cheetham Hill.

German records are translated and show that Frederick had been captured on 9th July 1916 – the day of the disastrous withdrawal from Trones Wood .  The Manchester Evening News** reported he lay wounded for three days before being picked up by Germans and taken to Dulmen Camp.  The German documents show Frederick had died of wounds in the groin.  He died at 8am on 26th September 1916 and he was buried in Ohrdruf Camp Cemetery with Military Honours.  After the War, Frederick was exhumed and re-interred in NIEDERZWEHREN CEMETERYin Hessen, Germany.

*Lance Sergeant Alfred Norbury 8245 also trained with I Platoon.  Alfred was wounded in the assault on Montauban as recounted by Arthur Bell

“The next casualty I remember, although there must have been many on the way, was Sergeant N. (Norbury) shouting “elbow” in a very queer tone, just as we jumped into and out of the trench – by now we were in open order.”

Alfred recovered and was discharged in October 1917.

**MEN Article source Bernard on Great War Forum.

Anniversary 18th/19th August 1916 Rifle Grenade Accident

Rifle Grenade Training © IWM (Q 5355)
Rifle Grenade Training © IWM (Q 5355)

While the 17th Battalion was based at Bethune, various specialist training took place.  Arthur Bell recounted the dangers associated with his role of a bomber.

160819 Rifle Grenade Accident

“At a lesson some  time later, conducted by an officer of our own [Lieutenant Alan Holt], a similar accident occurred with rifle grenades, lives were lost (three I think), and the lieutenant himself was injured in the foot.”

Shaw R MEN 28.8.1916

Privates Robert Shaw 8857 and Joseph Wilcox 8930 died on 18th August 1916.  Alan Armstrong 9168 died the next day.

Joseph Wilcox of I Platoon was the son of James and Hannah Wilcox, of 241, Manchester Rd., Walkden, Manchester. Joseph had enlisted in September 1914 and arrived in France after 1915. He was 22 when he died and is buried next to Robert Shaw in Bethune Town Military Cemetery.

Wilcox J & Shaw R Manchester Evening News 16 September 1916

Robert Edward Shaw  ‘8857’ had been employed as a Warehouseman at Marlborough Mill, Failsworth, prior to enlistment on 3 Sept 1914, resident at 95 Turf Lane, Hollinwood.  He trained with II Pln and went to France on 08/11/1915. The son of the late Elizabeth Shaw and George Henry Shaw c/o Castle Market, Leek, Staffs.

Armstrong A Credit Bury Archives

Adam Armstrong was 29 when he died.  He had worked for James Wrigley Ltd  and was the son of Emily Armstrong, of 18, Yates Terrace, Calrows, Elton, Bury.  Enlisting in January 1915 and training in XV Pln, Pte Armtrong  disembarked with the Bn on 08/11/1915. Adam is buried in Chocques Military Cemetary.  Chocques was at one time the headquarters of I Corps and from January 1915 to April 1918, No.1 Casualty Clearing Station was posted there.  The Manchester newspapers confirmed Adam’s treatment there.

Private Harold Bretnall  of III Platoon had been promoted to Lance Corporal on 8th August 1916.  His service record shows he was accidentally wounded on 18th August.  Harold had been trained at the Trench Mortar School in December 1915, which makes it likely he was part of fatal accident during rifle grenade training.  After initial treatment in the field, Lance Corporal Brentall was transferred to Wimereux Hospital later in August and then returned to Home Depot in Manchester in September 1916.

Private Harry Hudson of D Company was another man presumed injured in the accident.  Harry was a former pupil of Arthur’s school Manchester Warehouseman and Clerks Orphans’ School

Lt Alan Holt recovered and was awarded a Military Cross for his actions at Heninel in April 1917.


War Diary

Casualties of the MANCHESTER REGIMENT 04/08/1914 to 31/12/1916

BBC Real Lives: I wish I could go back in time to help my great-grandmother – Liverpool Echo

The BBC reached new heights with this documentary film showing people from WW1 being interviewed in the1960’s.  A pregnant Mancunian lady was filmed talking about the loss of her husband in 1916.  Thanks to the Liverpool Echo article below, we find all was not lost.  Percy served with the Loyal North Lancs Regiment.

BBC Real Lives: I wish I could go back in time to help my great-grandmother – Liverpool Echo.

If you haven’t seen the programme, check out iPlayer.  Not to be missed.

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.

Captain Thomas Cartman – Treasure from a Lancashire skip

The scrap book of Thomas Cartman provides new material, on many levels, for people interested in military history.  Captain Cartman won the Military Cross at Heninel in April 1917. Also see A view from a Heninel Trench

A scrap book was found in a Lancashire skip, which was then linked with the former owner’s school and family, before the BBC took up the story.   The enthusiasm of Bury Grammar School’s archivist knows no bounds.  He’s just published electronic images of these photos, postcards, orders and notes online. Thomas arrived with the 17th Battalion as a 2nd Lieutenant on 2nd August 1916 – soon after the Battalion’s losses at Guillemont.  Thomas had provided Bomber training at his time with 25th Training Reserve Battalion at Altcar.  Therefore, it is quite likely he was present at the fatal rifle grenade accident, in September 1916 witnessed by Arthur Bell, in which three men were killed and a number wounded.  The Battalion Official History records that Thomas was one of only three Officers who survived the failed assault on Flers.  This was Arthur Bell was wounded and subsequently invalided out of the Army.  Flers also marked the final action on the Somme, but the Battalion and Thomas went on to fight through 1917 & 18.

My current highlight is the letter from the 17th Battalion Commanding Officer, Colonel Fearenside (A Company’s original 2-I-C) , when the Battalion was disbanded in May 1918 “The occasion of the final disbandment…the Commanding Officer wishes to express…his appreciation of the splendid work…during nearly 3 years of active service….The Commanding Officer is proud to have commanded such a fine Battalion…dear to the hearts of the people of MANCHESTER and that it will live on as a splendid memory.”

See for yourselves at Captain Thomas Cartman Scrapbook_Part_1.pdf. and Captain Thomas Cartman – Scrapbook_Part_2.pdf.  More of the skip tale can be found at

Well done Mark Hone.  You will help the 17th Battalion “…live on as a splendid memory.”

nb edit for T. Cartman’s arrival

Operation War Diary: Be part of history

The War Diaries are starting to show uip on-line for the Centenary. Waiting patiently for the New Army records to be digitised. This Zooinverse project should help build greater understanding of the conflict.

Operation War Diary

Welcome to our project blog. I’d like to get the ball rolling with a few words about why Imperial War Museums (IWM) brought The National Archives  and  Zooniverse together and then led this project through conception, design and development.

Of course IWM and The National Archives  work closely together. The National Archives have digitised and are making available First World War unit war diaries through their First World War 100 portal and they were helping us plan our major digital project for the centenary – IWM’s Lives of the First World War . That project, due to launch in late Spring, aims to uncover the life stories of the 8million men and women who served Britain and the Commonwealth during the war. The unit war diaries can help to tell many of those life stories. A colleague told me one of those stories that she found in a battalion war diary. A story…

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 Image S.J.Robinson.

Now Poppies Grow

Here, once, a soldier died in stalemate slow,

now where he fell, bright poppies grow.

Once horror reigned and death was rife,

Missing comrades haunted soldier’s life.


The shells, the noise, the battle throng,

a whistle foretold sleep eternal long;

For, over the top, he rejoined dead friends,

In that sweet peace which never ends.


Eighteen or twenty, maybe less,

soldier’s age of death, upon that crest,

a wasteful loss, a generation flown –

There, lie many, still Unknown.


A chilling hush fills the mourning air,

they rest here, safe, without age or care,

beneath long grass, under air so still,

Peace hides their graves, in trench, on hill.


The most worthy monument? A poppied field,

to the carnage? The Iron Harvest yield,

but from where the birds in war have flown,

The ghosts of Ypres and Somme live on…

Thanks to B&Q for supporting the distribution of poppy seeds with the Royal British Legion. 

No thanks to the Heritage Lottery fund who prefer to fund records of conscientious objectors or German immigrants in WW1.  Minority issues are important, but the Centenary focus must remain the men who served, fought and died for both sides in the Great War.