Inspired by interviews and notes by a member of the 2nd City Battalion of the Manchester Regiment, this site portrays the particular group of volunteer soldiers, from enlistment to their service in the Battle of the Somme. In memory of the contributor of the journal, Private Allan Arthur Bell 8055 and the Pals that served with him. Copyright Bell Family. All rights reserved. Please see acknowledgments and feel free to comment in the Guest Book or individual Posts.
XX Platoon Photo in Spring 1915. Individuals are not identified. Courtesy Book of Honour
Percy Grundy was one of the 17th Battalion casualties who has not been readily apparent in records, being shown as serving in the Labour Corps or 3rd Battalion Manchester Regiment.
Percy died on 1st February 1919, aged 42. He is buried in COLOGNE SOUTHERN CEMETERY with the inscription “At Rest” paid for by his father. This post remembers Percy alongside other Pals in the 2nd City Battalion.
CWGC records show Percy served with 3rd Battalion Manchester Regiment and transferred to (432349) 212th Area Employment Company, Labour Corps. This was part of the Army of occupation, formed as a condition of the Armistice. His Victory & British War Medals were issued to Labour Corps roll but the 1914/15 Star was issued on the 17th Manchesters roll, noting arrival in France on 25th December 1915. Neither Medal Roll…
John 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 John and Ada Morrissey, of 3, Bank Place, Salford. John Snr was himself serving in No 336 Prisoner of War Camp, Pembury, as Pte 21153 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
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.
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
Company Quartermaster Sergeant Jones enlisted in the 17th Battalion on 23rd February 1915. This was during the drive for further recruitment when the Pals Battalions were seeking a fifth E Company. Recruitment was opened up to men with skills or trades suited to Army life. This was a significant extension to the original requirement of being a clerk or warehouseman. His Service Record helps build a picture of the men in his Battalion.
Arthur Bell recognised the importance of these men. “Throw a lot of clerks and countermen into a complex organisation like an army, with only a few ex-Boer War men, and where are you? No wonder an invitation was issued to bakers, candlestick-makers and coppers to join up.”
Frederick was an experienced carpenter, who had a reference provided by Peace V Norquoy Limited of New Islington Works, Union Street, Ancoats. He had been employed with them for five years and had earlier served in the Royal Navy.
Jones F W Manchester Evening News 22 August 1916 (C) British Library.
At 37 years and six months, Frederick was much older than the average recruit; with the majority of recruits being single, it was also an exception for Frederick to be married with children. He had married Nellie Shutt at Weslyan Chapel, Grosvenor Street on 15th July 1905. The couple and three children, Wilfred, Doris & Frederick William, lived at 1 Roseneath Avenue, Levenshulme. His mother Mary Fox Jones lived at 12 The Crescent, Levenshulme with younger brother Harold Thomas and Sister Constance Gertrude Jones. The elder brother Edwin Ernest lived at Bramhall.
Previous military experience, maturity and his trade experience led to Frederick’s early promotion to the post of Pioneer Sergeant. He trained with XIV Platoon in D Company. The Battalion’s assault on Montauban led to significant losses, especially among the NCOs. Frederick was promoted CQMS on 1st July, as a replacement for one of these casualties.
CQMS Jones was Killed in Action on 29th 1916, prior to the advance on Guillemont. He is buried in PERONNE ROAD CEMETERY, MARICOURT. Frederick had originally been buried close to the track leading to Carnoy from Maricourt and the southern end of Talus Bois.
Nellie received Frederick’s Effects in September 1917. This included a tobacco pouch, Cigarette Case, wrist watch, purse, pipe and pipe lighter. Nellie thought some items were missing. The War Office awarded her a Pension of 22/ per week in February 1917. This postponement was due to Frederick being posted Missing, with Nellie being notified of this on 14/8/1916 and he later assumed to have died when she was notified on 22/1/1917.
This blog regularly returns to the original recording and notes of 8055 Private Arthur Bell. Efforts continue to be made to identify the people and places referred to in Grandad’s notes. This post concerns the identification of 9519 Ruben Schofield as the brother of 8284 Private Robert Schofield of III Platoon. Ruben was killed at Montauban on 1st July 1916. Here’s Arthur Bell’s note about his return to happy valley on 3rd July 1916:- “Our lot were under canvas, and we were told what heart-breaking roll-calls there had been. One particular man in our platoon had lost the younger brother whom he had been at great pains to have transferred from another battalion.” Service Records show Ruben transferred to 17th Manchesters on 11/4/1915…
“I did kiss the boy first for his Mother & then for myself”
Charles enlisted on 2nd or 3rd September 1914. Towards the end of serving his second month in the Somme trenches in the Maricourt Defences, Charles seems to have suffered the effect of gas shells. See The Cost of Trench Life This is likely to have been on 29th February, when the Battalion were in billets in Suzanne and sustained losses from German artillery – although the records don’t show gas shells.
Charles was evacuated to Hospital in Etretat where he was treated for pneumonia, bronchitis and possible gas poisoning. The story is taken up by Staff Nurse Edith Appleton, whose remarkable diary shows the atmosphere of care, support and love for the men under the care of the medical services. See Private Charles KERR Extracts (Courtesy Dick Robinson) show Charlie didn’t die alone.
“My pneumonia boy benefited from the quiet & perhaps… the creature has a chance, & feel he must get better – for his Mother, poor thing, she wrote to me – & said she was heartbroken – however, it was no good for me to pretend he was not dangerously ill. He was – & is.“
A few days later
“My poor little boy Kerr died yesterday, he had been in 15 days suffering from gas – pneumonia, bronchitis & has been extremely & dangerously ill all the time, but only the day before yesterday he realized that he was not going to get well. I am glad to say we never left him night or day & he was fond of us all.
Yesterday was a difficult day to be “Sister” – He kept whispering all sorts of messages for home & his fiancée – then he would call “Sister” & when I bent down to hear – “I do love you” “when I’m gone, will you kiss me?” – & all the time heads would be popping in “Sister – 20 No – so & so – to – – – -.” “The S. Sgt wants to know if you can lend him a couple of men to…” This & that – but in spite of all – I did kiss the boy first for his Mother & then for myself – which pleased him – then he whispered “but you still will when I’m gone.” The night before he asked me what dying would be like – & said it seemed so unsatisfactory – he felt too young to die – & not even wounded – only of bronchitis. Then another time he said, “They wouldn’t let me go sick every time they said it was rheumatism & would wear off – & marching with full pack & dodging the shells was dreadful. Thank Goodness – what I told him dying would be like happened – exactly – a clear gift of Providence. I told him it would be – that little by little his breatheing would get easier – & he would feel tired & like going to sleep – & then he would just sleep – & with no morphia – that is exactly what did happen – without a struggle. He was quite conscious up to 20 minutes before he died. I just asked him now & then if he knew I was still with him. “Yes” – & you’re quite happy – aren’t you? & he distinctly said “Yes, quite”.
Then the last & very trying part for the Sister was to walk along to the other end of the village – beside the poor dead thing – to see him decently put – in the mortuary. With hundreds of French eyes turned “full on”. Our own people always clear out of the way when they see it coming.”
Born in Ireland, Kenneth Macardle was working for the Canadian Bank of Commerce in California at the outbreak of the war. He left his post on 18th January 1915 and returned to join the 17th Manchester Regiment. He had been employed by the Bank since February 1911. He was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in 14th Bttn on 6th April 1915 and later took command of a Platoon in B Company. He entered France on 2nd February 1916.
Kenneth was a committed diarist and his well composed notes provide a vivid and expressive view of the events on the opening days of the Battle of the Somme.
Regrettably, Kenneth was left behind in Trones Wood when the Battalion withdrew on 9th July. His body was never found and he remains commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing.
Kenneth’s diary provides a direct source for the events of 1st July and his prose has been a further catalyst for the commitment to record and present events on the Somme. On visiting Thiepval, I have scanned the multitude of names of the lost men to identify the neatly carved name of my favourite diarist. Here’s an extract:-
“We were relieved in a hurricane of shells. We trailed out wearily and crossed the battlefield down trenches choked with the dead of ourselves and our enemies – stiff, yellow and stinking – the agony of a violent death in their twisted fingers and drawn faces. There were arms and things on the parapets and in trees. Shell holes with 3 or 4 in them. The dawn came as we reached again the assembly trenches in Cambridge Copse. From there, we looked back at Montauban, the scene of our triumph, where we, the 17th Battalion, temporary soldiers and temporary officers every one that went in, had added another name to the honours on the colours of an old fighting regiment of the line – not the least of the honours on it.”
“A molten sun slid up over a plum coloured wood, on a mauve hill shading down to grey. In a vivid flaming sky, topaz clouds with golden edges floated, the tips of shell-stricken bare trees stood out over a sea of billowing white mist, the morning light was golden. We trudged wearily up the hill but not unhappy. All this world was ever dead to Vaudrey and Kenworthy, Clesham, Sproat, Ford and the other ranks we did not know how many. Vaudrey used to enjoy early morning parades. Clesham loved to hunt back in Africa when the veldt was shimmering with the birth of a day.”
Kenneth’s father, Sir Thomas Callan Macardle, K.B.E., D.L. was the Irish brewer and proprietor of Macardle-Moore & Company Ltd of Dundalk. Ireland. Macardle was knighted (Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for his contributions to the war effort, particularly in supplying grain and ale to the war effort. Kitchener Letter. See http://soldiersofthequeen.com/blog/category/uncategorized/page/7/
Kenneth’s mother, Minnie Ross Macardle was English. Her father, Lt. Col. James Clarke Ross had served in the Scots Greys. (courtesy Who’s Who)
Part of Minnie and Sir Thomas’ tragic loss is shown as their thoughts will have developed from hope to despair in their correspondence held in the Imperial War Museum – Catalogue P210.
Initially, Adjutant Major C L Macdonald wrote to Sir Thomas with a glimmer of hope and real admiration for Kenneth on 14th July.
“I regret very much too have to inform your son has been missing since the recent fighting in Trones Wood. The wood changed hands…it is possible he was captured…it is impossible to build on this hope. The wood was shelled so heavily…it was almost impossible for anyone to live in it….Whether captured or killed, he will be a very great loss to the regiment. I assure you there is not a braver or more gallant officer living. After the capture of Montauban, when the Battalion went back into action for the second time, your son, in spite of his junior rank, was put in Command of a Company [A Coy], and he handled his Company with great skill and dash…I shall miss him greatly…I had become very much attached to him…Whether alive or killed in action, I shall always be proud to have known him, and I assure you you may be very proud to have so gallant a son.”
Acting 17th Battalion Commanding Officer, Major J J Whitehead’s letter on 17th June gave a strong indication to Kenneth’s parents that he may have been captured by the Germans.
“…I saw him in the wood about 1.30pm and when I gave the order to withdraw…he failed to rejoin – this was about 3 pm. I waited myself with a few men to cover his retirement, up to 5.15 pm, but as the enemy began to counter attack, can only assume that he was taken prisoner. He was a most promising officer…I miss him very much indeed.”
The finality of Kenneth’s demise was concluded from one of Arthur Bell’s comrades in III Platoon, who had been captured with Lieutenant Humphrey. The Red Cross Zurich wrote to Sir Thomas on 6th October with the report. “…Communication from Private Arthur Watts, No 8941, A Comp.. 17th Manchester Reg:-“I saw Lt. Macardle badly wounded in Trones Wood on 9th July 1916, when I saw him I took him to be dead, as he had been lying on the top of the trench for 2 hours without moving but I could not say for certain if he was dead.” Signed Pte Arthur Watts, Prisoner of War at Dulmen.”
The Macardles had four children including Kenneth and a daughter, Dorothy; who became a renowned Irish Republican author. She was imprisoned on more than one occasion but – like her brother – continued to write in adversity. The siblings may not have shared the same ideals if Kenneth had survived to discuss them. John Ross Macardle received an MC for service with the RFA. Donald joined the Army but was invalided.
An advance party had arrived in France on 7th November 1915. The core of the Battalion then left Larkhill in two trains from Amesbury to Folkestone on the following day. They crossed the Channel and spent the first night in Boulogne. It was raining heavily and despite the presence of tents everyone was “soaked through to the skin” (Bert Payne IWM).
This was the beginning of their Service on the Western Front. Almost one third of these men did not return Home.