Tag Archives: Montauban

2nd Lieutenant Kenneth Henry Callan Macardle KIA 9th July 1916

2nd Lt. Kenneth Callan-Macardle. One of the most prolific diarists of the opening days of the Battle of the Somme. IWM HU37057

2nd Lt. Kenneth Callan-Macardle. B Company, 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment. IWM HU37057

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 sine February 1911.  He was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant 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:-

© IWM (HU 117311) Kenneth Callan Macardle“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.

2nd Lt. Kenneth Callan-Macardle Killed in action at Trones Wood 9th July 1916 IWM HU35936.

2nd Lt. Kenneth Callan-Macardle Killed in action at Trones Wood 9th July 1916 IWM HU35936.

Thanks to George Johnson of MRF for identifying US employment.  Previous records suggest Kenneth was ‘Ranching’.  A comparison with cowboys and bankers would be more 21st Century. Letters from the front. Being a record of the p….

Also see Kenneth’s Obituary in the his School Roll Stonyhurst War Record

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

Ernest McNamara 18th Battalion

18th Bttn C Coy IX Pln

18th Bttn C Coy IX Pln – Book of Honour

Ernest McNamara was killed in action at Montauban on 1st July 1916. His great niece introduced herself on the GUEST BOOK and asked if there may be further information on Ernest and his brother Arthur.

For Anne Warn these pages from the City Battalions Roll of Honour show Ernest in IX Platoon of C Company.  If Anne has a portrait of him, it would be great if you could identify the man in photo.  For other possible records, I firmly recommend asking the experts on The Manchester Regiment Group Forum.

18th Bttn IX Pln Roll of Honour

18th Bttn IX Pln Roll of Honour

The Manchesters website includes painstaking research of the men from the Regiment reported killed on 1st July 1916 and included in the 1st Anniversary of the Somme 1st July 1917 edition of the Manchester Evening News.  These entries were made for Ernest and include a reference to Arthur:-

McNAMARA – In loving memory of our dear brother
ERNEST (10555) Manchester Regiment (3rd Pals), killed
in action July 1st, 1916.
ROBERT, SUSIE, and ARTHUR (in France).

The Roll of Honour includes an entry to an E McNamara who enlisted in the City Battalions as part of the group system.   It is quite likely Ernest worked for Horrockses Crewdson & Co Ltd

I’ll have a scout around some other resources and add to this post if I find anything more.

I heard the Last Post from a bugler at Thiepval Memorial yesterday morning.  This is where Anne will see Ernest’s name inscribed in the stone panel.  We’re off to Ypres today where I will see Arthur’s name at Tyne Cot and my Grandad’s cousin at Harlebeke.

 

WW1 ‘Bomber’ Training

Rifle Grenade Training © IWM (Q 5355)

Rifle Grenade Training © IWM (Q 5355)

This site concerns a member of the Manchester Pals who received specialist training as a bomber Early Days in France .  Arthur Bell received training in a variety infantry grenades – or bombs.  He also actively used bombs in the survival of his detachment at Triangle Point Montauban   “Major Macdonald recorded “ At 3.15am on 2 July the detached post in Montauban Alley near Triangle Point was attacked and bombed out. They held out until their supply of bombs was exhausted, and then endeavoured to retire.”  Arthur probably also used his bomber training  at Guillemont.

I’ve selected a range of images from the IWM archive to add to the site.  Cover image Art.IWM PST 12993.

© IWM (Q 35418) Bomber Training

© IWM (Q 35418) Bomber Training

 German Bombers © IWM (Q 55005)

German Bombers © IWM (Q 55005)

Montauban to Longueval and Delville Wood - taken from a helicopter July 2012

Great photo courtesy of http://jeremybanning.co.uk/.  The rolling chalk hills and dense woodland has changed little from 1914 – although the villages were flattened by artillery fire and woods became a mass of splintered timber during hostilities.

I’m showing Jeremy’s picture to show the beautiful wide horizons and ‘big’ sky; similar to David Hockney’s paintings of the Yorkshire Wolds.  Back on track, the corner of Bernafay Wood can be seen on the right of the image.  The trench of Montauban Alley extended to the Wood, across the first fields beyond trees at the edge of the village.  The 16th Manchesters occupied Montauban Alley on the 1st/2nd July and the 17th Manchesters occupied Triangle Point, slightly to the left of the view.  This was the point of the furthest sustained advance by the British IVth Army on the first day of the Somme.

The area beyond Montauban towards Longueval is infamous for the ferocious battles that took place in mid-July, particularly those concerning the South African Infantry, which was almost wiped out in the area shown in this image. South African forces in the British Army of 1914-1918

Contemporary Photos of the Somme.

Thanks to Jeremy Banning | Military Historian | First World War Research | School Workshops | Lectures for the use of the photos from his twitter feed @jbanningww1.

I will add some choice shots into my static pages over time, starting with this view of a beautiful sunrise looking east towards Bernafay Wood from the Maricourt – Longueval Road, near the site of the Briqueterie.  This particular area was taken by the Liverpool Pals on 1st July.  However, one can imagine the stragglers returning from Triangle Point having a similar view in the early morning of 3rd July 1916.  The Big Push – Montauban

In the words of 2nd Lieutenant Kenneth Callan Macardle:-

“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.”

Sunrise looking from Briqueterie to Bernafay Wood.  Courtesy jeremybanning.co.uk

Sunrise looking from Briqueterie to Bernafay Wood. Courtesy jeremybanning.co.uk

1st July 1916 Anniversary – Officers

B Company’s 2nd Lieutenant Callan-Macardle’s diary entry summed up the loss of his 17th Battalion

Capt. R. Ford. OC A Coy.

Capt. R. Ford. OC A Coy.

reginald-ford-courtesy-elizabeth-wood-st-bees-roll-of-honour

Reginald Ford Courtesy Elizabeth Wood – St Bees Roll of Honour

Officer colleagues at Montauban.

“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.”

The Commanding Officer of 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Johnson had been wounded in the attack on Montauban on 1st July 1916.

Many of his fellow officers were less fortunate.

A Company OC, Captain Ford was wounded near the German front line and died of wounds the next day.  Former Master of St. Bees, Cumberland, Reginald James Ford was 28 when he died.  His father, F J Ford, lived at 30 Warwick Street, Oxford.   He is buried at Dantzig Alley Cemetery near Mametz.

Capt.S Kenworthy. OC D Coy.

Capt.S Kenworthy. OC D Coy.

Apart from the A Company Officers’ deaths,  Captain Stanley Kenworthy had died in the assault.  As a former pupil of St Bees, it is poignant Stanley’s last resting place is also Dantzig Alley, with former St Bees Master, Captain Ford.  Stanley was 32 when he died and left behind his mother Dinah T Kenworthy and father John Dalziel Kenworthy, of Seacroft, St. Bees, Cumberland.

Capt. N.Vaudrey. OC B Coy.

Capt. N. Vaudrey. OC B Coy.

Norman Vaudrey Courtesy MRF

Norman Vaudrey Courtesy MRF

Captain Norman Vaudrey is the third 17th Battalion Officer at Dantzig Alley.   Norman was the son of Sir William and Lady Vaudrey, of 33, Mount Avenue, Ealing, London.  He was Born in Eccles and 33 when he was killed at Glatz Redoubt during the assault on Montauban.  Norman Vaudrey is also commemorated in Buxton see  Buxton War Memorial.

This includes a letter from Major Whitehead:-

Briefly, the 16th and 17th Battalions were in the firing line, and having passed over the German trenches were advancing on a village about 600 yard in rear when the first Company (‘A’ Company) was momentarily held up. Captain Vaudrey, commanding the second Company, went forward to ascertain the cause of the halt in advance when he was hit in the stomach by a bullet from a German machine gun, and died in 30 seconds in the arms of a Sergeant who was himself killed later.

Manchester Evening News 8/7/16. Thanks to Atherton of MRF

Manchester Evening News 8/7/16. Thanks to Atherton of MRF

Dantzig Alley Cemetery.  Courtesy CWGC

Dantzig Alley Cemetery. Courtesy CWGC

Dantzig Alley British Cemetery now contains 2,053 burials and commemorations of the First World War. 518 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to 17 casualties known or believed to be buried among them. Other special memorials record the names of 71 casualties buried in other cemeteries, whose graves were destroyed by shell fire. (Courtesy CWGC).  Geoff of http://www.hut-six.co.uk/cgi-bin/search1421.php has assessed that Dantzig Alley has more graves for 1st July casualties than any other cemetery.

Two 17th Battalion subalterns were killed in the assault; one of which was probably acting OC of Arthur Bell’s III Platoon.  Gerald Sproat and Thomas Henry Clesham have no known grave.  It is possible that some other men from the Platoon are amongst the ‘Unknown Soldier’ graves at Dantzig Alley, but none have identified resting places.  The remainder of are commemorated at the Thiepval Memorial. 

Lt G M Sproat

Lt G M Sproat

sproat-12-7-1916

MEN 12/7/1916 Courtesy British Library

Twenty two year old Lieutenant Sproat had been attached to 17th Battalion from the 11th Manchesters, with whom he had served in Gallipoli. Kenneth Callan-MacCardle’s diary reported that he was blown up in the attack.  Gerald was the son of a solicitor, Thomas Sproat and Mary Caroline, of 1, Rock Park, Rock Ferry, Cheshire.  He had attended Winchester School and Magdalen College, Oxford, graduating in 1912.  Gerald’s younger brother James survived the Montauban assault as a 2nd Lieutenant with the 17th Kings Liverpool Regiment.  James was killed by artillery fire at Trones Wood on 11th July.  He was an alumni of Rugby school attending at the same time as Alan Holt.

Thomas Henry Clesham

Thomas Henry Clesham

The Thiepval Memorial database suggests evidence that 2nd Lieutenant Clesham “…fell when just as led his men over the parapet and was killed instantly.”  This correlates with Thomas being OC of III Platoon in the Montauban assault as described by Arthur Bell.   “The first casualty I remember was our Platoon officer, we were in artillery formation and he was leading – but I do not think he could have been sniped, unless by some very clever German trickery.  Anyhow, he just go it in the head with one leg off the ground, and must have died that instant.”

The database also says “He was a splendid type of officer and beloved by his comrades. Reported buried in the vicinity of Maricourt” This information would be consistent with a letter to may have been written to Thomas’ family after his death.

He had previously served in South Africa with the Natal Light Horse at the outbreak of hostilities.  His mother Isabella (nee Mckeown) and father, Reverend Timothy Clesham had lived in County Mayo, Ireland.  Rev Clesham has died in 1894.  34 year old Thomas left his Estate to his mother Isabella.  The passenger list for Thomas Clesham’s passage on the Balmoral Castle from Southampton to Cape Town in 1912 identifies him as a dentist.  An earlier voyage from Southampton to Cape Town has also been identified in 1907.  A return journey on the Balmoral Castle on 2nd June 1915 indicates Thomas was an engineer from Transvaal.  The Thiepval Database indicates he Graduated at Trinity College, Dublin and worked in the mining fields of S Africa.  Thomas is included on Portora Great War Memorial in Enniskillen, Portora Royal School, Fermanagh. He is also included on the memorial of the Chemical, Metallurgical and Mining Society of South Africa Great War Memorial.  Thomas had joined the Society in April 1911, employed by Simmer East Limited, as a sampler.

For profiles of the NCOs and men that died at Montauban, see Anniversary 1st July 1916 III Platoon Men.

For the details of the 1st July 1916 action, see The Big Push – Montauban.

Section of Panel 13C at Thiepval Memorial

Section of Panel 13C at Thiepval Memorial