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.
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
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.
Five Historic Archives
Four French Deaths;
Three Shot at Dawn;
Two Football Games
and a Horse left in the German Wire.
The 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
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. Bert 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.
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 IX Platoon including William Priestley Brock for his grandaughter Anne Wakefield (nee Brock)
Here’s the link to Dianne Norwood’s site in her grandad. www.manchesterpals.co.uk. George was Signal Sergeant for the 17th Battalion, surviving hostilities and finishing the war as an Officer Cadet. Dianne is seeking a Menu for her Grandad’s Christmas Dinner in 1916! More to follow…
George Royle Snr & George Royle Jnr. Courtesy Dianne Norwood
Here’s some photos to help Dianne with the photo ID in the Xiv Platoon Pic. I think George is in the middle of the second row from the back, behind Lieutenant Whittall.
Gerorge Royle Xiv Pln 17th Bttn?
George Royle Courtesy Dianne Norwood BBC Memorial Wall
Signal Sergeant George Royle with 3 stripes on his lower sleeve signifying no. of years service overseas.
8852 Sergeant George Royle of the 17th Manchesters also won awards for valour (Croix de Guerre) and I’m seeking further details of Dianne’s grandfather’s MM. This information is not included in the Official Record but Michael Stedman’s schedule for the DCM does recognise George’s MM. Here’s the link for Dianne’s further work https://livesofthefirstworldwar.org/lifestory/3848370
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
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.
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.
Frank Dunn with his new wife. This photo was carried in his tunic during his time on the Somme.
Frank Dunn and other troops wearing hospital blues with men from a multitude of other regiments.
Frank Dunn – fifth from left – and other members of C Company – probably XII Pln. at Heaton Park 24th November 1914.
Frank Dunn – fifth from left – and other members of the Guard at Heaton Park. Postmark 21st October 1914. Courtesy Clive Dunn.
XII Platoon Roll Courtesy Manchesters Forum and Book of Honour
Frank Dunn Front Right- and other troops wearing hospital blues.
Frank Dunn – L/H Kneeling and men from C Company at Heaton Park. The Original tents and frames of the new huts can be seen under construction. Post marked 16th October 1914.