Tag Archives: Trones

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!


Anniversary 9th / 10th July 1916 – III Platoon Men

Picture Courtesy IWM864

The 90th Brigade assault on Trones Wood on the morning of 9th July was initially successful and the 17th Manchesters occupied the northern part of the wood. Following continuing German bombardment the position became untenable and the Battalion withdrew at 5.30pm. At this stage, communication with outlying Platoons and Sections was impossible and many men were left behind when the Germans launched a successful counter-attack. Few men returned and many were taken prisoner. Today we remember the men of III Platoon who died. None of these have known graves; being commemorated at the Thiepval Memorial. The Commonwealth War Grave Commission register the date of death as 10th July, although many of these men will have lost their lives the previous day.

It is not clear which officer was in command of III Platoon. Please see Trones Wood for details of the Officer casualties. These prominently include the diarist 2nd Lieutenant Kenneth Callan Macardle

The most senior NCO, from III Platoon to have died at Trones Wood, was Sergeant Louis Linney 8705. Born in Failsworth, Louis was living at Clayton Bridge before he enlisted and worked at Haslams Limited. He was 28 when he died, having been promoted through the ranks from Lance Corporal in the Heaton Park Roll.

Roll of Honour Broadmeadow S.Amongst the other casualties of III Platoon was, former Lance Corporal Stephen Broadmeadow 8084, who had been out drinking with Arthur Bell in Grantham, during their stay at Belton Park. Following promotion to Lance Sergeant, he was Killed in Action at Trones Wood on 10th July 1916, aged 31. Stephen is commemorated on Memorials at Sale Rugby Club and Sale United Church. Courtesy Trafford War Dead. Stephen left is effects to his father Joseph. He had been born in Moss Side and educated at St Margaret’s School Whalley Range and then St Mary’s School, Ashton on Mersey.

Thomas Barnett Courtesy Adelphi Book of Remembrance

Thomas Barnett Courtesy Adelphi Book of Remembrance

Lance Corporal F. Thomas Barnett 8387 was another NCO that died at Trones Wood. Aged 29, Thomas had been born in Lower Broughton.   He was one of the 1,080 members of the Adelphi Lads Club, Salford, to have served in the War. Resources – Salford War Memorials.


Also missing from III Platoon at Trones Wood was 8364 Private Walter Ashton. Before the war, Walter had worked as a pawnbroker’s assistant and resident in Stalybridge. He had been a member of Foundry St Primitive Methodist Church and is named on Chapel Hill Memorial and the Baptist Church Memorial, Dukenfield.

David Midgley & Sons Ltd - R Schofield & J LawA second Private to have lost his life at Trones Wood was 8703 John Laws. John had been born in St James Parish in Salford.   John’s Will shows he was married to Agnes and lived at Cornet Street, Higher Broughton in Salford.  The Roll of Honour indicates he was employed by David Midgley & Sons Ltd, enlisting with Robert Schofield.

Trones Wood 10/8/1916 IWM Q861

Trones Wood 10/8/1916 IWM Q861

South African Infantry helping Manchesters at Trones Wood

Private Walter Giddy - 2nd South African Infantry.  Courtesy http://www.delvillewood.com/giddy.htm

Private Walter Giddy – 2nd South African Infantry. Courtesy http://www.delvillewood.com/giddy.htm

Spanning almost one hundred years and thousands of miles between continents, the internet has led me to corresponding reports of events involving Empire troops and Arthur Bell.  This has subsequently led to contact with the great niece of one of the South African troops who may have helped my grandfather rescue a wounded Sergeant Major near Trones Wood.

Extracts of the diary of a young 2nd South African Infantry man can be found on this link for which I acknowledge copyright for the photo and extracts below. DELVILLE WOOD. Private Walter Giddy’s Battalion was defending Bernafay Wood in the period the 17th Manchesters were assaulting Trones Wood.  Lieutenant Ralph Miller and Arthur Bell were assisted by South African troops when they went to recover the wounded Company Sergeant Major Charles Johnson.  Extracts of Walter Giddy’s diary may suggest he was with those men.

9th July 1916

“Shall never forget it, as long as I live. Coming up the trench we were shelled the whole time, and to see a string a wounded making their way to a dressing station, those who can walk or hobble along…The Manchesters had to evacuate the wood below us, and we the one along here…

10th July 1916

… Of course we’ve dug in a bit, but its no protection against those big German shells… The S.A. lads in our platoon have stuck it splendidly, it has been a tough trial this.

We heard cries from the wood further down, and Geoghan and Edkins went to investigate, finding three wounded men lying down in the open. They had been lying there three days among their own dead, and had been buried a couple of times by their own shells, and the one brought in had been wounded again. They asked for four volunteers to bring in the other two, so off we went. It was an awful half hour, but we were well repaid by the grateful looks on their haggard faces. Poor old Geoghan was hit, his head was split off by shrapnel. Four of us buried him this morning.”

Extracts of Arthur Bell’s notes tell us:-

 “Who will volunteer to bring back Sergt. Major “J” (Johnson) – this was Lieut. Jockey M. (Miller) outside Trones Wood one day…Right, so we set off along the trenches.  The Lieutenant must have known where to look, for we got to the Sergt. Major without much trouble.  He was quite unconscious, hit in the face and elsewhere.  Nearby were some South African soldiers and one of them volunteered to help to carry the S.M. back to our lines.  He – the S.M – was a very heavy man…We went back over the top via the Briquetterie and the Sunken Road….”

The suggestion that the troops were wounded three days before, indicates that the men may not have been Manchesters – who had advanced from Bernafay Wood on the morning of 9th July; withdrawn that afternoon and waited near the Briqueterie on the 10th.  However, the 2nd SA Infantry had not been in Bernafay Wood long enough for Walter to assess this time accurately.

Charles Johnson. March 1915

Charles Johnson. March 1915

On the other hand, CSM Johnson had many injuries consistent with multiple wounds.  It may seem Edkins helped Arthur Bell carry the stretcher and Walter Giddy, Geoghan and their Section helped recover the other two wounded men.  It is possible Lieutenant Miller and Arthur Bell had made their way up to Bernafay Wood on the 10th July, consistent with Walter’s story.

Walter Giddy was born at Barkly East, Cape Province, South Africa, in 1895. He was the third son of Henry Richard Giddy and Catherine Octavia Dicks/Giddy. Walter was schooled at Dale’s College in King Williamstown. He voluntereed, together with friends, for overseas military service in 1915. He served in the 2nd S.A. Infantry Regiment. Having survived the battle of Delville Wood, he was killed by shrapnel on the 12th April 1917 near Fampoux. Walter Giddy is commemorated by a Special Memorial in Point du Jour Military Cemetary.

Arthur D Geoghan is buried in Ovillers Military Cemetery.  His Grave indicates he died on 9th July, slightly contradicting Walter Giddy’s diary.

Pt. Vernon Edkins - 2nd South African Infantry.

Pt. Vernon Edkins – 2nd South African Infantry. Courtesy SAMHS

Vernon Jeffrey Edkins was the youngest son of Albert and Gertrude Edkins of Clifton, Cambridge (later incorporated into the City of East London in the Eastern Cape) Vernon died on 14th July after wounds received on 13th July during the infamous attack on DELVILLE WOOD. Vernon Edkins’ great niece, Iris Howes, contacted me and directed me to her review of  three great Uncles’ service in the war.  South African Military History Society – East London’s Edkins brothers in WWI This has a treasure trove of  documents, phots and plans.  My grandad, and Iris’s great uncle would be happy we have compared notes – particularly if it were these two men that carried CSM Johnson’s stretcher on 9th or 10th July 1916.

2nd Lieutenant Ralph (Jockey) Mariller Miller died in the assault on Guillemont | 17th Manchester Regiment on the Somme. Arthur Bell showed a great deal of respect for Ralph Miller and he will have a separate Entry.

Charles JohnsonFollowing transfer to Norwich war hospital CSM Charles Johnson eventually recovered from wounds to his left foot, face, hands and thigh. He was discharged with a Silver War Badge and Kings Certificate | 17th Manchester Regiment on the Somme.in February 1918 and convalesced in Weston-Super-Mare – with his parents Thomas and Mary Johnson – prior to returning to Manchester.  Charles Johnson had been employed as a printed cloth salesman at  Tootal, Broadhurst & Lee before the war.  The photos show Charles in March 1915 when he held the Rank of CQMS.  He was promoted to CSM that October, prior to embarkation to France.

For more information on events on 9th / 10th July 1916, see Trones Wood | 17th Manchester Regiment on the Somme.

WW1 Somme Art

I found this image on the Imperial War Museum site some time age.  I will post the artists’s details when I find it again.  In the meantime I hope visitors will appreciate the detail and atmosphere created by what first appears a simple sketch.

Artillery attack Trones Wood IWM 6848

Artillery attack Trones Wood IWM 6848










German observer watching British bombardment near Trones Wood?

British bombardment near Trones Wood Aug. 1916. IWM Q1171.  The image appears to show the observer looking west past Trones towards shelling of Guillemont.

British bombardment near Trones Wood Aug. 1916. IWM Q1171

I’ve posted this photo in the Guillemont section of the site, although I’m not sure where this German observer is standing or looking.  https://17thmanchesters.wordpress.com/guillemont/

We can see the wood is to the side of the bombardment which is described as British and the photo was taken in August 1916.  Trones Wood together with the area west and immediately south of it was held by the British by August.  It follows the observer must be south east and the British shells must be falling east of the wood.

The wood appears quite close and a little downhill from the observer, which suggests the German soldier may have been near Maltz Horn Farm.  Should this be the case, the trench would be Maltz Horn trench.  This area was taken by British forces in early August.  I still can’t work out why the bombardment would appear to have been falling so close to the wood.

I am planning a trip in July and will try to take a contemporary photo of the same view.  If any posters have other ideas, please leave a comment