1/9th Battalion Manchester Regiment in France 1917-18

March 1917:

On the 4th March, 1917 the 9th Battalion embarked on HMT Arcadian bound for France. They disembarked at Marseilles on 11th March and moved by train to Pont Remy, arriving there on the 14th March. From Pont Remy the 42nd Division was moved to an area ten miles east of Amiens, there the 9th Battalion was issued with rifles and steel helmets. They began training on the tactics of trench warfare, trench digging, route marches were also order of the day.

1/9th Manchesters France March 1917

On the 21st March, 1917 Private ARNOLD PEARSON (351087 formerly 2787) was killed in action. He is commemorated at Pozieres Memorial.

April 1917:

The Battalion moved to Haquaix on 18th April, and on the evening of 22nd April they took over a section of the front line and support line at Epehy; the first time they had been in the front lines since Gallipoli.

1/9th Manchesters France April 1917

April Casualties:

Rank No. 1st Name MI Surname Died Cause
Pte. 351494 WILLIAM NALLY 24-Apr KIA
Pte. 351324 JOHN W JEVONS 25-Apr KIA
Pte. 351625 HARRY LORD 25-Apr KIA
Pte. 352320 SAMUEL LORD 25-Apr KIA
Pte. 350582 HENRY McCLUSKEY 29-Apr KIA
Pte. 350809 JAMES McDONALD 29-Apr KIA
Pte. 351976 ROBERT CAMPBELL 29-Apr KIA
1/9th Manchesters Casualties April 1917

May 1917:

The Battalion moved to billets in Marquaix; the same ones they had occupied earlier in April. They moved into the front line on May 5th. On the evening of May 6th, 2/Lt Cooke was mortally wounded.  The Battalion went into reserve on the evening of May 9th, moving to Templeux Quarry, and returning to the line again on May 13th. They were relieved on May 17th and marched to billets at Villers Faucon.

On May 19th they moved to Bertincourt, via Equancourt, and went into billets. They moved into the reserve line at Havrincourt Wood on May 21st and spent their time digging and consolidating trenches. Two days after 2/Lt. Cooke died of wounds on May 24th, Pte. Harry Holden was awarded the Military Medal, most likely for carrying him back to safety.

On the evening of May 29, 1917 a patrol composed of Lt. Phillip Sydney Marsden and 3 privates was fired on by the enemy. Lt. Marsden and one of the men were hit, both in the abdomen. The two remaining privates carried back the two wounded men 300 yards under fire and then obtained a stretcher and some assistance. Lt. Marsden died an hour after he was brought in and the private some hours later.

1/9th Manchesters France May 1917

May Casualties:

Rank No. 1st Name MI Surname Died Cause
Pte. 350681 JEREMY BARKER 6-May KIA
Sgt. 351175 THOMAS H LEE 6-May DoW
L/Cpl. 351697 STANLEY GREEN 7-May KIA
Pte. 352014 JAMES HOWARD 7-May KIA
Pte. 350297 JOSEPH GEE 8-May DoW
Pte. 351648 FRANK SHEPHERD 9-May KIA
Pte. 352238 EDWARD SKIRVIN 9-May DoW
Pte. 351774 THOMAS NORMAN 10-May DoW
Pte. 351372 ROBERT FOSTER 14-May DoW
Pte. 350379 ROBERT AL THOMAS 15-May KIA
Pte. 350298 HERBERT POTTER 29-May KIA
Pte. 350454 TOM FIELDING 30-May DoW
1/9th Manchesters Casualties May 1917

June 1917:

The Battalion was in the line at Havrincourt Wood at the start of the month being relieved on June 5th and moving to Ruyaulcourt. They moved back into the line at Havrincourt Wood from June 12-16, moving to Ytres when relieved. They spent time training at Ytres before returning to the reserve line at Havrincourt Wood on June 21st.

The Battalion remained in the line for the remainder of the month and whilst there all companies were engaged in the digging of firing and communication trenches at night under cover of darkness.

1/9th Manchesters France June 1917

June Casualties:

Rank No. 1st Name MI Surname Died Cause
Cpl. 350351 JOSEPH WILDE 3-Jun KIA
Pte. 352196 WILLIAM RAWSON 20-Jun KIA
Cpl. 350520 ARTHUR SPURRETT 26-Jun KIA
Pte. 351936 ARTHUR HAGGER 30-Jun KIA
1/9th Manchesters Casualties June 1917

July 1917:

The Battalion went into a reserve area on 9th July, undertaking various training exercises and rest.

July Casualties:

Rank No. 1st Name MI Surname Died Cause
Cpl. 350512 RAYMOND GIBSON 3-Jul KIA
Pte. 351171 ELLIS BOWKER 3-Jul KIA
Pte. 351716 TOM MOSS 3-Jul DoW
Pte. 375895 BERTRAM ATKIN 4-Jul KIA
Pte. 400212 JOHN MURPHY 23-Jul DoW
Pte. 400602 JOHN H MARSH 23-Jul KIA
Pte. 400720 ALFRED A OVERTON 23-Jul DoW
1/9th Manchesters Casualties July 1917

August 1917:

On the 22nd August they were entrained, bound for Ypres, and suffered only one death, Private JOSEPH REYNER (350880) who died of wounds on August 30, 1917 and is buried at Ruyaulcourt Military Cemetery.

1/9th Manchesters Casualties Aug 1917

September 1917:

In September the 42nd Division took over a sector almost a mile in width, enduring appalling conditions due to bad weather and constant heavy enemy shellfire.

September Casualties:

Rank No. 1st Name MI Surname Died Cause
Pte. 351748 CYRIL J WELFORD 1-Sep KIA
Pte. 352672 HARRY LUNN 2-Sep KIA
Pte. 350646 GEORGE ROBSON 3-Sep KIA
Pte. 352013 MICHAEL ROGAN 5-Sep KIA
Pte. 376856 JOSEPH E SELLERS 6-Sep KIA
Pte. 34276 SETH WALLEY 12-Sep KIA
Pte. 352239 HERBERT WOOD 12-Sep KIA
Pte. 351685 JOSEPH LINDLEY 13-Sep KIA
Pte. 350290 THOMAS GASKELL 14-Sep KIA
Pte. 35481 JAMES W SMITH 14-Sep KIA
Pte. 51422 GEORGE BELL 14-Sep KIA
Pte. 350993 STANLEY STRUTT 14-Sep KIA
Cpl. 350522 WILLIAM SMITH 15-Sep KIA
Pte. 376681 FRANK DYSON 16-Sep DoW
1/9th Manchesters Casualties Sept 1917

The 9th battalion left the front line at the end of September and took over the coastal defence at the Nieuport front, under constant shellfire and aerial attack. In December the battalion went into the line near Bethune with the 10th battalion.

During this period the following casualties were recorded:

Rank No. 1st Name MI Surname Died Cause
Pte. 50293 SIDNEY WATSON 24-Oct KIA
Pte. 351696 JOHN H MOORES 24-Oct KIA
Pte. 351732 WILLIAM BOURNE 24-Oct KIA
1/9th Manchesters Casualties Oct 1917
Rank No. 1st Name MI Surname Died Cause
Pte. 351273 WILLIAM LEECH 3-Nov KIA
Pte. 351909 THOMAS BLAZE 3-Nov KIA
Pte. 351224 ELLIS HIBBERT 6-Nov DoW
Pte. 350869 WALTER LEECH 8-Nov DoW
Pte. 350538 THOMAS BUTLER 12-Dec KIA
1/9th Manchesters Casualties Nov 1917

The battalion moved to Gorre on the 24th January where trench warfare continued with raids from both sides. In a raid on the 11th February, 1918 the battalion went over the top in a successful action in the sector opposite Festubert, with artillery stopping any German escape or reinforcements.

On the 15th March the battalion was withdrawn to the Busnes/Burbure/Fouquieres area. The army was going through a dramatic reconstruction at this time with brigades being reduced from 4 to 3 battalions. Some 260 officers and men of the 9th joined with the 2/9th while 210 others joined the 1/5th and the 1/6th. Other men were used to supply drafts to under strength battalions, like the 1st Notts & Derby Regiment.

Those left in the battalion remained as a training cadre. In August 1918 they absorbed the 13th Manchesters and were later reconstituted as the 9th battalion. They ended the war in Soire le Chateau near Avesnes.

Note: Much of the original text for 1918 was taken from the www.themanchesters.org and is their copyright.

Commanding Officers
A list of the Battalion’s Commanding Officers in World War One can be found here.

1/9th Manchesters 1914-15

1/9th Manchesters 1916-17


1/9th Battalion Manchester Regiment in Egypt 1916-17

The 9th Battalion left Mudros in early January and landed at Alexandria on January 17, 1916. They were taken by train from Alexandria to Cairo and from Cairo Station to Mena Camp by tram. Mena Camp was situated about 10 miles West of the centre of Cairo just on the outskirts of the city and took its name from Mena House, an old hotel located near the Giza pyramids.

A week later they moved to Tel-el-Kebir which is located about 68 miles north-north-east of Cairo and 25 miles West of Ismailia. Shortly after, they moved to El Shallufa on the Suez Canal, making camp on the East of the canal. On February 10th they moved again to El Kabrit, about 20 miles north of Suez where they remained for some time.

Map: Battalion Locations January to June 1916

January – June was spent rebuilding the Division by the addition of new recruits from England and soldiers rejoining from hospital to replace those lost in Gallipoli and the longest serving Territorials whose time had expired. The battalion was engaged in improving the canal fortifications needed to protect the Southern route across the Sinai from raiding parties (since no large army could cross quickly without first building rail and water supplies).

There were 3 routes across the Sinai; the Northern Route which covered El Arish to B’ir Qatia to El Qantara (known as Kantara to the Allies); the Central Route (which followed the Ismailia to Maghara Road), and the Southern Route. Militarily, each route had a base of operations which were El Qantara, El Ferdan and Shallufa respectively. Since the central and southern routes were impassible to a large force without first building supply lines these two routes were defended by the Allies from small raiding parties through a three tier defence of an outpost approximately 7 miles out from the canal, with a second outpost 3 1/2 miles out and a bridgehead at the canal itself. Much effort was spent consolidating these outposts and linking them together via signals and other communications.

Beginning in January 1916, a new railway was constructed, by the British and Egyptian allied ‘Egyptian Expeditionary Force’ (EEF), from El Qantara to Romani, and was planned to continue eastward through the Sinai to El Arish and Rafa on the border with the Ottoman Empire. A water pipeline and telegraph line were simultaneously constructed along the same route by the Royal Engineers.

April (Suez):

In April the Battalion moved south to Suez and began to engage in divisional training and route marches. On April 26th the Battalion suffered 2 fatalities and several wounded during a training exercise when a bomb exploded accidentally. And the next day a man was accidentally killed when he was shot as another man cleaned his weapon which accidentally discharged.

June (Abū al ‘Urūq):

By the end of June, 17 Officers and around 500 Other Ranks had joined (or rejoined) the Battalion. The Battalion was then effectively back to full strength. In late June the Division moved to El Ferdan, and then to Abū al ‘Urūq, to assist with the fortifications of the central route since they were now fully recovered and acclimated to the harsh desert conditions and summer heat. Fortification work and training continued throughout July until the 23rd.

July (El Qantara):

In July, intelligence reports indicated a large Turkish force, led by German Officers, was making its way Westwards from El Arish along the Northern Route. 8th Corp, to which the 42nd Division belonged, was transformed into a Mobile Column and sent to meet this force which was moving towards the Suez Canal.

On July 25th, the Battalion marched overnight from Abū al ‘Urūq to El Ferdan, so that they could cross the canal, and then the following night made their way to El Qantara (and on to Hill 40), via Al Ballāḩ. Soldiers considered not fit enough for the upcoming difficult desert marches were left at El Qantara. At this point the Battalion was re-equipped to operate as a Mobile Column.

Map: Battalion Locations July 1916 to March 1917


August (Pelusium):

On Aug 4th the Battalion marched to Gilban, which was a station on the newly constructed railway along the Northern Route. The rest of the Division entrained to Hill 70 from where the 127th Bde marched across the desert to support the Anzacs at the Battle of Romani. The 126th Bde moved to Pelusium by train on August 8th where they were held in Corps reserve. The Battalion remained at Pelusium for the rest of August engaged in outpost duty, training and route marching.

September (Oghratina):

After the allied victory at Romani, defence turned into offence and the railway and water pipes were slowly extended eastwards.  The 42nd Division was pushed out ahead to protect the new construction from raiders who were mainly Bedouin tribesmen allied with the Turks.

The Battalion marched to Romani on Sept 9th and then on to Er Rabah the following day and Oghratina, which was considered to be the outpost line, on the 11th. On Sept 21st they moved into reserve at Hod en Negiliat, (a “hod” is a plantation of date palms). Battalion went back into the line at Oghratina on October 2nd and remained there until October 24th during which time they were engaged in training and route marches once again.

October & November (Bîr el-‛Abd):

In October the railway reached Bîr el-‛Abd (30 miles East of Romani) and the Battalion marched there from Oghratina on October 25th. In November it reached Bîr Salmâna and Abu Tilûl before arriving at Al Mazār.

The Battalion marched to Kilo 60 (Bîr Salmâna) on November 9th and then on to Kilo 100 (Abu Tilûl) the following day. Two weeks later, the Battalion marched to Al Mazār on November 24th. Here the Battalion spent 3 days being disinfected using a mobile system sent out by rail especially for the troops who had been living under canvas since arriving in Egypt.

December (Al Mazār):

In December an offensive was launched against the Turks at El Arish but by the time the Corps was ready to engage, the Turks had fled. The Battalion marched to Kilo 128 on December 20th in preparation, but were ordered to return to Al Mazār the following day.

1917 (Moascar):

The 42nd Division marched into El Arish in mid January 1917 and spent two weeks there by the sea. But at the end of January they were ordered back to the Suez Canal in preparation for their imminent deployment to France. The Division arrived at El Qantara by train in early February and then marched to camp at Moascar. They left Moascar for Alexandria by train on March 1st to sail for France on March 4th.


Throughout their time in Egypt, during 1916 and 1917, there was little danger from hostile forces, their main threat being sickness and disease brought on by unsanitary conditions and the harsh summer climate of the Sinai desert.

Rank No. 1st Name MI Surname When How
Pte. 2088 WILLIAM H COOKE1 19-Jan Died
Pte. 1744 ANTHONY SHERIDAN 25-Feb Sickness
Pte. 3260 JAMES W MANSFIELD1 7-Apr Sickness
Pte. 2327 THOMAS SMITH 26-Apr Bomb
Pte. 3244 ERNEST CHADDERTON 26-Apr Bomb
Pte. 3483 JOHN HEGGINBOTTOM 27-Apr Shot
Pte. 3029 TOM A CARR 2-May Died
Pte. 2341 PERCY NICHOLSON 13-May Died
Pte. 3987 HARRY H KERRICK 28-Oct Sickness

Note 1: These men died and were buried in the UK (St. Paul’s Church Stalybridge and Dukinfield Cemetery respectively) and so it is highly unlikely that they served in Egypt in 1916.

On March 4, 1917, the same day that the Battalion embarked for France, the final Egyptian casualty, Private JAMES KERR (1984), died of pneumonia in Hospital in Ismailia.  He was buried at the Ismailia War Memorial Cemetery.


During 1916 several Officers and men were officially recognized for their long exemplary service and for individual acts of bravery in Gallipoli as prior recommendations worked their way through the honours process.

On January 28, 1916 the following men of the 1/9th Manchester Regiment were mentioned in despatches for their part in the Battle of Krithia Vineyard.

Second Lieutenant (temporary Captain) O. J. Sutton
Lieutenant W. T. Forshaw, V.C.
Second Lieutenant C. E. Cooke.
No. 180 Sergeant S. Bayley.
No. 2103 Corporal T. Pickford.
No. 2148 Lance-Corporal S. Pearson.
No. 1294 Private F. Chevalier.
No. 1160 Drummer H. Broadhurst.

In February, information was received that Capt. O. J. SUTTON and 2/Lieut. E. COOKE had each been awarded the Military Cross, and L/Cpl. PEARSON and Cpl. PICKFORD the D.C.M.

In August the Battalion received orders which in part contained the following entries:

Qtr. Mr. & Hon Major CONNERY                – awarded Military Cross
No 1792               L/Cpl. DAVIES A.               – awarded D.C.M.
No 1623               Sgt. GREENHALGH J.     – awarded D.C.M.
No 1083               Pte. LITTLEFORD S.       – awarded D.C.M.

1792 L/Cpl. A. DAVIES, DCM
For conspicuous gallantry when covering a retirement under a very heavy fire at a few yards range. [Gazetted June 21, 1916 for the actions of December 19, 1915]

For conspicuous gallantry when covering a retirement under a very heavy fire at a few yards range. [Gazetted June 21, 1916 for the actions of December 19, 1915]

For conspicuous gallantry in flinging a lighted bomb over the parapet, and thus probably saving many casualties. He was himself wounded in the arm by the explosion. [Gazetted June 21, 1916]

Desert Glossary:

Sabkha:                A salt flat with a thin crust and very muddy underneath.

Hod:                      A planting of palm trees, a palm grove.

B’ir:                        A well from which water can be pumped to the surface.

Kathīb:                 A large sand dune or other elevation less than 300m.


1/9th Manchesters 1914-15

1/9th Manchesters 1917-18


Military operations : Gallipoli. Vol. 2.
by Cecil Faber Aspinall-Oglander; A F Becke.

Chapter XIII. The Action of the 6th/7th August at Helles

It has already been shown that Sir Ian Hamilton’s plan demanded nothing more from the VIII Corps at the opening of the August offensive than a series of holding attacks.

The initial attack was to be a small operation to flatten out the Turkish salient astride the two forks of Kirte Dere. This entailed the capture of a network of short trenches and strongpoints, on a frontage of approximately one mile. Owing to the limited amount of artillery available, the operation was divided into two halves. The northern half of the objective was to be captured by the 88th Brigade (29th Division) on the evening of the 6th. The southern half would be taken by the 125th and 127th Brigades (42nd Division) on the morning of the 7th. Both attacks would be supported, under corps arrangements, by every gun and howitzer that could be brought to bear, and also, under divisional arrangements, by fire from massed machine guns.1 Naval support would be available once more, for the sailors, rising as usual to the occasion, had organized a squadron of special ships, more or less immune to submarine attack, to help the army with their fire2.

It was expected that by this method of dividing the operation into two halves the weight of artillery available would enable both parts of the objective to be taken with comparatively little trouble; and in full anticipation of success, the VIII Corps had completed plans for further and more extended operations to be undertaken on subsequent days. So great, indeed, was the confidence at corps headquarters that the intentions of the Commander-in-Chief with regard to the limited role of the VIII Corps were apparently overlooked, and on the morning of the 6th August a special corps order referred to the early capture of Krithia and Achi Baba:

The attack today is the first stage of operations which will, it is hoped, at last carry us on to the position for which all ranks have so hardly fought since the landing … It is now the beginning of a fresh year of war, and it is hoped that the advance of the VIII Corps will be the turning-point, and the capture of Krithia and Achi Baba the first steps towards the final victory.

These were rash words. In point of fact, the amount of high-explosive shells at Helles was entirely inadequate for the first day’s task.

Here it should be noticed that since the invaliding of General Hunter-Weston the VIII Corps had had only a titular commander. It was commanded for a few days in July by General Stopford, who had only just arrived from England and knew nothing of local conditions. After Stopford’s departure to open his own corps headquarters at Imbros, Major-General Douglas of the 42nd Division had assumed temporary command.3 Thus throughout the preparations for the attack, and during the actual fighting on the 6th and 7th of August, an unusual amount of authority was wielded by the senior staff officer of the corps, Br-General H. E. Street, who had been General Hunter-Weston’s right-hand man since the 25th April. This very capable officer had one blind spot: he could not bring himself to admit the increasing difficulties that confronted the troops at the southern end of the peninsula.

The function of a staff officer is to assist his chief, and to advice when asked to do so, but the responsibility for decisions belongs to the chief alone. For this reason a staff officer’s opinion is often more care-free than that of a commander, and many a chief of staff might find his confidence abating were he to suddenly find himself placed in high command.

For the attack on the afternoon of the 6th August, Br.-General D. E. Cayley (88th Brigade) had the 4/Worcestershire on the right, the 2/Hampshire in the centre, the 1/Essex on the left, and the 1/5th Royal Scots in brigade reserve. The task of the Worcestershire was limited to the capture of the Turkish front-line trench H.13. It was a difficult task, however for here the breadth of No Man’s Land was at least 300 yards, and the assaulting troops were likely to be enfiladed from both flanks. To protect their right as much as possible, it had been arranged that one battalion of the 42nd Division (the 1/5th Manchester Regiment) should simultaneously advance against two small trenches on the right bank of West Krithia Nullah,4 called H.11a and H.11b.

Order of Battle
From Military operations : Gallipoli. Vol. 2, Aspinall-Oglander

The task of the 2/Hampshire, in the centre of the line, was more difficult still. The battalion’s objective included two lines of trenches and a formidable strong-point. On the left, the 1/Essex had a shorter distance to go and could attack its objective from two sides. But the Essex too had a double row of trenches to capture, including a small redoubt.

The heavy artillery was to begin a slow bombardment at 2:20pm; the field artillery and the machine guns were to join in an hour later; and the infantry assault was to be launched at ten minutes to four.

The morning of the 6th August was fine and clear, with scarcely a breath of wind. The 1/5th Manchesters had moved into the front line overnight, and soon after daybreak the 88th Brigade filed up the communication trenches to relieve the 86th Brigade in the battalion sectors known as Hampshire Cut, Essex Knoll, and Worcestershire Flat.5

By 8am the assaulting troops were all in their assembly positions, and then followed a wait of over seven hours for the moment of assault to arrive. The day was oppressively hot, and there was little or no shade. All ranks, however, were in good spirits. In the 88th Brigade the three assaulting battalions had lately been brought up to war strength with well-trained drafts from home,6 and each battalion was going into action with 24 officers and over 800 men. Encouraged by this recent accession of strength, braced by their short rest at Mudros, and heartened by the corps belief that Achi Baba could really be captured at last, the “old hands” of the brigade were quietly confident about the relatively small task required of them that day.

The Turks had been unusually quiet of late in the Helles sector, and their only activity since the beginning of the month had been a half-hearted raid on the British line at Fusilier Bluff on the morning of 2nd August. But their silence can now be explained: they were saving ammunition for the big attack they had long been warned to expect. No hint had yet reached them that an attack at Helles was imminent, but all preparations had been made to meet eventualities and the Turkish battle-front in the south was well organized and prepared.7 It is now known, moreover, that the trenches astride the Krithia nullahs were regarded by the Turks as the most likely locality for a small British attack.

Within a few seconds of the opening of the British bombardment it was answered by heavy and sustained fire from the enemy’s batteries.8 Considerable casualties were sustained in the crowded British trenches; all the telephone lines from battalion to brigade were cut; communication trenches were badly knocked about; and two British guns were put out of action. General Davies,9 who was watching the operation as a spectator, has placed it on record that, fresh from the Western front, he was “horrified” at the total inadequacy of the British “bombardment”.

Punctually at 3:5opm the infantry surged forward to the assault. For the first few seconds all appeared to be going well. The troops in the centre disappeared over the low crest about 50 yards beyond the British line with practically no loss; the Essex on the left and the Manchesters on the right were seen to reach the nearest Turkish trenches with hardly a casualty; and watchers in the rear were soon reporting that the objectives had all been taken.

But the truth, as soon realized by 88th Brigade headquarters, though not by higher formations till many hours later, was altogether different. The strength of the Turkish defensive organization had been gravely miscalculated. A few minutes after zero hour the 88th Brigade had been shattered.

By a counter-attack from West Krithia Nullah the Manchesters on the right were soon driven from the trench which they had captured. On the left the Essex came under a withering fire as soon as they tried to move forward from the Turkish front line, and after losing very heavily, especially among their officers, were forced to give ground.

In the centre, long before the Worcestershire and the Hampshire could cross the broad expanse of No-Man’s Land in front of them, the Turks had re-manned their positions,10 and the troops were met by a devastating machine gun fire from the front and both flanks. Very few unwounded men succeeded in reaching the enemy’s trenches, and those who did were soon attacked by overwhelming numbers. At the end of an hour the only British still holding out in this part of the line were 30 men of the Worcestershire under a sergeant. Their numbers dwindled and after nightfall the twelve survivors withdrew to their own lines.

The Turkish position was now everywhere intact except in the extreme left, where some of the Essex, under Captain H. R. Bowen, clung to a corner of H.12a till relieved an hour before dawn by two platoons of the Dublin Fusiliers.

The casualties of the 88th Brigade amounted to nearly 2,000 out of the 3,000 engaged.

Br.-General Cayley was early conscious of the failure of the attack; but, in the absence of detailed news, his reports were not credited, and at divisional and corps headquarters it was long before this grave situation was fully realized.11 So few officers amongst the attacking troops were still alive that no messages were coming in, and it was only when wounded and unwounded began to trickle back after dark that it became possible to piece together an intelligible story from their disjointed and contradictory reports.

At 7pm, believing that the Essex and Worcestershire were in possession of a large portion of their objectives, General de Lisle decided to capture the intervening portion of the Turkish line, including the strong-point to the left of the Worcestershire objective, with a night attack by the 86th Brigade.12 Thereupon the Brigadier of the 86th went forward to the advanced headquarters of the 88th, sent for the commanders of the Royal Munster and Royal Dublin Fusiliers, and told them to take their battalions to the old British front line, and to be ready to assault at 9:30pm, after a short artillery bombardment; the actual hour of attack to be notified later. At 8:30pm, it was decided to postpone this attack till half past ten. Orders to this effect reached the battalions concerned at nine o’clock.

Up in the front line, however, and in all communication trenches, the situation was chaotic, and it was impossible to form up for attack. The trenches were blocked with wounded, and by this hour only 50 men of the Munsters had reached the front line. To Lieut.-Colonel G. W. Geddes, commanding that battalion, it was clear that an attempt to attack could only end in failure, and he assumed the responsibility of reporting this to the brigade:

O.C. 1/Royal Munster Fusiliers to Brigade-Major 86th Bde.

9:10pm. I can only get one company into the front line. There is no room to get another man in owing to congestion due to number of wounded Worcestershires who are coming in over the parapet every minute. Apart from that, both Hants and Worcs officers report that position to be taken will be bound to entail enormous losses and that the result will be very doubtful of success. Am I to continue (preparations for) attack? I have informed O.C. Dublins.

The brigade-major replied:

The attack will take place as stated in my B.M. at 10:30pm. The fact of another regiment being unable to take the enemy’s trenches is no reason for the Royal Munster Fusiliers being unable to take them.

The brigade-major’s irony, however, had no effect on the battalion commander, who by this time was evidently more sure than ever that, at all costs to himself, he must get the attack postponed. At 10pm he wrote again:

The chaos is indescribable. I have only 50 men of my battalion with me. I cannot state when I shall be ready to attack. The firing line is subjected to heavy rifle and machine-gun fire. The left of the Worcestershire is uncertain. I have informed the Dublins I am not ready to attack, and not to do so till I inform him that I am.

This message had some effect. At 10:42pm the 86th Brigade replied:

My B.M. 2050 is cancelled. The time for attack will be given later, but it will not be before midnight. Meanwhile the men should take as much sleep as possible.

By this time important information had been gained by the 1/5th Manchesters on the right. Earlier in the evening that battalion had been ordered to make another effort to gain its morning’s objective, and to link its left with the Worcestershire in H.13. The new effort to gain H.11b had ended in another failure, but a daring reconnaissance had subsequently discovered that H.13 was occupied throughout its length by Turks, and the officer in charge of that reconnaissance, on his way back across No Man’s Land had fallen in with the small party of Worcestershire who at that moment were slowly creeping back to the British line.

On receipt of this news General de Lisle decided at 3:15am that the projected attack by the 86th Brigade, already twice postponed, should be finally abandoned.

This was a wise decision. An attack that night on the unbroken Turkish line would probably have ended in the destruction of the 86th Brigade, and in the resulting confusion the British trenches in that sector would have been dangerously exposed to counter-attack by the Turks. In point of fact the Turks did attack from H.12a at daybreak; they drove in the small party of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers holding a corner of that trench, and obtained a footing in Hampshire Cut. But they were ejected, and the line was restored by the Dublins, supported by two companies of the Lancashire Fusiliers, at a cost to these two battalions of 240 casualties.

The first report to reach G.H.Q. of the utter failure of the Helles attack was a message from VIII Corps received at 6:35am on the 7th. The news was a bitter disappointment; but the message added that the second half of the attack, by the 42nd Division, had not been cancelled. This was taken to mean that there was no cause for anxiety, and Sir Ian Hamilton did not intervene. Certainly an attack by the 42nd would minimize the risk of the 29th Division being counter-attacked while its line was still disorganized; and, provided the situation at Helles was well in hand, the VIII Corps could best assist the northern operations by continuing to press the Turks in the southern zone.

Unfortunately for the British, however, their sacrifice at Helles the previous evening had not achieved the results hoped for. It is now known that Liman von Sanders, in view of the serious threat at Anzac and Suvla, decided at daybreak on the 7th that risks must be accepted at Helles, and ordered the Southern Group Commander – despite the latter’s vehement protests – to send his reserve division to reinforce the norther zone with all possible speed.

The frontage to be attacked by the 42nd Division, temporarily commanded by Major-General W. R. Marshall, measured only 800 yards, but as the division was far below its war strength the attack was to be made with two brigades in line. The 127th (Manchester) Brigade (Br.-General Hon. H. E. Lawrence) was on the left, the 125th (Lancashire Fusilier) Brigade (Br.-General H. C. Frith) on the right, and the 126th Brigade (Br.-General Viscount Hampden) in divisional reserve. The objective of the division was the main Turkish support line, F.13 – H.11b. The enemy’s defensive system in this part of the line was very intricate, and there was a labyrinth of small trenches near the Krithia nullahs, on the front of the 125th Brigade.

The arrangements for the attack, which was launched at 9:40am, were similar to those described for the 86th Brigade. There was a similar artillery preparation, a similar massing of machine guns to support the advancing troops; and some recently arrived trench mortars, under Captain T. Syers, R.A., were to join in the preliminary bombardment. The plan had been carefully explained to all ranks, and no step neglected that could help to ensure success.

But the results of the attack were as disappointing as those of the day before. On the left, the 127th Brigade could make no progress, and by noon, after suffering heavy casualties, the troops were back in their old lines. Early in the afternoon Br.-General Lawrence was obliged to report his brigade as temporarily unfit for further offensive effort. Its total strength amounted to only 28 officers and 700 men, or roughly that of a battalion.

On the right, where the Turkish position was weaker, the four battalions of Lancashire Fusiliers at first made some progress, and small parties of the 1/6th and 1/7th Battalions, under Major W. J. Law, succeeded in reaching the enemy’s second line. But the Turks drove them back with a counter-attack, and by midday the only portion of the captured position still in British hands was a small vineyard west of the Krithia road, behind the Turkish front line, and a short length of trench on either side of it. During the afternoon further efforts were made by the Fusiliers to recapture some of the lost ground, but in each case they were again forced to retire.

Trench Map August 7th, 1915
42nd Division War Diary

At nightfall the troops in the vineyard were still holding out gamely, but everywhere else the 125th Brigade was back in its own lines. The divisional commander at first ordered a withdrawal from this advanced and very exposed position in the vineyard. The trenches were narrow and blocked with dead and wounded, and very difficult to hold. Moreover, the position was a pronounced salient, protected on one side by only a few posts, and General Marshall feared that if the garrison was eventually driven out, the troops holding his old front line might become involved in the retirement. On learning, however, that the abandonment of the vineyard would mean leaving a number of wounded men behind, and that the officer in command was sure he could hold it, he gave him permission to try.

Not only that night but for several days the Turks made constant efforts to recapture this outlying point, but parties of the 1/6th and 1/7th Lancashire Fusiliers, reinforced later by detachments from the 1/6th East Lancashire and the 1/9th and 1/10th Manchesters,13 continued to defend it with great determination, and it was eventually incorporated in the British line.14

But the attack on the 7th had again been very costly. The casualties of the 42nd Division amounted to over 1,400 men in the two attacking brigades. In less than 24 hours, in a limited attack on a front of one mile, three brigades of the VIII Corps had lost nearly 3,500 of the 4,000 officers and men which an earlier calculation had laid down as the maximum that the whole corps could afford to lose in a series of operations to help the main offensive.15 The omens from the Helles sacrifices had not been propitious.

The full extent of these losses was not yet dreamed of at corps headquarters. But, on hearing at midday on the 7th of the almost complete failure of the 42nd Division attack, Sir Ian Hamilton determined that no further risks must be run by the Helles garrison. The vital consideration now was that the VIII Corps must not be allowed, by further costly attacks, to jeopardize its ability to hold its existing positions without outside help. Orders were issued that the Helles garrison was to undertake no more offensive operations till the march of events in the north had automatically weakened the Turkish southern line.

Next morning, as the operations planned by General Douglas were deemed to have ended, General Davies assumed command of the VIII Corps.

For the rest of August – and indeed, as events subsequently shaped themselves, for the rest of the campaign – the British and French troops in the south were destined to make no further serious attacks.16 The Turks similarly remained on the defensive, and, except that the 52nd Division succeeded in straightening out its line to the west of the vineyard in November, the opposing fronts at Helles remained virtually unchanged from the 8th August till the final evacuation exactly five months later.

Despite the failure of the operations at Helles, it is now known that they were not without their effect on the commander of the Turkish Southern Group, and that the VIII Corps staff on the 8th August were closer than they knew to the realization of their hopes. Wehib Pasha, as we have already seen, had protested strongly against the withdrawal from his command of his only reserve division. On the following day his German Chief of Staff took so serious a view of the danger to the Southern Group of losing its communications, that he personally urged Liman von Sanders to abandon the southern zone, including Achi Baba, and to transfer all the troops south of Kilid Bahr to the Asiatic shore “while there is still time to extricate them”.

But Liman von Sanders was made of sterner stuff. He replied that not one yard of ground was to be surrendered voluntarily, and the Chief of Staff was replaced.


[1.] The artillery available amounted to four 60-pounders, 16 howitzers, eighty-four 18 pounders, and ten 15 pounders, in addition to six French howitzers and a Brigade of 75’s. The 91st Heavy Battery R.G.A. (four 60 pounders) and the LXVI Brigade R.F.A. (sixteen 18 pounders) had reached Helles in the latter half of July, but all the guns of the former were out of action owing to trouble with recoil springs. [back]

[2.] This squadron, commanded by Rear-Admiral Stuart Nicholson, comprised the blistered cruiser Edgar, five monitors and five destroyers, and mounted a total of 21 heavy and 24 light guns. [back]

[3.] Lieut.-General F. J. Davies, the corps commander designate, reached Imbros on 5th August, but as operations were imminent, the Commander-in-Chief decided that he should not assume command till the first battle was over. [back]

[4.] The two branches of Kirte Dere – known as West and East Krithia Nullahs – were both about 15 to 30 feet wide, with steep banks, in places from 10 to 20 feet high. The beds of these nullahs were practically dry. [back]

[5.] From an early date the VIII Corps adopted a very convenient method of naming the Turkish trenches. These were numbered serially, with a distinctive alphabetical prefix to denote the area to which they belonged. But no similar system was used for the British line, and the student who is accustomed to any of the orderly systems eventually evolved in France is bound to be somewhat confused by the names on the Gallipoli trench diagrams. An attempt to describe the derivation of British trench names would need a book to itself, and it must suffice to say here that at Helles each battalion sector of the front line was generally given a distinct name. These would often be taken from the name given to some point in the sector by the troops who originally occupied it. Looking at the map today it is easy to imagine that names like “Border Barricade” and “Hampshire Cut” commemorate brave deeds by the regiments concerned, but it is not so easy to realize that they designated portions of fire trench. But in 1915 the position of all these trenches was well known to the troops at Helles, with plentiful sign-posts for the new comers, and the name of, say, “Essex Knoll” for a fire trench caused no more confusion than that of Haymarket or Knightsbridge for a London street. [back]

[6.] No drafts had arrived for the 1/5th Royal Scots (T.F.), and this battalion still consisted of only two companies. [back]

[7.] The Turks appear to have been holding their southern front with 5 divisions, (4 in line and 1 in support), totaling about 40,000 rifles. A sixth division was in reserve near Serafim Farm. [back]

[8.] The Turks claim to have had 62 field and mountain guns in action, and 32 medium and heavy pieces. [back]

[9.] The commander designate of the VIII Corps. [back]

[10.] During the bombardment the garrisons of the trenches had taken cover in the deep nullahs. [back]

[11.] Corps headquarters had informed divisional headquarters that they knew the Turkish front line had been captured, as their forward observation officers could see the British “metal disks” all along the trench. Actually the wearers of these disks were dead. [back]

[12.] The 86th Brigade was in divisional reserve. The 87th Brigade was holding the line on Gully Spur. The 52nd Division and Royal Naval Division were in corps reserve. [back]

[13.] W. T. Forshaw, 1/9th Manchesters, was awarded the V.C. for conspicuous gallantry. [back]

[14.] The northern edge of the vineyard was lost again on the 12th, and a trench dug across its centre became the British front line. [back]

[15.] Casualties:                           Officers                Other Ranks
29th Division, 6th August                 54                           1,851
42nd Division, 6th, 7th Aug               80                           1,482

According to Turkish official figures the Turkish losses in the south, 6th-13th August, amounted to 7,510. [back]

[16.] For gallantry during a bombing affray on 13th August, Pte. D. R. Lauder, 1/4th R. Scots Fus., was awarded the V.C. [back]

The 42nd (East Lancashire) Division

Battle of the Vineyard, August 6–7, 1915.

Pages 43-47

On July 24, Major-General Douglas had assumed temporary command of the 8th Corps until August 8, the command of the Division during that period being taken by Major-General W. R. Marshall.

On August 6 the period of comparative inactivity came to an end. The primary purpose of the Gallipoli campaign was to obtain possession of the Narrows, and thus secure command of the Dardanelles and cut off communication with the Asiatic shore. It had been hoped to achieve this by pushing forward from the south, but the original force had been far too small for the purpose. During May, June and July the Turkish garrison had been much increased, and also the supply of guns and shells, and the defences on Achi Baba greatly and most ably strengthened, whereas the British reinforcements and drafts to fill the gaps had been relatively small. There was little prospect of success by a frontal assault from Helles, and the loss that would be incurred by a futile attempt would cripple the Allies and remove all chance of ultimate success. The Commander-in-Chief decided upon an attempt to reach the Narrows at Maidos, five miles across the peninsula from Anzac, the formidable Sari Bair range intervening. A new landing was to be made on August 6 and 7 at Suvla Bay, a few miles to the north of Anzac cove, and it was hoped that the force landed here would seize the northern slopes of the Sari Bair range, while the troops from Anzac would storm the central and southern heights. On August 6 an attack was to be made from the right of Anzac in order to divert attention from both the landing and the true objective; and a vigorous offensive was ordered at Helles, with the object of containing as large a Turkish force as possible within the southern area and of drawing their reserves from the north. There appeared to be good prospects of a decisive success, and hopes were high.

The line of trenches from the Achi Baba Nullah to the Krithia Nullah (both inclusive) was held by the 125th Brigade on the right and the 127th on the left, the 126th being in reserve. The French were on the right of the 125th Brigade and the 29th Division on the left of the 127th Brigade. The 5th Manchesters, who were acting in conjunction with the 88th Brigade (29th Division) had for objective a Turkish trench on the right of that Brigade. The bombardment began at 2.30 p.m. on the 6th, and soon H.E. shells could be seen bursting in the trench which the 5th had been ordered to take.

Order of Battle
From Military operations : Gallipoli. Vol. 2, Aspinall-Oglander

At 3.50 p.m. they attacked, but on reaching the objective, found that they had been enticed into a dummy trench, without cover, and exposed to enfilade fire. To prevent the right flank of the 29th Division being left “in the air,” Captain Fawcus, commanding the first line of the 7th Manchesters, was ordered, about 8 p.m., to get into touch. Arriving at a trench which he expected to find occupied by the 88th Brigade, he called out: “Are the Worcesters there?” and was heavily fired upon. Moving to the left he still found the enemy in occupation of the trench, and fell back. On his way to rejoin the second line he came across a small party of the Worcesters and took them with him. The two parties regained the firing-line in the small hours of the morning, having lost 40 men out of 200. That Captain Fawcus returned safely was amazing, his clothes being riddled with bullets.

A few hours later the Battle of the Vineyard began, the bombardment by British and French batteries opening at 8.10 a.m., and increasing in intensity at nine o’clock when the naval guns joined in. The fire on the trenches south-east of Krithia Nullah was both heavy and accurate, but the trenches within the triangle formed by the fork of the nullahs suffered but little. Half a battalion of the 126th Brigade [9th Manchesters] was attached to the 125th Brigade on the right, and another half-battalion [9th Manchesters] to the 127th Brigade on the left. One battalion of the 126th Brigade was to hold the original line. Two batteries of machine-guns assisted by bringing a cross fire to bear on the enemy’s trenches.

At 9.40 a.m., the troops went forward with their usual dash, wearing tin back-plates that could be seen by the artillery “spotters”. On the right, the Lancashire Fusiliers gained their first objective, but the 5th and 8th found that their portion was merely a very shallow trench raked by enfilade fire. Parties of the 6th and 7th reached their second objective, but enfilade fire and superior numbers compelled them to fall back. One of the few officers to reach this objective was Major W. J. Law, 7th Lancashire Fusiliers, who took part in all the subsequent fighting in the Vineyard. Soon after 11 a.m. portions of the first objective were retaken by a strong Turkish counter-attack, but the Vineyard remained in our hands.

The 5th and 7th L.F. made a gallant effort to recover what had been lost and were partially successful. At 1.30 p.m. another enemy counter-attack in close formation was caught by our guns and brought to a standstill. The Turks suffered severely in counter-attacks upon the Vineyard, and for some hours gave up the attempt in this quarter, but resumed it late at night with no more success.

The 5th and 8th L.F. reoccupied a portion of their first objective in the evening. Parties of the 4th East Lancashires and 10th Manchesters gave great assistance both in attack and defence. On the left, the Manchesters showed similar dash and determination, but owing to the greater difficulties of the ground between and about the nullahs and to the intricacy of the Turkish trench system, which, with the nests of machine-guns, had escaped our shells, they were unable to hold any of the trenches taken in the initial assault, and their losses were grievous, the attacking lines being mown down by the enemy’s machine-guns.

The casualties during the two days were: –

Officers Other Ranks
Killed 20 203
Wounded 36 770
Missing 24 511

The result was that a tactical point of some importance had been won and held by the tenacity of the 125th Brigade, and that a large Turkish force had been pinned down when urgently needed in the north. The Turks had, indeed, been massing troops in front of the Division as they had intended to attack our lines in force, on the 6th or 7th of August. Sir Ian Hamilton telegraphed to the Corps Commander: “Your operations have been invaluable, and have given the Northern Corps the greatest possible help by drawing the main Turkish effort on yourselves. I was sure you were ready for them tonight. Well done, 8th Corps.”

But though the sacrifice had not been altogether in vain, the advance from Suvla Bay and Anzac had failed, and the conquest of the Dardanelles seemed more remote than ever. And yet for one half-hour it had seemed so near! Of all the many lamentable tragedies of the campaign surely the most dramatic, the most appealing, was that on Chunuk Bair, at dawn on the 9th of August, when companies of the 6th Gurkhas and 6th South Lancashires had stormed the cliffs and driven the Turks headlong before them. From the top of the saddle they looked down upon the promised land. Below them the goal – Maidos, and the Narrows! The way lay open and victory was in sight – was already achieved !-and the Turkish Army in the south would be cut off ! But these four hundred men alone of all the Allied troops that landed on the peninsula were destined to view the promised land. Flushed with triumph, Gurkhas and Lancastrians intermingled raced down the slopes after the fleeing Turks. And then the blow fell – truly a bolt out of the blue — a salvo of heavy shells crashing with infernal accuracy into the midst of them, mangling and destroying the exulting victors. Where that salvo came from will probably never be known with certainty, but there can be little doubt that the shells were British. The remnants of the little force could only make for shelter; there was no shelter in front, and the chance had gone, never to return.

To return to the 42nd Division. In and about the Vineyard held by the 6th and 7th Lancashire Fusiliers, the fighting surged and swayed for several days. The Turk fought gamely, with grim determination, and the casualties on both sides were heavy. The C.O.s of the two battalions had been ordered to remain at their Headquarters in communication with the Brigadier, and the Adjutants, Captains Spafford and Gledhill, held on tenaciously. Spafford was killed, and the order to retire was sent, but Gledhill’s pertinacity got this order withdrawn, and the Vineyard was held. A successful and very gallant stand against great odds was made by “A” Company, 9th Manchesters, on the nights of August 7–8, when the first V.C. awarded to the Division was won by Lieutenant W. T. Forshaw, who was in temporary command of the company. Two M.C.s and two D.C.M.s were also won by the company. Forshaw was holding the northern corner of this small oblong with a bombing party when he was attacked by a swarm of Turks who converged from three trenches. For the greater part of two days he kept them at bay, and even threw back, before they had time to explode, the bombs they threw at him. In the words of the Official Report-

“He held his own, not only directing his men and encouraging them by exposing himself with the utmost disregard of danger, but personally throwing bombs continuously for forty-one hours. When his detachment was relieved after twenty-four hours, he volunteered to continue the direction of operations. Three times during the night of August 8–9 he was again heavily attacked, and once the Turks got over the barricade; but after shooting three with his revolver he led his men forward and recaptured it. When he rejoined his battalion he was choked and sickened by bomb fumes, badly bruised by a fragment of shrapnel, and could barely lift his arm from continuous bomb throwing.”

On the 8th and 9th the 126th Brigade relieved the 125th and continued the struggle, and Lieutenant S. Collier, 6th Manchesters, gained the M.C. for a good bit of work on the right of the Vineyard. A trench held by a group of men of the 126th Brigade was fiercely attacked by enemy bombers, and its capture appeared certain. Collier, however, organized and led the defence, and though he had never before handled a bomb, he displayed much aptitude with this weapon; and in spite of persistent attacks, continued throughout the night, the Turks were beaten off. On the night of the 12th the enemy attacked in mass and captured the Vineyard, but the next day were bombed out of it, and it was finally consolidated and held. Throughout the operations the Divisional Engineers had worked and exposed themselves as fearlessly as ever. Their services were continuously in demand, and they had never been found wanting. The bulk of the work on this occasion had fallen on the 1st Field Company. The Signal Company, too, had proved how competent all its branches were. Much of its work is not done in the limelight, and it may be mentioned that the average number of messages passing through the Signal Office daily had been about three hundred. In times of stress this number was greatly increased.

On August 13, the 42nd Division was relieved in the trenches and went into Corps Reserve. The following 8th Army Corps Special Order was issued next day: –

“The 42nd Division has now been withdrawn into Reserve after having been in the firing-line for three months without relief. During this time the Division has taken part in three big attacks, and has been subjected to the continuous strain of holding, improving and extending our line and communications under constant fire.

Though some units have distinguished themselves more than others, the Division has, throughout this arduous period, displayed a dash in attack and a spirit of determination and endurance in defence which is worthy of the best traditions of the British Army. The persistence with which the enemy were held off during the recent determined attack, and part of the ground lost gradually recovered in face of strong opposition, was a fitting conclusion to the period during which the Division has been in front line.

The Lieut.-General Commanding wishes to express to Major-General Douglas and his staff, as well as to all ranks of the Division, his appreciation of their good work, and he looks forward to seeing them again display the same soldierly qualities in active operations against the enemy at an early date.”

Capt. Richard Percy Lewis

Richard Percy Lewis was born on March 10, 1874 in Paddington, London to Richard and Eliza Mary (nee Kinglake) Lewis. Richard Lewis was a successful barrister and his son Richard Percy Lewis had an older sister, Louisa Mary Kinglake Lewis, and a younger brother, John Alexander Kinglake Clayton Lewis. In 1881 the family was living in Gloucester Place, Paddington with four live-in domestic servants.

He was educated at Winchester College (1887-92) and then University College, Oxford (1894-96) and was said to be one of the finest wicket-keepers of his generation, playing for Oxford University, Surrey and Middlesex.

Lt Col Richard Percy Lewis

During the Boer War he was commissioned as Second-Lieutenant in the 14th Middlesex (Inns of Court) Rifle Volunteer Corps, on August 4, 1900. In October 24, 1900 he was awarded a commission in the Devonshire Regiment, a line regiment when another second-Lieutenant was killed in action, thus creating a vacancy. He was promoted to Lieutenant on April 4, 1903.

After the war, he was attached to the 1st Battalion King’s African Rifles January 12, 1904 to June 24, 1907, and took part in the Nandi Expedition of 1905-1906 where he was mentioned in despatches (of Edgar G. Harrison, Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding Nandi Field Force, February 28, 1906).

Lieutenant R. P. Lewis, (The Devonshire Regiment), 1st K.A.R., as Signalling Officer to the Field Force, by his keenness and hard work was able with slender means and in spite of many difficulties to obtain excellent results. Many of the signallers employed were recruits with but little training, but even with such material Lieutenant Lewis was able to keep numerous posts going and to link up the various units of the force by helio and lamp.

After his spell in Africa, he was seconded for service with the Egyptian Army, on 20th August 1908, and stationed as an intelligence officer in Cairo. Whilst serving in Egypt he suffered a succession of personal blows as his sister, brother and mother all died in 1911, 1912 and 1913 respectively, (his father having died many years before). Meanwhile his career progressed and he was promoted to Captain on December 16, 1911.

The 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment landed in Egypt on September 25, 1914 and spent the next six months training for war. They landed at Gallipoli on May 9, 1915 but were short of senior officers, two majors having died in Egypt.

Captain Lewis joined the 42nd Division in Gallipoli on May 31, 1915 and was initially posted to the 10th Battalion Manchester Regiment but four days later, on June 4th, he was made a temporary Major and attached to the 1/9th Battalion.  He was wounded about a month later, on July 6th, and subsequently left the 9th at that time.  But during his short spell with them he was involved in the bloodiest month of the Gallipoli campaign for the 9th Battalion when they were involved in two separate bayonet charges against the Turks.

On November 4, 1916 he was appointed Brigade-Major, leaving the position on April 24, 1917. And on May 8, 1917 was made acting Lieutenant-Colonel while commanding the 10th Battalion Manchester Regiment. He was not to hold this position long because he died of wounds at Ypres on September 9, 1917 during a heavy bombardment between the village of Frezenberg and Westhoek. He is buried in Grave I.A.57 of the Ypres Reservoir Cemetery.

“It was during one such bombardment that Lt-Colonel Lewis was killed. Battalion HQ was housed in a cellar of a ruined farm house known as Kit and Kat. The position lay on what in more peaceful times had been the minor road running between Frezenberg and Westhoek. Lewis was hit by a shell splinter when giving orders to a runner and died shortly afterwards. His body was taken back to Ypres and buried in the burgeoning cemetery near to the tumbled central square.”

Excerpted from “Amateur Soldiers” by K. W. Mitchinson. ISBN-13: ‎ 978-0951809891.

Perhaps because he no longer had any living immediate family members, he made a number of bequests to the Devonshire Regiment including £2,000 for the “benefit and comfort of the officers and men during the war, and thereafter for the widows of the men”.  The rest he left to his cousin Evelyn, the daughter of his mother’s younger sister. Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Percy Lewis was 43 years old.

Belle Vue Pyrodramas

Several of the letters published in the Ashton Reporter from the men of the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment make reference to “Belle Vue”, which was a famous local amusement park in West Gorton, Manchester. For example, take the letter written by Private Tom Littleford, to his mother, and published in the Reporter on Saturday July 17, 1915:

 “Private Jas. Ryder has had one or two narrow escapes. One day, when they were taking us in the trenches, a bullet took his hat straight off his head, and another bullet lodged in the overcoat, which was strapped on his back. Both night and day shrapnel shells are bursting around us. Talk about Belle Vue, it isn’t in it. When we were at home they called the Territorials England’s last hope, but we are England’s first aid at present”.

But in this case, the references to Belle Vue were specifically comparing the real world experience of battle they were now witnessing first-hand to those re-enacted in “Pyrodramas” at Belle Vue that they and their friends and family had seen together in happier times.

Belle Vue Main Entrance 1953
Courtesy Chetham's Library, Manchester

The founder and driving force behind Belle Vue was John Jennison (1790-1869) who bought the original 36 acre site, off Hyde Road and Kirkmanshulme Lane. Belle Vue opened in 1836, expanded over time and eventually occupied 165 acres. At the height of its popularity, 2 million people visited every year.

Belle Vue Plan 1892
By Foreign and Commonwealth Office Collection (Contributed by: The University of Manchester, The John Rylands University Library)

In 1851, Jennison, visited the Great Exhibition in London and whilst there, paid a visit to Surrey Zoological Gardens. It was here that he witnessed a ‘stupendous Diaphanic Panopticon’, which portrayed the horrors of war. Described in publicity of the time as a ‘gigantic panorama’ it measured 200 feet in length, and had figures 15 feet in height, and ‘was ‘the first ever attempted.’ Constantly looking for new ways to attract the public, on his return to Manchester Jennison formulated a plan to dramatically increase the quality, and expand the scale and visual impact of his own static panorama displays.

Edwardian Visitors to the Static Panorama
Courtesy Chetham's Library, Manchester

He envisioned large firework shows presented against the backdrop of a huge painted canvas representing a famous historical or contemporary event. He hired George Danson, (of Messrs. Danson), who had created the Surrey Zoological Gardens panorama which so impressed him, to come to Manchester and create the sets for the Belle Vue Pyrodramas. Danson constructed enormous backdrops, 300 feet wide and 60 feet high, hand-painted in the open air by professional artists who, for the rest of the year, worked in the Royal Opera House and the theatres of Covent Garden and Drury Lane. These backdrops were then installed on the “firework island” that formed the setting for the dramatic orchestrated shows, punctuated by fireworks and acted out by ever larger casts of actors. So successful were the Pyrodramas that Danson, and his sons, Thomas and Robert Danson, would come back to Manchester and paint them for each of the next 44 years.

Belle Vue Zoological Gardens Handbill, 1900 Season
Courtesy Chetham's Library, Manchester

Pyrodramas were included in the price of admission and visitors could watch from what used to be an open air dance floor or could pay extra to watch from an elevated viewing platform. The Pyrodramas were spectacular and turned out to be immensely popular, watched by tens of thousands each year, and their addition as an attraction in the zoological gardens helped secure the financial future of Belle Vue.

Battle of Blenheim, 1907 Season
Courtesy Chetham's Library, Manchester
« of 4 »

The first of the Pyrodramas was “The Bombardment of Algiers” in 1852 and the sequence of shows through 1926 are outlined below:

List of Representations at Belle Vue Manchester from 1852-1924
Courtesy Chetham's Library, Manchester
Year Pyrodramas
1852 The Bombardment of Algiers
1853 The Storming of Seringapatam
1854 Burning of Moscow
1855 Siege of Sebastopol
1856 The Storming of Malakoff
1857 The Siege of Gibraltar
1858 The Storming of Delhi
1859 The Temple of Janus
1860 The Storming of the Badajoz
1861 The Emperor’s Palace & the City of Pekin
1862 The Battle of the Nile
1863 The Relief of Lucknow
1864 The Siege of Charlestown
1865 Earthquake at Lisbon
1866 Carnival of Rome
1867 Storming of St. Jean d’Acre
1868 Battle of Trafalgar
1869 Storming of Magdala
1870 Capture of Quebec
1871 Bombardment of Strasburg
1872 Napoleon Crossing the Alps
1873 The Spanish Armarda
1874 Battle of Waterloo
1875 Capture of Coomassie
1876 The Prince at Calcutta
1877 The Fall of Alexinatz
1878 The Fall of Plevna
1879 The Afghan War
1880 Burning of the Tuilleries (City of Paris)
1881 Battle of Navarino (Fought in 1827)
1882 Carnival of Venice
1883 Battle of Tel-el-Kebir (Egypt)
1884 Siege of Constantinople, 1453
1885 Siege and Defence of Khartoum
1886 Storming of San Sebastian
1887 City of London
1888 Siege of Malta
1889 Storming of the Bastille
1890 Storming of Cairo
1891 Battle of Inkerman
1892 Battle of Cape St. Vincent
1893 American Indian War
1894 Siege of Granada
1895 Storming of Port Arthur
1896 Battle of Alma
1897 Matabele War
1898 Storming of Dargai
1899 Battle of Omdurman
1900 Siege of Ladysmith
1901 Siege of Pekin
1902 Battle of Paardeberg
1903 Capture of Gibraltar
1904 Attack on Port Arthur
1905 Battle of Mukden
1906 Storming of the Kashmir Gate, Delhi (1857)
1907 Battle of Blenheim, Aug 13th, 1704
1908 Defence of Mafeking
1909 Bombardment of Alexandria
1910 Battle of Manchester
1911 The Relief of Lucknow
1912 Burning of Hankow
1913 The Balkan War – Battle of Lule Burgas
1914 The Battle of Kandahar
1915 The Battle of the Marne
1916 War in Flanders
1917 The Battle of the Ancre
1918 The Fight for Liberty
1919 Mons 1914-1918
1920 The Capture of Jerusalem
1921 Chinese War – Storming of the Taku Forts
1922 Storming of Kotah (Indian Mutiny 1858)
1923 The Redskins
1924 Mexico
1925 The Cannibals
1926 Reign of Terror

By 1923 the themes of the Pyrodramas changed from well-known military actions to less militaristic depictions, not wholly surprising after a run of 70 consecutive annual shows, and perhaps reflecting a change in public appetites after the great war. The last Pyrodrama produced at Belle Vue was “Robin Hood” in 1956.

In 1925, Belle Vue Zoological Gardens was sold to a London-based syndicate and during the 1950s it was purchased by the hotel and catering conglomerate, the Forte Group. As anyone of a certain age from Manchester can tell you, Belle Vue continued to be quite a popular local destination and an amusement park, miniature railway and speedway racing were added to the list of attractions. But by the 1970s, Belle Vue entered a death spiral as other more popular public attractions became available and attendances dwindled. Belle Vue finally closed for good in 1979.


[1.] Chetham’s Library, Manchester
[2.] “The Belle Vue Story”, by Robert Nicholls. ISBN: 9781852160708

Lieutenant William Thomas Forshaw

William Thomas Forshaw was born in Barrow-in-Furness on April 20, 1890. His father, Thomas Forshaw, was an engineering pattern maker and by 1915 had become the head foreman pattern maker at Vickers Naval Shipyard in Barrow.

William Thomas Forshaw, V.C.
From The 42nd (East Lancashire) Division; by Frederick P. Gibbon, published 1920.

A pattern-maker was a highly skilled job, their task was to make wooden replicas (so called patterns) of a finished product. This required engineering, joinery and carving skills coupled with precision and experience in the manufacturing process. From the patterns, a sand mould was made and then iron was poured into the mould to form the finished product. By 1911, William’s younger brother, Frank Forshaw, was an apprentice engineering pattern maker at Vickers and was later employed at Vickers’ London office as a draughtsman.

William’s father, Thomas Forshaw, was also a locally well-known Rugby Union three-quarter playing for Barrow in his younger years, (the position normally filled by the fastest players in the team). William Forshaw inherited his father’s speed and strength and was a good all round athlete, playing Rugby and Tennis and competing in field athletics meetings at school and college. He ran in the final of the 100 yards sprint at the Westminster College Inter-Year Sports competition in 1909,1 competed in the Weight Throw competition at London Inter-Collegiate Sports meetings and won a solid silver champagne cup at the Territorial sports day on Boxing Day, 1914 at Gezireh Sporting Club, Cairo.

William was educated at Dalton Road Wesleyan School, and later at Holker Street School, from where he won a scholarship for the Barrow Municipal Secondary School, (1900-1906). At 18 he entered Wesleyan Westminster Training College, (1908-1910), and studied in London for two years before returning home to prepare for, and sit, his inter B.Sc. exam 12 months later. While completing his studies he taught evening classes at his former secondary school and at the Barrow Technical School. Curiously, while he was teaching at the Barrow Technical School he taught a small group of Turkish military officers who were stationed in Barrow to monitor the construction of a naval warship for the Ottoman Government.2

After he passed his intermediate B.Sc. he obtained a permanent teaching position at Dallas Road School, Lancaster, and also taught an evening class at the Storey Institute. William was then hired to teach Physics and Mathematics at the North Manchester Preparatory School for the Manchester Grammar School, at Higher Broughton, and consequently moved to Manchester.

William was a keen amateur singer and was a member of Mr. Aldous’ prize winning choir while he was teaching in Lancaster and joined the Ashton Operatic Society after he moved to Manchester, appearing in the comic opera the “Duchess of Dantzic” at the Ashton Empire Hippodrome in February 1914. Newspaper reports indicate that William was still performing publicly in the 1920’s after his return to England from Egypt.

The 9th Manchesters

Forshaw joined the Ashton Territorials primarily due to his friendship with George Makin, a fellow teacher at the North Manchester Preparatory School, and fellow member of the Ashton Operatic Society. George, and his older brother Frederick Arthur Makin, both joined the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment as second lieutenants in 1913 after serving as cadets in the Officers Training Corps of Manchester University. Forshaw was himself commissioned as a second lieutenant into the 9th Battalion on March 13, 1914, three months after his friend George joined. Forshaw’s connection to the Makin family was evidently quite strong because he was staying with Richard Harold Makin (the middle of the three Makin brothers and fellow member of the Ashton Operatic Society) on a private visit to Ashton in October 1915 when he received notice to proceed immediately to London to receive his Victoria Cross medal from the King.

After war broke out, William sailed with the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment to Egypt in September 1914 and on November 13, 1914 was promoted to Lieutenant along with four of his brother officers. In Egypt, Forshaw drew the short straw and instead of commanding an infantry platoon was instead assigned as the assistant Quartermaster under the leadership of Major M. H. Connery.

Regimental Quartermaster-Sergeant George Bookcock indicated in an interview with the Ashton Reporter that Forshaw filled that position “for practically nine months” before moving into a combat roll with A Company. This implies that he switched sometime in late June 1915, probably as a result of the casualties the battalion registered that month. In fact, by the end of June 1915 the 1/9th Battalion was down to half the number of officers who deployed to Gallipoli from Egypt having lost 16 Officers in Gallipoli killed, wounded or sick and had replaced them with just one junior officer.3 Seeking to boost their low numbers, 4 new junior officers from the 10th South Lancs and 11th Yorks & Lancs Regiments were temporarily assigned to them on July 2nd and 5 officers from the 2/9th Manchester Regiment joined on July 22nd but despite these additions the battalion had lost another six officers by the end of July.4

The battalion moved into the trenches on July 2nd and remained there (spending 4 days in the firing line) until they were relieved and returned to bivouac on the 18th. Consequently, by early August, Lieut. Forshaw had spent just over two weeks of time in the trenches, under relatively quiet conditions, before he was once again called upon to lead his men at the Battle of Krithia Vineyard where he won the Victoria Cross.

W. T. Forshaw's Victoria Cross Citation
London Gazette, September 9, 1915

When Forshaw rejoined the battalion on the morning of August 9th he was badly bruised in his side from shrapnel, weak from exhaustion, with no voice and suffering from headaches and problems with his vision. Initially he was prescribed rest but after a few days with little improvement regimental records indicate that Forshaw was medically evacuated to hospital in Cairo on August 25, 1915.

Lt. W. T. Forshaw in Cairo 1915
Copyright Imperial War Museum

Staff Nurse Mollie S. Lee-Heppel joined the Queen Alexandria’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (Reserve), (Q.A.I.M.N.S.(R)), in late August 1914 and although she was initially assigned to Caterham Military Hospital, Surrey, by 1915 she had been re-assigned to work on the Hospital Ship Goorkha.

HS Goorkha
Built in 1897 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 6287grt, a length of 430ft, a beam of 52ft 2in and a service speed of 12.5 knots.

Meanwhile, William Forshaw had been recovering in hospital in Cairo but by mid-September had cabled his parents “Doing well: may come home”.  William was invalided back to the UK from Egypt on His Majesty’s Hospital Ship Goorkha,5 embarking at Alexandria on September 26, 1915 and arriving at Southampton in the early hours of Friday October 8th. It was on this two week voyage where he met and fell in love with Sadie Mollie Lee-Heppel.

Captain Forshaw and unidentified QAIMNS Staff Nurse on the Hospital Ship Goorkha, 1915
Photo Courtesy of Stephen Snelling

After arriving in the UK, Lt. Forshaw left the Goorkha. Spending the night, and making a speech, at his old school, Westminster College, before returning to his parents’ home at Barrow-in-Furness, arriving there on Tuesday evening. Needless to say, Lt. Forshaw was heavily engaged with public appearances in the Northwest throughout October and November at Barrow, Ashton, Manchester, Lancaster and Southport. The newspapers of the time dubbed him the “Cigarette VC” for the fact that he had constantly smoked cigarettes throughout the 41 hour ordeal, using them to light the fuses of the 800 improvised bombs they had thrown, which were made of jam tins filled with explosive and small pieces of scrap metal.

Date Forshaw’s Activity
Fri, Oct 8 Gave a speech and spent the night at Westminster College.
Tue, Oct 12 Arrived at his parents’ home in Barrow in the evening.
Wed, Oct 13 Visited Barrow Secondary School and was later received by the Mayor of Barrow.
Thu, Oct 14 Interviewed by the Guardian Newspaper.
Sat, Oct 16 Private visit to Ashton staying with R.H. Makin.
Mon, Oct 18 Investiture with the King at Buckingham Palace.
Wed, Oct 27 Given the freedom of the city of Barrow and presented with a Sword of Honour. Was later that day presented with watch, card case and binoculars by Barrow Secondary School.

Date Forshaw’s Activity
Fri, Oct 29 Visit to North Manchester Preparatory School and presented with an illuminated address and a silver tea service.
Sat, Oct 30 Visit to Ashton-under-Lyne. Awarded Freedom of the Borough and presented with a scroll in a polished silver casket.
Fri, Nov 5 Visit to Southport and received by the Mayoress. Dinner with the Mayor and speech to the cadets. Note that the 3/9th Battalion Manchester Regiment were in training at Southport and Forshaw’s good friend Capt. George Makin was with them.
Fri, Nov 20 Attended a dinner of the Westminster Club in his honor. At the Holborn Restaurant, London.
Mon, Nov 22 H. S. Goorkha, having earlier docked at Southampton on the 19th, underwent repairs. Medical staff disembarked.
Wed, Nov 24 Visit to Lancaster and sang with Mr. Aldous’ choir in the evening at the Mayoress’ fund raiser for the war.
Mon, Nov 29 Medical staff re-embark on the H. S. Goorkha.


With much of the initial fuss behind him, on November 20, 1915 Forshaw was back in London when the Westminster Club held a dinner in his honour at the Holborn Restaurant. Meanwhile, the Goorkha had arrived back at Southampton on November 19th and from November 22-29 the medical staff disembarked while the ship underwent repairs. There can be little doubt that Lt. Forshaw and Staff Nurse Lee-Heppel spent much of that week together, possibly traveling to Lancaster together and meeting his parents, and sometime during that week, he proposed to her.

Shortly after she re-boarded the Goorkha, on December 4, 1915, Staff Nurse Lee-Heppel wrote a letter to her direct supervisor, Matron Christopherson6, requesting permission to marry and to be allowed to continue working onboard the Goorkha. The Matron and the Medical C.O. (Lt.-Col. Haig, IMS7) both agreed, but the final decision was to be made by the military authorities in England. Although they gave permission for the wedding, they denied the request to remain onboard, instead offering a transfer to home service. Nurse Lee-Heppel was notified of this decision in a letter dated January 20, 1916.

On January 31, 1916 the Goorkha once again arrived at Southampton and, during its short stay, Sadie Mollie Lee-Heppel married William Thomas Forshaw in a registry office in Barnet on February 5, 1916. On Nurse Lee-Heppel’s application for the Q.A.I.M.N.S.(R) she gave her home address as “Moss Bank”, North Finchley, London (in the borough of Barnet) which is undoubtedly why they married in a registry office there.8

William Thomas Forshaw & Sadie Mollie Lee-Heppel Marriage Certificate

There wasn’t to be much of a honeymoon though because the Goorkha, with Staff Nurse Lee-Heppel on-board, embarked the baggage of 32 British General Hospital and sailed for Marseilles on February 8, 1916. In her subsequent letters to the Q.A.I.M.N.S.(R), before she resigned for “urgent personal reasons” in August 1916, she referred to herself with her maiden name and provided a contact address “c/o Mrs. S. M. Forshaw”. The obvious conclusion is that she did not inform the authorities that she had married in February. Indeed, later in 1918, when she enquired about rejoining the service, while her husband served in India, she went so far as to state that she had left the service in September 1916 to get married.

When Staff Nurse Lee-Heppel left the Q.A.I.M.N.S.(R) in September 1916, (she arrived in England from Malta on the Acquitania on September 27, 1916), she gave her address as Kilworth, County Cork. Although Captain Forshaw, (and Lieut. Cooke,  his subaltern at the Vineyard), was at Codford with the 3/9th Battalion Manchester Regiment in mid-March 19169, by September 1916, Captain Forshaw was an instructor at the 7th Officer Cadet Battalion, Kilworth, County Cork, Ireland10 and he remained there until October 1917.

Indian Army Service

On October 7, 1917 he left the UK and transferred to the Indian Army. There he was attached to the 1st battalion 76th Punjabis. The 76th Punjabis was one of the Indian infantry regiments which were besieged at Kut-al-Amara and captured when Kut fell on April 29, 1916. During the Siege of Kut, between December 1915 and the end of April 1916, the Regiment suffered 171 casualties. Approximately 250 officers and men were taken into captivity after the fall of Kut and many would subsequently perish from ill-treatment, starvation and disease.

On January 1, 1917, the Depot of the 76th Punjabis received orders to reform the Regiment and they moved to Chaman, (near what is now the Afghanistan-Pakistan border). In November, a nucleus of men were sent to join the 2nd Battalion which was then being raised at Nasirabad.

Although Forshaw was a decorated Captain in the Territorial Army, upon being seconded to the Indian Army he was required to serve a long period of probation, revert to Lieutenant and lose over a year of recognized service. His one year probation commenced when he arrived in country on November 25, 1917 and just over a week later he joined the 1st Battalion 76th Punjabi Regiment as a company officer. On February 1, 1918 the battalion moved to Dera Ismail Kahn, North West Frontier Province, India, (in what is today Pakistan).

During 1918 Forshaw spent some time as acting Captain commanding a company and on November 25, 1918 completed his probation. On December 12, 1918 Sadie Forshaw sailed from Liverpool to Calcutta to reunite with her husband now that the war had finally ended. By April 1919 Forshaw had successfully completed a junior staff course and was promoted to Captain on May 5, 1919 and attached to the Poona Brigade of the Southern Command as a Staff Captain. This move south meant that he missed the 76th Punjabis’ involvement in the 3rd Afghan War which began on May 3, 1919 when Afghan troops crossed the frontier at the western end of the Khyber Pass and captured the town of Bagh and ended with the Treaty of Rawalpindi on August 8, 1919. But things were far from settled on the North West Frontier and Forshaw was drawn into the revolt of the Wazir and Mahsud tribes when he was attached as a Staff Captain to the 67th Brigade of the Waziristan Force, serving with them with distinction from November 9, 1919 to July 26, 1920. During this time the 67th Brigade was part of the Tochi and Derajat Columns under the command of Major-General A. Skeen, C.M.G.

For his services on the Waziristan Force he earned the India General Service Medal with clasps ‘Mahsud 1919-20’, ‘Waziristan 1919-21’ and ‘Mentioned in Despatches’ oak leaf (for operations in Waziristan, 1919-20, by General Sir C. C. Monro, G.C.B., G.C.S.I., G.C.M.G., in his despatch dated August 1st, 1920).

A few weeks after completing his service with the Waziristan Force he took home leave in England, sailing from Bombay on September 4, 1920 on the P&O liner RMS Kaiser-I-Hind. He returned to India with his wife and rejoined the 1st Battalion 76th Punjabis Depot at Kirkee, the Battalion having left for overseas service in Egypt and Palestine in February 1920, (and remained there until April 1922).

Forshaw remained with the Depot, (now at Ballary), until September 14, 1921 when he was appointed General Staff Officer, 3rd Grade, Southern Command (Poona) as Inspector of Educational Training. He filled this post until the end of 1921 when a more senior officer from the Army Education Corps (AEC) was appointed to the position. Nevertheless, Forshaw remained attached to the General Staff of the Southern Command (Poona) officiating as Staff Captain until March 31, 1922.

On December 1, 1922, the 76th Punjabis were consolidated with the 62nd, 66th, 82nd and 84th Punjabis, and the 1st Brahmans to form the 1st Punjab Regiment, and were re-designated as the “3rd Battalion 1st Punjab Regiment”. The latter part of 1922 was a time of great organizational change within the Indian Army and perhaps related to this upheaval, Forshaw resigned his commission, retaining the rank of Captain. Accumulated home leave pushed out his official resignation date to November 3, 1922 but immigration records show that he and his wife, along with several of his brother officers, arrived at Plymouth from Bombay on August 25, 1922.

Civilian Life

Back in England, Forshaw had difficulty finding suitable employment as a schoolmaster and so he spent some time in Egypt in educational posts with the Royal Air Force. Immigration records show that he and his wife returned to England from Egypt on April 15, 1925. Upon their return they settled in Ipswich, later moving to Martlesham Hall, in Woodbridge, a few miles east of the city.

Martlesham Hall
Copyright Attribution: Andrew Hill / Martlesham Hall

In September 1927, he purchased an old golf clubhouse building and used it to start an all boys junior school called “Rushmere Heath School”, in the nearby village of Rushmere St. Andrew.11 However, the school was not successful and just one year later he was forced to sell the school building at auction, in November 1928. Shortly thereafter, his creditors started legal proceedings against him which eventually forced him into bankruptcy in the middle of 1929. Forced to leave Martlesham Hall, he subsequently gave his parent’s address in Barrow as his residence in court documents.12 13

Forshaw was invited to the Victoria Cross dinner, held at the Royal Gallery of the House of Lords on Saturday, November 9, 1929. The dinner was chaired by the Duke of Windsor, the Prince of Wales, with 319 holders of the Victoria Cross present. Following a ballot held to determine place-settings, Captain W. T. Forshaw, V.C. was allocated seat 199, on Table 7, (this table seating 28 people including newspaper reporters from the Daily Express, Daily Sketch, Morning Post, and the Australian Press Association)14. Interestingly, his medal index card shows that his Victory, British and 15 Star medals, along with his India General Service Medal (with Waziristan 1919-21 clasp and MiD Oak Leaves emblem), were issued to him that month and since Forshaw’s original Victoria Cross medal had been lost, he was presented with an official duplicate, from Hancocks of London, on the same day as the dinner so that he could be properly attired.

Forshaw's Medals as worn to the VC Dinner
Courtesy of the Manchester Regiment collection (Tameside MBC)

[Victoria Cross; 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal with ‘Mentioned in Despatches’ oak leaves; India General Service Medal with clasps ‘Mahsud 1919-20’, ‘Waziristan 1919-21’ and ‘Mentioned in Despatches’ oak leaf.]

After the setback of personal bankruptcy, he switched his focus to educational writing and film production. In July and August of 1930, after visiting Gallipoli himself, the Coventry Evening Telegraph published a series of nine short articles of his, published weekly, titled “Gallipoli Revisited”, which was also featured on the radio. And in September 1930 he published an article in the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News describing a Gymkhana on the North-West Frontier of India that he attended while serving there. This work eventually led to him, in 1933, being appointed as the Midlands representative for Industrial Film Productions of Gaumont-British Equipments, Ltd., a subsidiary of Gaumont-British. A short article in a trade magazine at the time reported that he:

“has had considerable journalistic experience. He has written scenarios and produced several commercial films. For some time he conducted Trade tests in the Royal Air Force, and has made a study of the application of films to the needs of industry and commerce.”

Evidently, he was still reasonably fit and athletic because he won the “100 yards veterans’ handicap” at the Gaumont-British Sports Day in June 1934. Despite this new sporting accolade, by September 1939 he had left Gaumont-British, but remained in the midlands, and was employed as a representative for a Shadow Aircraft Factory in Birmingham.

Home Guard

On the evening of Tuesday 14th May 1940, Sir Anthony Eden, The Secretary of State for War, made an urgent appeal on the radio for all men aged between 17 and 65, not already serving in the armed forces, to become part-time, unpaid soldiers and join the Local Defence Volunteers (LDV). Within 24 hours of the radio broadcast a quarter of a million men had volunteered and by the end of July this number had risen to over a million. On 22 July, 1940 the LDV was officially renamed the Home Guard and by the end of 1940 the Home Guard was organized into 1,200 battalions, 5,000 companies and 25,000 platoons. In February 1941, nominal ranks were introduced for Home Guard officers, to match those of the regular Army.

At 50, being too old to enlist in the Army, Forshaw joined the Home Guard in 1940 and was for some time stationed at the Murex Works at Rainham, Essex with the 11th City of London (Dagenham) Battalion. It was here that he was later involved in a tragic car accident that injured the driver and killed the pillion passenger of a motorcycle, when his car collided with it at the end of 1940. In February 1941, when nominal ranks were introduced for Home Guard officers, Forshaw was appointed Major. And in September 1941, he successfully petitioned the court to lift his bankruptcy judgement as he was hoping to take up a paid commission with the Army, although there is no evidence that he actually did so. In fact, by March 1942 he was still in the Home Guard assigned as a Staff Officer, (general branch, responsible for operations, intelligence and training), for the London North East Sub Area, K Zone, of which the 11th, 12th and 13th City of London Battalions were part of.

On November 11, 1942 his 86 year old father died and he traveled up to Barrow for his funeral that weekend, his mother Elizabeth Forshaw, (née Preston), having died earlier in 1936. Just six months later he was himself to die, suddenly, of a cerebral hemorrhage, while working in the garden at Foxearth Cottage in Holyport, Berkshire where he and his wife had recently moved. Major William Thomas Forshaw, V.C., died on May 26, 1943. He was 53 years old.

William Thomas Forshaw Death Certificate

Sadly, William’s younger brother Frank would also die of a cerebral hemorrhage, 7 years later, when he was just 55 years old.

The newspapers of the day carried short desultory obituaries of just a few sentences focused on the briefest of details regarding his award and resurrecting the ‘Cigarette VC’ nickname. Nothing more. In keeping with his Wesleyan roots he was buried in the graveyard attached to the Anglican Holy Trinity church at Touchen End Cemetery, at Bray, Berkshire.

Touchen End Cemetery
Copyright Mike Crane

Sadie Forshaw died just under 10 years later in 1952, aged 72.15


On November 16, 1964 his Victoria Cross was put up for auction by Glendining & Co, London. Despite strong interest, the medal was purchased by Bt. Colonel John Edgar Rogerson, O.B.E. M.C. T.D. J.P., honorary colonel of the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment, on their behalf for a record price of £1,150 and is today held by the Museum of the Manchester Regiment, in Tameside. To their enduring credit, shortly before the auction, a group of Barrow businessmen and old boys of Barrow Grammar School withdrew their offer to bid after learning that the Manchester Regiment were bidding. Likewise, Westminster College, Oxford also withdrew their offer when they too learned of the regimental interest.

Due to the exigencies of World War 2, Major Forshaw was buried without any official commemorative headstone and as a consequence the grave was for many years unknown to the public and the graveyard fell into disrepair.

Original Condition of Forshaw's Gravesite at Touchen End
Copyright Iain Stewart
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But 51 years later, after the church had been deconsecrated and converted into a private residence, the grave was “rediscovered”, through the efforts of researchers in the Tameside area, and a new headstone was dedicated and provided by the Manchester Regiment in 1994.

W. T. Forshaw's Headstone, Touchen End Cemetery
Copyright Mike Crane

In November 1996, a blue plaque commemorating the life of William Forshaw was unveiled at the entrance to Ladysmith Barracks in Ashton.

Ashton Town Hall VC's Blue Plaque

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In 2005, on the 90th anniversary of the action in which Lieut. Forshaw won his Victoria Cross, a commemorative plaque was unveiled at the private residence Foxearth Cottage, Holyport where he and Sadie had lived.

Roy Johnson & Terry Nicolson Unveiling of the Plaque at Foxearth Cottage on August 12, 2005
Copyright Bayliss Media, Ltd.

And on Sunday August 9, 2015, to mark the 100 year anniversary of the action that led to the award of the Victoria Cross, a commemorative paving stone was unveiled in Barrow Park halfway up the hill leading to the town’s cenotaph. Members of Forshaw’s family, the Officer in Command of the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment (into which the Manchester Regiment was absorbed through amalgamations in 1958 and 2006) and local dignitaries all took part.

Barrow Commemorative Paving Stone
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Post Script

Touchen End Cemetery as it looked in 2022:

Forshaw's Gravestone Closeup
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[1.] Westminster College Archives. Programme, ‘Westminster Training College, Fifth Inter-Year Athletic Sports, Tuesday, February 15th, 1910’. Link here. William was beaten in the final by another future Victoria Cross winner from Westminster College, Donald Simpson Bell, who was a noted athlete and went on to be a professional footballer for Bradford AFC. [back]

[2.] In 1911, there was no vessel in the Turkish Navy that could match the recently acquired Greek Navy cruiser Georgios Averoff. Consequently, Turkey resolved to buy dreadnoughts and the Ministry of the Navy placed an order with the British shipyard Vickers Ltd, in Barrow. The 27,500-ton ship was to be named Reşadiye and its price-tag was 2.3 million liras, to be paid in installments. In Turkey, a commission was appointed to monitor the construction of the dreadnought and this commission, led by Maj. Vasıf Ahmet Bey, went to Britain in 1912. More information here. [back]

[3.] From May 9 – June 30, 6 officers were killed, 4 were wounded & evacuated and 6 were evacuated sick to hospital. Additionally, Lt.s Shaw and Hyde went to Kepha on June 15 and Lt. Lillie transferred to Brigade in June. Although Lt.-Col. Egerton was attached to replace Lt.-Col. Wade as battalion CO, Egerton only lasted 2 weeks and so Major Nowell assumed command from June 9 – July 16. Major RP Lewis was attached to the battalion on June 4th and 2/Lt. Balmford arrived from the UK on June 22nd. [back]

[4.] Four officers joined on July 2nd and one officer was killed, three were wounded and evacuated and two were evacuated sick to hospital. Major RP Lewis was wounded and left the battalion on July 6th. On the plus side, Lt.-Col. Falcon arrived on July 16 freeing up Major Nowell. [back]

[5.] Fifty Thousand Miles on a Hospital Ship by Charles Steel Wallis describes Forshaw as a passenger from Alexandria to England. Link here. Although Wallis does not name the ship directly, there is overwhelming circumstantial evidence pointing to the Goorkha such as: the “Norwegian Matron” (Matron Fredrikke Christopherson was born in Lyngor, Norway), the Scottish Colonel with “the Kaiser-i-Hind decoration, wears the colours for the South African and North-West Frontier campaigns”, the gross tonnage referenced in the book, and the fact that the dates from the book match the dates in the war diary. [back]

[6.] Matron Fredrikke Wilhelmine Christopherson’s service record can be found at the National Archives here Link here. [back]

[7.] Lt. Col. Patrick Balfour Haig. Ancestry link here. [back]

[8.] “Moss Bank”, North Finchley was the home address of Dr. and Mrs. Robert Houle French and on her QAIMNS (R) application papers Ms. Lee-Heppel listed Mrs. (Dolina) French as her “nearest relative”. Dr. and Mrs. French were the two witnesses to the wedding. [back]

[9.] 1205 Corporal Samuel Eyre, was invalided to the UK from Gallipoli due to enteric. After he recovered, he was posted to Codford with the 3/9th Battalion Manchester Regiment where, on March 15, 1916, he was court martialed for smoking on parade. Lieut. Forshaw and 2/Lieut. Cooke were listed members of the court martial panel. Cpl. Eyre was found guilty and lost his stripe; a little harsh considering his service record. Ancestry link here. [back]

[10.] Westminster College Archives. A/4/a/i, Roll of Men in the King’s Forces. Link here. [back]

[11.] In 1895, Ipswich Golf Club was formed when it leased some common land on Rushmere Heath. In 1927, Ipswich Golf Club moved to Purdis Heath but some members wished to remain at Rushmere, and so formed the Rushmere Golf Club. The original clubhouse, standing next to the heath, was sold to William Thomas Forshaw of 19 Fonnereau Road, Ipswich on September 29, 1927 for £1,200. It was advertised as being suitable for an institution, school, club, etc. On November 29, 1928 it was again advertised at auction but now as Rushmere Heath School, a boys school. It was sold for £1,450 to the Rushmere Golf Club and became their new clubhouse. [back]

[12.] A petition of bankruptcy was filed against him by an unnamed creditor on April 20, 1929, (a bankruptcy petition is an application to the court for someone’s assets to be taken and sold to pay their debts). A receiving order was subsequently issued on June 14, (a receiving order places the debtor’s property under the control of the official receiver). The official receiver in this case being Harry Scotchmer Gotelee, the Official Receiver of Ipswich. The Adjudication Order was issued on July 6, 1929 making him legally bankrupt from that date forward. [back]

[13.] In September 1941, when William Forshaw successfully petitioned the court to lift his bankruptcy judgement, he told the judge that his financial troubles began when he borrowed money from a native firm while serving in India. [back]

[14.] Information regarding the seating arrangements at the 1929 VC dinner is available here. [back]

[15.] The Civil Registration Death Index record from 1952 indicates Sadie’s age at death to be 72. This squares with her 1891 and 1901 census records which also infer that she was born in 1879/80. However, in her Q.A.I.M.N.S. (R) application in 1914 she gave her date of birth as May 25, 1884 and passenger records from ships she sailed on in the 1920s consistently infer her year of birth to be 1888. Thus, by her own account, the older she got, the younger she became. If we assume that she was not Benjamin Button then we have to stick with the official numbers. It’s my belief that she was born on May 25, 1879. [back]


  1. Collected newspaper articles for William Thomas Forshaw. Link here.
  2. Fifty Thousand Miles on a Hospital Ship by Charles Steel Wallis. Link here.
  3. Lines of Communication Troops, Hospital Ship, Goorkha (WO 95/4145/5), National Archives. Link here.
  4. Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service, Name Heppel, Mollie (WO 399/3768), National Archives. Link here.
  5. Victoria Cross details of Forshaw, William Thomas (WO 98/8/196), National Archives. Link here.
  6. http://www.victoriacross.org.uk

Other Biographies:

  1. VCs of the First World War: Gallipoli, by Stephen Snelling. (October 4, 2010). ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0752456539.
  2. VCs of the North: Cumbria, Durham & Northumberland, by Alan Whitworth. (October 30, 2015). ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0189PTX82.
  3. Volunteer Infantry of Ashton-Under–Lyne, by Robert Bonner. (2005) ISBN-10: 1873907141.
  4. Key Military, The Chain Smoking VC. by Stephen Snelling.
  5. Museum of the Manchester Regiment, Men Behind the Medals.
  6. The Oxford Centre for Methodism and Church History (OCMCH), Archives & Library – William Thomas Forshaw, V.C. (1890-1943).
  7. The VC Online, William Thomas Forshaw VC.


I would like to thank the author Stephen Snelling for providing permission to use the photograph of Lt. Forshaw and (what I believe to be) Nurse Lee-Heppel on the hospital ship Goorkha, Iain Stewart for permission to reproduce two newspaper articles and for supplying the photos of Touchen End Cemetery as it was when Forshaw’s grave was discovered. Thanks also go to Mike Crane for his photographs of Touchen End cemetery.

Gilbert the Filbert

Basil Hallam
© National Portrait Gallery, London

Basil Hallam Radford was born on April 3, 1888. He attended Charterhouse School and went on to become a well known actor and light comedian performing under the name ‘Basil Hallam’. In early 1914 he created and played the character of a privileged young “Knut”, Gilbert the Filbert, for The Passing Show which opened at the Palace Theatre, London, on 20 April 1914. The composer was Herman Finck and the lyrics were written by Arthur Wimperis.

Hallam became an overnight sensation and the whole country was singing the song and young men of a certain station started to refer to themselves as “Knuts”.

I’m Gilbert, the Filbert,
The Knut with a “K”,
The pride of Piccadilly,
the blasé roué.
Oh, Hades! the ladies
who leave their wooden huts
For Gilbert, the Filbert,
The Colonel of the Knuts.

The widespread popularity can be glimpsed in letters from the front, published in local newspapers, where men refer to themselves as ‘Knuts’ and further evidenced by a short article, written by P. G. Wodehouse, about the “Knuts O’ London” in the September 1914 edition of Vanity Fair.

Knuts O' London
Vanity Fair, September 1914

But, as for many others, the war got in the way of his success and on September 14, 1915 he was gazetted a probationary Second Lieutenant in the Royal Flying Corps.

On August 20, 1916 he was a temporary Captain and a member of No 1 Army Kite Ballon Section, stationed in France. On that day, the balloon broke away from its moorings and began to drift towards enemy lines. Following protocol, the three man crew proceeded to throw out their instruments and maps before planning to save themselves. Basil Hallam Radford did not survive the jump and is buried in the Couin British Cemetery. He was 27 years old.


The September 1914 Vanity Fair article by P.G. Wodehouse can be found here.
Details regarding the death of Captain Basil Hallam Radford can be found here.

Convalescent Hospitals


Open for Public Inspection on Whit Friday

Saturday, May 15, 1915:

With reference to the closing of Early Bank Hospital, which was announced last week, and the taking of Mottram Old Hall for the purpose of treating wounded soldiers, we have received the following letter from Miss Harrison, of West Hill, vice-president of the Dukinfield Division, Cheshire Branch B.R.C. Society: –

Will you kindly afford me space to state that on the 26th April I received a letter from Dr. Talbot to say that Early Bank House would probably shortly be closed for hospital purposes, owing to inconveniences which rendered it difficult for a residence. While sincerely thanking Dr. and Mrs. Talbot for the use of the house during six months, I wish specially to testify to the most excellent work done in the hospital by the SJA Detachment and the six RRC units attached. The latter are Miss H. Bottomley, Quartermaster Mrs. F. Thompson, Assistant Quartermaster Miss Gibson, Miss [illegible], Miss Rawlinson and Miss Schofield. By the desire of my Divisional Committee, I at once applied to Colonel Sir E. Cotton-Jodrell, K.C.B., the Cheshire hon. County director, B.R.C., to have the hospital removed to the Old Hall Mottram, which the owner, Mr. Hill-Wood, M.P., had some months ago offered for BRC. The Military Authority has permitted the transfer, so it simply means that the hospital is being moved to a beautiful situation, little over a mile from its former, and, where it will be quite easy for Stalybridge people to visit. On Whit Friday and Saturday, the house will be probably on view to visitors at a small charge. A definite statement of this will be given in next week’s paper. Our gratitude ever remains very strong to all Stalybridge people, who by their sympathy and kind gifts of money and many more useful articles have so wonderfully helped on the work of nursing wounded soldiers. I venture to hope that many of those who loaned furniture will very kindly permit it to go on to the Old Hall, and we should be grateful for more as the house is very large. Will any one so kindly disposed let me know.

The following are among the gifts to the B.R.C. Hospital, Early Bank: Rev. C. Sutcliffe, by sale of work, £1 1s; from Mr. Titterington, share of an Ashton entertainment is benefit of five hospitals, £6, Mrs. Summers £2 10s; Miss Radcliffe from St. Paul’s Day school scholars 13s 6d; Mr. Sutcliffe and weavers, Old Shed, Messers. Leach’s mill, 11th donation 3s 6d.

Band at Hospital



Saturday, July 3, 1915:

On Sunday morning the members of the Ashton Orchestral Society gave an open-air concert in the grounds of the Richmond House Hospital to the wounded soldiers. A great crowd of friends also availed themselves of the pleasure of hearing the splendid music provided. The items included: – March, “Under the Stars”; overture, “Pique Dame”; selection, “The Grand Duchess”; overture, “French Comedy”; selection, “The Mikado”; piccolo solo, “the Wren”; intermezzo, “Secrets”; selection, “Il Travatore”; National Anthems. The band, under the able conductorship of Mr. John Bacon, rendered the items with the musical taste always associated with the society, and received the appreciation they so richly deserved. The wounded men greatly enjoyed the entertainment. A collection amongst the assembled friends resulted in the magnificent sum of £9 10s 1d, which will be expended in hospital comforts.

By permission of the matron, (Miss S. E. Duncan-Neil), the hospital was thrown open for inspection, and many friends took the opportunity of seeing the excellent arrangements made for the comfort of our gallant men sent home for medical reasons. Ordinary visiting days are Wednesdays and Saturdays, 2-4pm.

Soldiers’ Gratitude

The seven soldiers discharged from the Richmond House Hospital, on Wednesday, have asked us to state that they are all very grateful to the people of Ashton and the staff at the hospital for the excellent treatment they have received while recovering their health and strength from injuries received in action. Their names are: Private Anderson, Private Sutcliffe, Private Grogan, Private Osborne, Private Mackanroyd, Private McQuinn, and Private E. Ellis.

For the Sick and Wounded


Saturday, July 3, 1915:

An appeal has reached us which should awaken a responsive chord in every heart. Week by week we have read of the gallantry, and alas! The heavy losses in killed and wounded amongst the East Lancashire Territorial Brigade now proving its worth in the Dardanelles.

Major Garside, the recruiting officer of the 3/9th Battalion Manchester Regiment now at the Ashton Armoury, has received an appeal from Mrs. Prendergast, wife of Brigadier-General Prendergast, commanding the East Lancashire Territorial Brigade, asking for funds for the establishment of a convalescent home in Alexandria. Mrs. Prendergast wrote in the first place to Mrs. Garside, with whom she was acquainted, as follows: –

Regina Palace Hotel, Alexandria, Egypt
June 15th, 1915

Dear Mrs. Garside, – I am writing to ask you if you could ask your husband if he could collect some funds for me, as I am starting a convalescent home for the East Lancashire Brigade, which is so badly needed here, as they have suffered so badly in the Dardanelles.

We can get lots of lovely houses quite suitable for it (German, of course), but it will cost about £300 to start it, and about £200 a month to run.

It would indeed be kind if you could, and any funds can be sent to me at the Anglo-Egyptian Bank, Alexandria, and any comforts also you may able to collect.

If you can collect any funds could you cable out to me at once so as to save time, and let me know, as we want to start it without any delay.

Yours, very sincerely,

The appeal only needs to be read to realise what it actually means. One can picture the soldiers who have been wounded in the terrible onslaughts in the Dardanelles, and taken to hospital; recovered from their injury, and then, because the beds are urgently wanted for new casualties, being compelled to regain convalescence in the arid, sun-baked streets and stifling camps. Convalescence after injury is a most trying period, and a relapse too often proves fatal.

Major Garside has already received substantial financial help and promises towards the convalescent home – which will have to shelter many soldiers from Ashton district – and it is to be hoped that the general public will take up the matter, and see to it that there is an immediate response in money or comforts.

Major Garside will be pleased to receive any amount, no matter how small, towards the convalescent home, and he has made arrangements whereby sums can be paid into an account which has been opened at the Manchester and County Bank, Ashton. Comforts, etc. will be gladly received and forwarded by Mrs. Garside, at Mayfield, Taunton Road, Ashton.

Lieut.-Col. D. H. Wade


Lieut.-Colonel D. H. Wade, commanding officer of the 1/9th Battalion Manchester Regiment, has returned wounded from the Dardanelles, and on Tuesday night was admitted to the Whitworth Street Hospital, Manchester, where he is now under treatment. Yesterday (Friday) he was reported to be progressing satisfactorily. He was visited on the night of his arrival by his wife, and also by Captain R. Lees, who is in charge of the Depot, Ashton Armoury. He was visited on Thursday night by his father-in-law, (Mr. John Neal), who found him to be in the best of spirits.

[2nd Western General Hospital: Manchester became a major centre for dealing with wounded servicemen during the First World War. The main military hospital was the 2nd Western General Hospital. The Hospital had been planned by the East Lancashire Territorial Association and was mobilized in August 1914. The staff of the 2nd Western General Hospital mostly comprised of honorary staff of Manchester Royal Infirmary and medical teaching staff of Manchester University. Its size was originally defined at 520 beds, but this was later greatly extended. The hospital was originally based in Central Higher Grade School, Whitworth Street, and the Day Training College, Princess Street. It later had a branch at the School of Domestic Economy on High Street (Hathersage Road). The Hospital had over 800 beds and also used additional beds in the civil hospitals. By November 1918 there were 5,239 beds and 220,548 patients been treated. The Hospital was decommissioned in 1919.]

Richmond House Hospital

Saturday, August 7, 1915:

On Sunday afternoon next – weather permitting – the soldiers at Richmond House Hospital are anticipating another musical treat, where the Ryecroft Vocal Society (musical director, Mr. Jack Ramsden), are to give a promenade concert in the hospital grounds. The choir were the first prize winners at the Openshaw festival, and under their previous name won contests at Buxton and Belle Vue in 1913. The concert will commence at 2:45pm, and as friends are invited a good crowd is expected. A collection will be taken on behalf of the men’s equipment fund.

The visiting days at the hospital are Wednesday and Saturday at 2 to 4:30.

Visitors to the Barracks Military Hospital

Saturday, August 14, 1915:

Lieutenant-Colonel D. R. Paton, commanding the Depot, Manchester Regiment, asks us to state that admission to visit the Military Hospital, Depot Manchester Regiment, can only be obtained by written application to the officer in charge of the Military Hospital, on or before Friday of each week. Passes will not be sent to intending visitors. They are simply requested to send in their written application and come to the gate on visiting day (Staurday, 2pm to 4:30pm).


Saturday, December 11, 1915:

Private Tom Taylor, whose home is in Haughton Road, and who belongs to the 1/9th Ashton Territorials, arrived from the Dardanelles last week, and was taken to Booth Hall Hospital, Blackley, suffering from the effects of enteric fever. He is making good progress.

3/9th Battalion Manchester Regiment


Saturday July 3, 1915:

The Ashton Territorials, who are now being trained at the Armoury are to be billeted at Southport. Major Garside, his staff, and the men will leave Ashton for Southport on Wednesday. The total number is about 650, but 820 men are required before the 3/9th is up to the strength at present required, so that another 170 men have yet to be recruited. Captain R. Lees, with two N.C.O.s and six men, will remain behind temporarily at the Armoury to enlist and equip recruits, who will then be sent to Southport in drafts. The whole of the men who are now at the Armoury have been fully equipped, and their training is well advanced. They look quite as capable as the men who went away with the first and second battalions, and are quite eager at the chance of a change of training quarters. The ozone of Southport will give their faces the requisite tanning, and the pure air bring them to that pitch of physical health which the Army demands, and which has surprised our adversaries as well as our Allies. On Monday, Acting-Adjutant Birchenall leaves for Southport with six N.C.O.s to get the Billets ready for the Territorials.

3rd Ashton Territorial Battalion goes to Southport


The Departure from Ashton

Saturday, July 10, 1915:

There were scenes of great enthusiasm in Ashton on Wednesday morning when the 3/9th Manchester Regiment Territorials left the town for Southport. Despite the rain, large crowds of people had assembled in the vicinity of the Armoury, in Old Street, to get a glimpse and a last word of good-bye to the men. It was a very cheerful crowd, which talked and joked and laughed, and consisted for a great part of mothers, wives and sweethearts, who plainly showed they were proud of their sons, or husbands, or “boys”, who were willingly doing their “bit” for the country.  As the men swung out of the Armoury into the street they were heartily greeted, and hands and handkerchiefs were waved, the men returning the greetings and good-byes with cheerful words and smiles.

There were in all 666 men on parade. Every man was fully equipped to the last detail. The battalion are not quite up to full strength, and another couple of hundred men are required. The requisite number it is anticipated will be soon forthcoming. As the recruits come in they will be sent on to Southport immediately to join the battalion and undergo their training by the sea-side.

The battalion presented a smart, well set-up, soldierly appearance, and looked absolutely fit. They have had a very smart training during the few weeks the battalion has been in course of formation, and were in the pink”. The average height of the battalion is 5ft 3in, and the men average 33 1/2in. round the chest. They have gone to an ideal spot to continue their training, and, while not far from home, will be by the seaside, in one of the loveliest towns of the country, in the height of the summer season. What more do they desire. It should add a great stimulus to recruiting for this favourite battalion. Letters already received speak of the delight with which the men have got to their new quarters.

The prospect of the change afforded great pleasure and satisfaction to the men. They were early astir on Wednesday, putting the finishing touches to their accoutrements, and came to the Armoury spick and span. They were drawn up in open order, inspection made by the officers of each man, and when all were ready Major Garside, the officer commanding the battalion, addressed a few words to the men.

Major Garside said that probably when they got to Southport they would be subject to some amount of criticism, but they should bear themselves like soldiers. He asked them to be careful about the manner in which they gave the salute. The salute was not given to the man, but was a recognition of the commission of the officer. The salute should be done in a smart, soldierly manner, and it would then do credit to those who had been trying to teach them to do the right thing. The men would be billeted close to the station, and each man would have a bed to himself, and not be overcrowded, as on former occasions. Lights would be at 10 o’ clock and every man would be expected in his billet at 9:45pm. If any man did not observe this rule he would be dealt with. If the men conducted themselves as they ought to do as soldiers, and as he believed they would, they would be a credit to themselves, to their officers, and to the town from which they came.

The word was then given, “slope arms”, “forward march”, and the men swung out of the Armoury, led by major Garside, and proceeded along Old Street and Warrington Street to Charlestown Station, between lines of cheering spectators, and departed by special train at 10-15. At the station there was an enormous crowd of people to give them a hearty send-off.

At the Armoury there were present Mr. Garside, Miss Garside, Master Roy Garside, Mrs. Scholes, Mrs. Robinson, Miss Robinson and Dr. Corns.



The officers are as follows: –

Major EDWARD GARSIDE              (Commanding Officer)
Lieutenants J. P. GROVES, N. WILKINSON, and R. H. JACKSON. Second-Lieutenants AINSWORTH and HAYWARD.
Captain R. LEES is the officer commanding the Administrative Centre (Ashton Armoury).


Popularity of the Ashton Battalions

There are still at least 200 recruits wanted for the 3/9th Battalion Ashton Territorials to complete the establishment. Recruits have been coming in at a steady pace up to this week, and it should not be long before the battalion is at full strength. Recruits who now join will be sent on immediately to Southport to undergo their training with the battalion. The Armoury in Old Street, Ashton, is an administrative centre, with Captain Ralph Lees in charge, and it will act as a sort of feeder for the battalion. Recruits could not join in more favourable circumstances than at present. The battalion is billeted at the seaside, on the Lancashire coast, in the best part of the summer season. The conditions are in fact ideal. The men will undergo their training amid the most lovely and healthful surroundings.

Ashton has done wonderfully well in supplying men for the forces at this time of national crisis, and it is a tribute to the great popularity of the Territorials that no less than three battalions are now in being, that is to say, nearly 3,000 men. Even more men have offered themselves than these figures indicate, as there has been a large percentage of rejections. The men of Ashton and district are eager to serve their country in helping to defeat the country’s enemies and crush the unspeakable Huns.

Many of the brave boys who were Territorials when war was undreamed of willingly offered themselves for war service when hostilities broke out, and have nobly sacrificed their lives on behalf of the loved ones at home. Their places need filling, the gaps in the ranks require to be closed. There are not wanting those who are ready to take their places. Some of the 2/9th Battalion, which was formed as soon as the first battalion had left for Egypt, and have been in training in Southport, and more recently in Sussex, have left this country for the front, fully trained, and anxious to strike a blow for the dear old country. Now the third battalion will soon be completed, and in the course of time will themselves be ready.

There is yet time to join this gallant body of citizen soldiers, the brave Territorials who have received such high praise from General Sir Ian Hamilton, the commander-in-chief of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, for their gallant conduct. Those who are desirous of “doing their bit” should apply at the Armoury, Old Street, at once.


3/9th Territorial Battalion Filling Up

Saturday, July 24, 1915:

Recruiting for the 3/9th Battalion, Manchester Regiment, Ashton Territorials, has been fairly good during the week. The men are no longer kept waiting for clothing and equipment, but are fully clothed and equipped immediately on joining. They are then sent off to Southport, where the 3/9th are in training under ideal conditions. More recruits are still wanted. Men are accepted who are between 19 and 40 years of age, and 5ft 2in. and upwards. There are now less than 200 required to complete the battalion. Recruits should apply at once to the Armoury, Old Street. Captain Ralph Lees is the officer in command of the administrative centre, and the office is open all day and at night, and on Sundays.

3/9 Ashton Battalion

Saturday, July 31, 1915:

Another batch of recruits for the 3/9th Battalion Manchester Regiment, Ashton Territorials, is to be sent to Southport to-day (Saturday) to join the battalion for training. Recruiting still keeps fairly steady, but there are still more men wanted to complete the battalion. Recruits may join at the Armoury at any time.


Rapidly Becoming Fit

More Recruits Wanted

“When the war is nearly over,
When the war is nearly over,
When the war is nearly over,
We’ll be there!”

Saturday, August 28, 1915:

So sang a number of Territorials as they marched in the sunshine along the spacious promenade at Southport. Every man looked fit and healthy, and as they tramped along the hearts of the beholders were stirred with pride. The song, which was sung to the tune of “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder”, showed the eagerness of the men. “By gum but Southport’s a rare place” said a Territorial to a “Reporter” representative who met him in Lord Street, Southport. “It will take a lot to get me back to the spinning room again when the war’s over. The open-air life and training is doing me a world of good.”

“We have got a champion billet”, he continued; “Our landlady, or ‘Ma’ as we call her, feeds us like fighting cocks. Of course, all the chaps are not so well looked after as we are, but on the whole there is not much complaint.”

It is delightful to watch the thousands of Territorials stationed in Southport training on the spacious sands. Here and there can be seen groups of them, with their tanned throats bare, clad but in shirt, trousers and boots, going through Swedish drills like packs of schoolboys. Others are busy “flag-wagging”, or learning the intricacies of the Morse code. Others are having patiently explained to them the mysteries of a rifle, and being taught how to take aim correctly.

It is remarkable how soon a pale-faced youth from the town, who has just managed to pass the required standard, soon develops under the careful training at Southport into a ruddy well-set-up soldier. He walks with his head erect, and feels the exhilaration which accompanies perfect health.

Many a young man who has joined the Territorials will be thankful in after years for the training and physical development he received just at the right time in his youth.

There are still about a hundred more recruits wanted for the 3/9th Battalion. All men who enlist at the Armoury, Old Street, are immediately equipped and drafted off to join their comrades at Southport.

Saturday, September 25, 1915:

Lieutenant Arthur Connery, who has come home wounded from the Dardanelles, has rejoined the 3/9th Battalion Manchester Regiment at Southport.

Saturday, October 16, 1915:

Major E. Garside, officer commanding the 3/9th Battalion, Manchester Regiment, now at Southport, was in Ashton last week on leave.

3/9th Ashton Battalion


Saturday, September 11, 1915:

A detachment of about 150 N.C.O.s and men of the 3/9th Battalion Manchester Regiment, Ashton Territorials, returned on Wednesday from Southport, where they have been  in training, to Ashton on a short leave. The detachment was in command of Captain Thorne. The men had a hearty reception, and thoroughly enjoyed their stay.

They returned to Southport on Thursday night, departing from Charlestown station by the 7-9pm train. They marched from the Armoury to the station between lines of hundreds of spectators, and had an enthusiastic send-off from an enormous crowd which had gathered at the station.

It was stated that the detachment is shortly to leave Southport for foreign service.


Saturday, November 20, 1915:

It is pleasing also to record a distinct improvement in the recruiting of men for the famous 9th Manchester Regiment, the Ashton Territorials, whose men have gained military glory in Gallipoli. The number of men enrolled during the past week has been larger than for several weeks past, and the men are of a good and military? Type. Intending recruits should note that after the men are attested they are clothed and equipped within a few minutes.

The men are being drilled at the Armoury by Quartermaster Sergeant Burgess and are making good progress. Today, Saturday, a draft of about 70 men, consisting of recruits and Territorials who have returned from overseas, are being sent on to Southport to join the 3/9th Manchester Regiment.

On Monday, a number of men from the Manchester Regiment came over from Southport to Ashton on a short furlough prior to being sent abroad.

Saturday, November 27, 1915:

Lieutenant Colonel D. H. Wade, is at present at Southport on light duty attached to the 3/9th Manchester Regiment.

Saturday, December 11, 1915:

Captain G. H. Okell is now at Southport with the 3/9th Manchester Regiment, who are on the point of removing to huts at Codford, Salisbury Plain.

Lieutenant A. Connery, of the 3/9th Battalion Manchester Regiment, visited Ashton on Wednesday, prior to proceeding from Southport to Aldershot with the Battalion.