Aspinall-Oglander

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.

Notes:

[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.

References:

[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.

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 been throwing, 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

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 when he transferred to the Indian Army and was attached to the 76th Punjabis, (and by 1918 was stationed at Dera Ismail Khan, North West Frontier Province, India).

Forshaw was promoted to Captain in the Territorial Force in 1916 but in October 1917 he was seconded to the Indian Army and attached to the 76th Punjabis as a Lieutenant, on probation. The 76th Punjabis were forming a second battalion at this time and it is possible he was recruited for this purpose. He was quickly made acting Captain whilst commanding a company and eventually finished his probationary period and was subsequently promoted to Captain on May 5, 1919. From November 9, 1919 to July 26, 1920 he was appointed Staff Captain on the Waziristan Force and was appointed General Staff Officer with the Southern Command (Education) 1st Battalion, 76th Punjabis on September 14, 1921.

In 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”. Perhaps related to this regimental re-organisation, Forshaw formally resigned his commission with the Indian Army on November 3, 1922, retaining the rank of Captain (although immigration records show that he and his wife, along with several of his brother officers, arrived in Liverpool from Bombay earlier than that, in August 1922).

For his services in India he ultimately received 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).

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, and attended, 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), 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 remaining in the midlands, and was employed as a representative for a Shadow Aircraft Factory in Birmingham.

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

Touchen End Cemetery
Copyright Mike Crane

On November 16, 1964 his Victoria Cross was put up for auction by Glendining & Co, London. Despite strong interest from other institutions that he had been associated with in his pre-war years, the medal was purchased by the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment for a price of £1,150 and is today held by the Museum of the Manchester Regiment, in Tameside.

Due to the war, 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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And 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.

Notes:

[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 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”. [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 1881 and 1891 census records which also infer that she was born in 1880. 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. [back]

References:

  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.

Acknowledgements:

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 as it is today.

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.

References:

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

MOTTRAM OLD HALL AS A HOSPITAL

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

SUNDAY MORNING ENTERTAINMENT

RICHMOND HOUSE

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

PROPOSED CONVALESCENT HOME FOR TERRITORIALS

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,
FLORA PRENDERGAST

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

IN WHITWORTH STREET HOSPITAL, MANCHESTER

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).

IN THE HOSPITAL

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

ASHTON NOTES

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

TERRITORIALS AT 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.

NAMES OF THE OFFICERS

ENTHUSIASTIC SEND-OFF FROM ASHTON

The officers are as follows: –

Major EDWARD GARSIDE              (Commanding Officer)
Captains A. G. BIRCHENALL, G. MAKIN and THORNE
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).

THE TERRITORIALS

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.

ASHTON RECRUITS

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.

TERRITORIALS AT SOUTHPORT

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

A DETATCHMENT RETURNS HOME ON SHORT LEAVE

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.

ASHTON TERRITORIALS

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.

2/9th Battalion Manchester Regiment

NEW BATTALION

Men Coming Forward for Fresh Territorial Unit

HOME AND FOREIGN SERVICE

Saturday, October 3, 1914:

Over 150 recruits have been secured for the new battalion of the Ashton Territorials which is intended for home and foreign service. The new recruits are of a high class character and the officer commanding has expressed himself as highly satisfied with their physique and general bearing. Another 850 are still wanted to complete the strength. It is a big task for Ashton to reach that number, considering how heavily it has contributed to the Regular and Territorial force, but the men are coming in steady.

On Sunday, the men paraded and attended services at the Parish Church, Lieutenant Broadbent being in command. The Rector, (the Rev. F. R. C. Hutton), preached and the lesson was read by the Rev. T. F. Mayes.

The men are being drilled morning and afternoon, and route marches have been arranged. As the new recruits have marched through the town they have earned commendation from all passers-by. On Wednesday afternoon they were marched from the Armoury along Katherine Street to the Barracks, and round Hazelhurst and Hurst, back to the Armoury. In the evening they again paraded, and were taken round Charlestown, Stamford Street and Bentink Road. The men were in high spirits and sang lustily as they marched.

Practically the whole of the new battalion have volunteered for service abroad. As an example of the spirit they are displaying, four of them who had to be left behind when the first battalion departed, as they were not quite old enough to go, are learning the bugle and practicing assiduously in order that they might qualify as buglers, and so be permitted to go with the rest.

RECRUITS FOR NEW BATTALION

Over 300 Have Joined Ashton Territorials

VOLUNTEERS FOR SERVICE ABROAD

Saturday, October 10, 1914:

Recruits for the new Ashton Battalion of Territorials are coming forward at a splendid rate. Up to date over 300 have joined and recruits are being received at the rate of 25 a day which is as many as the staff at the Armoury, with their other important duties, are able to deal with. All the recruits are of an excellent character. During the week the men have been paraded every day and taken on a daily route march led by drums and bugles, their appearance attracting much public attention and favourable comment. They receive a guinea a week. Practically all the recruits have volunteered for foreign service.

The following are the names of the recruits who have joined – they are Ashton men except where otherwise stated:

Forename Surname Residence
Hy. Aspinall
A Adams (Dukinfield)
W Allen
H A Ashton (Audenshaw)
H Archer (Dukinfield)
F Ashworth
G H Ambler
F Allott (Mossley)
J H Andrew
A Ash? (Dukinfield)
T Atherton (Hurst)
A Barnes
F Baskwell
A Booth (Hurst Brook)
J Broadbent (Stalybridge)
E Buckley
F Briggs (Dukinfield)
J W Bardsley
J Bradley (Audenshaw)
T Boardman (Woodhouses)
S Broadbent
T Baskwell
W Boulton
P Bray (Ryecroft)
J Bennett
W H Bennett
W Bradley (Denton)
J Broadbent
S Bata
James Barrett
T Brown
David Baldwin
J Beckett
H Bradshaw
G Bennett (Dukinfield)
E Brown
F Broadbent
A Bailey (Dukinfield)
W G Baker
A Butterworth
R Bennett
L Butterworth
N Brooks (Dukinfield)
Jas Burgess (Hooley Hill)
S Bennett (Stalybridge)
W Calverly
J Crabtree (Hurst)
W H Crane (Dukinfield)
W P Chalmers
H Chapman (Dukinfield)
J Clayton
P Crossland (Dukinfield)
J W Chapman (Dukinfield)
J Corbishley (Dukinfield)
T Carroll
F Cummings
J W Campbell (Hurst)
A Coxon (Dukinfield)
J Commerford
G Carr (Dukinfield)
R Cheetham
H Chadwick
H Chadwick (Dukinfield)
A Chadderton (Dukinfield)
H Charnley (Rochdale)
A Collins
C Connolly (Dukinfield)
H Collins (Dukinfield)
H Christian
R Chadderton
J Clayton
G Devany (Hurst)
George Dilley
W Daniels (Hurst Brook)
G Davies (Droylsden)
W Davies (Stalybridge)
H Dawson (Dukinfield)
F Duckworth
V Dyson
John Doran
W Delaney
G Elwood
W Elly (Hooley Hill)
R Ellis (Dukinfield)
George E Evans (Hurst)
J Ellison (Hurst)
J Fletcher
A Finch
J H Fern
T A Felton (Stalybridge)
J Frith (Stalybridge)
S Fidler (Denton)
John Finucane (Bardsley)
R Fletcher (Dukinfield)
J Garforth (Waterloo)
J Grundy (Stalybridge)
A Green
J Goodall (Hurst)
W Greenwood (Dukinfield)
W S Goddard (Stalybridge)
R Gartside
H Greenhalgh (Dulinfield)
E Harrison
Hy Howarth
J Hargreaves (Smallshaw)
H Harrison (Dukinfield)
H Heywood (Millbrook)
R Harding
A Harding (Hyde)
J Hough (Dukinfield)
J Hibbert
A Hipwell
J W Haltwell
T Hanson (Dukinfield)
W Hardy (King’s Lynn)
A Heygood (Stalybridge)
P Harrop
W Hill (Dukinfield)
J Hall (Hurst Brook)
W Harwood (Dukinfield)
H Hodgkin (Hurst Brook)
T Hynes
J Howard
W Howarth
F Halkyard (Hyde)
J W Harlock
E Hague (Hyde)
V Hurley (Denton)
A Hayne (Stalybridge)
J Howard
A Hadfield
A Howarth
R Hagerty (Denton)
R Hall (Hyde)
C W Jolly
J E Jeffrey (Dukinfield)
H Jackson
H Johnson (Rochdale)
S Jones (Dukinfield)
F Kershaw
G H Kershaw
H Kinder
S Kenyon
Fred Keen (Newcastle)
T Kilshaw (Stalybridge)
R Kershaw
E Lee
E Lowndes
F Latchford
T B Legh
Walter Leech
A Leech (Openshaw)
J Leech (Parkbridge)
E J Lewis
J Lester
J Mellor (Hurst)
J H Mills (Dukinfield)
E Marlor (Denton)
W Mellett (Dukinfield)
H Mould (Hooley Hill)
H Mills (Stalybridge)
J O Marsland (Hurst)
J McDonald (Dukinfield)
L Millin (Taunton)
D R Morris (Stalybridge)
A Marshall (Mottram)
Allen Millward (Taunton)
L Molyneux
George Monday
John Moss
S Mather (Dukinfield)
E Melia (Hooley Hill)
W Martin (Hurst)
R Moss
H McGarry
P Nicholson (Droylsden)
J Ollerenshaw (Stalybridge)
R O’Donnell (Dukinfield)
D Ogden (Hazelhurst)
J Outram (Dukinfield)
J N Oulton
J W Oates
C Proctor (Hyde)
C Pollard (Stalybridge)
F H Potter (Dukinfield)
W Payne (Hurst)
H Powell
F Powell
W Pemberton (Dukinfield)
Jas Porter (Dukinfield)
J Postle
J Quinn (Dukinfield)
A Robinson
J Reeds
S T Riley
H Reeves
C W Riley (Hurst)
J Regan (Hooley Hill)
A Rodgers (Hurst)
A Redfern
P Richardson (Bardsley)
P Ridings (Hurst)
James Rourke (Oldham)
E Rawlings
H Rhodes (Hurst)
G W Reeves
F Smith
G H Slater (Dukinfield)
W Smalley (Stalybridge)
A Sidebottom (Stalybridge)
T Smith
T Smith (Waterloo)
L Stafford (Dukinfield)
H B Sidebottom
A C Smith
H B Smith
J L Schofield (Blackpool)
H Stafford (Dukinfield)
F Scrambler (Dukinfield)
A Staley (Waterloo)
R Smith
W Sewell
H Sheldon
J Suttle (Hazelhurst)
R Speers
J Starkey
R Swindells (Dukinfield)
E Shelmerdine
C Shaw
W Shaw
J R Thornton (Higher Openshaw)
W Taylor
M Thomas (Waterloo)
Percy Taylor
Tomas Tobin
W Thorpe (Hurst Brook)
J Thompson
W Taylor
S Taylor (Oldham)
J W Tilbury
Joseph Taylor (Hooley Hill)
R Tassaker
J H Taylor
H Tolson
J Vickers (Greenfield)
W Vare (Mossley)
G Willock (Hurst)
T Wellings (Dukinfield)
A Williamson (Hyde)
R Wilde
E Whitehead (Hyde)
A Whitworth
H Warhurst
Tom White
J Williamson
P A Wallace
H Wells
E Walmsley
G H Walker (Hurst Nook)
D Webb (Stalybridge)
W Walsh

AN ASHTON TERRITORIAL’S DEATH

Saturday, October 10, 1914:

We regret to announce the death, which took place on Friday last week at the 1st Western General Military Hospital, Fazakerley, Liverpool of Private Frederick Pennington of the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment, fourth son of Mr. and Mrs. Thos. Pennington, of The Hollies, Newmarket Road, Waterloo, Ashton. It is only three months since he was married to Miss Violet Jones, of Dukinfield.

Private Pennington was a member of the F Company of the Ashton Territorials and was with the Battalion from the time of mobilisation until they left Bury for Egypt. He remained behind with the home service section who were transferred to Mossborough Camp, Rainford. Whilst there he was drafted to the transport section where his sterling qualities were favourably commented upon by his superiors, who frequently entrusted responsible duties to his supervision. He was of fine physique and gave promise of a useful career.

On Wednesday week, whilst walking out with several comrades, symptoms of a serious nature revealed themselves. He was unable to return to camp and the following morning was conveyed to the Military Hospital, where later in the day he was operated upon for appendicitis. The operation was skillfully performed but a relapse followed and he gradually sank.

The funeral took place on Monday at the Liverpool Crematorium, Anfield. The proceedings were of a semi-military character and extremely impressive. Lieutenant G. Makin sent an escort of Ashton Territorials from the camp to the Military Hospital. Four of their number carried the body down the pathway to the hearse, the coffin being covered with the Union Jack and beautiful floral tributes. A large crowd had assembled outside the gates in the hospital and paid reverent respect to the cortege as it slowly proceeded on its way to the crematorium. The last rites were performed in a very impressive manner, the officiating minister making appropriate reference to the soldiers and sailors who have responded to the nation’s call.

Sympathy from the King and Queen

Lord Kitchener has sent the following message to Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Pennington: –

“The King commands me to assure you of the true sympathy of His Majesty and the Queen in your sorrow.”

ANOTHER 130 RECRUITS IN ASHTON

Saturday, October 17, 1914:

During the week another 130 recruits have been added to the new Ashton Territorial Battalion, making a total of about 450. Recruits are being enrolled as fast as the staff at the Armoury can deal with them. Below we give the names of the recruits who have been accepted since we published the list last week.

The following have this week been accepted for the new Ashton Battalion of Territorials: –

Forename Surname Residence
I. Abbott Hyde
J. Ashworth Hooley Hill
J. Bardsley Ashton
H. Birtles Dukinfield
T. Boardman Woodhouses
J. Broadbent Ashton
F. Brady Ashton
W. Braddock Ashton
F. Brayshaw Dukinfield
W. Bramington Ashton
W. Bradley Denton
T. Beswick Ashton
H. Burke Ashton
A. Broadhurst Ashton
W.H. Brown Hurst
H. Brazewell Hurst
E. Barker Ashton
J.A. Buckley Ashton
H. Bishop Stalybridge
J.W. Boon Millbrook
W. Burton Newton Heath
J.W. Collins Hurst
H. Coupe Ashton
A. Chadderton Dukinfield
F. Cummins Ashton
H. Collins Ashton
O. Connolly Dukinfield
J. Cryer Hurst
J. Dale Ashton
George Dilley Hurst
R. O’Donnell Dukinfield
H. Dunkerley Ashton
A. Dinsdale Ashton
J.H. Dunstan Ashton
H. Eaton Dukinfield
R. Fairbrother Ashton
F. Fernley Droylsden
C. Finnan Oldham
H. Fell Denton
W. Garlick Marple
W. Garside Stalybridge
J. Horrocks Ashton
A. Hadfield Ashton
C. Hindle Waterloo
J. Hadfield Dukinfield
E. Hodgkinson Ashton
W. Harrott Ashton
JE Hartigan Dukinfield Hall
H. Harrison Ashton
A. Harrott Ashton
P.H. Green Dukinfield
E. Hindley Dukinfield
Reg. Hague Ashton
S. Hampson Dukinfield
G.H. Hunt Stalybridge
W. Hulme Hyde
J. Hulme Hyde
G. Herod Ashton
G. Hesketh Ashton
J. Horrocks Droylsden
RD Hall Ashton
L. Herod Ashton
S. Johnson Clayton
R. Kimlin Dukinfield
A. Jones Dukinfield
T. Kitching Broadbottom
R Lee Ashton
R. Lee Ashton
T Lowe Denton
A.E. Lloyd Ashton
A. Law Stalybridge
A Lewin Ashton
H Lawler Stalybridge
E. Margerison Ashton
C. Matley  Ashton
W. Matley Waterloo
H. Marshall Ashton
T. Mellor Denton
F. Mellor Dukinfield
H. Monton Dukinfield
John Marland Waterloo
W Newton Hooley Hill
J. Oulton Ashton
A. Patting Ashton
F.C. Pearson Ashton
J. Pownall Hooley Hill
R. Perry Ashton
H. Perks Dukinfield
A. Rodgers Hurst
J. Rourke Oldham
T. Redfern Hurst
J. Rayner Ashton
J. Rhodes Ashton
J.H. Rose Manchester
J. Ridings Ashton
M. Regan Oldham
H. Rowe Ashton
J. Smith Ashton
F. Sawyer Ashton
N. Smith Hooley Hill
F. Seville Oldham
A. Spencer Droylsden
E. Shaw Marple
H. Stiff Ashton
J.H. Taylor Ashton
P. Taylor Ashton
S. Taylor Oldham
J. Thorpe Ashton
G.H. Thornley Ashton
E. White Dukinfield
T. Whitehouse Dukinfield
H. Walmsley Dukinfield
F. Wade Stalybridge
F. Ward Ashton
H. Wainwright Stalybridge

ASHTON TERRITORIALS

Saturday, November 7, 1914:

The following are the names of the men who have joined the Ashton Territorials this week: –

Name Residence
Ernest Hammond Hurst
Joseph Dransfield Mossley
Ernest Andrew Ashton
John Maloney Ashton
John M Knowles Ashton
George Walton Dukinfield
Ernest Rawlinson Dukinfield
Harry Sharpley Ashton
Fred Hill Ashton
William Thomas Lomas Ashton
Thomas Morrison Dukinfield
William Edward Russell Denton
William Brooks Ashton
Henry Courtney Mossley
Asa Lees Hurst
Fred Oulton Hurst
Ernest Ashcroft Hurst
Albert Stopford Denton
Harry Thomason Hurst
George Bowker Hurst Nook
Sidney Rowbotham Ashton
George Starkey Ashton
Albert Lee Ashton
George Morris Ashton
Victor Bramall Audenshaw
Harold Cookson Millbrook
William Doxey Stalybridge
James Glynn Ashton
George Glynn Moston
Fed Young Chorlton
Joseph Walker Hartshead
James Osborne Ashton
Francis Peter Hawkins Dukinfield
Robert Andrew Stalybridge
Harry Knowles Ashton
Reginald Graham Openshaw
Ernest Siddall Ashton
James Darey Newton
James Oldham Ashton
James Owen Millbrook
Edward Murphy Dukinfield
John Dennis O’Brien Stalybridge
Harry Wharton Ashton
Robert Dobbs Hyde
John Latimer Ashton
Joseph Broome Hurst
John Hunt Hurst
William Dunstan Ashton
Thomas Stevenson Ashton
Charles Henry Wood Ashton
James Slater Ashton
Herbert Pearson Ashton
Rowland Bromley Ashton
Harold Chatterton Ashton
Thomas Cross Ashton
John Taylor Sharp Ashton
Walter Mottram Ashton
Leonard Bailey Ashton
Robert Hurst Ashton

TERRITORIALS IN SOUTHPORT

The New Ashton Battalion’s Departure

MEN TO BE BILLETED AT THE SEASIDE

The Battalion Almost at Full Strength

Saturday, November 14, 1914:

Ashton has now provided two battalions of Territorials. The first battalion is now in Cairo and the new battalion, numbering nearly 900, yesterday (Friday) left the town for Southport where they are to be billeted and undergo training to fit them, if necessary, for foreign service. Their departure was witnessed by great crowds of people who gave them a hearty send-off. The scene was one of joyous animation. Recruiting during the past few days has been very brisk and this second battalion will soon be at its establishment strength. The men will be billeted in King Street and neighbourhood, not far from the Hippodrome, in Southport. The spacious sands should form an ideal training ground and the ozone in the sea breezes will do much to improve the physique and harden the men for any eventuality.

THE NEW RECRUITS

The following have this week joined the new battalion of the Ashton Territorials:

Forenames Surname Residence
Johnson Adshead Dukinfield
John Ashworth Dukinfield
Edward Adam Newton Moore
George Allen Ashton
John R Alcock Ashton
Arthur Brazewell Limehurst
Frank Beard Ashton
William Bentley Dukinfield
Ernest Bennison Hurst
Arthur Brooks Stalybridge
Edward Bailey Ashton
Percy Bradley Dukinfield
Eli Bradley Ashton
William Butler Ashton
Herbert Bennett Dukinfield
William Ball Forrester Fairfield
James Henry Brown Ashton
Harry Barrett Ashton
James Belfield Hurst
Ellis Bowker Hurst
Colin Barett Hurst Nook
Wilfred Brown Ashton
Hugh Baxter Ashton
S Booth Hyde
C Bowker Hyde
John Brooks Ashton
Walter Barker Stalybridge
Frank Charlesworth Hyde
Albert Crabb Werneth
Harry Clegg Ashton
Richard Grainger Ashton
Thomas Critchley Dukinfield
John Cassidy Waterloo
Frank Cockayne Mottram
G Chapman Hyde
William Catlow Hyde
Harold Carter Ashton
George Wilfred Chandler Ashton
Joseph Davies Hyde
John Draycott Ashton
James Davies Ashton
John Dunford Ashton
Joseph Downs Stalybridge
A C Dewsnap Ashton
Robert Edwards Ashton
Edwin Edge Ashton
Harold Eastwood Dukinfield
Ernest George Ellis Waterloo
William Ellin Ashton
William Foster Hyde
Bertram Fell Ashton
George Gordon Ashton
B Garside Droylsden
T Griffiths Guidebridge
Frank Goodwin Newton
William Gill Ashton
George Galley Oldham
A G Harling Ashton
Archibald Harrison Bradford
Ellis Hibbert Ashton
Harold Harrison Hurst
Arthur Hindle Ashton
John Hague Stalybridge
Harold Halliwell Newton
Lees Albert Hall Ashton
J Hulley Hurst
Arthur Harrop Stalybridge
R Hampson Denton
William Hullett Stalybridge
Harry Holden Ashton
William Holland Dukinfield
W Jenkinson Hyde
Samuel Jones Newton
H Kenyon Ashton
John Kendall Stalybridge
Robert Kane Dukinfield
George Knowles Hyde
Frank Kershaw Ashton
Albert Loader Ashton
Fred Leech Dukinfield
Fred Lee Ashton
Harry Lees Dukinfield
Thomas Henry Lee Ashton
Fred Mellor Newton
Vernon Millward Waterloo
Harry Mason Ashton
Edward McLaughton Newton
Sydney Mathewman Ashton
John Metcalfe Stalybridge
George Macgregor Droylsden
John Mosley Ashton
George Nolan Ashton
Charles W Newcomb Hurst
Thomas H Neal Hyde
James William Nash Ashton
Harry Newman Gorton
John Pinkerton Dukinfield
John Payne Hurst
John Pennington Ashton
John W Peagram Ashton
H G Pearcey Ashton
James Parry Ashton
Joseph Charles Robinson Stalybridge
Oliver Ratcliffe Hurst
John Samuels Hyde
William Spidding Ashton
Albert Stott Ashton
Edward W T O’Sullivan Waterloo
Thomas C Scott Ashton
George W Simons Ashton
John Sidebottom Stalybridge
Ernest Stafford Droylsden
Douglas Simister Stalybridge
Joseph C Sanderson Ashton
Joseph Sh???? Ashton
William Stott Hurst
Frank Thorp Dukinfield
Albert Taylor Ashton
Robert Thewils Hurst
Isaac Thompson Ashton
H Taylor Waterloo
Thomas K Thomason Stalybridge
W Taylor Hooley Hill
Thomas Watson Ashton
John Wild Dukinfield
John Whitehead Ashton
Percy Wilde Stalybridge
Edward Williamson Stalybridge
Ernest Whitehead West Gorton
William Williamson Dukinfield
Joseph A Wilson Hurst Brook
Ernest Wood Ashton
Richard Wool?dale Stalybridge
Frank White Dukinfield
Henry Frederick Wilde Stalybridge

TERRITORIALS IN SOUTHPORT

Saturday, November 21, 1914:

The 9th Reserve Battalion Manchester Regiment, after their auspicious farewell last Friday, arrived in Southport in the afternoon, the two trains practically running together. The men formed up and marched to King Street, where they were billeted. From all accounts the men are very comfortable in their lodgings, although discipline has been strictly enforced. The men fall in for parade every morning at 6:45 and with intervals for meals they are kept busy all day, drilling on the sands and route marches being thoroughly undertaken. All the men have to be in by 9:30 and “lights out” at 10pm. The general opinion is that the Southport landladies are looking after the men well. Some of the old red uniforms, which were discarded for khaki, have been forwarded from Ashton to Southport pending the arrival of sufficient numbers of the new uniforms.

At the Ashton Armoury the recruiting still progresses steadily. The following have joined this week: –

Forename Surname Residence
A Hadfield Hurst
W Turner Ashton
N O Shaw Ashton
S Hollingworth Hurst
W Walker Hyde
Fred Kenworthy Stalybridge
C Wallwork Hurst
S Barber Waterloo
Thomas Quinn Ashton
W L Spencer Stalybridge
W H Potter Ashton
Albert Greenwood Hurst
John Kelsall Silverdale
E Alcock Newton
John Scanlon Ashton
Herbert Fairbrother Ashton
Joseph Dolan Ashton
Albert Plant Stalybridge
Robert Doyle Dukinfield
George Greatwich Audenshaw
Edward T Minshull Dukinfield
Albert Hardy Hurst
Abraham Barker Dukinfield
L Bailey Stalybridge
Frank Meadowcroft Hurst
H W Orme Ashton
Samuel Cooke Dukinfield
J Lawton Dukinfield
John Morris Hyde
James Burrows Ancoats
Leonard Harrop Stalybridge
Willie Crabtree Ashton
J Mutter Hurst
E Ashworth Hooley Hill
Fred Bromley Ashton
George Andrew Stalybridge
William B Monday Hurst
James Airey Dukinfield
A Pemberton Hooley Hill
William Ball Droylsden
John Harrop Dukinfield
George H Thornley Dukinfield
Harry Smith Dukinfield
Harry Wild Dukinfield
W Ratcliffe Hurst
F Thorpe Oldham
Robert Swift Ashton
J Will Jevons Dukinfield
J Whitehead Ashton
F Bottoms Dukinfield
Herbert Holt Dukinfield
J More Bee? Newton Heath
Samuel Ford Alt
W Hanvy? Dukinfield
W Ogden Ashton
W Booth Hurst Brook
G Critchley Ashton
H Johnson Ashton
Ernest Charnock Oldham
S Batty Dukinfield
E Hodson Stalybridge
W Hague Stalybridge
W Hunt Ashton
H Gledhill Dukinfield
F Taylor Audenshaw
G Dodd Ashton
Matt Winterbottom Bardsley
Joseph Aplin Godley
J Davenport Hyde
S Bennett Hyde
F Gee Compstall
W Dolan Waterloo

ASHTON TERRITORIALS AT SOUTHPORT

An Appeal by the Wife of the Commanding Officer

Saturday, December 19, 1914:

We have pleasure in publishing the following request by Mrs. Cunliffe, wife of Lieut.-Col. Cunliffe, commanding the 9th (Reserve) Battalion Manchester Regiment, at present stationed at Southport: –

As Christmas is fast approaching, with the usual damp and cold conditions, I wish to bring to the notice of your readers that it is at this [time?] that we should especially think of our soldiers who have volunteered for foreign service, and I ask all who are interested in the 9th (reserve) Battalion Manchester Regiment to do their mission to ensure that something in the way of a small gift shall be sent to each man at Southport.

 May I suggest that socks, cuffs, mufflers, shirts and body belts would be especially useful.  Parcels should be addressed to Officer Commanding 9th (Reserve) battalion Manchester Regiment, Southport.

Gifts to Ashton Territorial Reserve

Saturday, December 26, 1914:

Mrs. Frances M. Cunliffe, wife of the Commanding Officer of the Ashton Territorial Reserves [Lt.-Col. Thomas Hethorn Cunliffe], whose appeal was published last week, writes from Southport.

“To the unknown person or persons that sent three body belts I beg to thank you most sincerely for your generous gift to the 9th (Reserve) Battalion Manchester Regiment. It will add greatly to the comfort of our men and will be much appreciated by them.”

Life Saved at Southport

Saturday, January 9, 1915:

We have received the following communication from Colonel Cunliffe, the officer commanding the Ashton Territorial Reserve at Southport: –

“I have the honour to bring to your notice the fact that, during training on the shore this (Wednesday) morning, a boy was noticed to be sinking in a quicksand, the tide being within a short distance, and approaching rapidly. The men of “H” Company of my battalion immediately took action, but as they were themselves sinking, Mr. Naylor, the subaltern in command, ordered them to form a chain, and thus saved the boy from what the local fisherman say would have been certain death. Although this is only what any other men would have done, still I think the unhesitating manner in which they carried out the rescue is worthy of note.”

RECRUITING RECORD IN ASHTON

The New Double Company System

240 ENLIST IN JUST OVER A WEEK

Saturday, January 9, 1915:

Ashton has achieved something in the nature of a record recently in regard to rapid recruiting for the Territorials. The advent of the new double company system of training in platoons, instead of sections, constituted a re-arrangement of the 9th (Ashton) Reserve Battalion Manchester Regiment, stationed at Southport, as a result of which an order was received by Captain R. Lees, commanding the depot of the 9th Battalion at the Ashton Armoury, to obtain recruits for two companies, which meant an additional 240 men. On Wednesday evening recruiting ceased, the requisite number of men having been obtained in a little over a week. They will form one company, and until further orders are received, they will remain in training at Ashton. They are a fine body of men, and among the applicants very few were rejected on the grounds of physical fitness by the medical officer, Dr. Corns The standard of height is 5ft 3in and the recruits were 19 years of age and older. They were required to sign a declaration for service abroad.

Facilities have been provided for training the men at Ashton golf links at Hr. Hurst, and the Secondary School playing field near the Infirmary, whilst the Brushes shooting range will be available for firing practice. Captain [George] Makin and Lieuts. A. Conner and Wilkinson have been transferred from Southport to assist Captain Lees in the training of the men. On Sunday morning the new recruits will parade at the Armoury, and will attend divine service at Albion Congregational Church.

The Territorials at Southport

Saturday, February 27, 1915:

The Reserve Territorials of the east Lancashire Division at Southport have now been three times inspected by officers of high rank – Generals Bethune, Pole-Carew and Sir Henry MacKinnon have each in turn marked the progress of the division’s training.

All the infantry battalions at Southport are now organized in the new formation of double companies and platoons, which supersede the old formation in single companies. The new arrangement gives each subaltern a definite command and reduces the section to a size more easily manageable by a non-commissioned officer.

Within the last few days a rumour spread in Southport that the whole division had been detailed by the military authorities for Home Service only. This has now been dispelled by an official communication, which is heartily welcomed by all ranks.

LIEUT.-COL. CUNLIFFE

Death of Ashton Territorial Officer

Saturday, May 29, 1915:

We regret to announce that Lieutenant-Colonel T. H. Cunliffe, commanding officer of the 2/9th Battalion, Manchester Regiment, Ashton Territorials, died suddenly at Haywards Heath, Sussex, on Tuesday. Colonel Cunliffe, who was a comparatively young man, was taken ill about seven o’ clock on Monday evening. Colonel Patterson, Major Heywood and Lieutenant Whitehead, RAMC, were called in, but despite every attention Colonel Cunliffe breathed his last at 12:40am. He only went to Haywards Heath last week, and had a house on Muster Green. On Sunday he attended the drum-head service on the Green and his fine bearing made a marked impression on the crowd. He was out riding on Monday afternoon, and later watched his men play football on Muster Green.

Apoplexy was the cause of death. He was an architect by profession and leaves a widow and two children. He was extremely popular with his brother officers, and with the men of all rank, for he possessed sound judgement, a genial disposition, and much tact. His death is a great loss to the Battalion.

Lieutenant Colonel Cunliffe was formerly in command of the 6th Manchester Battalion, but he had been on the retired list from 1911 until his appointment to the Ashton command. He resided at Whalley Range, Manchester. Since the outbreak of the war he had been acting inspector of hospitals for East Lancashire. Under his command the strength of the new reserve battalion at Ashton quickly grew to the requisite 1,000 men, his genial personality winning the esteem and respect of all ranks. All classes flocked to the colours in response to his appeal, and the battalion was described as the finest body of men ever recruited in Ashton.

During the time he was at Stretford Road he was highly popular with all ranks and he was recognized as a thoroughly efficient officer.

Though he went on the retired list some time ago, when war broke out he again decided to make sacrifice; and he was gazetted temporary Lieut.-Colonel on September 28, 1914 and given the command of the 2/9th Battalion Manchester Regiment whose headquarters are at Ashton.

Along with Lieutenant-Colonel D. H. Wade, in command of the 1st Battalion in Egypt, and Major F. Garside, in command of the depot at Ashton, Colonel Cunliffe played a commendable part in recruiting of close upon 1,000 “Terriers” from the Ashton district for active services.

Enjoyable camp Life in Sussex

ASTHTON TERITORIALS

Sylvan Beauties Produce Poets and Musicians

Saturday, July 24, 1915:

Never was a camp more happily situated than the 2/1 East Lancashire Brigade, which includes the 2/9th Battalion Manchester Regiment, Ashton Territorials, and battalions from Oldham, Blackburn and Burnley. It is at Pease Pottage, in the heart of Sussex, far away from a railway station, and no doubt was selected for its seclusion. Tents have been pitched on a large plateau, which is completely surrounded by a forest of trees, principally firs, giving protection to the men against boisterous winds. The encampment for a short distance runs parallel with the main London and Brighton road, and makes quite an arresting study in gaunt preparations for war set in the midst of picturesque and old-world scenes.

The arrival of the Lancashire lads a month ago in the peaceful hamlet caused some uneasiness among the villagers. They were possessed of some extraordinary ideas, but soon realized that there was no occasion to for alarm, and are now doing all they can to make their visitors feel at home.

A representative paid a visit to the encampment, and ascertained from Major C. C. Heywood, of the 9th, and Colonel Patterson, of Oldham, of the 10th, that the health of Canvas City is remarkably good. The sanitary arrangements are of an up-to-date character, and are regarded as a model for other camps. The 9th is principally composed of men from Ashton, Stalybridge, Dukinfield and Droylsden, who in private life are mechanics and textile workers, and the 10th have been recruited from Oldham. Notwithstanding the vicissitudes of the English weather and the open-air life, these Tommies have adapted themselves to their new surroundings in a patriotic manner, and give their officers little trouble.

As a non-commissioned officer put it to our representative, “there is no snobbery in the Pease Pottage Camp. We are all good pals, who share and share alike, and stand or fall together”. Football, with a little cricket as a diversion, sustains its hold, and tops the evening’s bill of entertainment.

The 9th Battalion do not boast of a football team. Sergeant Major Craig claims that the sylvan surroundings and the warble of the nightingale have produced poets and musicians. They are as plentiful as green peas, and the evenings are spent in a way “I never thought it was possible to settle down to”, added the sergeant-major. Company Sergeant-Major Fairbrother and Q.M.S. Travis share the honours at the piano. Sergeant-Major Craig gets a big line on the bill. Sergeant Dickenson, of Dukinfield, is the humorist with his “Tan-tell”, Sergeant Hickenbotham never tires of singing some of Sims Reeve’s songs, and Sergeant Thornley, who is attending a course of machine gun instruction at the present time, has never failed to give them something new when called upon to oblige. The 9th is also famous for its mules, and Sergeant Dean has got them into working order, and they are docility itself. Boxing is not overlooked, and Corporal Reeves and Privates Watson and J. Barton have been nominated to uphold the prestige of the battalion at the next Divisional Boxing Tournament.

Hidden away in the fir trees is the Y.M.C.A. marquee, and here the men of the whole brigade assemble when off duty to be entertained by London artists, who periodically visit the camp.

Captain W. T. Forshaw, V.C.

Below are excerpts of articles relating to Captain William Thomas Forshaw, V.C. listed chronologically. Unless otherwise noted, they are from the Ashton Reporter.

What His Mother Thinks of V.C. Hero

Smoked While Raining Bombs on Turks

Saturday September 18, 1915:

Captain W. T. Forshaw, of the 1/9th Battalion Manchester Regiment, Ashton Territorials, who has been awarded the Victoria Cross, has cabled from Cairo to his parents this week: “Doing well: may come home”.

According to an eye witness of the deed that won him the Cross, Captain Forshaw was magnificent. He treated bomb-throwing as if it were snowballing. Captain Forshaw, they say, looked thoroughly happy all the time. When interviewed, the captain said he was terribly excited and had never enjoyed anything better than the desperate fight, which lasted forty-four hours. All through that time he smoked continuously for the purposes of lighting the fuses of the bombs, which were made out of jam tins. This, coupled with the fumes of the bombs, brought on sickness and a complete loss of voice lasting several days.

“It was a strange feeling suddenly to see large Turks facing you”, declared the young hero. “There is nothing like a revolver in such circumstances”.

“I shot my first man as he was attempting to bayonet a corporal [Bayley], a second as he was running for our ammunition, and a third as he was attempting to bayonet me. All was over in a few seconds, but the Turks had fled”.

When Captain Forshaw came up with his company to the post allotted him he realised that he had to hold on at all costs to his position to save the line.

Captain Forshaw is a native of Barrow, where the announcement of his award caused intense excitement among the town’s seeming thousands of munition workers.

MRS. FORSHAW DELIGHTED

When a representative visited the house of Lieut. Forshaw in Fairfield Lane, Barrow he met Mrs. Forshaw beaming with smiles over the official announcement. At the beginning of last week word was received through the barracks at Ashton-under-Lyne that Lieutenant Forshaw has been recommended for the Victoria Cross, but Mrs. Forshaw particularly requested the representative not to publish any announcement until it was received officially.

It is just twelve months since Lieutenant Forshaw left for Egypt, and in the drawing-room where his mother was seated were trophies from the Near East. On the sideboard was a solid silver champagne cup which Lieutenant Forshaw won at the Territorial sports at Cairo before he crossed over to Gallipoli, and on another table stood a table lamp, with a half-used candle, which he used in his tent in Egypt. On the walls were two fine pictures of Egyptian scenes which had also been sent from Egypt.

“We have had no word beyond what appears in the morning papers,” said Mrs. Forshaw, “but we now know that it is true”.

Mr. T. Forshaw, the father, is head foreman pattern maker at Messrs. Vickers’ Naval Construction Works at Barrow, and is well known in the town. He won fame on the sports and football fields of Lancashire in his younger days. He comes of a Preston family, and his wife used to reside at Kirkby-in-Furness.

Lieutenant W. T.  Forshaw is the elder of two sons, the second being a draughtsman in the employ of Messrs. Vickers in their London office. He was an assistant master at a preparatory school at Broughton, Manchester, when the war broke out, but some months prior to that he had joined the local Territorials. He was a second Lieutenant and in November last year was promoted lieutenant. Since then he has been acting as captain, but this promotion has not yet been gazetted. Unfortunately, he is now in hospital in Cairo. He is, however, not wounded, a telegram received the other day by his parents intimating “Not wounded, nearly fit again.” Previously, an official report stated that he was in hospital suffering from shock. A letter was anticipated from him to-day, but at the time of writing one had not arrived.

The Mayor of Barrow is particularly gratified at the high honour which has fallen on a townsman, and when Lieutenant Forshaw returns home he will receive a very warm reception.

Mrs. Forshaw, whose husband is the head foreman pattern maker at Messrs. Vickers Limited, lives at Hillside, Fairfield Lane, a charming residential quarter of Barrow. She showed to a representative of “Thompson’s Weekly News” a telegram which had just arrived that morning from her son, briefly saying, “Not wounded; nearly fit”.

“You can say anything good about him,” she told me, “but you can’t say anything wrong.” Such is the spirit in which this national hero is held by a loving mother.

“As an infant,” she said, “he went to Dalton Road Wesleyan School, and later to Holker Street School. From there he won a scholarship for the old Higher Grade School in Barrow (now the Municipal Secondary School). He was a boy who was always full of life and fond of mischief, like most boys, but all the same he was a very good boy.”

“He was healthy and active, and seemed to take naturally to study. The first time he left home was about seven years ago, when at the age of 18 he entered Westminster Training College. For twelve months after leaving college he stayed at home, studying for his inter B.Sc. exam, and during this time he taught an evening class at the Higher Grade School, and also had a class at the Barrow Technical School.”

“It is rather a remarkable thing, too, that he should have won this honour for bravery against a Turkish foe. It recalls to my mind the fact that whilst he was teaching during those twelve months at the Barrow Technical School he was instructing about half a dozen Turks, who were stationed in the Town at that time. Messrs. Vickers Limited were building a battleship for the Ottoman Government, and those Turks were here in connection with the work.”

HELPED BY TENNIS PLAYING

“Ultimately he sat for his intermediate B.Sc. examination and he passed. He has not yet sat his final examination. He obtained his first permanent position at Dallas Road School, Lancaster, and here, again, he had an evening class in the Storey Institute. This work he kept on even after he went to Manchester, for he travelled one evening each week from the city to take one of the evening continuation classes at Lancaster.”

“He was always keen on sports, and was a prominent figure in the Higher Grade School sports.”

“No,” said Mrs. Forshaw, in reply to a query, “He has never written anything whatever about the nature of this exploit. He merely told us that he had been recommended for the honour, but that he was not sure of getting it. He kept the whole thing to himself, and the first news we had of it was when it was published in the papers.”

“There is one thing,” she concluded, “about which we are a bit anxious. We are concerned over his health. He is not in perfect health, and we not really know how he is. I have been rather disappointed that I have not had a letter before this.”

Mr. A. C. Foster, president of the Rampside Tennis Club, who knew Lieutenant Forshaw very well, told me that nothing reminded him more forcibly of the saying that “England’s battles were won won on the playing fields of Eton”.

“Young Forshaw was a member of our club,” he said, “and apart from his genial personal disposition, he was well known as a good sport, and one who could play the game with a deal of skill.”

“The use of the racquet on the tennis court in which he was not a little expert has no doubt proved very useful to him in this bomb-throwing feat. The strain on the wrist necessitated in the sport is an exercise which must have helped him to continue with such determination his trying task.”

Returning From the Dardanelles

Saturday, October 2, 1915:

Captain William Thomas Forshaw, the Manchester schoolmaster V.C., is on his way to England in a hospital ship.

This most welcome news to his parents at Barrow was contained in a telegram received on Thursday from the Records Office at Preston. The gallant soldier has enthusiastic receptions awaiting him at Manchester, Ashton and Lancaster, as well as Barrow, where he was born and received his early education.

The Mayor of Barrow intends arranging a fitting welcome on behalf of the borough, whose crowds of munition workers are anxious to do honour to the worthy son of a popular head foreman in Messrs. Vickers’ naval instruction works.

The Captain’s arrival is expected towards the end of next week.

ASHTON PREPARING TO DO HIM HONOUR

Saturday, October 9, 1915:

The General Purpose Committee of Ashton Town Council have appointed a sub-committee with Mayor (Colonel C. R. Wainwright) as chairman, to arrange a civic welcome to Captain W. T. Forshaw, V.C., who will land in England this week from the Dardanelles.

Captain Forshaw, who is an officer in the Ashton Territorial Battalion 1/9th Manchester Regiment is the first V.C. in the East Lancashire Territorial Division. The Ashton Council have marked their sense of the honour he has brought to the town by deciding to make him a freeman of the borough. Saturday, October 30th, has been fixed for the date of the reception, and the freeman’s scroll, which will contain an account of the officer’s heroic deed in bombing the Turks, will be contained in a silver casket.

The Barrow Town Council have decided to present Captain Forshaw, V.C., with a sword of honour and to erect a tablet in the Town Hall setting forth his brave deeds.

LIEUT. FORSHAW V.C.

THE STORY AS TOLD BY HIMSELF

HIS TRIBUTE TO HIS BAND OF ASHTON MEN

The London Guardian, Thursday October 14, 1915:

Lieutenant Forshaw, V. C., who arrived at Barrow from Egypt on Tuesday evening found his first day at home almost as trying as the extraordinary achievement which has brought him fame. All his friends were eager to shower congratulations upon him, and before the end of the day he contemplated a great heap of letters and telegrams with growing doubts about his ability to reply to all of them individually.

In a brief period of relaxation, writes a representative of the “Manchester Guardian”, he talked to me very modestly about the gallant deed in the performance of which, to quote the words of Major General Douglas, he exhibited “magnificent courage, great endurance, and supreme force of character.” Lieutenant Forshaw, who is 25 years of age, would have it that this praise is too high for the work he did, but his friends rightly think otherwise. Although well set up he has not the powerful physical build which one looked for after reading the official story of his prowess in the trenches, and it is obvious from the effects which still remain that he was sustained during those critical hours by sheer power of will and determination not to yield the ground which he and his men were called upon to hold.

He has been described as bronzed and physically fit, but he is still suffering from severe shock to his nervous system, and it is with difficulty that he can recall the episodes of the long vigil and constant bombing by which the attacking Turks were kept at bay. The tenacious and vigorous defence offered by him and his detachment of Ashton Territorials is all the more remarkable because it was their first serious experience of trench warfare. During the previous three months he had been undertaking the duties of quartermaster to his battalion on the peninsula, and although he had been frequently under shell-fire he had not participated in the actual fighting.

What the Resistance Meant

Owing to casualties in his battalion (the 9th Manchesters) he assumed the duties of acting captain, and immediately after the successful attack of August 8 he and his company were hurried up to reinforce the advanced line. The situation at this point was for a time highly critical. Progress had been made along a sap parallel to a gully, and the whole of a trench which ran at right angles from each side of the saphead had been captured and occupied. Lieutenant Forshaw and about twenty men were instructed to hold a barricade at the head of the sap. Facing them were three converging saps held by the Turks, who were making desperate efforts to retake this barricaded corner, and so cut off all the other men in the trench.

The Turks attacked at frequent intervals along the three saps from Saturday afternoon until Monday morning, and they advanced into the open with the object of storming the parapet. They were met by a combination of bombing and rifle fire, but the bomb was the principal weapon used by the Turks and the defenders. Lieutenant Forshaw led the bomb throwing without regard to his own safety, and frequently exposed himself to danger in order to direct the aim of his men.

Ashton Men’s Magnificent Support

“I was far too busy to think of myself or ever to think of anything,” he said. “We just went at it without a pause while the Turks were attacking, and in the slack intervals I put more fuses into bombs. I cannot imagine how I escaped with only a bruise from a piece of shrapnel. It was miraculous. The Ashton men supported me magnificently. They adapted themselves very quickly to this method of fighting, and they stuck to the work doggedly, notwithstanding our losses.”

“The attacks were very fierce at times, but only once did the Turks succeed in getting right up to the parapet. Three attempted to climb over, but I shot them with my revolver. On the Saturday evening a young officer came to the parapet and held up his hands. He seemed to be perfectly dazed, and we took him prisoner. All this time both our bomb throwing and shooting had been very effective, and many Turkish dead were in front of the parapet and in the saps. The attack was not continuous, of course, but we had to be on the watch all the time, so that it was impossible to get any sleep. Thanks to the courage of two of our cooks, the men were kept supplied with hot food. For myself, I could take very little, as I was so chocked and sick with the smoke and fumes from the bombs.”

Refusal to be Relieved

At the end of 24 hours the Ashton men were relieved by a detachment drawn from other battalions, but Lieutenant Forshaw volunteered to continue to lead the resistance. His offer was accepted, and Corporal Bayley remained with him. More attacks were repulsed during the Sunday afternoon and night, and at the end of the struggle Lieutenant Forshaw rejoined his battalion in a condition of almost complete exhaustion. He was afterwards told that the number of bombs thrown by his men and two other detachments in the trench during the weekend was no fewer than 800.

He remained on the peninsula for several days in the expectation that complete rest would restore his strength, but it was soon apparent that the effects of his great ordeal were more serious than mere physical weariness. He suffered intensely from headache, and his eyes were very painful. He was taken to Egypt, and after examination by a medical board he was invalided home. He has benefited considerably from the sea voyage, but is still affected by headache and eye trouble.

Prospective Public Honours

Lieutenant Forshaw is naturally gratified by the numerous letters of congratulation which he has received, but he rather shrinks from the public honours which are being arranged in Barrow, Lancaster, Manchester and Ashton. Yesterday morning, he paid an unexpected visit to the Barrow Secondary School, where he was formerly a pupil, and in the afternoon he was received by the Mayor. The boys of his old school intend to present him with a gold watch, and the Corporation of Barrow will probably ask him to receive a sword of honour. Towards the end of the month he hopes to attend receptions at the North Manchester Grammar School, where he was an assistant master, and also at the Grammar School. The Ashton Council propose to confer the freedom of the borough upon him, and his old college club at Westminster has invited him to a dinner. Before these events, however, he hopes to visit both Manchester and Ashton in order to meet personal friends.

A Letter from General Douglas

The following letter from Major General Douglas was received by Lieutenant Forshaw’s father, Mr. T. Forshaw, a day or two ago: –

“Dear Sir, – I was unable to get your address until today, or I should have written sooner. I hope that I may be allowed to congratulate you on your son’s distinction. The Victoria Cross is the coveted prize of every soldier, and it does not fall to the lot of many to win it. It gave me great pleasure in recommending him for it. He showed the most superb gallantry. The fumes of the bombs, after fighting with them for 41 hours, affected his throat, and this, as well as the strain on his nerves, necessitated he being sent to hospital. I hope we may soon see him back here again.”

Lieut. Forshaw Receives His V.C. From the King

SCENES AT THE PALACE

His Majesty Chats With Ashton Territorial

V.C. HERO’S VISIT TO ASHTON

Accorded Tremendous Ovation at the Hippodrome

Saturday, October 23, 1915:

Lieut. W. T. Forshaw, the Ashton Territorial V.C. hero, paid a private visit to Ashton last Saturday, and was the guest of Mr. R. H. Makin, of the Haddens, Taunton Road. The time of the arrival was known but to his friends. Lieut. Forshaw was met at Charlestown Station by Mr. R. H. Makin, with whom he intended to spend the week-end.

During Saturday evening Lieut. Forshaw called upon Mr. Harold Burgess, the conductor of the Ashton Operatic Society, but unfortunately Mr. Burgess had gone to Hyde, and did not see him. After trying over a song in the shop Lieut. Forshaw, still unrecognized by the many who had thronged Stamford Street, called at the Picture Pavilion, Old Street, just near the close of the first performance, and had a chat with the manager, Mr. Downes.

Together with his friends, Lieut. Forshaw next visited the Ashton Hippodrome, where he was heartily greeted by Mr. Boyle, (the manager), an old friend of Lieut. Forshaw’s. The party occupied a box, but Lieut. Forshaw “took cover”, as it were, and his presence was not made known to the audience until one of the “Mastersingers”, a Mr. Probyn (who had made Lieut. Forshaw’s acquaintance at Morecombe prior to the war) intimated to the audience that the hero of the Ashton Territorials was present.

Instantly there was a scene of enthusiasm. All the soldiers in the audience stood to attention, whilst the people cheered lustily. Lieut. Forshaw acknowledged the ovation, and bowed to the audience.

Shortly afterwards Lieut. Forshaw and his friends returned to The Haddens, and were enjoying a little music when a telegram arrived summoning him to appear before the King at Buckingham Palace on Monday, and he had to curtail his visit, and hurriedly arrange for a taxi, in order that he might get back to Barrow and proceed to London.

A singular coincidence has been recalled. Mr. K. Entwistle, of the Ashton Operatic Society, before Lieut. Forshaw departed with the Territorials from Ashton, said to him “If you come back with the V.C. you shall have the finest part in our next opera”. It is up to Mr. Entwistle to see that his promise is fulfilled, for Lieut. Forshaw has fulfilled his part of the bargain.

THE INVESTITURE

The King’s Interest and Congratulations

Lieut. Forshaw had the Victoria Cross pinned on his breast by the King at Buckingham Palace on Monday. Lieut. Forshaw and another V.C. got the function practically all to themselves, and the King was able to chat with them about their exploits in a much more detailed and satisfactory fashion than would have been possible had his visitors been more numerous. Moreover, they got their decoration to the accompaniment of musical honours, and a crowd of several hundred persons thronged the Palace railings when they arrived and departed.

The V.C.’s went to the Palace under the most appropriate circumstances, says the “North Western Daily Mail”, and those who had assembled to watch the military evolutions and listen to the band did not fail to give the young officers a warm welcome when they learned the errand on which they were bent.

Lieut. Forshaw and his companions arrived at about 10-30, and were driven to the grand entrance in the quadrangle. The young heroes were conducted to one of the smaller State Rooms on the ground floor, and almost immediately the King appeared, attended by Captain Bryan Godfrey Faussett, R.N. (Equerry in Waiting) and Major Seymour (Assistant Secretary to the King).

PRESENTED TO HIS MAJESTY

His Majesty, who was not accompanied on this occasion by any other member of the Royal Family, was in civilian attire, and none of those in attendance were uniformed. It was a purely informal ceremony. The C.M.G.’s, D.S.O.’s and Military Crosses were quickly disposed of, and then Lieut. Forshaw was presented.

Although His Majesty had made himself familiar with all the details of this officer’s exploit, an official record was read over to him by Captain Godfrey Faussett. Permission is given to state the following particulars: –

Lieut. Wm. Thomas Forshaw belongs to the 1/9 Battalion Manchester Regiment. He displayed most conspicuous and determined gallantry on the 7th-9th August in the Gallipoli Peninsula.

His detachment was holding the north-western corner of a position known as “The Vineyard”, and they were most heavily attacked by the Turks, who advanced time after time upon the gallant defenders, under cover of three trenches which converged on the point.

Lieut. Forshaw held his own splendidly, and it was largely, if not entirely, due to his pluck and resource a very critical situation was saved. For forty-one hours at a stretch he persistently bombed the foe, and when his detachment was relieved after twenty-four hours’ continuous fighting he continued to direct and participate in the operations. Three separate times during the night of August 8-9 did the Turks attack with the utmost determination and disregard of danger, but all assaults were repulsed. Once, when the enemy got a temporary lodgment in part of the British trenches, Lieut. Forshaw shot three of them with his revolver, and then encouraging and leading his men, regained and held the temporary endangered position. When ultimately relieved, the gallant Lancastrian was sick and giddy with the fumes thrown off by the bombs which had been constantly exploding at close quarters, and could hardly lift his arms, particularly the left, from fatigue of his prolonged exertions. He was moreover, badly bruised by a fragment of shrapnel. Throughout the whole of the trying time he had displayed fearlessness, discretion and determination beyond all praise, and his very important corner was held successfully against all attacks by a foe which has few equals in determination, and fewer, perhaps in valour.

THE KING’S INQUIRIES

The King listened with marked attention to the recital and then stepped forward, pinned the Victoria Cross on to Lieut. Forshaw’s breast, and cordially shook hands with him.

His Majesty started the conversation with the gallant fellow, and asked him many questions. The V.C. hero displayed modesty in proportion to his pluck and endeavoured make as light of his achievement as possible.

The King said he could not understand how it was physically possible to keep up the bomb throwing for so long a period, and the new V.C. contented himself by declaring that it naturally made him very tired, but that “of course it had to be done”.

His Majesty inquired how Lieut. Forshaw felt now, and expressed keen satisfaction at learning that he was fairly fit and well. The King again shook hands at the close of the interview, told Lieut. Forshaw that he and his Army were proud at such gallant and resourceful soldiers, and added that he hoped he would live long to enjoy his well-won honour.

The Lieutenant, who was dressed in khaki, and looked particularly smart and gallant, saluted and withdrew.

LIEUT. FORSHAW V.C. IN MANCHESTER

A WELCOME FROM HIS OLD SCHOOL

The Guardian (London), Saturday October 30, 1915:

Lieutenant W. T. Forshaw, V.C., of the 1/9th Manchester Regiment, and some time drawing master at the North Manchester Preparatory Grammar School, paid a visit to the school yesterday to rejoice the hearts of the boys and a good many older people as well.

A procession was arranged to escort him from Victoria Station, and it marched, with a band at its head and pipers following, through two miles of streets that were thronged with an admiring and enthusiastic crowd. Troops of Boy Scouts were in the front ranks and the Grammar School’s Officers’ Training Corps was in the rear. As it moved along the procession seemed to typify the stages of the development of the Boy Scout, from the recreative unit to training unit, and from that, through some unindicated degrees, to the final test of valour which wins the Victoria Cross. Lieutenant Forshaw rode in an open brougham drawn slowly along by a pair of horses. It was not exactly a dashing equipage, but it served the purpose of making him conspicuous, provided the crowd could distinguish him from the captain who rode at his side. The cheers provoked an answering salute now and then, and for most people that was the only sure sign that they had seen the right man.

But everyone knew that this fair young man with the amiable countenance and the friendly blue eyes, smiling a universal greeting as he passed along, was the same young man, only three months older, who had held for two days and two nights the corner of a vineyard upon which three lines of Turkish trenches converged. With “most conspicuous bravery and determination”, (as the official account said), and “with the utmost disregard to danger,” he animated the defence which repelled attack after attack. He was throwing bombs continuously for 41 hours, and though he had the chance of being relieved after 24 hours he volunteered to continue the direction of the operations. During the second night the Turks got over the barricade. Lieutenant Forshaw shot three with his revolver and, leading his handful of men in the counter-attack, he recaptured the post. When it was all over he was badly bruised by fragments of shrapnel, so stiff with throwing bombs that he could not raise his arm, sick with the fumes of the bombs, and voiceless. Yet a month afterwards he was saying that he never enjoyed anything better than this desperate fight which lasted 41 hours.

The Value of Games

Yesterday, Lieutenant Forshaw told the boys he used to teach – “those to whom I used to think I spoke so eloquently,” he said, “and before whom I am almost now dumb” – that he was sure it was the games he played with them on the playing field in Broom Lane that enabled him to endure in that fight for so long as he did endure. He did not think it mattered a great deal what game they played. It was the qualities brought out by the game that carried men through the hardest hours at the front. If they “played the game” while they were at school, there would be no doubt about their playing it when they left school. Lieutenant Forshaw was replying to an address which said: “Your heroism has brought on our school high honour and an enviable distinction. You have set an example of loyalty and devotion which will ever remain a priceless heritage of the school and a stimulus to all who teach and all who are taught within its walls.” Along with the address Lieutenant Forshaw received a silver tea service.

Colonel Clapham, the chairman of the Committee of the school, spoke of the double value of Lieutenant Forshaw’s achievement – its value in the military operations of the day and its value in provoking the emulation of others. Mr. J. L. Paten, the high master of the Grammar School, said Lieutenant Forshaw’s deed reminded them of the epic heroes – of stubborn Ajax holding the Trojans at bay, and of the brave three who held the bridgehead –

“A frame of adamant, a soul of fire. No dangers fright him, and no labour tire.”

And when the speakers had finished, and the Dean and Sir Edward Donner were shaping a vote of thanks to the Chairman, a man in the uniform of a military hospital patient stepped forward with a salute and said, very simply, “I am a bomb thrower myself, and I know what it measn. I think Lieutenant Forshaw deserved the Victoria Cross”.

The Address

The address presented to Lieutenant Forshaw had been illuminated by T. J. Mansbridge, a pupil who left the school in July last. The full text is as follows: –

“To Lieutenant W. T. Forshaw, V.C., we present and past members of this school, desire to offer you our warmest congratulations on the wonderful bravery and endurance you displayed from August 7 to August 9, 1915, in holding trenches at the Dardanelles under conditions of the greatest danger and difficulty, for which service his Majesty King George V. has been pleased to decorate you with the highest military award, the Victoria Cross. Your heroism has conferred on our school high honour and an enviable distinction. You have set an example of loyalty and devotion to duty which will ever remain a priceless heritage of the school and a stimulus to all who teach and are taught within its walls. We therefore ask your acceptance of this address and the gift accompanying it. We wish you many years of happiness, enriched by the knowledge that, in your country’s hour of greatest need, you bore a noble part.”

Engraved one of the pieces presented with the address was the following insertion: –

“North Manchester School to Lieutenant W. T. Forshaw, V.C. A memento of August 7 to August 9, 1915, in the trenches at the Dardanelles. “Who comprehends his trust, and to the same; keeps faithful … he is the happy warrior.”

LIEUTENANT FORSHAW, V.C.

PUBLIC WELCOME AT SOUTHPORT

The Guardian, Saturday, November 6, 1915

Lieutenant W. T. Forshaw, V.C., of the 9th Manchester Regiment, received an enthusiastic welcome on his visit to Southport yesterday. The main thoroughfares through which he was driven were lined by thousands of people, who cheered heartily as he passed by. Troops were drawn up along Lord Street from the Municipal Buildings to Manchester Road. At the Town Hall Lieutenant Forshaw was received by the Mayoress (Miss Willett). He was the guest of the Mayor (Alderman Willett) at dinner in the evening, and subsequently addressed a crowded meeting at the Cambridge Hall in connection with the cadet movement.

LT. W. T. FORSHAW HONOURED

FREEDOM OF ASHTON CONFERRED ON TERRITORIAL OFFICER

THE PROCESSION AND CEREMONY

Saturday, November 6, 1915

Lieutenant W. T. Forshaw was feted in Ashton on Saturday, when it was Ashton’s turn to honour him – and through him the Ashton Territorials – for his gallant deed which gained for him the Victoria Cross. Amidst the detonation of a number of fog signals which had been placed on the steps just outside Charleston Station the train carrying Lieut. Forshaw, and his parents Mr. and Mrs. T Forshaw (who had made the journey from Barrow), steamed in the station about 3:45pm on Saturday afternoon. The salvo of fog signals must for the moment have reminded him of the incident in the Vineyard trench, when he and his gallant men upheld the honour of Ashton in a 41 hours’ continuous fight.

The Mayor of Ashton, (Lieut.-Col. C. R. Wainwright) and Mrs. Wainwright were waiting on the platform to welcome Lieut. Forshaw, together with the aldermen and councilors of the borough, the Town Clerk, and Col. D. H. Wade and many officers of the 9th Battalion. There was no ceremony on the platform, and after Lieut. Forshaw had saluted the Mayor and Mayoress and his colonel, Mr. and Mrs. T. Forshaw were introduced to the Mayor and Mayoress, and Lieut. Forshaw shook hands with the members of the Council. A large number of people viewed the proceedings from Albemarle Street, which overlooks the platform, and from the bedroom windows of the surrounding houses.

The Mayor and Lieut. Forshaw led the way down the approach to the door of the station, where carriages were in waiting in readiness to join the procession which had already been formed. When the figure of Lieut. Forshaw, V.C., his breast decorated with the coveted medal of honour and the bit of maroon ribbon, was seen a loud cheer went up from the thousands who were assembled in the open space opposite the station.

Mr. and Mrs. T. Forshaw rode in an open carriage with the Mayoress, and Lieut. Forshaw, V.C., entered a carriage drawn by four horses accompanied by the Mayor and Deputy-Mayor (Alderman H. Shaw) and the Town Clerk.

On one side of the square were the guard of honour furnished by the 143rd battery of Heavy Artillery, in command of Captain J. F. Leacroft, and ready to join in the procession, and the mounted constables (in charge of Inspector Diston), detachments of nurses, boy scouts, girl guides, etc.

The band of the 1st Manchesters struck up a stirring march, and the procession moved away along Wellington Road, Penny Meadow, Mosley Road, Lees Square, Stamford Street, Chester Square, Richmond Street, Katherine Street to the Town Hall, amid cheers from the spectators, and much waving of handkerchiefs and flags, and many appreciative comments regarding the modest demeanor of Lieut. Forshaw, V.C.

Many householders and shopkeepers along the route of the procession had hung out flags, but the most striking display of bunting was seen in the market Avenue and in Wellington Street. Lines of streamers and flags were crossed in a very pretty fashion. Whilst the procession was wending its way along the route, the crowd in front of the Town Hall increased to a large extent, and the arrivals of those who had secured the privilege of witnessing the ceremony inside the Town Hall were the source of much interest.

AT THE TOWN HALL

Speech by Lieut. Forshaw

The presentation of the Freedom took place in the large upper room of the Town Hall. The platform was reserved for the members of the members of the Council and their wives, and for Mr. and Mrs. Forshaw. On the table lay the silver casket, and the Freeman’s Roll open, ready for signature by Lieut. Forshaw. The band of the Manchesters played several harmonious selections pending the arrival of the procession, and when the Mayor appeared, followed by Lieut. Forshaw, the hall rang with the cheers and plaudits. Half the room was taken up with reserved seats, and of the other half a portion was occupied by the band of the Manchester Regiment. The room was crowded.

THE SPEECHES

The Mayor presided, and first called upon the Town Clerk to read letters: –

The Town Clerk read letters of apology for inability to be present from the Lord Mayor of Manchester (Alderman McCabe) and Sir Frank Forbes Adams, chairman of the east Lancashire Territorial Association, and Mr. James Harris, headmaster of the Barrow-in-Furness Municipal Secondary School.

Mr. Harris wrote: “I should like to say how glad I am that you are doing one of my old boys honour in such a worthy fashion. I knew him for five years in this school. I remember well his loyalty and devotion to his school. He always placed the interests of his school first, and if he had to stand down in the footer teams he did it always without a murmur and thought of the position of his side rather than his own. In the gallant deed which has gained him the Victoria Cross I see the same spirit. No sudden spasm or impulse moved him, but the balance of mind was his which saw that his side would lose if he did not hold ‘The Vineyard’. Today his town and school have honoured him. He has borne himself as a modest, high-minded gentleman, and I feel quite sure that our school and Barrow have given Ashton Territorials an officer of the best quality. You Ashton men must have ‘played up’ well, too, to their leader.”

“It is with real sorrow that I cannot be with you just to see how Forshaw bears himself amidst praise and adulation. I wish you successful functions, and may you have many clean-minded, clean-limbed young fellows as he is in your regiment, which Lieutenant Forshaw spoke of with pride this afternoon.”

COUNCIL MEETING

The proceedings were then for the time being resolved into a meeting of the Town Council in order formally to pass the necessary resolution.

The Mayor moved that the Freedom of the Borough be conferred upon Lieutenant William Thomas Forshaw, V.C., of the 1/9th Manchester Regiment, headquarters, the Armoury, Ashton-under-Lyne, in recognition for which his Majesty the King awarded him the Victoria Cross – (Applause).

The Deputy-Mayor, Alderman H. Shaw, seconded the resolution.

The Mayor having formally put the resolution and declared it carried unanimously, asked Lieutenant Forshaw to sign the Freeman’s Roll. This the gallant officer did whilst the audience looked on with the keenest interest. The band of the 1st Manchesters struck up “See the Conquering Hero Comes”, and the whole assembly sprang to their feet. The young lieutenant, gazing at the hundreds of people in front of him, was deeply touched by this manifestation of enthusiasm.

The Town Clerk read the scroll, which contains the official account of the gallant officer’s stirring defence of the “Vineyard”.

The scroll read as follows: –

BOROUGH ARMS

BOROUGH OF ASHTON-UNDER-LYNE

Colonel Charles Richard Wainwright, D. L., Mayor

Aldermen Coop, Heap, Heginbottom, Kenworthy, Oldham, Waterhouse, A. Shaw, and H. Shaw.

Councillors Andrew, Baguley, Bickerton, Bowman, Broadhurst, Broadbent, Corns, Crawshaw, Crossley, Cryer, Fisher, Greenwood, Judson, Kitchen, Morison, Pollitt, Price, Rothwell, Scholes, Sheard, Thompson, Wild and Wood.

At a special meeting of the Council of the Borough of Ashton-under-Lyne in the county of Lancaster, held on Saturday, the 30th day of October, 1915 at 4:15pm, it was moved by the Mayor, Seconded by the Deputy-Mayor, Alderman Henry Shaw, and Unanimously resolved: –

That this Town Council heartily congratulates Lieutenant William Thomas Forshaw, V.C., 1/9th Battalion the Manchester Regiment, Headquarters, The Armoury, Ashton-under-Lyne, upon the distinguished honour conferred upon him by His Majesty the King by awarding him the “Victoria Cross” for conspicuous bravery and determination in the Gallipoli Peninsular from 7th to 9th August, 1915 and hereby confers upon him the HONORARY FREEDOM OF THE BOROUGH OF ASHTON-UNDER-LYNE, in recognition of his daring and brilliant feat-of-arms, the official record of which in the “London Gazette” is as follows: –

When holding the north-west corner of the “Vineyard”, he was attacked and heavily bombed by Turks, who advanced time after time by three trenches which converged at this point, but he held his own, not only directing his men and encouraging them by exposing himself with the utmost disregard to danger, but personally throwing bombs continuously for 41 hours.

When his detachment was relieved after 24 hours he volunteered to continue the direction of operations.

Three times during the night of 8th-9th August, 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.

It was due to his personal example, magnificent courage and endurance that this very important corner was held.

War Office
9th September, 1915
SEAL

In witness whereof the Seal of the Corporation was hereunto affixed in the presence of:

C. R. WAINWRIGHT, Mayor
F. W. BROMLEY, Town Clerk

MAYOR PRESENTS THE FREEDOM

The Mayor, rising amid a deeply impressive silence said: –

Lieutenant Forshaw, V.C., I now ask you to accept the casket containing the scroll which has just been read by the Town Clerk. On two previous occasions only has the Honorary Freedom (the highest honour any borough can bestow) been conferred upon those who this Council wished to honour, and it was conferred for honourable and useful public services extending over a very long series of years. It says much for the tolerance shown in English public life that in each of those cases the honour was conferred by unanimous resolution of the Council when the party in power was politically opposed to the gentlemen who was made an honourary Freeman. Our first Freeman, Thomas Heginbottom – (hear, hear) – has gone over, alas, to the majority, but I am glad to say our second one, William Kendall – (Hear. Hear) – is still with us, and is here today. When I tell you that he is the only man in Ashton who ever gave me a “good hiding” – (laughter) – you will realise, I am sure, what deference I always show him, and in what respect I always hold him. – (laughter). As the “hiding” was the unfortunate result of a contest for municipal honours you will see that had I been successful his continuous service of nearly forty years as councilor, alderman and Mayor would have been broken. Forty years of a man’s life is a long spell to give to public services, and naturally the honorary Freedom is usually conferred upon men full of years and ripe in wisdom. Your case is different – no party politics, no political feelings are present here. You are a young man, and it says much for the faith and confidence which this Council reposes in your character, your worth, and your trustworthiness that it has conferred this honour upon you. As Mayor of this borough and as Honorary Colonel of the battalion which is so proud to have you as one of its officers, I feel sure that that faith and that confidence will not be misplaced – that your honours will not give you an undue perspective of things as they really are – and that no act of yours in years to come will tarnish the brightness of this casket or blot the fair records on this scroll. It is a fine regiment to which you belong – the Manchesters – (Applause). Few have such a record on two campaigns, six V.C.s, many D.S.O.s and many D.C.M.s two of which have been gained by Sergeant Grantham and Corporal Sylvester – (loud applause) – both non-commissioned officers in our Ashton battalion, and last, but not least, our old friend Colonel James, C.B., who is here today. Though you are not an Ashtonian by birth, I think we may claim you as one by adoption and grace, and when you heard the call, for you there was only one answer to be made, and that was made immediately. Of the unprecedented feat which gained you the most coveted decoration in the world it is needless for me to say – never in the history of that decoration do I remember such a splendid example of devotion to duty, of endurance, of sublime courage, and super-human steadfastness as was displayed in your case. I can understand a man in the heat of the fight “seeing red” and for a few moments becoming superhuman and performing heroic deeds – but your achievement was far more than this, and though measured by time your services to this battalion cannot compare with the lengthy services of those whose names precede yours in this roll – yet may I say that you have lived

“In deeds – not years,
In thoughts – not breaths,
In feelings, not in figures on a dial”

And who can deny that in each of those forty-one hours of that terrible fight you lived an eternity of ordinary life?

On behalf of this Council and this borough I congratulate you on your well-merited honour, and I trust you may live many years to enjoy it, and to be a comfort to your parents, who, I am sure, are proud of their boy. We too are proud of our Ashton V.C. – (applause) – the first East Lancashire Territorial to gain this coveted honour, and may God guard and bless you.

At the close of the Mayor’s speech cheers were raised for Lieutenant Forshaw, the band played “For Valour”, and as the young officer, visibly moved by the warmth of the demonstrations, rose to reply there was storm of applause.

LIEUT. FORSHAW SPEECH

“It is quite impossible for me to express adequate thanks for the honour you have conferred upon me this afternoon,” said Lieut. Forshaw when the cheering had subsided, “by awarding so carefully and jealously guarded an honour to a stranger, and apart from the fact that it would be a most difficult thing to attempt to thank you for such an award, I must ask you to remember that this is an incident in a nerve cure – (Laughter). I am indeed a proud man to share an honour with so noble a townsman as Mr. Kelsall. I have not yet met him but hope to do so this afternoon. The freedom of the borough which you have given me this afternoon, so carefully and jealously guarded, is one thing, but long ago the people of Ashton gave me something which I value quite as much, and about which you are infinitely more free, and that is the freedom of your hearts – (Applause). I shall never forget how I entered Ashton to take a small part in your Operatic Society, and I am proud of the reception. It was not the reception of a stranger. I was not a brilliant performer, but you judged my performance for more than it was worth, and gave me a reception in accordance with it. Apart from that I shall never forget the friendship I got from the society, and the good times I have spent with them. The members of the society opened their hearts to a stranger who would never forget it, and then the welcome I received from the regiment. I cannot say enough about my regiment – and your regiment – (Loud applause). I have received nothing but whole-hearted generosity and manliness from the commandant, Colonel Wade – (applause) – right down to the youngest son of Quartermaster-Sergeant Boocock – (Applause). I can assure you all I am proud to belong to the Manchester Regiment – it is a fine regiment as our Mayor has said – and any man ought to be proud to belong to such a fine battalion. If I may be pardoned for another personal note, I hope that when the battalion comes home they will receive as warm a reception as you have given me, and one particularly. I refer to the grand old man of the battalion, who stuck to them when other officers had to go away, the oldest man of the lot, sir, our grand old Major Connery – (Loud applause). It is impossible, sir, to thank you adequately for the honour you have done me. I can only say thank you. I hope I shall never forget the significance of the polished silver of this casket.”

The applause broke out afresh as the gallant lieutenant returned to his seat. The beautiful casket and the scroll were allowed to remain on the table for a short time so that the audience could obtain a good view of them as they left the hall.

The proceedings concluded by the singing of the National Anthem, in which the audience joined.

Refreshments were afterwards served in the adjoining room to those who had reserved seat tickets, Mrs. Lindley catering for about 400.

[In later years, Forshaw’s life was not without its difficulties …]

Ex-Officer’s Troubles

Gloucester Citizen, Tuesday January 5, 1932:

The problem of the number of V.C.’s who are at present looking for work was brought to my notice yesterday, when I met Capt. W. T. Forshaw, V.C., formerly of the Manchester Regiment, who confided to me some of the difficulties he has encountered in seeking employment. He was decorated in 1915 for one of the most conspicuous acts of bravery in Gallipoli, but that, he says, “is only a matter of history.” In searching for work he is too modest to mention his V.C. I discovered however, a little known fact about how the State looks after its distinguished warriors. A soldier of non-commissioned rank is entitled to an annuity of £50 a year if unable to obtain a livelihood after leaving the service, but the ex-officer gets nothing. Therefore, men like Captain Forshaw, who led his men in one of the most heroic attacks of the War, go on searching in the hope that something will turn up.

[No Title]

Kinematograph Weekly, Thursday November 30, 1933

A further step in the development of the production by G-B Equipments, Ltd. of industrial films is announced by the appointment of Capt. W. T. Forshaw, V.C., to their Industrial Film Production Department. Capt. Forshaw left London on Saturday last to commence activities in the Midlands industrial area.

Capt. Forshaw 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.

V.C. AND EDUCATIONAL FILMS

Capt. Forshaw on Teachers’ Aid

The Era, Wednesday July 25, 1934

CAPT. W. T. FORSHAW, V.C., now the Midlands representative for Industrial Film Productions of G.B. Equipments, Ltd. was formerly a master at Manchester Grammar School. He gained his V.C. at Gallipoli, and afterwards became General Staff Officer for Education for Southern India. He has also held educational posts with the RAF in Egypt.

At a teachers’ demonstration of educational films at Birmingham last week, Capt. Forshaw said during the discussion that he regarded educational sound films as having a great future in supplementing and emphasising, in easily assimilated form, the efforts of teachers.

V.C.’s CAR IN FATAL COLLISION

Essex Chronicle, Friday December 13, 1940:

An inquest was opened at Romford on Dec. 6 on Mr. Edward E. Bromley, aged 30, of Anstead Drive, Rainham, who died in Oldchurch Hospital from injuries received when a motor cycle on which he was pillion riding was in collision with a car driven by Capt. W. T. Forshaw, V.C., a Home Guard officer.

The motor cycle was ridden by Mr. Sidney Middlemiss of Keighton Road, Forest Gate who was also injured, and the inquiry was adjourned for a week to enable him to give evidence.

Mr. Frederick Bromley, a brother of deceased, said that when in hospital the deceased told him a car was being driven behind the motor cycle on which he was riding pillion. A Home Guard shouted to the car driver to slow up, and the next thing he (the deceased) knew was that the car had hit the cyclist, throwing him into a fence.

V.C. CAN DO HIS BIT AGAIN

Daily Herald (London), Friday September 12, 1941:

William Thomas Forshaw, V.C., wants to be doing his bit again. That was the reason he gave in applying at Ipswich County Court yesterday for his discharge from bankruptcy.

Forshaw, then a major, won his V.C. at Suvla bay in 1915, when, with a handful of men, he held a Turkish trench for 41 hours, keeping the enemy at bay with improvised jam tin bombs fired with cigarette ends. He caught Turkish bombs and hurled them back before they could explode.

Back in civil life, Major Forshaw, a schoolmaster, had bad luck. He was 39 at the time of his bankruptcy. Yesterday, at 51, and wearing the Home Guard uniform with a double row of medal ribbons, he told Judge Hildearly, “I must have my discharge if I am to rejoin the Army.”

“And I have no wish to deprive the country of the service of such a man,” said the Official Receiver.

Major Forshaw was granted his discharge.

87th Birthday Burial

Lancashire Evening Post, Monday November 16, 1942

On Saturday, the day that would have been his 87th birthday, Mr. Thomas Forshaw, a famous Barrow Rugby Club wing three-quarter and a retired foreman patternmaker at Messrs. Vickers Armstrongs, Barrow, was buried at Dalton cemetery. Besides his two sons, Captain W. T. Forshaw, V.C., and Mr. Frank Forshaw, and other relatives, those present included Dr. G. H. Patterson, ex-president of North Lancashire Cricket League; Mr. Thomas Morgan, a former player of Barrow Rugby Union Club; Mr. Thomas Walker, of the former Barrow Amateur Cycling Club; Mr. S. Gibb and Mr. Fraser, foremen at Messrs. Vickers Armstrongs Works; Mr. J. R. Green, secretary, and Messrs. R. Helme, A. Paterson and others representing Barrow Working Men’s Club and Institute; and Mr. C. Leece, Pennington.

A NINE YEAR SEARCH TO LOCATE THE GRAVE OF LIEUTENANT WILLIAM FORSHAW VC, THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT, CULMINATES IN THE ERECTION AND DEDICATION OF A HEADSTONE

Monday, 17 October 1994

During the period 7/9 August 1915 at Gallipoli, when holding the north-west corner of the “Vineyard” against heavy attacks by the Turks, Lieutenant Forshaw not only directed his men but personally threw bombs continuously for over 40 hours. When his detachment was relieved, he volunteered to continue directing the defence. Later, when the Turks captured a portion of the trench, he shot three of them and recaptured it. It was due to his fine example and magnificent courage that his very important position was held.

William Forshaw survived WWI and was living in Holyport, Berkshire when he died at the comparatively young age of 53 on 26 March 1943 and was buried in Touchen End Cemetery, Bray, near Maidenhead, in a grave that was not marked with a headstone. It was thought that William Forshaw had been buried in Ashton-under-Lyne and many publications reflected this. But the Victoria Cross historian, Tom Medcraft, was convinced he was not buried in Ashton and after a nine year search, discovered Forshaw was in fact buried in Touchen End. This discovery was made through the efforts of Mrs. Pat Curtis, Senior Librarian at Maidenhead Library, who found the undertaker, Pymm’s of Maidenhead, who had buried William Forshaw and whose records showed he was buried in Touchen End Cemetery. However, the undertaker’s records did not show the exact location of the grave as their original records had been lost when they moved premises some forty years earlier. Further research by Tom Medcraft and Pat Curtis revealed that the churchyard seemed to be laid out in ‘date order’ for the years during which William Forshaw had been buried and his grave was one of five in an area of the cemetery which was seriously overgrown.

As a result of the grave being located and the area cleared, a ceremony was held in Touchen End Cemetery on Monday, 17th October 1994 to erect and dedicate a headstone to Lieutenant William Forshaw VC, by members of the 1st Bn. The King’s Regiment (Manchester & Liverpool) – which was formed from his own Manchester Regiment – who erected the memorial stone. Also present were Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Hodges, Commanding Officer of the 1st Bn. The King’s Regiment (Manchester & Liverpool), Brigadier Jeremy Gaskell, the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Bray, and the Vicar of Bray, who carried out the service.

The Victoria Cross of William Forshaw resides at the “The Museum of the Manchester’s” Ashton-under-Lyne Town Hall, Manchester, together with his other medals. Also on display is a sword presented to him by the Mayor of Barrow – his home town – when he was given the Freedom of the City in 1916, and a beautiful silver tea service which was presented to him by the Headmaster of North Manchester Grammar School in October 1915, where he had served as a teacher prior to going to war. The room in the museum which houses his medals and other presentation gifts, is called “The Forshaw Room”.

Kings Honour Gallipoli VC

The lost grave of one of The Manchester Regiment’s 13 VCs has been re-discovered near Maidenhead and its headstone dedicated.

The regiment lives on in the form of The King’s Regiment, which sent 50 men with Regimental Colonel Brig. Jeremy Gaskell and Lt. Col. Clive Hodges, CO of the 1st Battalion, to honour Lt. William Forshaw VC with a firing party and a service of dedication.

Painstaking research by the Manchesters’ Museum chairman Capt. Bob Bonner established the grave at Touchen End churchyard, near Maidenhead, after the site had been discovered by VC historians Tom Medcraft, an ex-RAF armourer, and Mrs Pat Curtis. Lt. Forshaw was awarded the supreme gallantry medal after holding the “Vineyard” in Gallipoli with the 1/9th Battalion, The Manchester Regiment against attacks by an overwhelming Turkish force.

He died in May 1943 and, because of the war, it was not possible for the regiment to honour him as it would have wished. In time, the grave was forgotten.

A regimental wreath placed at his headstone echoed the exhortation to the modern soldiers as they answered: “We will remember them.”

War Hero’s Valour is Set in Stone

Plaque Honours Lieutenant’s Bravery in World War One

Maidenhead Advertiser, Friday August 12, 2005

A memorial plaque honouring a war hero who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery was unveiled in Holyport on Sunday.

The dedication ceremony was the culmination of months of planning and fundraising and coincided with the 90th anniversary of the action in World War One, which saw Lieutenant William Forshaw awarded the military’s highest ward for valour.

Lieutenant (Acting Captain) Forshaw and the men in his command successfully defended their position at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli, for 41 hours against Turkish soldiers.

At one point in the battle Lt. Forshaw and his men were reduced to throwing bombs made of jam tins.

The vicar of Bray, the Rev George Redpath, conducted the ceremony at the former home of Lt Forshaw, who went on to become a major.

Roy Johnson, 52, of Pymm and Hooper funeral services was one of those who helped organise and raise funds. He said: “This is wonderful, William Forshaw was in the same regiment as my father. There were too many links for me not to help.”

Terry Nicolson, a volunteer with Berkshire War Memorials Trust who organised the event, thanked all those who donated time and money to the project.

He added: “We would still welcome any donations towards the funding of the plaque.”

The plaque itself, which was also in honour of Lt. Forshaw’s wife, Sadie, for her work on hospital ships in the Middle East, was created by Neil Johnson, of Lamb and Co Stone Masons.

Mr. Johnson said: “We have worked on other VC memorials and it is always a pleasure considering what people went through to earn them.”

The current owners of the house in Gays Lane, Julian and Sheelagh Evans, were represented at the unveiling by their 21-year-old son Dominic, who said: “When we moved into the house we had no idea of the history of it. When we found out about William Forshaw we were very happy to have the plaque on our house. It’s very important we all remember the sacrifices made during times of war,” he said.