2nd Lieutenant John Broadbent

John Broadbent was born in Ashton-under-Lyne on September 4, 1872.  His father, Timothy Broadbent, was a Pawnbroker and died when John was just 2 years old.

Lt.-Col. D.H. Wade T.D., J.P., Col. Sir Walter de Frece M.P., Lt.-Col. J. Broadbent T.D., J.P. and Major Ralph Lees T.D.
Sunday November 12, 1922. (Copyright Imperial War Museum)

His mother, Mary Henshaw Broadbent (née Wright) took over the Pawnbroker business when his father died and John lived with his mother and his uncle’s family at 243 Stamford St, Ashton-under-Lyne. He was educated at Stamford Academy, Ashton-under-Lyne and enlisted in the 3rd Volunteer Battalion, the Manchester Regiment on February 8, 1892. Three years later he was awarded a commission as a Second Lieutenant, on May 22, 1895.

On December 22, 1897 he married Mary Hannah Marland and they lived in Ashton. He was promoted to Lieutenant on December 16, 1896 and served with the detachment the Battalion sent to South Africa in the Second Boer War being promoted to Captain on June 13, 1900. He was promoted to Major on July 18, 1907 and was subsequently appointed to the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment when it was formed  on April 1, 1908.

By 1911 he and his wife had moved to Bella Vista, Castleton, where he was a large land owner,  and were living there with a servant.  Major John Broadbent resigned his commission with the 9th Battalion on April 20, 1912, retaining the rank of Major.

When war broke out he re-enlisted with the 1/9th and was awarded a commission as Second Lieutenant, dated September 5, 1914 while the Battalion were at camp at Bury. This must have been quite a difficult decision for him as he was by now 42 years old and his wife was about to give birth which she did on September 13th when Mary Henshaw Broadbent was born, (named after his mother who had died in 1912).

Nevertheless, he joined the Battalion at Chesham Fold Camp, Bury in September 1914 sailing with them to Egypt later that month.  He served with them there throughout their training and preparations for action. He landed with the 1/9th in Gallipoli on May 10, 1915 as Transport Officer arriving one day after the main force.

Regimental records note that he was assigned for special duty in Alexandria for 16 days from September 11, 1915 and the Brigade war diary reports that 2/Lt. J Broadbent was sent sick to hospital on October 7, 1915. Two weeks later he was invalided to the UK on October 21, 1915.

In England, he rejoined the 3/9th Battalion at Codford, Salisbury Plain in January 1916 and on April 26, 1916 rejoined the 1/9th Battalion in Egypt.  The London Gazette in 1917 notes that he was promoted to Lieutenant with precedence from June 1, 1916. He managed to take 4 days leave in Cairo from October 22-26, 1916 and took another 2 days, again in Cairo, from February 18-20.

He sailed with the Battalion from Egypt landing in France on March 11, 1917. He took two weeks home leave in the UK from May 6-21, 1917 and again from October 4 – 18th, 1917. Six weeks later he was sent to hospital sick and remained there from November 27 to December 28, 1917. He left the battalion in the field for the last time on January 10, 1918, reporting to the War Office in the UK. The January 18, 1918 London Gazette announced his promotion to Captain, with precedence from Aug 5, 1917. In England he was transferred to the Territorial Reserve as Captain on March 19, 1918.

After the war, orders to reform the regiment were received in October 1920 and Lt-Col D. H. Wade was appointed Commanding Officer. Captain John Broadbent was appointed Major, (antedated to August 5, 1917), and rejoined the 9th Battalion on August 3, 1921. When Col. Wade retired from the Territorial Force on January 27, 1922 having reached the age limit, Major Broadbent was appointed as the new Commanding Officer and promoted to Lieutenant Colonel the following day. Lt-Col. Broadbent remained in command of the battalion until he completed his tenure on January 27, 1926 retiring with the rank of Brevet Colonel.

Away from the battalion, he became involved in politics and served as Mayor of Ashton-under-Lyne from 1923 to 1925. As a consequence, Broadbent Avenue in Smallshaw, Ashton under Lyne is named after him. In 1931, after he had retired from the Territorials, he became a Member of Parliament for Ashton and remained so until the election of 1935.

Colonel John Broadbent, T.D. died at his home in Castleton on June 9, 1938. He was 65 years old.

John Broadbent Obituary, London Times