On the 4th March, 1917 the 9th Battalion embarked on HMT Arcadian bound for France. They disembarked at Marseilles on 11th March and moved by train to Pont Remy, arriving there on the 14th March. From Pont Remy the 42nd Division was moved to an area ten miles east of Amiens, there the 9th Battalion was issued with rifles and steel helmets. They began training on the tactics of trench warfare, trench digging, route marches were also order of the day.
1/9th Manchesters France March 1917
On the 21st March, 1917 Private ARNOLD PEARSON (351087 formerly 2787) was killed in action. He is commemorated at Pozieres Memorial.
The Battalion moved to Haquaix on 18th April, and on the evening of 22nd April they took over a section of the front line and support line at Epehy; the first time they had been in the front lines since Gallipoli.
1/9th Manchesters France April 1917
The Battalion moved to billets in Marquaix; the same ones they had occupied earlier in April. They moved into the front line on May 5th. On the evening of May 6th, 2/Lt Cooke was mortally wounded. The Battalion went into reserve on the evening of May 9th, moving to Templeux Quarry, and returning to the line again on May 13th. They were relieved on May 17th and marched to billets at Villers Faucon.
On May 19th they moved to Bertincourt, via Equancourt, and went into billets. They moved into the reserve line at Havrincourt Wood on May 21st and spent their time digging and consolidating trenches. Two days after 2/Lt. Cooke died of wounds on May 24th, Pte. Harry Holden was awarded the Military Medal, most likely for carrying him back to safety.
On the evening of May 29, 1917 a patrol composed of Lt. Phillip Sydney Marsden and 3 privates was fired on by the enemy. Lt. Marsden and one of the men were hit, both in the abdomen. The two remaining privates carried back the two wounded men 300 yards under fire and then obtained a stretcher and some assistance. Lt. Marsden died an hour after he was brought in and the private some hours later.
1/9th Manchesters France May 1917
The Battalion was in the line at Havrincourt Wood at the start of the month being relieved on June 5th and moving to Ruyaulcourt. They moved back into the line at Havrincourt Wood from June 12-16, moving to Ytres when relieved. They spent time training at Ytres before returning to the reserve line at Havrincourt Wood on June 21st.
The Battalion remained in the line for the remainder of the month and whilst there all companies were engaged in the digging of firing and communication trenches at night under cover of darkness.
1/9th Manchesters France June 1917
The Battalion went into a reserve area on 9th July, undertaking various training exercises and rest.
On the 22nd August they were entrained, bound for Ypres, and suffered only one death, Private JOSEPH REYNER (350880) who died of wounds on August 30, 1917 and is buried at Ruyaulcourt Military Cemetery.
In September the 42nd Division took over a sector almost a mile in width, enduring appalling conditions due to bad weather and constant heavy enemy shellfire.
The 9th battalion left the front line at the end of September and took over the coastal defence at the Nieuport front, under constant shellfire and aerial attack. In December the battalion went into the line near Bethune with the 10th battalion.
During this period the following casualties were recorded:
The battalion moved to Gorre on the 24th January where trench warfare continued with raids from both sides. In a raid on the 11th February, 1918 the battalion went over the top in a successful action in the sector opposite Festubert, with artillery stopping any German escape or reinforcements.
On the 15th March the battalion was withdrawn to the Busnes/Burbure/Fouquieres area. The army was going through a dramatic reconstruction at this time with brigades being reduced from 4 to 3 battalions. Some 260 officers and men of the 9th joined with the 2/9th while 210 others joined the 1/5th and the 1/6th. Other men were used to supply drafts to under strength battalions, like the 1st Notts & Derby Regiment.
Those left in the battalion remained as a training cadre. In August 1918 they absorbed the 13th Manchesters and were later reconstituted as the 9th battalion. They ended the war in Soire le Chateau near Avesnes.
Note: Much of the original text for 1918 was taken from the www.themanchesters.org and is their copyright.
A list of the Battalion’s Commanding Officers in World War One can be found here.