Surgeon Major Albert Hilton

Albert Hilton was born in June 1868 in Ashton under Lyne to James and Mary Hilton (née Buckley). James Hilton owned, and was the publican of, the Collier’s Arms Inn.  Albert was the youngest of nine children but not all of his brothers and sisters survived into adulthood; his older brother, and namesake, Albert dying after just 3 weeks’ life in 1864, another brother Joshua dying as an infant in 1853.

Surgeon-Major Dr. Albert Hilton

In 1871 Albert was living with his parents, four older brothers, older sister Elizabeth and his adopted sister Alice Brierly, at the Colliers Arms Inn, Ashton. His three oldest brothers working as Felt Hatters. His oldest brother, George Hilton, owned a small hat manufacturing business and was living with his wife, infant son and a domestic servant on King Street in Ashton.

Ten years later, in 1881, George’s hat manufacturing business had grown but his wife had died and so he and his four children had moved back to live with the family. By this time, James Hilton had retired and moved to King Street and so Albert lived with his parents, his brother George and his young family and two of Albert’s older brothers, and his sister Elizabeth.

Albert’s father died in 1882, when Albert was 14, and his mother died 7 years later just as Albert was embarking on his medical studies. Consequently, Albert moved to live with his brother George’s family, George having remarried.

Albert matriculated in June 1889 at the Central Board School, Manchester and went on to study Preliminary Science, (excluding Biology), at Owens College, Manchester in July 1890 followed by Biology in January 1891. With this foundation, he passed his Medicine and Therapeutics, Pathology and Midwifery examinations in March 1896 followed by his Surgical Anatomy and Operative Manipulation, Instruments, Bandaging and Appliances, Surgery and Surgical Pathology examinations in April. Upon passing all of his examinations he was granted the Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries (L.S.A.), entitling him to practice Medicine, Surgery and Midwifery and enabling him to compete for Medical Appointments in the Army, Navy, and India Services, also for Poor Law Appointments. Now a qualified and licensed medical practitioner, in 1897 he setup his medical practice in Hurst, Ashton under Lyne.

He was commissioned into the 3rd Volunteer Battalion, the Manchester Regiment, as Surgeon-Lieutenant on August 23, 1899 and promoted to Surgeon-Captain on November 8, 1902. He also became a Freemason on February 15, 1900 joining the Lodge of Fidelity, Ashton under Lyne, the same lodge that Ned Stringer would later join in 1906.

By 1905 Dr. Hilton, LSA had been appointed Surgeon for the Lancashire County Constabulary & St. John’s Ambulance Brigade and in such capacity was called to crime scenes, performed autopsies and presented evidence at inquests. He was also a member of the British Medical Association and at one point held the position of President of the Ashton under Lyne Division.

At the Hurst District Council meeting of Thursday September 19, 1907 Dr. Albert Hilton was appointed Medical Officer of Health temporarily for a period of six months at a salary of £15, at a rate of £30 per annum, after the death of Dr. Cooke, the previous appointee. Dr. Hilton was later appointed to a permanent position holding it until 1912 and authoring the annual “Reports on Sanitary Condition of USD of Hurst”, during this period.

In 1907 an act of parliament changed the Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries (L.S.A.) to Licentiate in Medicine and Surgery of the Society of Apothecaries (L.M.S.S.A.). The 1914 Medical Register shows Albert Hilton listed as “L.S.A. Lond., 1896; L.M.S.S.A. Lond., 1908” although the Society of Apothecaries holds no records of him passing any such examinations in 1908.
Also in 1908, the 9th Battalion, Manchester Regiment, Territorial Force was formed and Captain-Surgeon Albert Hilton retained his rank and precedence along with the other officers and men of the battalion. On July 12, 1911 he was promoted to Surgeon-Major and remained at this rank.

In 1912 he was awarded the Diploma in Public Health (DPH) from Manchester University while working at the Manchester Royal Infirmary and the same year he became a Fellow of the Society of Medical Officers of Health.

At the outbreak of war, he was mobilised with the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment and sailed with the battalion to Egypt serving with them there throughout their training and preparations for action. While the battalion were stationed under canvas at Heliopolis, Major Hilton became ill and was admitted to the Citadel Hospital in Cairo.

Writing to his sister on March 4, 1915 2/Lt. Ned Stringer said:

Poor Albert Hilton, as you know, died yesterday and we have buried him in the English cemetery at Old Cairo today. He has not shown any sign of improvement since we left England but has had many days of sickness from time to time. Last Sunday he went to the Canal battlefield, returned to Camp about midnight & on Monday he was taken with what was thought to be enteric fever. He was removed to hospital on Wednesday and he died Thursday from meningitis, so that his old complaint claimed him at last. I shall miss him much as he & I have been very pally since we came here & such men cannot be replaced.

Cpl. Thomas Valentine, of the battalion’s Band, noted in his journal on March 5th:

We are going on a very painful duty today, that is to play the Death March for our Doctor, Major Hilton, who died at the Citadel Hospital after a very short illness. And we buried him in the soldier’s cemetery, Cairo.

The British Medical Journal of May 8, 1915 carried a short tribute:

Major, Albert Hilton, R.A.M.C. (T.F.), died on service in Egypt on March 4th, as recorded in the casualties in the April Army List. He was educated at Owens College and at the Royal Infirmary, Manchester, and took the diploma of L.S.A. in 1896 and the D.P.H. of Manchester in 1912.

He practiced at Hurst, Ashton-under-Lyne, and was medical officer of Hurst Union District and surgeon to the Lancashire County Constabulary. He had served as President of the Ashton-under-Lyne Division of the British Medical Association. He was a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Public Health, and a member of the Society of Medical Officers of Health. He entered the auxiliary forces as medical officer on August 23rd, 1899, attained the rank of Major on July 12th, 1911, and was Medical Officer of the 9th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment.

The Stalybridge Reporter carried a short article reporting his death on March 6, 1915:


Territorial Officer’s Death in Cairo


Just as we go to press, we regret to have to announce the death of Dr. A. Hilton, surgeon-major in the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment, Ashton Territorials, and medical officer of health for Hurst.

Yesterday (Friday) a cablegram was received containing the announcement that death took place on Thursday at Cairo.

Major Hilton, who was 47 years of age, left with the Ashton battalion for Egypt in September last. For a year or two previously his health had not been of the best, but from reports received the change of climate appeared to have had very beneficial results. Details of the illness which brought about his death are lacking

For many years he was engaged as a medical practitioner in Hurst, and he occupied the position of medical officer of health for the Hurst Urban District Council, and also for the Ashton, Stalybridge and District Joint Smallpox Hospital Board. A Conservative in politics, he was formerly one of the representatives of the East and West Wards in the Hurst District Council, where he served the community to the best of his ability, and proved himself to be a very popular representative.

When the war broke out, he played an important part, as an officer of the Army Medical Corps, in the medical inspection of the recruits at the Barracks, and large numbers of men passed through his hands. A man of many parts, he was extremely popular among the officers and men of the battalion. He had a fund of humour, and at many of the social gatherings he has enlivened the proceedings and caused much mirth by his humerous sketches and pianoforte accompaniments by himself. He was remarkably well read and informed on almost any variety of subject, and took a humerous pleasure in starting a conversation on some abstruse and out-of-the-way subject on which he shed an amazing amount of information. He was a member of the Warrington and Union Clubs, Ashton, the flags of which were hoisted half-mast as a mark of respect.

He was gazetted surgeon-lieutenant of the 3rd V. B. Manchester Regiment on August 23rd, 1899; surgeon-captain on November 24th, 1902; and major of the Royal Army medical Corps in July 12th, 1911.


  1. The Warrington Club, established in 1874, occupied a fine building in the Early English style near Mossley road, comprising billiard, conversation, whist, dining and directors’ rooms, together with a bowling green and croquet and tennis lawns and a pavilion in which entertainments were held. In 1904 there were around 200 members.
  2. The Union Club, in Old street, established in 1868, was exclusively confined to the professional and military gentlemen of the town and the officers at the barracks.  In 1904 there were around 60 members.


Major Albert Hilton, LSA, DPH died on March 4, 1915 at the Citadel Hospital, Cairo. He was 47 years old. He is buried in the Cairo War Memorial Cemetery, about 4km south of Kasr-El-Nil barracks where the battalion were first stationed in Egypt, and commemorated on the University of Manchester War Memorial, Main Quadrangle.

Remarkably, for a military officer on active service overseas in 1915, he died intestate and his sister Elizabeth was appointed administratrix.


Many thanks to The Society of Apothecaries for their patience and their assistance in uncovering the details of the medical qualifications of Surgeon-Major Albert Hilton.

Major William Henry Archbutt

William Henry Archbutt was born on September 10, 1860 in Lambeth to William Edwards Archbutt and Sarah Archbutt (née Dillamore). William Edwards Archbutt was a successful Pawnbroker and they lived in a large house with five servants in Lambeth. William Henry Archbutt had three older sisters: Sarah, Violet and Maude.

After attending school and completing his education he then studied to become a brewer and by 1891, he had moved to Bedfordshire. On April 8, 1896 he married Annie Moul, in Surbiton Surrey but by 1901 they had moved to 235 Bramhall Lane, Stockport and William was the manager of Bell’s Brewery, Stockport. He was Gazetted as a Second Lieutenant in the 3rd Volunteer Battalion, the Manchester Regiment on July 13, 1901 and two years later on February 4, 1903 promoted to Lieutenant. He was promoted to Captain on February 11, 1905 retaining his rank when the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment was formed in April 1908 and on July 17, 1913 he was promoted to Major.

At the outbreak of war, he was mobilised with the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment and on his 54th birthday he sailed with the battalion to Egypt serving with them there throughout their training and preparations for action. While the battalion were stationed at Abbassia barracks, Major Archbutt became ill and was admitted to hospital on January 26, 1915 suffering from gall stones. His service record provides the following details:

Patient was admitted to hospital Jan 26, 1915 suffering from acute Cholecystitis.

The attack commenced in the early morning, two days before admission. Patient was then seized with acute pain in the epigastric region; this pain subsequently moved to area of the 9th rib on right side and had remained there ever since. He had not vomited, nor felt sick. The bowels had been freely opened two days before admission.

Disease:               Cholecystitis [inflammation of the gallbladder] Cardiac Failure

On Admission: Temperature 100.8. Pulse 74.
Tongue very furred; breath foul. There was considerable pain over upper segment right rectus [Rectus Abdominis muscle] in which also there was marked Tenderness & rigidity. That night Morphia 1/4 grain was given.

Jan 27: Morning Temperature 100.6. Pulse 64.
Patient had passed a good night; pain & tenderness slightly less. Jubol given night & morning as intestinal disinfectant, and also Urotropine as biliary disinfectant.
Evening temp: 99.4. Simple enema. Good result.

Jan 28: Morning Temp: Normal. Pulse: 74
Patient had had comfortable night. B.O. 2.
Evening Temp: 99. Pulse: 72.

Jan 29: Morning Temp: 99.2. Pulse 64.
Pain & tenderness less; rigidity absent on gentle palpitation.
Evening Temp: 99

Jan 30: Morning Temp: 98.2. Pulse 64
Patient very comfortable. Slight tenderness over gall bladder. Light food ordered.

Jan 31: Temperature & Pulse Normal
On this day patient was seen with me by Col. Bird, Consulting Surgeon AIF; he concurred in the diagnosis and agreed that an operation was not necessary.

Feb 1-7:
Condition normal. tenderness over gall bladder subsided until it was absent. On Feb 3rd, Patient began to eat an ordinary diet and to get up for several hours after lunch.

On Feb 5th, he was examined as to whether an invaliding board would be necessary. The result of that examination was as follows: –

Previous History. This was excellent. Patient had never had a serious illness before and had always led an active life. About eighteen months ago he suffered from Catarrhal Otitis Media [Inner ear infection] which was said to be of gouty origin. Under dietary precautions this quickly cleared up. At the same time, he suffered slightly from indigestion which however soon yielded to treatment.

Present Condition. General condition excellent though there is well marked Arcus Senilis [ring around the irises of the eye, seen as normal in a man of his age] present.

Nervous System: Normal

Circulatory System: Heart normal in size. Slightly accentuated second sound. Action regular. No bruits [sound made in the blood vessels resulting from turbulence].

Pulse: Regular (68-72) & strong. Slightly high in tension but no more than normal in a man of his age.

Vessels: Slight arteriosclerosis present

Urological System: Normal. Urine: Slight deposit Phosphates. No albumen or sugar.

Digestive System: Normal. Slight tenderness over gall bladder still remaining.

It was reported that an invaliding board was not necessary.

Feb 8th:
On the morning of this day, he reported himself “very well” and asked to be allowed to get up before lunch. This he was allowed to do and on the same day was transferred to the Officer’s Hospital. He spent a quiet and comfortable afternoon and evening and when advised by the Sister to go to bed early asked to be allowed to stay up as he felt so well.

Having dined about 7:30pm he was proceeding to his bedroom when he fell. He was placed on the bed and complained of inability to breathe. His face was pale and clammy, his pulse slow and small. He stated that he had no pain in his chest or abdomen; the latter being quite flaccid and painless. Strychnine and Ether were administered and later, artificial respiration applied but with no avail. The choking sensation became more marked, the pulse slower and more feeble and finally stopped and he died about 8pm.

J.C. Jefferson, Lt. R.A.M.C. (T)

Major William Henry Archbutt died on February 8, 1915 in military hospital in Cairo. He was 54 years old. He was buried in the Cairo War Memorial Cemetery about 4km south of Kasr-El-Nil barracks where the battalion were first stationed in Cairo.

The following article was published in the February 13, 1915 edition of the Ashton Reporter:

We regret to announce the death, which took place at Cairo on Tuesday 8th February, of Major William Henry Archbutt, of the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment, Ashton Territorials. On Wednesday morning the Mayor of Ashton, Colonel C.R. Wainwright, T.D., D.L. received a communication that Major Archbutt had died from heart failure at the age of 54 years. This brief announcement, which was received by cablegram, elicited expressions of regret in military and social circles in Ashton, where Major Archbutt was well known and greatly respected. All admired the splendid patriotism and the spirit of self-sacrifice with which he volunteered for foreign service on behalf of his country’s cause when the war broke out, and all admired too, the genial personality and camaraderie of the man in civilian sense, and the cheerful fortitude with which he applied himself to the task in hand. He gave himself up whole heartedly to the cause, and thereby set an example to the rank and file of the battalion and to others which is worthy of emulation. Although not in the best of health when war broke out, he volunteered for foreign service, and readily placed himself at the disposal of the military authorities.

Major Archbutt was Gazetted 2nd Lieut. in the 3rd Battalion, Manchester Regiment on 30th July 1901. He was appointed first Lieutenant on 4th February 1903, Captain on 11th February 1905, and Major on 17th July 1913, on which date he was granted the field officers certificate. He qualified in musketry at Preston on 30th July 1904. He resided in Bramhall Lane, Stockport. For many years he was manager of Bell’s Brewery, Stockport.

Cpl. Thomas Valentine’s Journal


Corp. T. Valentine
243 C. Coy. Band
1/9th Manchester Regt
Egypt & Dardanelles 1914 & 1915

Corporal Thomas Valentine (standing, back row, far right) with the 1/9th Battalion Manchester Regiment Band in Egypt.

9th Battalion Manchester Regiment Band
Copyright Imperial War Museum


Wed Sept 9, 1914

The Camp at Bury today is a terrible state flooded out with heavy rain. Glad when we got orders to pack up and be ready to move any minute. Marched out at tea time and entrained for unknown destination at 8pm.

Thurs Sept 10th

Arrived at Southampton at 8 o’ clock am after a 12 hours journey. Embarked at 11pm. Set sail at midnight but I was in my hammock so did not see her start.

Friday Sept 11th

Got up at 5:00 this morning to find the ship miles at seas. 7:15 breakfast very interesting to watch the shipping all passing us and porpoises jumping out of the water. Dinner time, the ship is now at anchor waiting for all the other transports assembling, while we are waiting a Warship is bringing a German prize into port past us. Went to bed ship still at anchor. Set sail at midnight.

Sat Sept 12th

Got up at reveille to find the ship rolling very much and began to feel rather uncomfortable. Could not face my breakfast. Same at dinner time. Ditto for tea. Hundreds sick all over the ship. The Arogan, that is the ship’s name, is a terror for rolling. Got my hammock slung up and turned in for the night. Hope for better luck tomorrow.

Sun Sept 13th

Got up at reveille still feeling sick. Could not face anything to eat again today. Another day’s fast doing well. If I keep on there will be nothing left. Ship rolling very much crossing the Bay of Biscay. Turned in to my hammock which is the only place where I feel comfortable.

Mon Sept 14th

Got up this morning felling a little better but nothing to swank about. Managed to get a bit of breakfast down but had to leave the table in a hurry and go and feed the fish again but got better as the day went on. Had a good dinner which stayed where I had put it. Also had a good tea and am feeling myself again. Band played for an hour on upper deck tonight. Ships signaling to each other all lights out, so I turned in and went to bed.

Tuesday Sept 15th

Still at sea, no land in sight. Getting in warmer climate. Got orders to take our shoes and stockings off today feel like walking about undressed. Scorching hot. My Company on guard today. It looks a treat to see all the Transports lit up at night all sailing as close together as possible and there are 16 ships escorted by 4 warships.

Wed Sept 16th

Slept on deck last night as we had to be on guard throughout the night. Sea calm. Grand sailing now. A large whale passed close by our ship this morning and we had a good view of it spouting the water up.

Thurs Sep 17th

Got up this morning to find the ship sailing along the Portuguese coast which we could see quite plain. We have now run into a fog which is very annoying. The fog horn is blowing every minute which nearly deafens us. A torpedo boat came alongside and the Captain shouted to our Captain the distance to Gibraltar which we are eagerly looking for. 11 o’ clock the fog has now lifted and Gibraltar Rock is in full view. It is a grand sight. The sun shining on it just like a panorama or Belle Vue scenery worth paying pounds to see. Suddenly bursting in view out of the fog it is beyond description. We are now anchored in the Bay, Gib on our right and the town of Tangier on the Morocco Coast on our left. Plenty of boats round us selling all sorts of things. Set sail at 6:00pm and we are going full speed and Gib is now disappearing from sight as I am turning in to bed.

Friday Sept 18th

Scorching hot. We are going about the ship with nothing on but our trousers. We are in midst of the Mediterranean now. Today the fire alarm went. Every man had to be at his post ready to man the boats with lifebelts on. It was quite an exciting time. Of course, we practice for this every morning and every man knows his place but this time the alarm went while we were having our tea and we thought it was a real fire but it was a false alarm, just for a test, and we were not sorry. Nothing but water in sight. Get weary of looking at it so turn in to bed.

Sat Sept 19th

This is the second Saturday on board and the scenery is just the same; nothing but water wherever you look. It burns our feet to walk on deck. It is getting monotonous, the same thing day after day and the same view. Water on every side and when we go to bed at midnight it is like going into an oven for our Company is down in the bottom of the ship and we dread bedtime coming and are glad when it is time to get up in the morning.

Sunday Sept 20th

Good breeze this morning. Ship rolling very much again, she is a terror for rolling. There are a good few sick this morning and I am nothing to swank about. They keep dogging us to be inoculated and I am getting about sick of it. We are getting near Malta and we are all on the look out for a sight of it. We had church service on the upper deck this morning. The ship’s doctor acted as parson. We, the band, had to sit down on deck while we played the hymns as we could not stand-up owing to the ship rolling so much. It is amusing to watch the men. The officer calls attention as the spring to attention the ship rolls over on one side and all the go over too, like a set of skittles.

We had rather a sorrowful duty today. We had to stand to our quarters for a funeral which is a very solemn job, for one of the men on the horse boat fell down the hatchway and broke his neck and he was buried in the Mediterranean. All the ships came to a stop while the ceremony was over.

Monday Sept 21st

A lovely morning, sea calm like sailing on the Park lake. We are now in right off the African coast. Enjoying all my meals and feeling in the pink of condition. We are passing Malta tonight. We are all disappointed at not stopping as there are any amount of letters to post off so they will have to go to the end of the journey with us.

Tuesday Sept 22nd

Got up this morning to find Malta well out of sight, nothing but the open sea to look at. This afternoon we passed a fleet of 22 transports conveying troops from India to France with about 30,000 troops onboard. The sailors that worked on the ship regular, said it was the finest sight they had ever seen in mid ocean; 40 ships including our ships and the Warship escorts all close together.

Wed Sept 23rd

Nothing fresh this morning only the same old view, water. The only change in the scene is the porpoises jumping up out of the water. This evening one of our lads, named Bridge, died from pneumonia and they stopped all music at once. I forgot to mention that the band played on the upper deck every night and we were playing the time of his death but it was stopped at once and it cast a gloom all over the ship.

Note: Pte. 1705 John Bridge is commemorated on the Chatby Memorial, Alexandria.

Thurs Sept 24th

Got up this morning at Reveille to see the same old view, water. This morning they buried the lad Bridge at sea. It is a very sad scene; I can assure you, a funeral at sea.  It upset a lot of us when the Bugles sounded the Last Post and we saw his body slide into the sea, and so near the end of our journey. When we saw one buried from the horse boat the other day, we little thought we should bury one so soon.

Friday Sept 25th

Got up this morning to find the ship in the Bay at Alexandria. After 15 days at sea, we are waiting for the Pilot to come aboard to take us in. Dinner time, the Pilot has come on board and we are now going into the harbour which is a grand sight after being so long at sea. We are now anchored in the harbour but we are not disembarking today. But we are amusing ourselves with watching the Egyptian kiddies diving for coppers which we throw into the sea but they never fail to bring them up. And all sorts of boats round the ship selling fruit and cigarettes and some of them look like pirates and cutthroats I have read about when I went to school. We are all ready to get our feet on dry land once more.

Sat 26th Sept

We are still on board waiting our turn to disembark which is rather a big job with 16 Transports but we are very much disappointed when we are told we shall not disembark till morning.

Sunday Sept 27th

Everybody is busy this morning getting ready to land and getting their equipment put together. Had dinner onboard and then landed. It is quite exciting mixing among the natives, all jabbering about something we could not understand. We are busy loading bales of clothing and cases of sun helmets on the train which is drawn up alongside the steamer. The right half of the battalion has gone on to Cairo and we, the Band, follow with the left half, later on. Left Alexandria at 5:30 and arrived at Cairo at 11pm after a very interesting journey. The scenery from the train looked just like pictures of the Holy land. We marched from the station to the barracks at Kasr-el-Nil and were shown to our quarters and got lay down about 2am. Turned out we did not bother about beds, it was too warm, but just lay on the veranda and went to sleep.

Monday Sept 28th

Got up this morning to find our eyes closed up with mosquito bites. About half the Band, including myself were nearly worried with them. These barracks are a fine set of buildings occupied by the Highland Light Infantry who we are relieving. They are going to France.

It is quite a novelty to us, barracks life, but we are getting settled down to it. But the biggest trouble we have is the money; we cannot recon it up but the native bloke behind the bar can recon it up for us and he keeps diddling us out of our change so we shall soon learn.

Tuesday Sept 29th

New clothing issued today. Light drill khaki and we are fitted on by the regimental tailor who is a native. Sun helmets issued also today. And no man is allowed to go out of barracks until his clothes are made to fit him. And we begin to look like soldiers and are getting quite smart.

We are not allowed to go out of barracks yet but we can see all traffic going up and down the road from the windows; all sorts. Donkeys and camels and people of every nationality but the natives all see to have a donkey. Now and then a little donkey will come down the road carrying two big fellows with their feet almost touching the ground. Then a donkey and cart loaded with about a dozen native women, cowering down on it, will come along. Then the bus will come, drawn by two donkeys. It is quite a pantomime to watch them. Then a motor car of the latest make will come dashing past with the occupants dressed to death. You see the two extremes; the very rich and the very poor. I must not forget it is my birthday too. I never thought I should spend my 44th birthday in Egypt.

Wednesday Sept 30th

Nothing fresh today. Still confined to barracks. Busy with the clothing getting them all rigged out properly. We are all spoiling to get have a look round the town.

Thursday Oct 1st

Still confined to barracks which is getting a bit monotonous. Drew our pay today. 40 piastres, 8s-4d in English money.

Friday Oct 2nd

We are to be allowed out tonight if we are good boys. Went out to night with a corporal who has been stationed here 4 years so he knows his way about and he took me all over the place and showed me some of the sights. That opened my eyes. And drove back in a carriage and pair, 3 piastres or 7 ½ d in English money. They will take 5 persons for that. The police rule their fares, if they want to charge you more just call the native police and hat settles it.

Saturday Oct 3rd

Drew all my back pay today for 3 weeks and it seemed such a lot of money in Egyptian. The piastres and half piastres. It is amusing to watch the lads trying to recon their money up. The 20 piastres pieces are as big as a can lid, nearly, so if you get a few of them in your trouser pocket you are walking lopsided with money, (I don’t think).

Sunday Oct 4th

Had church parade in the Garrison Church and was glad when it was over. It was so warm they have two big punkahs hanging from the ceiling and two natives at the back of the church pulling them backwards and forwards to keep the place as cool as possible.

Went to the Pyramids and the Sphinx this afternoon. It is a grand sight and it makes one wonder how they got such large stones, over a ton weight, such a height for the longest pyramid is 450 high. And just as we got there, we saw one of the Engineers being carried away on a stretcher. He had been climbing up the big pyramid and when he was half way up he missed his footing and fell down and smashed his skull and died. Later on, the Sphinx looks a mighty giant on the desert with his nose broken off. The native guide told is that the great Napoleon shot it away when he was in Egypt, but they will tell you anything for ‘backshee’, as they call a tip.

Monday Oct 5th

Nothing fresh today. Had a walk round the town tonight and we have to parade before an Officer to see that we are clean and smart before we are allowed out. The General in command of the troops in Egypt is very strict on that as he says we should lose our prestige with the natives if they saw any slackness or untidiness, and they look on us as regular troops.

Tuesday Oct 6th

Nothing fresh, only the ordinary routine of drill today.

Wednesday Oct 7th

Had our first Band practice today. Had 3 or 4 hours good practice. Now is the time for some of the young bandsmen to make themselves into good musicians for we have nothing else to do but play the battalion on parade, and on the march, and on the Officer’s Mess at night so we get plenty of playing.

Thursday Oct 8th

Started today with my old complaint and lay on my cot all day unable to stir. Sent Harold for some liniment and he gave me a good rubbing with it which gave me a bit of ease and got to sleep.

Note: Thomas suffered from Rheumatism. ‘Harold’ is Pte. 1947 Harold Rhodes. Harold was the sweetheart of Thomas’s oldest daughter Florrie. Harold joined the Territorials just before the outbreak of war, in May 1914.

Friday Oct 9th

No better this morning. Had another rotten day. Reported myself sick tonight. I shall have to parade before the Doctor at 4:30am in the morning. A nice time for a sick man to get up but it is so hot in the daytime that all the drills and different duties have to be done before the sun gets too hot.

Note: The battalion’s Medical Officer was Surgeon Major Albert Hilton.

Saturday Oct 10th

No better this morning. Reveille sounded at 4am. Band went out on a route march with the battalion but I could not go with them as I had to parade before the Doctor. This afternoon the Band had to attend a military funeral but I had to be at the Doctor’s at 5:00 for medicine. Feeling rotten.

Sunday Oct 11th

Got up this morning with the same old pain. Another bad day lying about the room all day. Cannot go out. Harold gave me a rubbing with liniment which gave me relief and went to sleep.

Monday Oct 12th

Went to the Doctor’s again this morning at 5 o’ clock but there was about 50 waiting. Fancy all them men ill and when the Doctor comes the Orderly shouts attention and you have to jump up to attention, whether you are half dead or not. Went back to my cot and got down. Hoping for better luck tomorrow.

Tuesday Oct 13th

Got up this morning feeling just a little better and felt better as the day went on, but not up to the mark yet. The battalion are going on a route march tonight but I cannot go as I am not fit yet.

Wednesday Oct 14th

Had a bad night’s rest last night. Feeling rotten which lasted all day. Lying about all over the place for ease. A good job for me I am in the Band as I can stop off parade without being missed. Our names are always marked present on the Company roll calls.

Thursday Oct 15th

Had a fairly good night’s rest last night. Feeling a little better but not up to the mark yet. Received your welcome letter tonight as I was sat in the barrack room by myself, quite miserable. The Band were playing on the Officer’s Mess but I could not go and it took a load off my mind to hear from you and the children.

Friday Oct 16th

Got up this morning feeling a little better and improving very nicely, but not fit for duty yet. Another route march tonight for the battalion but I could not go with them.

Saturday Oct 17th

Got up this morning with the same old pain but went a little better as the day went on. Went out for a walk tonight to try and walk this damned pain away. First time out of barracks for 8 days after 8 day’s torture.

Sunday Oct 18th

Went on Church Parade with the band this morning but cannot get rid of this pain yet. It is hard work trying to put a good face on when you are screwed up with pain. After Church Parade we had to play for an hour on the barracks square then went and lay down to rest my old back.

Monday Oct 19th

Still the old pain keeps sticking to me. It feels as if it would never leave me.

Tuesday Oct 20th

About the same again today, nothing fresh.

Wednesday Oct 21st

Getting better every day and the pain is gradually going away and god speed it.

Thursday Oct 22nd

Still improving.

Friday Oct 23rd

Alright once again. It feels that life is worth living once again. Received a letter from our Martha today and wrote some letters home and posted them off.

Note: ‘Our Martha’ is his younger sister.

Saturday Oct 24th

Nothing fresh, only the ordinary routine of drill.

Sunday Oct 25th

The Band playing the battalion out to church this morning. The natives crowd along the walls to watch us march to church and when we are in the church we act as the organ and play all the psalms and chants and accompany the singing.

This afternoon we are playing at the Esbekiah Gardens which are the public gardens of Cairo, and all the Knuts of Cairo go there. They have to pay 5 piastres, or a shilling in English, for admission, soldiers free. It is a fine place, all sorts of tropical shrubs and trees, date palms, gum trees, India rubber trees, all growing in the open air.

Esbekiah Gardens Bandstand
Copyright National Army Museum

Monday Oct 26th

Today we went on a long route march with the battalion on the desert. It is very interesting on these route marches going through the native villages. All sorts of Egyptians, Arabs, Turks, Syrians; all staring with their eyes open to the back of their head and the little kiddies running after us following the Band and the women stare at us over their yashmaks, the thing they wear over their faces, with nothing only their eyes peeping out. But we got back all right, tired out.

Tuesday Oct 27th

Went out again today on the same march, past the dead city which is a part of old Cairo which was wiped out through a plague full of flies. At least that is what the natives tell us. The General came with us today and saw how we were all knocked out of time so he has stopped us for going that route march again and we are not sorry.

Wednesday Oct 28th

Went out again today on a nice, easy march, just across the Nile, today for drill on the gold links. It is a lovely spot. We marched across the Kasr-el-Nil Bridge which is a fine bridge with two big bronze lions at the entrance, as if they were on guard. And it is crowded with traffic, camels 5 or 6 strung together and donkeys all loaded with goods for the market at Cairo.

Thursday Oct 29th

Another long march on the desert today but a bit easier than the other day’s march. It is the native’s Christmas holidays and thousands of the natives passed us on the road, some on camels, some on donkeys, and hundreds of women on donkey carts. They were all making their way to the dead city and their burial ground close by. There is a place close to old Cairo called Babylon but it is not the Babylon mentioned in the bible.

The battalion goes out again tonight but us, the Band, are not going out with them as we have to play on Officer’s Mess.

Note: October 29, 1914 was the 9th day of Dhu al-Hijjah; the Day of Arafah and Eid al-Adha.

Friday Oct 30th

No parade today giving the men a rest and it is pay day. I am waiting patiently for a letter, only had one up to now. It is Christmas Day today with the natives, so we can say we have seen two Christmases in one year.

Saturday Oct 31st

A big show parade today of the whole Division just to let the natives see what a force of troops there is in Egypt. The parade was over 4 miles long and it created a great impression on the natives which is all that it was intended to do, just to keep them in order.

Sunday Nov 1st

Confined to barracks during the native’s holiday.

Monday Nov 2nd

Still confined to barracks. Natives rioting and fighting among themselves. Guards turned out for all the Embassies. The British, French and Russian Embassies are all guarded and martial law proclaimed.

Tuesday Nov 3rd

Still confined to barracks. No man allowed out unless with an armed escort. The postman has to have an escort and the transport wagons, with our food, have to be guarded. We have been going through our instruction in stretcher bearing and first aid ambulance work in our spare time. And we are being inspected tomorrow.

Wednesday Nov 4th

Today we were inspected by the B.M.O. [Brigade Medical Officer] and he gave us a very good report. He said we were the smartest lot of stretcher bearers in the whole brigade and he was so pleased with our work that he said he would forward a good report of us to the Commander in chief.

We were allowed out tonight, the first time for a week owing to the holidays for their Christmas, but we have to take our bayonets with us for our own protection.

Thursday Nov 5th

Received quite a lot of letters today which are very welcome. Nothing fresh today. While we are playing on the Mess the Officers have a lit a bonfire and they are burning old Kaiser Bill’s effigy.

Friday Nov 6th

Went out on a route march today. Nothing fresh, only they are jobs what with the neat and the dust. It makes the canteen a busy shop for a time after we are dismissed.

Sat Nov 7th

Stopped in barracks today and had a good rehearsal, after which we have to clean our rooms up for the Colonel’s inspection.

Sunday Nov 8th

Church Parade as usual. Nothing fresh.

Monday Nov 9th

The usual routine of stretcher drill and Band rehearsal. Tonight, I am going on duty as corporal of the town piquet. We march to the Mousky Karakol, which is the native police station, and remain there in case there is any bother with the troops. Then the police would call our assistance.

Note: El Mosky, (el Mousky), is a district in Cairo. Karakol is an Ottoman word for a form of police station.

Tuesday Nov 10th

Got back to the barracks last night about 11pm. Our services were not required but we saw them flog one of the natives at 8 o’ clock. Today I am on gate duty. It is amusing to watch the natives buying scraps of meat. There is a man makes a contract to buy all the food that is left from our meals and he sends one or two natives to gather it up, then it is taken outside the barracks and sold to anybody who cares to buy. It would make anybody sick to watch them. It just looks like swill potatoes, meat and pudding, all mixed up together. There is a big native woman sat down on the footpath selling it. She dips her dirty hands in and slats a handful in a paper for ½ piastre. It nearly turned me sick.

Wednesday Nov 11th

On town picquet again tonight. Saw two natives flogged tonight; one a man the other a boy, at 8:00. And everybody else that has been on town picquet say they have seen somebody flogged, so I came to the conclusion that somebody had to be flogged at 8 o’ clock whether they had done anything wrong or not. But I will try to describe how they do it. The prisoner is brought out in the yard and he is seized by four policemen, one hold of each foot and one hold of each arm and a fifth with the prisoner’s head between his legs. They stretch him out as far as they can. Then there are two policemen, one on each side, with a large cane and on the word from the sergeant they lay on to him with their sticks as hard as they can until he has had the number of strokes he had been sentenced to. But when it came to the boy and we saw him wriggling and screaming with pain, we could not stand that and some of the lads shouted to the police to stop or they would put a bullet through them. And I felt like myself, but of course we dare not to interfere.

Thursday Nov 12th

On guard today for 24 hours. Come off tomorrow. Nothing fresh.

Friday Nov 13th

Relieved from guard duty tonight and went round the town. Saw Cairo fire brigade turn out tonight and they are very smart. All the men are ex-soldiers of the Egyptian Army and all motor fire engine and fire escapes, and everything up to date.

Saturday Nov 14th

Nothing striking today. Our cleaning up day. All busy getting our rooms cleaned up.

Sunday Nov 15th

Church Parade as usual. Went through the Cairo Museum this afternoon which is a sight of a lifetime. To see all the great statues that have been excavated after being buried thousands of years and Mummies of the old Kings of Egypt almost as perfect as if they had only just died. And the big stone coffins. The mummies were put in long wooden coffins and then in the stone ones. And old-fashioned boats that have been fished up from the bottom of the Nile.

Monday Nov 16th

Marched to Abbassia today for 3-days musketry practice at the ranges on the desert.

Tuesday Nov 17th

In camp on the desert going through our course of musketry. One of our lads was accidentally shot the other day, the bullet going through his hand and grazed his leg.

Wednesday Nov 18th

Still doing our firing.

Thursday Nov 19th

Finishing our firing and getting ready to march back to our barracks.

Friday Nov 20th

Marched back to barracks today. Tired out and ready for bed.

Friday Nov 27th

Nothing fresh for the last day or two. Today we have to attend a funeral and play the dead march for one of our lads who died in the Citadel Hospital. He was only admitted yesterday and is being buried today. Rather quick work.

Note: Pte. 1845 Frederick Thorley Finucane died of dysentery on November 27, 1914. He is buried at the Cairo War Memorial Cemetery. He was just 15 years old and attested with his parent’s permission in the week following the big recruiting drive in Ashton on Valentine’s Day 1914.

Sunday Dec 13th

Nothing fresh for the last few days, only the usual routine of barracks life; drills and plenty of Band practice, which is improving our Band very much. And we are getting our share of engagements in Cairo and the audiences that go to Esbekiah Gardens think there is no band like the Kasr-el-Nil band, that is what they call us. We always finish our programme with the National airs to please the audience as they are mixtures of Egyptians, French, Italians and Russians. In fact, from all parts of the world.

Today we have got orders that we are to move to Abbassia tomorrow for a fortnight’s training in the desert.

Monday Dec 14th

Marched to the main barracks at Abbassia where we relived the Lancashire Fusiliers. They are taking our place at Kasr-el-Nil barracks. This place is a second Aldershot for troops. Barracks all over the place, including native barracks for Soudanese troops and Egyptian troops, Cavalry and Infantry.

Tuesday Dec 15th

Quite busy today getting settled in our new quarters but it is not as comfortable as Kasr-el-Nil. The rooms are big, one room will hold 100 men. It looks more like a workhouse.

Wednesday Dec 16th

Today I received your parcel with a good supply of tobacco.

Thursday Dec 17th

Went for a long march on the desert today to the third tower on the Suez Road which is about 30 miles there and back, and we had a very trying time. We were caught in a sandstorm which nearly chocked us and filled our eyes, ears and nostrils with sand and knocked us out of time.

Friday Dec 18th

Another hard day’s work in the desert. I don’t know about training us but if they were trying to kill us they could not do it better.

Dec 24th

Nothing fresh for the last day or two only plenty of hard marching on the desert. Christmas Eve we are making active preparations for a good do tomorrow, Christmas Day.

Dec 25th

We turned out early this morning and played the Christmas Hymns in the barracks square for the boys. The we went over to the Officer’s quarters and played for them. Dinner time and everybody is quite busy. All the boys are sat down at the tables fitted in the square. The sun is scorching hot and makes us think what a difference in weather between England and Egypt.

This is the one day of the year for Tommy Atkins. The officers and NCOs waiting on at the table. Plenty of roast beef, turkey, plum pudding and beer. And the Band playing selections of music during the dinner. Of course, we have our dinner after they have done; Officers and NCOs and Band together. Tonight, we had a concert in the Surtees Hall at the soldier’s club and we acted as the orchestra. And we had a good night’s fun and everyone finished up satisfied that they had had a Christmas to be remembered over 3,000 miles from home.

Dec 26th

Today there are sports for the Terriers in the Gezirah Sporting Club grounds and we are going to play. All sorts of races; donkey races, camel races and horse races, and tugs-of-war. And we, the Band, had a good supply of bottled beers which we put out of sight all night.

Dec 27th

We are just getting down to our training again after our Christmas Holidays. We are still at Abbassia barracks and we don’t look going back to Kasr-el-Nil.

Dec 28th

Another long march across the desert to a hill called Virgin’s Breast, which is an extinct volcano. There is a well on the way which is called Moses’ Well. Still at Abbassia.

Jan 30th 1915

Got orders today to be ready to move tomorrow to Heliopolis about 4 miles away. Nothing fresh for the last month, only the usual routine.

Jan 31st

Packed up and marched to our new quarters at Heliopolis where we are under canvas which does not feel as comfortable as being in barracks.

Feb 1st

Camping on the desert just outside the town of Heliopolis which is rotten at night with lizards, beetles, ants and all sorts of creeping things, and plenty of mosquitoes to keep you company with a few sand snakes thrown in.

Feb 2nd

Fighting on the Suez reported today. Our transport horses and drivers sent down to the Suez. Turks attempted to cross the canal but were driven off and all their pontoons, full of Turks, were smashed and sunk by our artillery. The Turks retired back across the desert and I don’t think will try again in a hurry.

Feb 3rd

Thousands of Australians and New Zealanders camping all around us on the desert. And it is lively at night in the town. There are some fine buildings here, it is where all the Europeans live and the Khedive’s mother lives here.

Feb 4th

Went to Cairo on the electric railway 8 miles from here for 1 piastre, which is 2 ½ d in English, first class. We can go third class for ½ piastre, or 1 ¼ d. Thousands of troops walking about Cairo streets, Australians, New Zealanders, Maoris, Indians, Ceylon Rifles, Egyptian, Soudanese and British soldiers all palling on with one another.

March 5th

We are going on a very painful duty today, that is to play the Death March for our Doctor, Major Hilton, who died at the Citadel Hospital after a very short illness. And we buried him in the soldier’s cemetery, Cairo.

The other day, while we were marching across the desert one of our transport men killed a sand snake about 4 feet long, very close to me, but I did not see it until after he had killed it.

March 6th

Went to the Citadel Mosque and by paying ½ piastre for the loan of a pair of slippers we re allowed to look through the place. It is the place of worship for Mohamedans and it is impossible to describe the beauty of its interior. There are over 1,000 electric lamps hanging on a big chandelier from the dome and hundreds of stained-glass windows, and the sun shining through them shows all colours of the rainbow across the place. And it is all built of alabaster. You can hold a lighted match behind one of the pillars and it shows through quite plain. There are no seats in, they all have to kneel on the floor, which is covered with thick Turkish carpets. And outside is a large fountain built of alabaster where they wash their hands and feet before going to worship. Also, the well where Joseph was put by his brethren.

March 25th

Nothing fresh for the last few days. We have been out on a route march today all through the cultivated part of the country. We can see all the natives working on the farms ploughing with oxen and pumping water with oxen. Oranges and bananas growing out in the open and sugar cane and cotton fields. The natives tell us they can get three crops a year of corn. We passed the Virgin’s Tree, which according to the natives is supposed to be the tree where the Virgin Mary rested against on her flight to Egypt. On our way back to camp we marched through a cloud of locusts; millions of them. It just looked like a snowstorm. They are about two or three inches long with long legs about 3 or 4 inches. The air is fairly darkened with them.

March 31st

Having a rest today. Going out on a night bivouac tonight.

April 1st

Fell in at 6 o’ clock last night and marched to Abbassia then bivouac for the night behind our old barracks. Then marched off across the desert at daybreak and then began to dig trenches and occupy them. Got back to camp about 6:00 having been on parade 24 hours, and passing all fools day very well, but when we get in the Canteen, we forget all our troubles with a quiet drink and a smoke.

April 2nd

Rioting in Cairo today with the Australians, New Zealanders and Maoris and the natives. Two or three men shot by the Military Police. Australians gone mad, going into houses and throwing furniture in the street and setting it on fire. Fire brigade turns out; hosepipe cut. They are a disgrace to the Army. Nothing but an undisciplined mob. We had to turn picquets out with fixed bayonets to clear the streets.

Saturday April 3rd

The row in Cairo is still going on. Lasted all through the night and we are all confined to barracks through them. They are all mad drunk having their Easter Holidays. But we dare not do as they do, they do as they like.

Sunday April 4th

The colonials have quietened down again and they are ashamed of themselves now. The Commander in Chief issued an order complementing all the Imperial Troops on their good behavior in not taking part in the disturbances at Cairo. That is more than we dare do.

Monday April 5th

The camp is smothered in clouds of sand today. It is the Khamsin as the natives call it and comes about this time every year. It is very stormy, strong hot winds that take all the life out of you and everyone is all of a sweat. The sand finds its way in our food and tea and in everything.

Tuesday April 6th

Still confined to camp and the Khamsin still blowing the sand all over the place. Received two- or three-weeks’ letters today.

Wednesday April 7th

Australians begin to move today for the Dardanelles. They are singing their favourite song, Australia will be there, as they are marching to the station.

Thursday April 8th

Australians and New Zealanders still on the move.

April 14th

All the colonial troops have gone from here now and it is coming our turn, we are to move tomorrow.

April 15th

Struck camp today. Quite busy packing things away. Big bonfire in the camping ground tonight. We fall in at 12pm. We are going on the Suez Canal.

April 16th

Marched out of camp last night at about 12:30 to Zoubra Station. Entrained at 2am and left for the Suez. Arrived at Kantara about 9am this morning. We are in the fighting line now, among the Indian Troops in the trenches at Kantara, on the banks of the Suez Canal. Saw an aeroplane come in damaged with a shot through his petrol tank which nearly blinded him with petrol spurting in his face.

April 17th

Thousands of Indian troops here. All sorts of Gurkhas, Sheikhs, Camel Corps and Lancers. We are busy getting our transport across the Canal which is a very slow job as we have to ferry it across. Rigging up tents and getting the camp in order. C Company go in the advanced trenches today. This is the place where the Turks attempted to cross the Canal in February.

April 18th

Still very busy getting our tackle across the Canal. This place is the remains of a native village blown up by the Engineers to have a clear course across the desert for the guns on the warships in the Canal.

April 19th

Getting settled now and in the trenches on the look-out for the Turks who are very backward at coming forward. Everything ready to give them a welcome.

April 20th

Today we played the 6th Gurkha Rifles out of Camp. They are going to the Dardanelles. The Bikaner Camel Corps are in the next trenches to us and it is amusing to watch them washing their camels in the Suez. They take them to the side and if they will not go in, they push them in and they are all round it in the water scrubbing it.

April 21st

Nothing striking today. Had a bathe in the Canal which we do every day and it is very refreshing as it is sea water. And the passengers on the ships going up and down the Canal throw tobacco over to us. It is our only chance of getting any, no shops here.

April 29th

Nothing fresh for the last day or two. A floating mine was fished up from the Canal the other day. There has been some fighting going on round here during the night. Several Indians came through our camp wounded this morning. They had been surprised during the night by a strong force of the Enemy with machine guns but they drove the Turks off. We could not see any signs of the Turks for miles on the desert today. Our Doctor, and the RAMC sergeant, went out on camels for miles on the desert with an escort of the Camel Corps to see if they could find any wounded but came back without seeing any.

April 30th

A Turkish spy brought in today with two rifles and 500 rounds of ammunition, and a suit of khaki, loaded upon the camel’s back. He was made a prisoner and the camel was handed over to the Camel Corps.

May 1st

Got orders today that we begin to take all our surplus stores across the Canal and be ready to move any time.

May 2nd

Struck camp today and taking all our baggage across the Canal which is a very slow job. Bivouac tonight in the open.

May 3rd

Another busy day getting all the tents and baggage across the Canal. Bivouac again tonight here.

Tuesday May 4th

Crossed the Canal today. Shipped all the transport on the train and we got on the open trucks with the baggage and left Kantara about 12:30pm. Arrived at Port Said about 2pm. Everyone busy unloading baggage and marched behind the station where we bivouacked for the night. Got into our English khaki and packed our drill khaki n our kit bags.

Wednesday May 5th

Instruments and baggage packed and sent to the base this morning. Went to have a look round the town and harbour this afternoon and went onboard the French Battleship Jeanne d’Arc. Also saw a seaplane skimming on the water and we saw it rise form the water and fly all over the ships in the harbour and drop down on the water again. This is the entrance to the Suez Canal any amount of warships here; English, French and American. Got back to our bivouac and had tea. Marched to the docks and embarked on the Transport Ausonia for the Dardanelles.

Thursday May 6th

Got up this morning to find the ship well out at sea and Egypt out of sight. Iron rations issued out to us Today.  We are well on our way to the Dardanelles now.

Friday May 7th

Land in sight. The Grecian Isles in the Aegean Sea sailing quite close to the shore. Sent a field postcard off today.

Saturday May 8th

Getting near the Dardanelles. Passing islands all day. Warships in sight. Lovely sailing. We can now hear the warships’ guns firing. Saturday night watching the bombardment by our warships. Big battle going on, on the peninsula. In the darkness we can see the flashes of artillery and rifle fire and shells are dropping all round the ships at anchor.

Sunday May 9th

Sunday morning 9 o’ clock. Landing under shell fire. We are now safely landed with shells flying over our heads. The guns from the warships and on the shore are blazing away at the Turkish trenches up the Peninsula. We are bivouacked on the shore at Sedd-el-Bahr, waiting orders to move. Aeroplane flying about and scores of shells dropping all around us and bursting all over the place.

8:00pm Sunday night. Ordered to advance. Marched about 2 miles then got in some dugouts for the night. Hundreds of shells flying over our heads all night, sleep out of the question. Our guns, close to where we are halted, are pumping away at the Turks all night and planes are being sent up which light the whole place up. Heavy rifle fire going on all night. Our troops driving the Turks before them.

Monday May 10th

Wounded Terriers being brought out of the firing line this morning. Shells bursting all over our position. Quieter this afternoon. Tea time, we had just lit our fires and were cooking a ration of bacon when we were suddenly ordered to advance. We are now in the advanced trenches, finishing cooking our bacon with shells and bullets whistling past us over the trench.

Tuesday May 11th

Still in the advanced trenches. Just had a fine breakfast of hard biscuit and a drop of tea. We have to do our own cooking in the trenches, as best we can, with the shells flying over us as usual. We are getting used to them now and look for them as an everyday occurrence. Just behind the trench I am in there are some graves of some of the French troops, including a Colonel and Adjutant with portions of their clothing hung on the wooden cross to show how they had died. If a man was shot through the head his helmet would be hung on the cross showing the bullet holes. If he was shot through the body his tunic would be hung up.

One of our Company wounded today. Back to our base this afternoon and told to get whatever rest we could before 11pm in our dugouts, which is simply a hole dug in the ground to hold 4 or 5 men. But got orders later that we should not move before morning.

Note: The wounded man was Lance-Corporal George James Silvester.

Wednesday May 12th

Had a rotten night last night. Rained all night, wet through this morning but soon get dry in the powerful sunshine. Marched off this morning and advanced about 2 miles and dug ourselves in.

Big battle going on this afternoon. Artillery bombarding the enemy position and heavy rifle fire going on just in front of us. We are in the reserve trenches and we can see the battle going on. The aeroplane is over the Turkish trenches dropping smoke bombs to give our artillery the range and direction. The Turks are firing at our aeroplane, shells are bursting all round him; he seems to have a charmed life. I am corporal of the lookout tonight, on guard all night watching to prevent surprise attacks.

Thursday May 13th

The battle lasted all through the night. We had our first man killed this morning. A man named ‘Gee’ looking over the trench on the lookout was shot through the mouth and killed instantly. And two more wounded, and the General’s horse was disemboweled by a shell.

Note: Pte. 1690 Andrew Gee.

Friday May 14th

A quiet day at our base today in our dugouts. A lad belonging to the Oldham Battalion killed and one of our bandsmen hurt with the same shell, about 50 yards from my dugout. They buried the Oldham lad by the side of our lad who was killed yesterday. Going out tonight to dig trenches.

Note: ‘Oldham Battalion’ is the 10th Battalion, Manchester Regiment who, along with the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment and the the 4th and 5th East Lancs Regiments, were also members of the 126th Brigade of the 42nd Division.

Saturday May 15th

Back to our dugouts for a rest today after an exciting night’s work digging trenches with bullets whistling past your ears. One man wounded last night. Another man, named Holden, badly wounded with shrapnel this morning.

Note: Pte. 1212 Thomas Holden was wounded in the leg by a shell fragment.

Sunday May 16th

No sleep last night. Heavy firing going on all night. We kept getting orders to stand to arms and keep our equipment on and rifles ready to move any minute.

Went out trench digging again today close to the firing line. Another man killed today named Favier and one wounded. One of the transport horses killed and the Colonel’s horse wounded.

Note: Pte. 2175 Frank Lionel Favier. 21 years old.

Monday May 17th

A day’s rest today. We are all knocked out for want of a sleep.

Tuesday May 18th

Moved a quarter of a mile to the right and dug fresh dugouts and settled down for the night with the usual dose of shells flying about. 3 more men wounded today.

Wednesday May 19th

A day’s rest in our dugouts today. 2 more wounded today.

Thursday May 20th

Another day’s rest in our dugouts with the shells flying round as usual.

Friday May 21st

Plenty of shrapnel again today. Several wounded. Going in the first line trenches tonight.

Saturday May 22nd

In the trenches, sleep out of the question. No sleep last night and in the daytime, we are improving our trenches. It is raining hard this morning. Heavy firing during the night. One man named Hodgkiss killed and Colonel Wade severely wounded.

Note: Pte. 1401 Edward Hodgkiss. Ashton Reporter says Whit Sunday (May 23, 1915).

Sunday May 23rd

Still in the trenches in the firing line. We had a bad time last night getting a man out of the trenches that was severely wounded as the trench is too narrow to use a stretcher and we have to carry them out on a blanket which is very awkward as we dare not stand upright as we should get shot in the head.

Monday May 24th

Still in the firing line. Lieut. Jones killed today and another man of my Company.

Note: Possibly Pte. 1866 Joseph Bell.

Tuesday May 25th

Advanced in front of firing line 100 yards during the night. Lieut. Wood severely wounded. Heavy rain this morning nearly washing us out of the trenches. This afternoon everybody is wet through and the trench is just like a canal; up to the knees in mud and water and all the lads are fed-up and glad when we get to know that we are to be relieved tonight from the trenches.

Wednesday May 26th

Back to our dugouts again for a rest. We came back last night to find our dugouts full of water and everyone wet through to the skin, and nowhere to sleep and no change of clothes. Each man had an issue of Rum and had to make the best of it while morning. But the sun is shining today and the lads are walking about in their shirts, some with their overcoats over them, with their clothes hung up on the trees or laid out on the ground to dry, which does not take long in the sun.

Thursday May 27th

Battalion split up this morning and put with different battalions of the Regulars and it is breaking the lads’ hearts to think we have to be put with strangers in other Regts. to make their strength up. Myself, along with half of our Company are put with the Border Regt. The whole brigade is split up.

Note: In fact, the entire 126th Brigade was being attached to the much depleted Regular Army battalions of the 29th Division as reinforcements, albeit under the grudging premise of Major Gen. Hunter-Weston ‘in order that they might learn their work.’

Friday May 28th

Whit Friday. We are working hard digging trenches and we all thinking about the kiddies walking with the scholars while the shrapnel is bursting all over the shop.

Saturday May 29th

Still digging.

Sunday May 30th

A day’s rest today.

Monday May 31st

Another of our lads killed today named Foden, who along with his Company was put with the Inniskillings. We are trench digging all day again.

Note: Pte. 2151 William Henry Foden, 23 years old. Pte. Foden’s official date of death is June 13, 1915.

Tuesday June 1st

Back to our own battalion again and in the trenches once more.

Wednesday June 2nd

Our Company in the firing line. 2 men wounded during the night. We are now close up to the Turkish trenches and we can hear them singing and praying and shouting: Allah! Allah! And we can see them working at their trenches.

Thursday June 3rd

In the reserve trench, having what we can get. Going back in the firing line tonight.

Friday June 4th

In the firing line again. One man killed last night as soon as we got in the firing trench. There is a terrible bombardment of the Turkish trenches going on this morning. It looks impossible for anyone to be left alive. About 150 guns firing for all they are worth. There is a big fire raging on our left in the village of Krithia.

All the Regulars are on the left and the Territorials in the centre, straight in front of Achi Baba Hill, and the French troops on the right. There are hundreds of Turks throwing their arms down and giving themselves up as prisoners. General Lee and Major Hitchie, who are the headquarters staff, both wounded in our trench by shrapnel. Heavy fighting all day. The Turks driven out of their trenches by bayonet charges. About 5 or 600 yards gained. Heavy casualties. Busy all day carrying the dead and wounded away. Biggest battle we have seen up to now. Turks killed in thousands.

Note: This was the Third Battle of Krithia.

Saturday June 5th

A bit quieter today. Turkish prisoners still coming in. Carried two big Turks in today who were badly wounded. Sergt. H. Illingworth of my Co, killed this morning.

Note: Sgt. 469 Harry Illingworth. 23 years old.

Sunday June 6th

Very ill today. Getting knocked out with too much work and too little rest. Lay down in the trench all day.

Monday June 7th

Went to the Doctor’s and he told me to go and lie down in a dugout, just out of the trenches, for a day or two’s rest. Another big engagement during the night.

Tuesday June 8th

Heavy casualty list this morning. Capt. Hamer, Lieut. Stringer, Cpl. Handley, Pte. Cain, Pte. Hyndimen and others that I could not get the names of. All in my Co., “C” Company. Killed during the fighting last night.

I was struck on the leg today with a shrapnel bullet as I lay in the dugout, half dead, but it did not penetrate the flesh. It must have been a spent bullet.

Note: Cpl.  2121 Robert Handley, Pte. 1860 George Frederick Cain and Pte. 1859 Eddie Heinemann.

Wednesday June 9th

My condition going worse every day. The Doctor calls it ‘general debility’ and I am being sent to the Base Hospital.

June 10-14th

Lay in the base Hospital under observation 4 days to see if I improved any. While I lay there a shell dropped in one of the hospital tents and killed three patients. One man accidentally shot himself through the hand in the tent I was in. I, along with about 100 invalids, am being sent on a Mine Sweeper to an Island called Lemnos about 80 miles away, to a Stationary Hospital.

June 15th

In No 15 Stationary Hospital. It feels like being in heaven being in a proper bed after 6 weeks hardships in the trenches without a proper rest or sleep.

June 30th

Still in bed. Have been too bad to write. Doctor told me today that I was to be sent to the Base at Alexandria.

July 1st

Went onboard the Nile which is a Chinese boat. All the crew are Chinese but English Officers. And left Lemnos about tea time for Alexandria. I heard this morning, before coming onboard, that Tom Hawkins and Harold had been wounded but could not get particulars.

Note: Pte. 1361 Thomas Hawkins. Pte. 1947 Harold Rhodes was indeed severely wounded by shrapnel to his back and legs.

July 3rd

Arrived at Alexandria. Disembarked and we were put on a hospital train and sent to Cairo, to the Red Cross Hospital, Ghezirah School, where we arrived about 11pm. Tired out with weakness and traveling.

Note: The No. 2 Australian General Hospital moved to the Gezirah Palace Hotel, (from the Mena Palace Hotel), but if he was admitted to a Red Cross Hospital “just behind the zoological gardens” then the only school that meets that criteria is the El Saidiya Secondary School.

July 4th

Ghezirah Hospital is a fine place just behind the Zoological Gardens and not very far from our old barracks at Kasr-el-Nil. Never thought I should come back to Cairo again after I left but here I am.

July 11th

Went for a stroll round the grounds and when I got back to my bed the Doctor had marked me for England.

July 12th

Disappointed today when we are told we cannot go on the boat as it is full up with invalids.

July 15th

Left Ghezirah Hospital today for a convalescent home at Helowan, 15 miles further up the Nile, which is a fine hotel where all the society people go in time of peace. It is called Al-Hayat Hotel.

Al-Hayat Hotel Helowan
Copyright Australian War Memorial

Note: The Al-Hayat Hotel was used as a convalescent hospital under the auspices of the No. 1 Australian General Hospital.

July 19th

Passed a Board of Doctors today to see if I was fit for service but was marked for England.

July 20th

Left Helowan at 7:30am this morning for Alexandria. Arrived 3:30pm. Embarked 4pm on the Australian Transport Wandilla.

July 21st

Set sail at 5:00pm while we were having our tea. Egypt vanishing from our sight so we turn in for the night.

July 25th

Sea calm like sailing on the park lake. Just had my Sunday dinner. Hoping to have my next Sunday dinner at home.

July 26th

We are all looking out for Gibraltar now. We are sailing along the African coast now.

July 27th

Arrived at Gib this morning at 8:30am. Got alongside the wharf and started coaling with a great deal of shouting and bustle among the natives; more noise than work. The Moroccan Coast and the town of Algiers opposite. Set sail again at tea time. Gib dropping out of sight, turn in to bed.

July 28th

Sailing along the Portuguese coast today. Hundreds of porpoises jumping out of the water and causing great fun. Heavy swell which is making our ship plunge a bit.

July 29th

The Bay of Biscay. Sea rough and getting into colder climate.

July 30th

We have got through the Bay and awe all eagerly looking for a sight of old England and keeping a sharp lookout for submarines which we don’t want to see. But a Destroyer is escorting us in.

Saturday July 31st

Got up this morning to find the ship at anchor at Plymouth Sound. Glad to see old England once again. Everybody busy this morning handing in the bedding and getting ready to disembark. The country looks lovely from the deck of our boat. It does not look as if there was a war raging. We are now being towed into the docks at Devonport. Disembarked and got onboard a hospital train and left Devonport dockyard about 12:30pm for Manchester. Arrived in Manchester at 10pm and were taken in Ambulance Motors to High St. UoM Hospital 2nd Western General. Had a bath and got to bed.

Note: The 2nd Western General Hospital was planned by the East Lancashire Territorial Association and staffed at first by the medical teaching staff of Manchester University.  Originally based in the 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).

Sunday August 1st

Visiting day. Scores of people coming in today.

Monday August 2nd

Got marked off for discharge from hospital and had a visit from the Missus and Florrie and Annie, and feel more contented now.

Note: His wife, Ada Valentine (née Ogden), Florrie Valentine (20 years old) and Annie valentine (16 years old), his two oldest daughters.

Tuesday August 3rd

Sent to Whitworth St. for discharge. Got my discharge from hospital and £1, the first money for 3 months; and 7 days furlough. Tuesday afternoon, home once more.

August 26th

Harold Rhodes landed in England today and was taken to Devonport Hospital suffering from dysentery and [scarlet] fever.

Friday September 4th

Harold’s mother and Florrie went down to see him and found him in a very low state.

Monday September 7th

Received news of Harold’s death today. Our first bandsman to give his life in the service of his country. May he rest in peace.

October 31st

Left Ashton for Southport. Arrived at 12 o’ clock, passed the Doctor and told off to my billet in time for dinner. Light duty for six weeks for all overseas men.

December 13th

Left Southport Monday midnight for Codford St. Mary’s. Arrived next morning.

December 14th

Getting told off for our huts. Quite busy today drawing beds and bedding and making ourselves comfortable.

December 15th

Up this morning at reveille after a good night’s sleep, with plenty of rats for company. All the huts are pretty well patronized with their company.

December 16th

The weather here is terrible, nothing but rain, and we are up to our knees in mud. In fact. The lads have christened it Codford-on-Mud.

December 17th

This rotten weather here is telling on me and I cannot stir, with rheumatic.

December 19th

Sent to Codford Military Hospital and put in bed and get a little relief from pain after a good massaging with one of the RAMC orderlies.

December 21st

Sent to Red Cross Hospital at Gillingham, Dorset. Arrived here alright, had a bath and was put in bed, where I have to stop until the Doctor says I must get up.

December 24th

All the Nurses and Sisters quite busy decorating the wards and making it look like Christmas.

December 25th

Christmas morning. The hospital looks bright and cheerful and everybody quite happy. All the patients had a visit from Santa Claus during the night and we all had a stocking hung on our beds. And of course, we had some fun looking at what we had in our stockings. And several ladies came in with presents of tobacco and cigarettes and all sorts of useful articles for the patients. Then dinner time came with Turkey and Christmas pudding and a concert at night to finish up.

January 7th 1916

Got up today and allowed to go in the recreation room where we have all sorts of games; Billiards, cards and plenty of music.

January 10th

I have had a walk out today round the village. It is a very nice place here. They are having a parade of all the Derbyites today led by the Village Band and they want us to join in.

Note: ‘Derbyites’ likely refers to men of the village who had attested under the Derby Scheme but who had not yet been called up.

January 11th

Had a drive round the country today along with 5 other patients. They take all the patients in their turn when they are fit to go out.  As this is a convalescent hospital, they try to make you fit and well.

We marched round the village with the Derbyites yesterday afternoon. Just to please them we marched in front of the Band, 12 of us in our blue hospital clothes. And if we had captured Germany, they could not have made more of a fuss of us.

January 27th

The Doctor came and examined us today and marked 8 of us for for duty again.

January 28th

Left Gillingham Hospital at 8:30 this morning for Codford Military Hospital where we will have to be examined again by the Military Doctors and declare us fit for duty, discharged from hospital and sent to join our regiments.

January 31st

General French inspected the troops today and he had several French Generals with him.

February 1st

Left camp for 10 days leave at home. Arrived home at breakfast time next morning.

February 10th

Left home this morning to rejoin my regiment. Arrived at Bristol at 2 o’ clock. Had a good look round the town and caught the six o’ clock train from Bristol to Codford. Arrived in camp at 9 o’ clock and got down in bed, tired out.

February 13th

Started with another attack of rheumatic. Lay on my back and dare not stir. It is sickening for me.

March 22nd

Today, about 40 men of the overseas company have to go before a Medical Board. I am included in the party. Some get marked fit for active [duty] again, and some for Home [service] only, and 10 of us, myself included, get marked down for discharge. Put on light duty pending my discharge.

April 5th

This morning I fell in with my Company and am told to fall out and hand my uniform and equipment in to the Quartermaster’s Stores and get a suit of civilian clothes, and go to the Orderly Room for my discharge and railway warrant for traveling home.

April 6th

Arrived home once more and get settled down to civil life after being in the battalion 24 years, 204 days, including one year, 245 days active service.



The following articles were published in the Ashton Reporter relating to Corporal Valentine and Pte. Harry Rhodes.

Ashton Reporter, August 7, 1915


Another Ashton Territorial, Corporal T. Valentine, arrived in Ashton from the Dardanelles on Tuesday at his home, 6, Mowbray Street, Ashton, having been invalided from the firing line on June 14th, the exposure in the trenches and the strain having debilitated him. Corporal Valentine, who was employed as a carter by the Ashton Co-operative Society, was the oldest soldier in the Ashton Territorials, being the proud possessor of the Coronation Long Service Medal. He is 45 years of age.

“I was six weeks in the trenches”, he said to a Reporter representative. “Being in the band as a drummer, I acted as stretcher bearer for part of the time, but for three weeks I was roughing it in the trenches with the boys of ‘C’ Company. Whilst stretcher bearer I saw some terrible sights, sights that I will not forget if I live to be a thousand. Once we carried in two Turkish officers who had been wounded, and one said, ‘Turks finished, Germans no good’. You could see by the look in their eyes how thankful they were for our attention to them. The Turks, to give them their due, have fought squarely. It was a square fight – no poison gases. There are some fine fellows amongst them, and some riff-raff, and they are good shots, especially the snipers, who are up to all sorts of devices. Some of them, however, have been using explosive bullets, and they make nasty wounds, and the noise of the impact sickens you.

I have been in the battalion 26 years, but I never dreamt I should see what I have seen, which is a bit more than I wanted to see. A lot of our lads have been hit with spent shrapnel bullets that did not penetrate. I myself, as I lay in the doctor’s dug-out, was hit on the leg with a piece of spent shrapnel, the size of a boy’s dobber, which made me jump. It left a bruise, but did not penetrate the skin. I have been in six hospitals before I was finally sent home, and was at Lemnos at the same time as Captain Okell, but did not know until I met his servant outside his tent. The worst of the whole affair is the absence of sleep. The Turks keep up a rapid fire, and attack mostly at night, and sleep is out of the question. In the daytime there is plenty of hard, laborious work in the digging of trenches and dug-outs.

Our officers roughed it with us, and set a fine example. If it rained, they were in it with us, and cheered us up. Often Lieut. Stringer, poor chap, has cooked his meal at my fire, whilst Captain Hamer was a real trump. He looked after us well. I shall never forget one little act of kindness, which, although it might appear trivial, he showed to me. One wet night it had poured in the trenches, and we were up to the waist in mud-broth. When we came back to the dug-outs, Captain Hamer was there, and I happened to be the first one back. Captain Hamer looked very ill, and having known me for a long time he talked to me quite chummily. He had charge of the issue of rum for the Company, and gave me mine at once, in order to prevent me from catching cold, instead of waiting an hour or so until the rest of the Company came in. That was a typical act, which endeared him to us all. There are always ‘grousers’ in the best of regiments, and we had a chap with us who was always grumbling. Captain Hamer could not help continually hearing him ‘grouse’, and one day he suddenly turned round on him and said, ‘You are always grouse, grousing. I am just as fed up with it as you are, but we have got to put up with it because it is our duty’. It was a fine reply, and the boys appreciated the spirit shown by Captain Hamer. Lieut. Ned Stringer was also immensely popular, and got on well with the boys. I shall never forget June 4th as we watched the great artillery bombardment. We had seen the fireworks at Belle Vue, but this sight knocked them into a cocked hat. It looked impossible for anyone to live in the Turkish trenches in that hail of fire.

I was just behind Lieut. F. Jones when he was killed. We were standing in ‘Shrapnel Gully’ from which our trenches branched off, and Lieut. Jones and two other officers were stood at the top talking. Suddenly, Lieut. Jones fell down. One of the officers said, ‘Have you slipped, Jones?’, but when they looked at him, he was dead. They carried him away on a stretcher, and buried him in the gully”

Ashton Reporter July 24, 1915


After taking part in two bayonet charges, and escaping without a scratch, Bandsman Harold Rhodes, 1/9th Battalion, Manchester Regiment, Territorials, is reported to have been severely wounded whilst on his way to a rest camp.

Bandsman Rhodes, who resided at 50, Bennett Street, Ryecroft, formerly worked as a turner at the works of Messrs. Jones Sewing Machine Co., and prior to joining the Territorials he was a member of St. Stephen’s Church Lad’s Brigade. In a letter written from St. Ignatius’ College Hospital, Malta, to his mother, who resides in Bennett Street, he states: –

“I am sorry to tell you that I have been badly wounded in the back and leg. There are four wounds, and I got them on June 22nd. I have been through three operations, and I am doing fine now. The food supplied is of the best, chicken every day for dinner, so I think I am doing all right. I am in a very nice hospital and I have a very nice and devoted nursing sister in attendance. I have only been here four days, having spent over a week on the hospital ship.”

A tribute to his Spartan cheerfulness is paid in a letter written by one of the Army chaplains to his mother on the 23rd, as follows: –

“Yesterday evening your boy passed through this dressing station on his way to the hospital ship. The Turks had at last put a bit of lead into him, he said. He had been through two charges without a scratch, but they succeeded in getting him on the way back to the rest camp. He looked not a little bit like one wounded, and he was in the very best of spirits. The only thing that troubled him was the fear that you would see the casualty list, and think he was dangerously wounded. He will soon be fit again. He will at least get a really good rest, which he has most abundantly earned. Possibly he might get home to you.”


Ashton Reporter September 18, 1915


Many will sympathise with Mrs. Rhodes, of 50, Bennett Street, Ashton, in the loss she has sustained in the death of her son, Bandsman Harold Rhodes, of the Ashton Territorials, who died from wounds and dysentery at the Devonport Isolation Hospital on September 7th. It is doubly sad for the bereaved mother to lose her son after there seemed to be a possibility of his recovering from the injuries caused by shrapnel shell. He had undergone three operations, and the extent of his injuries was such that nearly half-a-pound of shrapnel was taken from his body. Yet whilst on the way home to England from Malta scarlet fever and dysentery developed, and proved fatal. An Army chaplain wrote to Mrs. Rhodes telling her that her son had said “they had just put a bit of lead in him whilst he was on his way to the rest camp.” The truth was that he had been terribly injured about the back and thighs by shrapnel. He was, however, in the best of spirits; the only thing that troubled him was the fear that his mother, of whom he thought the world of, would learn from the casualty lists that he was dangerously wounded.

Bandsman Rhodes, who played the clarinet in the Ashton Territorial Band, was only 20 years of age. He worked as a turner at Messrs. Jones’ Sewing Machine Co. Guide Bridge. He joined the Territorials in September 1913, and went out with them to Egypt in September last. He participated in two bayonet charges whilst at the Dardanelles, and after being wounded arrived at Malta on June 30th, where he remained until August 17th. He landed at Devonport on August 26th, and was taken to the Isolation Hospital, where he died on Tuesday last.

Bandsman Rhodes was buried with full military honours at the Devonport Corporation Cemetery on Friday last. His mother would have liked to have had him buried at home, but it was not possible. Mrs. Rhodes and family, and Miss Florrie Valentine, his sweetheart, attended the funeral. A detachment of the 1st Battalion Worcester Regiment paid the last honours to a gallant soldier. A memorial service was held on Sunday at St. Stephen’s Church, Audenshaw, which was attended by a Company of Ashton Territorials from the Armoury, in command of Captain R. Lees, Colonel D.H. Wade was also present.


This journal has been transcribed from originals held at the Imperial War Museum. The transcription is provided here under Non Commercial Use License and remain the copyright of the IWM.

The original papers are catalogued here at the IWM.

Sgt. Noel Duncan Braithwaite’s Journal

Sergeant Noel Duncan Braithwaite
Copyright Imperial War Museum

Sunday Nov 20, 1914

On guard again, and the blighted Old Quarter Guard too. I don’t mind the foreign agencies so much. one can get a little sleep there and the orderly officers’ comings can be gauged to an hour, but here there is no sleep and every minute of the day has its little vexations. I was forcibly reminded last night that we were in the midst of winter for I got starved through. Do what I would I could not get warm. This khaki drill has very little protection; and to think that tomorrow we are going on a trek. Methinks it will be a bit nippy bivouacking!

I would have given 20 piastres if I could have handed over my guard this afternoon. Fletcher, our transport wallah, had made arrangements with the native groom at the stable just by the guardroom, for a Garry, for an afternoon drive. And he invited me! My chagrin could be more easily imagined than described when I saw Stringer and Newton sail off in it leaving me with four hours still to do and on an admirable afternoon. However, after so much duty I intend to have a little treat and I have arranged for the same Garry this evening at 7 when I will see the sights of Cairo and its environs by moonlight and at my ease.

It has come to me this morning that the Turks are within three days of Port Said in force and also that the Khedive is a prisoner of war at Malta. This, I try to kid myself, looks serious. Oh, if only it would come to a head and let me be doing something. I am just itching to try my marksmanship on some living targets.

11pm. I have had my little out. Newton and Illingworth and myself hired the Garry and had a couple of hours drive round old Cairo. The narrowness of the streets in the native quarter is astounding. For quite an hour we threaded our way through streets which were little more than ten-foot passages. At one place we were stopped by another Garry in front which was trying to turn off our street into another. So narrow were the streets that it was absolutely impossible for the driver to turn the corner in the usual way. He led his horses in the street as far as he could get them and then he went to the back of his Garry and lifted the whole concern round until it was into line. Then he mounted again and drove off. Cairo will indeed require some beating in the matter of narrow streets. Our Garry wallah took us all through the famous Wazzeh [Wazzir] district, the Cairo hell, and of course we saw the sights. It was altogether a most interesting and enlightening outing.

Monday Nov 23 1914. 2pm

I am writing this on the desert; we are on a trek, and we are not due back at barracks till Wednesday evening. The idea of the thing is that the country is at war and that a small hostile force is coming on Cairo from the South, Helwan way. Our company has been ordered out to meet this force, if possible, to drive it back and if not then to check its advance, and as a result here we are on the desert about 7 miles from barracks. We have advanced in skirmishing order over a couple of miles of desert and have carried the enemy’s position at the point of the bayonet. And it has been no joke. We are in marching order and to charge pell mell for a couple of hundred yards across the sandy desert, while the sun itself is burning with excitement, and we in full pack too, is puffing work. Has we had a real enemy to charge we should never have shifted them, for when we arrived at his position we were fairly blown. However, in maneuvers these physical matters don’t count; we frightened the enemy away I suppose. Anyhow he has retreated and we now hold his position where we are at present awaiting the arrival of our camels with the grub. Of course, crossing the desert, we must have camel transport, horses are no use whatever. The fun started before we left barracks when we were loading the beasts. We had to carry all our food, water, timber, and all accessories with us and we had only twelve camels. The native camel-wallahs did not seem to realise that the camels had to carry big loads and it was with the greatest difficulty that we got them to load up as we wanted. And when we had loaded them, Good Lord! The poor beggars couldn’t get up again. They grunted and growled and roared under their burdens and we had to give a lift to help them up. When we made a halt on route, one of the camels got down and couldn’t get up again and the whole convoy was delayed almost an hour. I think the same one must have got down again somewhere for they do not seem to appear, and as the various stragglers come in, they are greeted with ‘Av yo seen owt o’ any Camels?’ Hello! I see them on the skyline and the chaps have broken out into “The camels are coming, they are, they are!”

We advanced through an Arab cemetery this morning and I saw several skulls. I approached a hole in the ground thinking I might have seen some good specimens but I was greeted with such a ‘sniff’ that I beat a hasty retreat without waiting to see what was in there.

The camels came up at 3:30pm and tea was served by 4. Of course, we have nothing cooked on a trek like this. The stuff we have brought with us consists of biscuits, bully, jam & tea principally.

Tuesday Nov 24, 1914. 5pm

I shall not forget quickly my first night’s bivouac. After tea we set to and dug shallow trenches for our beds, and when blankets had been issued, one per man, the encampment speedily went to bo-bo. Of course, it was dark by six, and by seven all the camp was as quiet as at midnight. I got down by eight and deeming the weather not too cold, simply took off my puttees and boots and wrapped myself up in my blanket. I got to sleep alright for I was rather tired, a shower of rain soon after getting down didn’t keep me awake, but about 2 o’ clock, as I afterwards ascertained, I woke up with a start to find myself nearly frozen. A cold wind had sprung up and I had had my back to it, with the result that I was nearly stiff with chattering teeth and all a-shiver I got my greatcoat from my valise and took a walk to get warm again. I went down to our cookhouse where there was a smouldering fire and remained there talking up the past with a few other cold kindred spirits till four, when I got down again and didn’t wake till reveille.

Wednesday Nov 25, 1914. 8pm

I am back again in barracks, and wishing I was going on a trek again tomorrow morning. It has been a splendid experience and one which I should be loath to miss if the chance offered itself again. Of course, it has been hard work and as rough as might be, but I never enjoyed anything so much. But to take up my narrative where I left off:

On rising on Tuesday morning, we immediately had breakfast, which consisted of biscuits, jam and tea, and were on the move before 9. There was no accident with the loading of the camels, at least nothing exceptional, and as the company continued the attack on the enemy, who were supposed to be in position on the hills of Lissan Abaid, about six miles further on, the camels went into the village of Maadi to draw water. Maadi is a village on the hill; we left it away on our right. Moving over the desert in full pack is something to try one up and it put us through it. The General came to visit us in the morning. My platoon was acting as supports to the firing line, and the officer in charge of us had allowed us to get too far behind, with the result that, when we saw the General coming across the plain, we had to get into the firing line as quick as possible. In doing this we took a stony ride of about half a mile, almost at a continuous double, and when we got to the top, we were all like Barney’s Bull. One poor fellow threw his rifle away and rolled over as if he had been shot. It had been too much for him. We left a couple of men to bring him round and continued the attack.

I was deuced glad to get to the peace of bivouac that night. By eight o’ clock I was fast asleep and knew nothing more till morning.

We had some rare sport this morning when we were packing the camels. Of course, we always had trouble with the camel-wallah but this morning they actually mutinied. The boss of the shanty, a bearded Arab, with an astonishing flow of language, was kicking up a dickens of a shine about a particular camel’s load, when I came up. The trouble seemed to be about whether a roll of blankets should be put up or not. The camel-wallah was emphatic about it and stood by his camel to see that his wishes were carried out. However, we intended that the blankets should be loaded, as I shoved him out of the way while we hoisted it up. This completely upset his apple cart and he came up again gabbling as if his indignation would drive him silly. I raised my arm and threatened to smash his face in. That did it! He thought he had been ill-used enough. He called to his followers and snatching up their personal belongings set off home, leaving us to manage the camels ourselves. This of course we couldn’t stand so we sent a section to bring them back, which they did! They cuffed the and kicked them all the way back, and that settled them.

After that, things went comparatively smoothly, and we arrived at our first night’s bivouac about 2 o’ clock. We had a meal of biscuits and tea and marched home about 5. And I wish I were going again. I may say that I picked up a good deal of Arabic on this trip.

Monday Nov 30th, 1914:

I have shifted my shanty again. As I write this, I am lying in a tent on the desert overlooked by the Pyramids. I came here on Saturday and do not know when I shall be going back however. Let me record things in their chronological order. Since I last wrote in this journal, I have done a little knocking about which has prevented me keeping up to date. On Friday, I went to Alexandria, some hundred odd miles away with prisoners. Our party consisted of one officer, myself, and 30 men. We entrained on he barracks square and took on board 50 prisoners; Turks, Arabs and Germans. The Turks and Arabs were many of them desperate characters and were placed in a 3rd class carriage whilst the Germans, who were residents in Cairo, were accommodated in a 2nd. Everything passed off without a hitch and we handed the prisoners over to an escort of the 6th Manchesters at Alexandria. We should have escorted them on board but the weather was too rough for embarkation for it was blowing very strongly. The weather was just English. The sky was overcast and a strong wind blowing and it was very cold. As we were marching back to the station we got caught in a terrific downpour of rain and had to take shelter in a drinking shop where it cost the officer 31 piastres! We arrived home about 10pm.

As soon as I arrived, I was warned for the Mena Guard and had to pack up a few necessities in the morning and move off. It was typical of the way things are done in the Army and particularly in the 9th, that I received no precise instructions.

Do you know where the Pyramids are? I was asked.

“Yes, sir!”
“Well, there is a camp about there, with a quantity of supplies. Go and guard it!”

That was all I was told. I didn’t know how long I was going for, any details whatever. I had 20 men, and we took an oilsheet and blanket each, rations for one day and two camp kettles. Arriving at the Pyramids, I looked round but could not see any signs of a camp. I called a guide and asked him if he knew of a soldier’s camp, with tents. ‘Oh Yes, he knew it all right!’ So, we followed him. Over the desert, up and down the hills of sand he took us until we were getting fagged, but still no sign of a camp. At length we told him pretty plainly that we were turning back, and it was a good job that we had the Pyramids as a landmark or we should have been lost, for the desert in all directions is alike. At last, we arrived back to the place whence we started and found the “camp” we had been seeking for three or four hours. It was simply a heap of sacks of corn. Well now, here was a bonny place to send a party of men to. However, we had to make the best of it for another couple of hours would see night here, so we set about to bivouac. Luckily an ASC officer came up and I report to the guard to him, and he vouched the welcome information that there would be some tents coming along. They did in about half an hour, and we soon erected a couple and we were landed. Another quarter of an hour saw us with a heap of timber which we had pinched and soon after, just at the edge of dark, we were taking our first meal since 6:30am. After posting the sentries and arranging all things connected with them, I settled down to sleep for I was tired. It went very cold at night and once I woke up feeling starved. It is to this that I attribute my slight indisposition yesterday, Sunday. I woke up with a slight disturbance in my ‘innards’ but during the morning it was not so bad and I paid little attention to it. Soon after nine I slipped away from Camp, and taking a lad of 15 as a guide, I went to ascend the great Pyramid. As you approach the ting the ascent seems the easiest thing in the world, but try it and it is a nerve trying experience. Preceded by my guide, I got about quarter way up and then stopped to rest. It seemed to me that I sat on the edge of a great precipice, and I felt a bit dizzy, which made me almost decide to go back. However, when I had recovered and got somewhat accustomed to my lofty position in the world, I pushed on, and keeping my face to the rock, reached the top after about twenty minutes climb. And the view from the top was superb. North and South ran the Nile. Miles and miles I could see it until it faded away into obscurity. To the West stretched the great mysterious Sahara, Sand and sand again for miles after miles, without life or verdure of any kind. And looking down the Western side of the Pyramid I obtained a splendid bird’s eye view of the excavation being carried on by some Americans. The Sphynx, a little to the South appeared just like a cat lying on the plain. Looking to the East, Cairo was to be seen in its entirety and further on the landscape lost itself in the Arabian desert. The whole view from such an eminence was magnificent and one worth coming miles to see. Too soon I had to descend for I did not want anybody from Kasr-el-Nil to come to Camp and find me absent or I might have been for it. I got down in half the time it took to get up and as I paid up my guide was well satisfied with my experience.

During Sunday afternoon 57 lorry loads of corn, sugar, etc. came and we had the very dickens of a job to get it unloaded in the proper places. And now let me say a word of explanation of our presence here. We are simply the beginning of a large Camp. Some thirty thousand Australian troops are going to be quartered here, so this will give some idea of the magnitude of the preparations. There are some hundreds of natives employed here in making a road across the desert and in constructing an electric railway. This points to a permanent camping ground, in short, a base of operations. The presence of all this work going on is very handy for us, for it enables us to provide ourselves with fuel for our fire. As soon as night falls, a party of chosen scouts leaves our Camp and return laden with timber, and by this time the railway is many sleepers short. But we must have fuel and as they don’t send us any from barracks, well! What would you do?

6pm Sunday afternoon, the pains in my ‘tummy’ increased in frequency and intensity until at times I was almost doubled up with pain. I thought at first that I had sand colic with swallowing so much up of the stuff. That’s the only fault with this life. We can’t keep the sand out of our food. However, this morning I am much better so I suppose it was just a touch of ordinary colic caused by getting cold on Saturday night.

Tuesday Dec 1st

This life is great. I am still at the Mena Guard, and am enjoying things fine. Our rations are sent out every day but the time of arrival seems to be a matter of no consequence to the authorities at Kasr-el-Nil. Yesterday our rations did not reach us until 3 in the afternoon, and then they were brought by an escort from the 9th who came with about 50 wagons of stores, etc. It was too late to cook anything for dinner so we had tea at the usual time, and we made a dixie stew of our meat and vegetables about 9 o’ clock at night. And by Gad, wasn’t it good? I think I never enjoyed a meal so much before. The night was cold and the dixie stew was hot and – my lips are smacking yet!

Wednesday Dec 2nd 1914

Yesterday another twelve men were sent out from Kasr-el-Nil to strengthen our guard. I have now 32 men and 2 corporals and I feel the responsibility of my position very much. Every day increases the stock of provisions and camp equipment, etc. put here. There must be thousands of pounds worth here, and it extends over a square of half a mile or more. And I alone am responsible for its safety. The preparations here are on a huge scale. I am told that 18,000 colonial troops are to be quartered here, and the preparations seem to indicate the coming of such a vast contingent. From the Pyramids Road an electric railway and a highway is being constructed into the desert and hundreds of natives are employed hereabouts on the work. The cost which a work like this entails seems to point to the fact that this camp is to be a permanent one. It will probably be the largest in Egypt; and my little party pitched the first tent.

Apart from the fact that my responsibility weighs upon me rather heavily I am in thorough sympathy with my surroundings and am enjoying myself. This hard ‘roughing it’ just suits me, and of course the open air and sun is champion. The feeling of isolation one gets, out at a place like this, is quite a new sensation to me. Being separated from my immediate chums at barracks seems to intensify the feeling that thousands of miles separate me from those I hold dear at home. It seems as if I were almost hopelessly cut off from everybody.

Thursday Dec 3rd 1914

Our camp has now become a very busy hive. Yesterday afternoon the advance party of Australian troops arrived. There were about a hundred of them and fine fellows they were too. They are not however, soldiers; they are undisciplined and seem to have little idea of regimental behaviour. They had a rare good time last night down at the Café near the Pyramids. Having been six weeks on the boat they were naturally a bit frisky and they were flashing their money galore. The camel drivers, donkey boys, and fortune tellers made a real harvest of them; like we were at first these Australians were done down at every turn. After being without tobacco for two days I managed to obtain half a cake from one of the chaps so I am set up again for a bit. The boat which sunk the Emden, the Sydney, was escort to the Australian transports and these fellows tells us that they 40 odd of their prisoners, including the Captain, on their vessel.

Saturday Dec 5th 1914

Yesterday morning I went round the Pyramids for a quiet stroll, fully determined to resist all efforts of the guides to thrust themselves upon me. However, I failed. The beggars stick to one like glue and no amount of ‘imshi’-ing or ‘yalla’-ing will clear them. In the end I suffered one of them to take me in the temple of the Sphinx, a sort of underground affair near the wonder from which it takes its name. We descended into it down an inclined passage and then I found myself in the temple. The walls were of granite and the floor of alabaster, and there were sixteen huge columns of granite which had formerly supported the roof. The great blocks of granite comprising the walls were many of them 16 feet long, 3ft high and 6 ft deep. How they had got them there in those old days and put them into position is a marvel to me. And the granite had all been brought from Assowan, 400 miles away. In the temple were tombs of the high priest and of some King’s daughter. That little trip cost me a piastre and a half (3 ¾d).

Yesterday some thousands of Australians arrived, and ‘our fellows’ had a good time with them. These Australian blokes have plenty of money, the privates get 6/- per day, and they are by no means sparing with it. And not their money only but anything they have they will give away.  Tobacco, coins and even badges, caps and other parts of their equipment have found their way into our chaps’ possession. Down at the café last night our lads were tucking in and having as much as they could eat without it costing them a red cent. I rescued an Australian who had a crowd of natives around him changing his money. I knew very well they were diddling him hence my intervention. But afterwards he wouldn’t allow me to pay for anything. We had a rare good tea together and when I remonstrated on account of the price he said “Oh what the hell does it matter, we’ve bags of money!”

There isn’t as much discipline amongst them as one would get from a lot of maniacs but with training, they will make a tough lot to deal with. They’re made of the right stuff. Devil-may-care they are and such are the best fighters.

Last night I stood around one of the camp fires talking with an M.M.P. [Mounted Military Police] sergeant and an Australian until 3 o’ clock in the morning. We were discussing the army and the war and none of us had he slightest idea of the time.

When I awoke this morning, it was bitterly cold. A North wind was blowing that went through one. And I never thought it was cold in Egypt! Good heavens! I thought it would have frozen my face off.

Today completes a week of this guard, and since coming I have not heard anything officially from Kasr-el-Nil. They send over rations out every day but beyond that we might as well be dead.

Tuesday Dec 8th

Still on this guard. We were told we should only be away two or three days and this is the eleventh. But I don’t mind. This life is far better than being in barracks. The open air and the freedom from interference, I am GOC here, are much to be desired, and when obtained are fully appreciated.  Rations have just come for another day, but our holiday cannot be prolonged very much now for the battalion goes to Abbasia on Monday for brigade training and we shall not be allowed to miss that. I am surprised that we have been here so long after the arrival of the Australians. There are thousands of them here now and yet we are kept on guarding their supplies. Possibly the blokes cannot be entrusted with such a guard yet. They are not yet settled down and are just like savages. A more hare-brained set of fellows I never struck. I hear that last night one of them got his throat cut in Cairo. From what I can gather he tore the Yashmak and veil from one of the native women; if that is so he deserves his fate. When these fellows first marched in I was impressed by their physique and thought what a splendid lot of men they were. I have quickly changed my opinion. Generally speaking, they are a lot of boasting, bragging uncivilized hooligans.

I went to barracks yesterday for the first time since coming on this guard. I didn’t care for leaving the corporal in charge but necessity forced me. I was feeling ‘chatty’. We came here without a change of any kind and water is difficult enough to get for washing and cooking, never mind bathing, we have to go half a mile for it, so it is no wonder we were getting ‘chatty’. I had a rare good bath, and changed my suit, which I had never had off for 10 days, and now I feel a new man.

When we first came here the place was desert, but it is desert no longer. There are thousands of men here, the electric cars run up, and good macadam roads have been made; and all this transformation in a week! It is wonderful.

The rumour has currency here, and daily gains in strength, that the East Lancs Division leaves for home on January 7th to be mobilised and equipped for France. If someone told me that on January 7th, I should pick up £50 in the sand I should attach as much credence to it as to this rumour. I will not deny that conviction keeps forcing itself upon me, for the various sources from which the rumour comes to us, gives it every appearance of truth, but I absolutely refuse to believe for fear of a frightful disappointment.

I understand that our battalion has again been ‘for it’ from the Brigade. The Brigade people seem to have an aversion to us, but I claim, and found my claim on personal observation and the views of regular army critics, that the 9th are the smartest and best conducted battalion in Cairo. I am not saying that they are smart but they are smarter than the others.

The weather just now is ideal. It is Dec 8th 12 noon and the sun is shining brilliantly and it is warm enough for me to sit in my tent in my shirt sleeves writing this. I wonder what it’s like at home. Of course, it goes cold at night, but our greatcoats are usually sufficient protection from the cold. And speaking of the weather, reminds me that the Colonel has dropped a very significant hint that we shall see now more hot weather here. Really, it’s very hard to keep from hoping. We look like getting a smack at the Germans yet; and if the Stalybridge lot can go to the front, why not we?

Thursday Dec 10, 1914

This is the 13th day of our encampment here, but I learn with pleasure that we shall be relieved tomorrow. The Colonel of the Australian mob or of some unit of them sent for me this afternoon for particulars of the Guard and said he would probably take over tomorrow. And I am glad. I am getting lazy on the job. I cannot find anything to do, and one can have too much of a good thing. On the whole I would rather be in hard training with the boys.

I have reason to believe that the rumour about our going to England in January is bunkum! A good job I didn’t raise any hopes or they would have been dashed now.

Yesterday we had some frightful weather for Egypt. It was typical English. The sky was black with clouds and the rain came down pell-mell. And it was cold with it too. I imagined the weather might have been somewhat similar at home.

Australian troops continue to arrive in the camp as if there were no end to them.

I have today sent several postcards with Christmas greetings for home. I wonder what sort of Christmas I shall be having when those reach home. When the church bells ring out the glad tidings of Christmas morning, when folks at home are drawing their chairs up to the huge fire and cracking bottles of beer, or munching Christmas cake, I suppose I shall be rolled up in my blanket on the desert gazing up at the stars in an alien sky under which the greeting of a merry Christmas were mere irony. From what I can gather, we shall be on brigade maneuvers at Christmas and I suppose there will be a good deal of bivouacking in that. But we’ll make the Christmas as merry as may be you can bet, especially if we happen to be on barracks. And being rolled up in a blanket on the desert is much better than toasting our toes at home, for a time like this is one of works and not festivity.

Saturday Dec 12th 1914

I am back again in barracks having returned from the Pyramids yesterday. We were relieved about 10 yesterday morning and it is typical of the military character of the Australians that a Major went round to post the first sentries and even then, he lost one of them. After being relieved the next thing was to get home. We were seven or eight miles from home and no transport for our baggage. But transport we had to have so I spotted two carts which were working for Australians and drew them onto our camp ground and got them loaded up. It was a near shave though for a transport officer caught me just as we were setting off. “Sergeant! Where the hell are you taking those carts?” I thought we should have had to unload again but I threw myself on his mercy and managed to get away. It was a bit cheeky though. But I took example from Mick. And I might say that we landed back with more stuff than we took away.

During my absence orders have been issued for the wearing of English Khaki, and it is such a change. I went out in the morning in it and it was just like being at home.

On Monday we move to Abbasia for brigade training.

Monday Dec 14, 1914

10am. We are now packed up for Abbasia, whither we proceed at 2pm. In course of a walk round Cairo last evening I purchased a tarboosh, or fez, the mature red cap with black tassel. An Arab offered it to me in passing and I had not the slightest intention of buying. “How much?” I asked.

“Five piastres!”
“Get out of it; I’ll give you two!”
“Come on!”
“No, I don’t want it. Anyhow, give you one for it!”
He hesitated, then said “Me mafesh faloos!” which means ‘I have no money.”
Give me one and a half. Which I did and got a bargain.

This is a good example of the way we set about buying anything from the natives. They always ask three or four times more than they will eventually take. Of course, we were generally taken in by them at first but we soon tumbled to their dodges.

We went to a picture show last night. The first I have been to since leaving home, and we seemed to have dropped into a very anti-British shop. When any pictures of German troops were thrown on the screen the audience cheered to the echo. And when the awful devastation of the beautiful buildings of Louvain was pictured, I thought the audience would have gone made. They went into ecstatics. How I sighed to have a few of our fellows there. We’d have turned the place inside out.

We had another amusing experience last night too, which made me very indignant at first but afterwards I smiled. We stopped at a postcard shop to buy some cards and were looking at some in a stand outside, when all of a sudden, the shopman came out in a dickens of a sweat, snatched up the stand and took it inside pointing to several empty places and jabbering like an agitated baboon. He seemed to think we had pinched his blighted cards, which by the way, I wouldn’t have sent to my worst enemy. His state of mind was something terrible and when we soon saw the humorous side of the affair, we simply stood and laughed at him. I suppose he took us for common or garden soldiers. Get away you lads!

Tuesday Dec 15 1914

At Abbasia. We are quartered in the main barracks. Leaving Kasr-el-Nil at 2pm yesterday we arrived here about 4:30. We had them to issue biscuits and blankets, there are no beds, and by the time we were ready for tea it was quite dark. However, we managed to get the rations issued somehow.

And then it was time for me to go on duty for I was on Canteen. At 9:30 I closed the Canteen and went groping my way, to our mess. These barracks are a monstrous affair and there are very few lights so that to a stranger it is like threading subterranean passages, moving about at night. I nearly broke my neck last night by fancying I was on the level when there was a flight of steps in front. I didn’t say much until I landed at the bottom, and then – well, I’ll not soil the pages of this journal by recording any more of the incident. When I got to the mess there was a piano and we had a little impromptu singsong until 11pm.

The sergeants in our Company, 10 of us, are quartered in a room originally designed for two, and as we had managed to secure a bed each, its capacity was very severely tried. However, with skillful maneuvering we managed to get all the beds in and eventually got to sleep. We call our house the 4×2 room. For non-regimental readers I will explain that a piece of 4×2 is just sufficient flannelette to go through a rifle barrel.

This morning reveille went at 5:30 and I had to get up in the dark and be at the cookhouse before six, for I am B.O. [Battalion Orderly]. Just now I have an hour to myself before accompanying the Orderly Officer on barracks inspection.

The rumour about our going home on January 7th still retains its currency, and increases in strength. For some reasons I am inclined to believe it, but many others cause me to reject it utterly. Best take things as the come.

Wednesday Dec 16 1914

I have today been on my first day’s training and I returned, well not fagged but very tired. However, after a wash and a brush up I felt in the pink again. We rendezvoused at a place somewhere the other side of Heliopolis at 10:30am. The weather was very warm; it only wants a few days to Christmas and we were all sweating with the heat this morning. Previous to commencing work we were inspected by the G.O.C. Division and he pronounced the 9th ‘a fine set of men!’. I think he was pulling our leg. The work was the brigade in attack and the object of attack being 8,000 yards away. It can be imagined on what a large scale the work was. The 9th was the advance guard, the 4th and 5th East Lancs following on, and the 10th Manchesters bringing up the reserves. The advance continued for about 3 hours before the assembly sounded and the bugles were heard none too soon.

We arrived back at barracks about 4pm and had dinner at 4:30. We had had nothing since 6:30 in the morning.

In orders tonight I read that the battalion is confined to barracks until Saturday. I wonder what the dickens is on the cards now.

During the early part of our advance this morning we crossed a part of the desert which seemed to have been a great cemetery, for it was strewn with bones in all directions. Where holes had been dug, they had laid bare human bones representing any and every part of the anatomy. This is not the first region of this kind we have struck. I should like very much to know the real explanation of these places.

Monday Dec 21st 1914

Since last entering up this journal some days have elapsed and the spirit has never moved me to make a start until now. As a rule, this brigade training keeps us out from 7 to 9 hours a day and when one returns at 4pm the day is very quickly over. By the time one has had a bath and begun to feel OK again it is tea-time. After tea, one must needs have a lie down for the day on the desert has created a ravenous appetite, after satisfying which one does not feel very ‘jildy’ for some time. The evening thus gets lolled away and one tumbles into bed, to follow the same routine tomorrow.

We are getting quite used to our new quarters and even like them. One great thing here is that we only provide two regimental duties, Canteen and Battalion Orderly, against seven which we had to find at Kasr-el-Nil with an escort chucked in now and then to fill up.

Our menu has made a remarkable improvement this week. We have got a native caterer from somewhere and one who knows his job evidently. But what it is going to cost I don’t know.

On Saturday evening a few of us went into Cairo to see the sights, and we did see them! The memory of it will linger as long as I live. Would that I could forget it but that will be very hard. This is the most loathsome, filthy, disgusting place it is possible to conceive. From what I hear, I have not seen one hundredth part of what Cairo has to show, but I have seen sufficient to last me a lifetime. I have seen womanhood debauched and sunk into absolutely the lowest depths of degradation, and the sight is revolting in the extreme. Reverence for womanhood is unknown here. Cairo is the cesspool of unfortunate women. They come here as a last resort.

Yesterday the British Protectorate was formally instituted in Cairo and the new Sultan installed. Some of the 9th went to the procession but as it was optional in my case and necessitated arriving at 4am I thought it best to have a lie over instead. I did not go out at all yesterday but I believe there were great doings in Cairo. All the people and the Tommies as well were bent on having a good time; and during the evening the town was the scene of much hilarity and rowdyism.

Tonight, I am stopping in again for I feel more like rest. Cairo somehow has but little attraction nowadays. And if we go down now, we simply stroll round the European Quarter; in fact, we seldom go out unless there is something we want.

Thursday Dec 24 1914

I nearly killed poor Bony the other night.  We call him ‘Blighty’ now, ‘Blighty’ being a soldier’s term which he is always using and which means home. Really it was all ‘Flanagan’s’ fault for if he had not wakened me, well, I should still have slept. Now Flanagan had been visiting the mess of the Westminster Dragoons and came home rather merry. And noisy! Off came my blankets and I awoke to find his face grinning at me from the foot of the bed. No one could be angry with ‘Flanagan’ when he laughs, he is much too funny, so I must needs enter into the spirit of the evening and prepare for a rough house. I got up to arrange my bed, donning my tarboosh for the purpose. It was too tempting a mark for Flanagan, and bang! A 2lb loaf landed against the door with a terrific rattle. Nothing behind, I ‘cobbed’ it back but missed him and only just ‘ducked’ in time to get out of the path of its return journey or my head would now be ‘mafeesh’. Then I got into bed with the tray so that next time I would have some protection from the blankets. From this position I threw again at ‘Flanagan’ and then it was I nearly killed poor ‘Blighty’. It wasn’t my fault that ‘Blighty’s’ head lay between Flanagan’s and my own, nor was I to blame that he was asleep; he ought not to have been asleep with all the row going on. Anyhow, I suppose I was to blame for my wretched aim. I summoned all my strength for the throw and ‘Blighty’ caught it full in his ‘tummy’. Poor beggar, he lay groaning for quite ten minutes; he was fairly knocked out a time. And that put a stop to our mad half hour.

At 12 o’ clock today we returned from our biggest day’s training having been out from 12:45pm on Wednesday. We bivouacked, the whole brigade, somewhere about 10 miles East of Cairo on the plain whereon once fell the Manna of the Israelites. And if the Israelites were kept wandering about here for forty years, well, poor beggars. I don’t know how they did it. Anyway, they couldn’t have been in full marching order.

We reached the place of bivouac about 5:30pm and before tea was ready it was quite dark. Only experienced tea party waiters and waitresses will have even the slightest idea of my difficulty in doling out grub for forty hungry big boys in the dark. However, I managed it eventually and it was not long before the bivouac was quite quiet. I got no sleep, however. About 9 o’ clock a desperation to be silly descended on our little circle and we began to act the goat. Seven of us tried to get down in a space not big enough for three comfortably and so we had some fun. When at last the mad work subsided and we settled down to sleep, I found I could not find slumber by any means. I got up and got down again ten times until about 2 o’ clock I decided to walk about until reveille. I roamed about for an hour with a blanket round me looking like an Indian Chief trying to keep out the cold, until at 3 o’ clock the men were roused and got into their equipment. A beautiful sight during the early hours of the morning was a great white star which everybody said was the Star of Bethlehem. It was a great white orb almost like a small moon, and its light easily reached the earth.

At 3:30am in the darkness the battalion moved off on mass destined for a point four miles away where we were to deliver an attack at dawn. Well, I do believe I walked most of the way in my sleep. I simply stumbled along. There were the other battalions of the brigade there as well. As the sun was just throwing its light above the horizon the charge was delivered which carried the position.

From there we marched back home, having breakfast en-route. As I was annoyed for the whole distance of ten miles with a nail in each shoe, I was glad when we did get home, which was about 12 noon.

Well, it is now Christmas Eve. Everything is quiet as yet but then it is only seven o’ clock. Personally, I feel as little of the Spirit of the Season as if it was Wakes time. And I got nearly scorched this morning. Weather like we are having and Christmas do not go well together to a Western mind.

Christmas Morning 1914

Just imagine, Christmas! The sun is shining brilliantly and it is quite warm. Christmas indeed; it’s more like Midsummer Day at home. We had a bit of a knees-up last night in the mess. A party of L.F. [Lancashire Fusiliers] sergeants came across and they didn’t half have a beano. This morning in our little 4×2 room we have decorated our Xmas tree. We have on it an old sock, a piece of soap, a cigarette card, an empty cigarette tin, a bottle of brilliantine, a bit of candle, a pack of cards, a salt cellar and a looking glass. Quite a mixed collection. This afternoon I shall have to take my place as head waiter, carver and caterer to my platoon. The men are having their Xmas dinner on the square. Christmas dinner in the open air under a brilliant sun.

“Whoever would ‘a thowt it!” What would I give just now for some English snow and ice and a big roaring fire, with the wind roaring outside! But war does upset one’s calculations so! It’s beastly annoying.

Sunday Dec 27 1914

Ah well! Xmas is over and tomorrow we commence training again. I looked with dismay at the prospect of Xmas under the present conditions but really, I have had a great time; a time that will ever be fresh in my mind as each Xmas time comes round. On Xmas day the men had their dinner on the square. It was the sight of a lifetime. The fellows had the time of their lives. Why, the whole battalion was drunk almost before the dinner was served. Of course, beer was free, and I never saw so many drunken men together in all my life. Dinner was a good meal. First there was roast beef, then turkey and of course pudding. And what was a great feature to the men was the fact that the officers and sergeants were waiting on them. With what gusto they shouted, “Hey sergeant! Fetch us some beer!” I was kept in the run with the beer jug.

Christmas Dinner 1914, Abbassia Barracks

Our own dinner did not come off till 6:30pm and we had a really splendid spread, after which we had a free bar which greatly helped in the enjoyment of the evening. The sing song proved quite a success and when we broke up about 1am we looked and felt as if we had had a good time. The worst of it was that the next day, with Joe and Harry, I had to be up at 6am to get ready for duty at the Territorial Boxing Day Sports on the Khedivial Sporting Club grounds. I must admit that I felt a bit groggy when I got up, (no! I was certainly not drunk), but it soon wore off and I took much enjoyment in the discharge of my duties as steward at the KSC.

We finished there at about 4:30, and we took a Garry to Abatzi’s, where we had arranged to meet the rest of our circle, and there we had tea. The season’s spirit was on us and, I fear, we got rather hilarious, although, mind, our hilarity was the outcome of the season and our own light heartedness, and not sue to any artificial stimulant in the way of drinks. This is a good point about our little circle, we can have a night out without having any drink. After tea we quitted Abatzi’s and forthwith trooped to the photographer to be snatched ‘en masse’. Poor fellows, we nearly drove him off his head. He kept appealing to us “You come for your photograph, and you do not help me one leetle bit. You laugh, you smile; I tell you it is eempossible to make you photograph good! We kept quipping him all the time, and in the end, I fear I spoiled the picture by moving.

From the photographers we went round Cairo, having considerable amusement of the native hawkers, until at 9:30 we went to the pictures. And I heard the funniest thing imaginable, ‘Hitchy Koo’ sung in French. We didn’t give it some ‘Hitchy Koo!’ The picture finished at 12pm ad then we had four miles to come home to Abbasia. So, we did it on donkeys! We barged the donkey-wallahs down to 3 ½ piastres a time (8 ¾ d). Four miles on a donkey for 8 ¾ d, not so bad, is it? We got home about 1-15am and everybody was quite satisfied with Xmas in Egypt.



‘Jildy’ is derived from the Hindu word juldee, meaning energy or effort. When a soldier was ordered to do something with vigour, he was told to ‘put some jildy into it’.

The journal also bore the name ‘Vere Foster‘ on the cover perhaps implying that it was a school book from his teaching days.

‘Fletcher’ is Sgt. 220 Albert Fletcher.

‘Stringer’ is Colour Sgt. 237 Henry Stringer who was Harry Illingworth’s brother-in-law and a cousin of 2/Lt. Ned Stringer.

‘Newton’ is Colour Sgt. 154 George Newton.

‘Illingworth’ is Sgt. 469 Harry Illingworth who was killed in action on June 5, 1915.

‘Joe & Harry’ are Sgt. Joe Harrop and Sgt. Harry Illingworth.


This journal has been transcribed from originals held at the Imperial War Museum. The transcription is provided here under Non Commercial Use License and remain the copyright of the IWM.

The papers are catalogued here at the IWM.

Sergeant Noel Duncan Braithwaite

Noel Duncan Braithwaite was born on May 5, 1891 in Ashton under Lyne to John and Ruth Annie Braithwaite (née Charlesworth). Noel was the second son of John Braithwaite, a stone mason who became a successful builder and business owner. Noel’s older brother, Reginald, became a bricklayer working in his father’s business but Noel excelled academically and followed a different path.

In 1893, when Noel was 2 years old, his mother died and two years later John Braithwaite married Mary Jane Wilson. She quickly had two daughters, Edith Vera Braithwaite and Reenie Braithwaite, and by 1901 the family of six were living in Ashton on Whiteacre Road and Noel was attending the Parish Church School. He then attended the municipal Secondary School, (which later became Ashton Grammar School), where Ned Stringer was a Chemistry teacher. He decided to become a teacher and passed his matriculation examinations at Victoria University (Manchester University) and by 1911 was a teacher at the Parish Church Elementary School. On November 1, 1910 he joined the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment, Territorial Force along with around a dozen others.

Sergeant Noel Duncan Braithwaite
Copyright Imperial War Museum

He had ambitions to become a doctor and began studying Latin, a pre-requisite in 1911, but his circumstances changed and he instead started a coal merchant’s business employing at least one other Territorial. At the outbreak of war, he was mobilised as a Sergeant in F Company of the 9th Manchesters and proceeded with them to Chesham Fold Camp in Bury where the Division was gathering prior to their departure for Egypt on September 10, 1914. When he attested in November 1910, he would have agreed to serve for four years and also to extend that period, for not more than 12 months, in case of imminent national danger or great emergency. Consequently, he became “time-expired” shortly after arriving in Egypt, but under territorial regulations was required to serve another 12 months. Additionally, as a business owner, he was compelled to close his new business as a consequence of discharging his service to his country and to his credit he did so seemingly without regret or rancour.

In Egypt, the men were drilled, trained and worked hard to build fitness and endurance. Additionally, the old eight Company model (A-H) was replaced with a four Company model (A-D), 4 platoons in each Company and 4 sections in each platoon. Sergeant Noel Duncan Braithwaite became one of 10 sergeants in “C” Company.

Colour Sergeant 237 Henry Stringer                        29yo
Sergeant 220 Albert Fletcher                                      28yo
Sergeant 128 Thomas Langan                                     29yo
Sergeant 76 James Lawton                                           43yo
Sergeant 445 John Albert Simcox                             31yo
Colour Sergeant 154 George Newton                      29yo
Sergeant 427 Thompson Tym                                      26yo
Sergeant 469 Harry Illingworth                                   23yo
Sergeant 1125 Noel Duncan Braithwaite                24yo
Sergeant 1126 Joseph Cox Harrop                             24yo

During his time in Egypt, he kept a journal detailing his activities, experiences and impressions of his first trip overseas and this is published here.

A few days after Noel’s 24th birthday, the battalion landed at Gallipoli under shell fire on Sunday May 9, 1915. Less than a month later, his former classmate and good friend Sergeant Harry Illingworth was killed by shellfire on June 5th. Colour Sergeant Henry Stringer, Harry’s brother-in-law, wrote to his father part of which is excerpted below:

“I am on a sorry mission in writing to you this journey. The last letter was congratulations, but this is to say that Harry had the misfortune to be hit by a shrapnel shell whilst superintending the taking of ammunition on Saturday, the 5th inst. The shell struck him in the back of the head, killing him instantly. Joe Harrop was near him at the time, and we got him out of the trench, and did the only thing left for us to do, namely, give him a decent resting place, and got the minister to bury him. I need hardly say with what regret we laid him in his last rest. He was a friend of everybody, and particularly of the lads under his command. He was the first casualty in our Company, and also the first of our school lads. I need not say to you Jim, old lad, what the loss to us all means, but I ask you to accept not only the sympathy of his personal friends, but of the whole Company.”

Two days later, on June 7th, “C” Company was ordered to take two saps in front of the firing line that were being troublesome. Once again, an excerpt from another of Colour Sergeant Henry Stringer’s letters home provides some context:

“We got the order to attack two saps leading to a gully, about 7 o’ clock pm and we were to attack at 7:30. There was no time for preliminaries, and I never saw Noel after about 6:30. The Company moved to position, and I was ordered to go down the sap which lay on the left with my cousin Ned and his men. This sap met the other sap to be taken, in the gully. Both saps and gully were occupied by Turks, and we were informed that another party was to clear the gully before we attacked. This attack was not successful, and led to our heavy casualties. Capt. Hamer, Lt. Wade, and Noel’s men, and Joe Harrop’s men, went over the top and stormed the other trench across the open.”

Noel was the ‘Camp Reporter’ for the Ashton Reporter newspaper and had also contributed articles to the Ashton Herald newspaper in the past. Both papers covered his death, publishing accounts of his death. The article from the June 26, 1915 edition of the Ashton Herald is provided below in its entirety:

The Herald, June 26, 1915

A Gifted Ashtonian

The utmost sympathy will be extended to Mr. and Mrs. John Braithwaite of Beech House, Mossley-road, in the loss they have sustained if their son, Sergeant Noel Duncan Braithwaite, of the 1/9th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. On Wednesday morning, Mr. Braithwaite received a brief letter from Sergeant Henry Stringer conveying the sad news of his friend’s gallant end. In his letter dated June 8th Sergeant Stringer wrote: “I have the sorrowful duty of telling you that Noel, in doing his little bit of a hard task allotted to the Company yesterday, fell in action. Only last Saturday, the 5th we had our first loss in Harry Illingworth, and now Noel and others, including the captain, are lost. Personally, I have lost a dear and near friend, and not only myself but the others of the Parish Company and the Company generally.

The deceased sergeant was only 24 years of age, but he had a wide circle of friends in the town. A man of exceptional intellectual attainments his loss will be keenly felt in many quarters. He received his elementary education at the Parish Church School, and subsequently attended the Secondary School. He decided to study for the scholastic profession, and succeeded in passing the matriculation examination at Victoria University. For a short period, he was on the teaching staff at the Parish Church School. Afterwards he commenced the study of Latin with a view to entering the medical profession, but circumstances prevented a continuance of his studies. Shortly before the war broke out, he became principal of the firm of N. D. Braithwaite and Co. coal merchants, of Park Parade. He threw the whole of his energies into the business and gave promise of developing into a smart commercial man. On mobilisation, Sergeant Braithwaite, who had served six years in the force1, joined his battalion. By his many good qualities the deceased earned the respect of officers and men alike, by whom his death is greatly lamented. Sergeant Braithwaite was a talented amateur actor, and was a member of the Parish Church Operatic Society.

Before going out to Egypt Sergeant Braithwaite contributed several well written articles to the “Herald”, dealing with various subjects.

Sergeant Noel Duncan Braithwaite was killed in action, along with many others of his Company on June 7, 1915. He was just 24 years old. His body was never recovered and so he is commemorated on the Helles Memorial.

The Empire (or Cape Helles) Memorial
Copyright: Harvey Barrison

Additionally, he is commemorated on the Ashton under Lyne civic memorial, Ashton Parish Church Central Sunday School and by Ashton Grammar School.

2/Lt. Ned Stringer’s Letters


107 Burlington St
Sept 4th, 1914

Dear Mr. Stringer,

May I take the liberty of writing what my feelings prevented me giving expression to this morning. I recognize that Egypt may not be your final destination & realising the sacrifices you are making I sincerely hope you may be preserved in health & strength, & whatever be the dangers through which you may be called to pass, or the arduous duties you have to perform, that the only fear you may know, will be the fear of God, in whose care you are.

May your actions stimulate us to make sacrifices in the same cause & remembering you & others before the Lord God of battles, & trusting in the righteousness of our common cause, may we look hopefully, for the time, when in the providence of God, you will be able to return home, to kindred & friends.

Yours Sincerely

G. Butterworth

George Butterworth, 50 years old, was Science Master at Ned’s school, Ashton-under-Lyne Secondary School. Clearly, Ned paid a farewell visit to the school prior for departing for Chesham Fold Camp in Bury.



Chesham Camp
Sunday 6th Sept 1914

Dear Ralph,

The enclosed came in today and as I thought it was an advert, I opened it.  For this I am sorry but Wade suggested it.

We have definite orders to entrain tomorrow at 10:00am and my address will be:

L. Stringer
9th Battalion Manchester Regiment
East Lancashire Division, T.F.

No notice came as to our station though several units have been allotted to such places as Khartoum & Cyprus.

Captain Okell asked me to get to his company if I could and Wade has placed me there.

It feels years already since I left home & I have fallen into camping as if to the manor born.

I hope you are still progressing favourably & that you will soon be fully restored to your health, but do take care & follow all advice.

Ann, I know will now be better. Give her my love & I hope she will bear all her troubles with her usual fortitude.

There is more camp news, J. Broadbent has joined again & comes in as my junior sub. He tells me he was glad to get away especially as his wife is again pregnant. It must have taken some courage to leave her in the circumstances.

From what I hear a second division is to be raised, so you will have a chance when you have fully recovered.

And now, lad, accept all my good wishes. I don’t need to tell you to look after Ann & believe me to be

Your more than brother


Capt. Ralph Lees was taken ill at Chesham Fold camp and had to leave for an operation at the Ashton Infirmary. After he recovered he was appointed Officer Commanding the Depot at the Armoury, Ashton-under-Lyne.



RMSP Aragon
10th Sept 1914

My dear Ralph,

Colonel Wade & the Officers have asked me to again write you and give you their good wishes for a speedy recovery.

We left Bury last night after experiencing a most awful storm. The camp was like a stream & every tent was inches deep. Moreover, we had just examined the men’s equipment & their rifles, great coats, etc. were left out.

The journey here was a pleasant one. We started at 9:40pm & reached here, via Penistone and Nottingham at 9:10am.

I have been on guard and have just had tea. The grub seems very good & we have first class cabins.

The men’s quarters are wretched. They are placed in specially made rooms below. These will be about 6ft 6 high & there is no ventilation to speak of. It already smells like the No 1 cage Belle Vue and they are to sling their hammocks & sleep in the same room.

We depart shortly.

I now give you again my love & best wishes.

Please give it once again to Ann & likewise if you are writing Bert[ha] & Janet, enclose this letter.

May all of you keep well & may we all unite again this year if possible.

I am no sentimentalist as you know but I keenly feel leaving all those whom I so dearly love.

Get well as soon as you can



Love to Bob & Ned
Love to Ernest & Frank
Especial love to all the girls

1. “Bob & Ned” referred to Robert Saunsbury, his brother-in-law married to his sister Janet, and Edward Saunsbury his nephew born in April 1914.
2. “Ernest & Frank” referred to Ernest Kenyon, his brother-in-law married to his sister Bertha (known to him affectionately as “Bert”), and Frank Kenyon his 8-year-old nephew. The Kenyon’s owned a successful rope manufacturing business in Ashton.
3. “The girls” were his three sisters Ann, Janet and Bertha.



RMSP Aragon
14th Sept 1914

My dear Girls,

It feels something of a dream to be out here, off Lisbon in company with 16 other troopships and two men of war. Surely one will wake up & find oneself in bed at Trafalgar Square.

We left Bury as I have told you arriving Southampton last Thursday at 9am. The Aragon left at 11pm and steamed due West to Off Plymouth where the various troopships assembled. This by the way meant a 24 hour wait.

The ships then steered South at six knots for hours in order to allow a collier to travel with us. The Bay of Biscay was rough & the slow speed caused a tremendous amount of sickness. The poor men were bad in their hammocks and below resembled a pigsty.

Needless to say, I was not bad, the only food I missed being a portion of chicken which was thrown violently off my plate, along with sauce, salt & all utensils from the unprotected centre of the table.

This is an A1 boat & we have first class cabins & the grub is as good as any I have ever shuck.

It is not suited to keep us in Bury condition however though we get a considerable amount of physical exercise from 6am onwards.

Three days ago, I was inoculated for enteric. Dr. Douglas, who recognised me, (& I had not known him) as an old Owens pal, carried out the operation. The serum is injected just below the clavicle and patients are sometimes very bad. I got up to breakfast next morning but was very glad indeed to return to bed at 10 & I stayed in bed until dinner. I had no temperature or sign of fever, but the left shoulder felt just as if it had been kicked by a mule.

Yesterday three of us were in charge of the ship’s guard for 24 hours and as soon as the sun set one of the warships signalled that, for some cause, we must proceed with lights out. This we did, but inspection of 22 guards, placed all over the ship from the topmost decks to the armoury in the hold wants a bit of doing. Fortunately, I had managed to procure an electric torch.

We are now off Lisbon & hope to be at Gibraltar tomorrow. It is very hot indeed & we have no thin clothes with us. The only folks well provided for are a corps of Westminster Yeomanry. The officers & men are distinctly class, a Major being Lord Howard de Walden & there are so many honourables that I have not even noticed their names, so you see we are now in classy places.

Good luck to you all & may we have many more happy days together.

Love to each & every one





RMSP Aragon
16th Sept 1914

My dear Ralph,

According to latest information, mails are to be taken off at 11pm tonight so I will add a little to what I have said to Ann.

The journey continues slowly but the hour is now very great & no drill was put on board as anticipated.

I am in very good training. We start with 45 mins good Physical Ex at 6am and the game goes on interspersed with lectures & parades of the men till 6pm.

All the officers send you their kind regards. Major Connery is very anxious to be remembered to you. He has had, or rather is having his troubles. From days ago, he was thrown through a door & fell on his head & side. There is nothing broken but he was very badly hurt & has had to keep to his bed since.

I trust by the time this reaches you that your own trouble will entirely have disappeared.

Please again give my love to Ann & accept some yourself. I seem to miss the daily sight and converse with you two more than anything else. However, we may soon be together again.

Remember me to all at Ashton & believe me to be



We think our destination is Egypt but don’t know for certain yet.



No. 1

9th Batt. Manchester Regt
Kasr-el-Nil Barracks
14 Oct 1914

My dear Girls,

We are now thoroughly settled in our quarters and training is proceeding at a very satisfactory pace.

The officer’s mess is not so satisfactory. It is run by Tipton’s Lad and costs us 6/- per day. The food is not good and when it takes nearly all one’s pay to live a change is required. We are trying a new caterer next week.

The War Dept. of Egypt seems as businesslike as any other military organization. They refuse to treat us financially as if we were other than an army of occupation, which means we draw no field allowances & are actually paid 3 /- per day less than we should draw in England. However, this will have to be altered or we shall see what can be done through parliament.

I don’t know Ralph’s opinion now, but I think we have hold of the wrong end of the stick and I am certain that if both men & officers had known what was in store for them there would have been practically no volunteers for foreign service with the Territorials. Any men who wished to fight would have joined other forces.

In spite of the dissatisfaction, the extremely rigorous training is making everybody extremely smart and we are a vastly improved battalion on our Bury form. At the same time, it hardens one & annoys incidentally to start at 5am, work till 12, then march from 8pm to 12pm, & stand again at 5. This we do twice a week.

Last Saturday I had a drive round with several others & we visited the Citadel of Cairo. This teems with interest, from Joseph’s time to the time when Saladin restored & rebuilt it when military men showed us remains of Napoleon’s cannonade, for he mounted cannon on a mosque 300 yards from the Citadel gate.

Flies, mosquitoes & other things still develop, in fact, I think we have got inoculated to mosquitoes. The barracks is on the Nile & here these pests breed & develop. One day last week my servant & I killed 23 mosquitoes, full of my blood, that had got through a hole in my mosquito net. This comes of buying cheap goods. John Broadbent bought 2 nets at 5 /- each & it is as much as they are worth. My face was blotched & bumpy all over but I carefully pricked each bite & rubbed in carbolic acid. This eased them and they are quite right now.

“Tipton’s lad” was Pte. 2086 Timothy Tipton who joined on August 7, 1914 after having previously served for 4 years in the Territorials. A collier by trade, his father was a builder and so perhaps widely known in Ashton at the time.


No. 2

9th Batt. Manchester Regt
Kasr-el-Nil Barracks
14 Oct 1914

My dear Girls,

I well remember, more years ago than I like to count, a man cleaning our front stones & one day Ann found lice on her which had come from him. Result, the man was discharged. If he had lived in these barracks he would have been rewarded for his cleanliness.

Up to the present I have been spared lice but J.B. [John Broadbent] who shares my room has not. We are having our rooms scrubbed out daily & I think we shall soon be free.

As I sit in the hall writing this, I can see half a dozen lizards running up the walls, I suppose in search of spiders and the like. The sands of the barrack square & the desert are also alive. Here ants are commonest, some very small like our own ants but others quite ¾ of an inch long. The sun may be good, but I cannot say I like its effects as well as I do in England.

We all hope, as I suppose the whole world does, that peace will soon be declared & we can leave this land. Tourists may like it as they live in luxury a short time at Shepheard’s or the Continental but I am entirely cured of any desire I had in the past of living in the East.

Let me know how you all are. I have only had one letter since leaving England. I trust that the improvement in Ralph’s health that Ann mentions continues & that the rest of you are well. Though it is only seven weeks since I left you all it seems long enough & I would give a few shillings for my usual midday meal at home.

However, what is, is & all things come to him who waits, so with the fondest love to you all, believe me to remain

Your loving brother




9th Batt. Manchester Regt
Kasr-el-Nil Barracks
25th Oct 1914

My dear Ann,

Today is Sunday, our rest day which we spend in sight seeing. We have just returned from Barrage a place 10 miles from Cairo where there is a Dam for retaining the Nile floods.

Training here gets quite formal. The men and officers are improving wonderfully and you would scarcely recognise them as the raw party which left Bury.

I am glad Ralph is better and delighted to hear that he is doing useful work at the Armoury. In fact, I read in the Reporter that the battalion saluted our house in their route march.

As normal I want you to do something for me. There are all kinds of rumours as to when we shall leave here, any time being stated up to January. Personally, I don’t think we shall leave for France at all unless things get much worse for England at the front. As this is the case, I feel I should like some clothes. They are expensive & poor here. I know that I shall not be asking too much when I ask you to send my last new suit, 3 shirts, & 6 collars including some new ones.

These will come in about a fortnight and will be very acceptable.

In your last letter you let me know of Tipping’s settlement but did not say what to me is much more important, and that is how you are yourself.

When you next write be sure to tell me this as your health as you know is not what it might have been.

I should like to hear too from Ralph. He is often mentioned in the mess & Major Connery seems especially glad that he had looked after his young son.

Please remember me to Miss Idle & Miss Whitehead & all others. Both officers and men will be delighted to hear from him.

I remain

Your affectionate brother


The reference to Major Connery’s young son is probably a reference to assistance provided by Capt. Lees to Arthur William Field Connery receiving his commission in the battalion after returning home from Argentina.



9th Batt. Manchester Regt
Kasr-el-Nil Barracks
1st Nov 1914

My dear Girls,

We are still quartered here & have no information as to what will be our next move.

Yesterday we learned that Russia had declared war on Turkey and there seems some likelihood of us having trouble here. The Egyptian Army mobilised and it is said that the Dervishes are gathering in the desert near Khartoum. This may or may not be true, but on Thursday night we worked from 11pm to 4am and there were to be no parades on Friday. About 12 an order came from headquarters that no one must leave the barracks until further notice & we are cooped up here like a lot of criminals. Moreover, we have got up a full defence scheme of the barracks & of Cairo. Many Indian troops including camel corps are coming to Cairo, so it seems as if something might happen.

On Saturday we had a divisional route march, all carrying ammunition. The men looked excellent and no one would have imagined that we were a citizen army.

Cairo is a place that grows on one. As I have got to know it better, I like it and now we have got accustomed to the food and heat all is well.

I can imagine Ann here, enjoying herself as is her custom in the summer fly killing. There are millions and millions & the more you try to knock them off your face, the more they return to the attack. The natives seem to take no notice of them at all.

Mosquitoes are not now so bothersome. We seem to have got inoculated & the bites merely appear as red spots now our room too is clean, thanks to daily washing out with IZAL and the use of tons & tons of Keatings.

For food we have porridge, fish & omelets for breakfast, decent meal & cheese for lunch & a quite reasonable dinner. The fruit we get is rather disappointing and fruit is unfortunately the chief vehicle for the conveyance of typhoid.

Letters come here badly & I am sure there must be some on the way, in fact there must be many travelling both ways. Up to the time of writing I have received 4 only so if you receive several from me in a bunch don’t be surprised.

I hope to be with you all at Christmas but don’t think it possible now unless the war suddenly collapses which seems unlikely.

Let me know how you all are from time to time, don’t blame me for not sending more items of interest – there are none here – and believe me to remain

Your loving brother


For Ralph Ernest & Bob:

Beer very dear & bad. 1/- 3d per bottle
Whisky good. Usual brands. 2/- 6d per bottle
Soda Eng. 6d per bottle. Native 1d

Too warm to drink before sundown.

Cigarettes good. Cigars rotten

1. IZAL disinfectant was manufactured by Newton, Chambers and Company, Ltd. of Sheffield.
2. Keating’s Powder was used to kill bugs & fleas.
3. Ralph, Ernest & Bob were Ned’s three brothers-in-law.



Kasr-el-Nil Barracks
22nd Nov 1914

My dear Girls,

Since I last wrote to you there seems to have been no change in the military situation in Europe. Cairo is very quiet, but North of Suez we are at present in touch with the Turkish troops.

Along with my Company, I spent last week under canvas on the desert at Abassia where there are shooting ranges. I did not exactly qualify as a marksman though practice may rectify this.

It is very hot still during the day, but at night, on the desert it gets bitterly cold, in fact, almost freezing. These extremes are causing much sickness & make Egypt an ideal place for pneumonia.

Tomorrow we are going into the desert towards Memphis in a three days trek. We carry all our food & water with us, bivouac in the desert, and I anticipate, generally have a rotten time.

Much fun has been caused by the letters which appear in the Reporter. Wade played Hamlet with Shaw & Wood because their people had been foolish enough to let the Reporter man see their letters, & then to crown all one of his own appears via Brownson.

It is also amusing to read the lies told by some of our men about shooting Arabs, etc. These descendants of Munchausen have been unmercifully chaffed by their messmates that I think the punishment fits the crime.

As a battalion we are receiving a tremendous amount of unwelcome attention from the brigade staff. The Brigadier seems to have made a dead set at the 9th, and I feel sorry for Wade. He is so worried that he is getting nervy and completely out of sorts. These are the times when I feel there is a not inconsiderable advantage in being a junior sub.

The hard graft is unsettling many others. Hilton has been in bed this week & Egbert Howorth is so ill that he has been sent to Helwan for a few days.  He has been ill now for a month & does not seem able to get well.

Personally, I am fit & full of energy. I can march with the best and after a hard day’s tramp frequently play ten sets of tennis; and from this I feel less discomfort than I did at twenty.

Since writing the first two pages I have made arrangements for food for the trek. We shall have bread and bully beef the first day, & the second & third days bully beef and biscuits. We are also taking a large quantity of cheese. Not such a masonic banquet, is it? Still, we keep on keeping on, and like hard labour it does one a power of good.

I am getting to the end of my paper and must therefore conclude by again wishing you all everything that is good. I am afraid I shall not be home by Christmas but I assure you that you are never out of the thoughts of

Your loving brother


Major Arthur Hilton was the battalion’s Medical Officer. He died in Egypt on March 4, 1915. Ned and Major Hilton both belonged to the Minerva Masonic Lodge in Ashton.



Kasr-el-Nil Barracks
2nd Dec 1914

My dear Ann,

I received your parcel today. Everything was quite in order including the chocolates for which I thank you most kindly. It was quite characteristic of you and brought home to me most vividly the innumerable little kindnesses which you were daily doing for me when I was at home.

We have had a rather rough though enjoyable week since I last wrote you. Our Company was ordered to go on a trek in the desert, and we departed carrying what we could on the backs of 12 camels. We managed to put in our valises and sleeping bags with one blanket each for the men. At night when we bivouacked, we dug a hole in the ground and nestled together. For food we took tinned meat, tinned jam, biscuits, cheese & butter. Bread was only taken for one day as it does not keep & we also had water for one day and a plentiful supply of tea,

As usual we forgot to look after officer’s canteens and we were forced to cut our own food up with our knives & drink out of empty condensed milk tins.

After the first day we were only able to get filtered Nile water & I disgusted our cooks by making them boil this for half an hour before making tea.

The desert in the day is extremely hot but at night it grows so cold as to freeze. No rain had fallen since we arrived in Egypt but we got it the first night and as we lay there was a regular downpour. This did not affect me in the slightest but I am sorry to say that Frank Hamer at once began to complain of pain in the side and since we returned, he has developed pleurisy and is now at the Citadel Hospital, doing as well as can be expected. Nearly every other officer has been ill though we were the only Company to go on the trek. Egbert Howorth has had a complete breakdown. He is now at Helwan and seems making a slight improvement, though he was very much down in the dumps when I saw him last Sunday. Another officer, Cooke is in hospital with scarlet fever & Hilton & Wade have also been ill. Up to now I have not been on the list.

We are making arrangements for 20,000 troops from Australia and shall shortly leave here for Abassia where we shall start Divisional training.

I should like Ralph to get out, when he has time, how much it has cost him to replace the many things I took from his kit and reimburse himself from any money which may come in for me.

Your last letter seems quite cheerful and I am glad of it.

I intend having my photograph taken as soon as I can get out and will let you all have one for Christmas. It seems funny to talk of Christmas with the sun blazing hot at mid-day but it is quite on the cards by six o’ clock. It is this extreme variation of temperature which is giving us much trouble.

There is no real news here of the war, for what we get in the papers is obviously cooked. It seems to me the 9th will be a long time before it gets into action, though the trains of wounded which come in from time to time prove to us that fighting is going on not far away in Sinai.

Keep up your spirits old girl and look after yourself. You can rest assured I am now quite capable of looking after myself. Give my love to Ralph and the girls – may we all meet soon – and believe me to remain

Your loving brother


P.S. I learn that we shall be at Abassia Barracks for Christmas, so address any letters.

9th Batt. Man Reg.



Kasr-el-Nil Barracks
6th Dec 1914

My dear Girls,

I wish you all at home a most happy Christmas.

I hoped to be home with you but instead shall spend the holiday on Divisional Training. The 9th has been allotted the main Barracks, Abassia, Cairo and we take over next Monday. These quarters are no improvement on our present ones. The rooms are unfurnished, and the men will have to sleep on the floor. I don’t suppose they will mind a bit – they seem to be able to do anything now.

I learn from letters from Ashton that I have been ill and am being invalided home. This may be sarcastic, but I don’t like it as I think I have the cleanest bill of health of all the officers.

You will be pleased to learn that Frank Hamer has completely recovered from his illness. He returned from hospital last Monday and seems thoroughly himself again.

I hoped to get a photograph taken for you for Christmas, but have not had time up to now. As soon as possible I will have one taken.

The things enclosed are worked by natives in the bazaars. I saw one of the trays finished and it is quite interesting to see the men inlay the silver.

Ralph, Ernest & Bob must wait till I can find anything for them, but I give them my heartiest good wishes. Ned will have to wait also. They don’t seem to do anything for children here but manufacture them, and in this they are distinctly successful.

The table centres I hope you will like. The small things I took after debating on the price in a manner Egyptian, for discount.

We know nothing of our future work but whatever I get, and whatever may happen, I hope you will all enjoy yourselves as much as you can, and 1915 may see us all reunited in one happy family.

Again, Good Luck to you all





Abassia Main Barracks
26th Dec 1914

My dear Ralph,

I got your most welcome news of Ann two days ago. It was rather funny. Two letters form you came in the same batch & I read the one in which you said she was convalescent first. The house must have resembled a hospital, but I think that you were wise in employing a nurse.

We finish our brigade training on Wednesday and return to Kasr-el-Nil on Thursday. The training has been extremely hard as we have had a march of from 5 to 7 miles each day to the rendezvous. Much improvement has been shown by all units, but there still remains in my opinion great room for far more.

On Christmas Day we gave the men a good feed. The Mayor sent £80 and we gave them a good do. The men thoroughly enjoyed themselves and there were very few sober when the job was completed. It seemed to do them good to let themselves go and all were becoming a bit stale with the continuous training. Today sports are being held for the Military and we should put up a decent show at them.

I am very sorry that you seem so unsettled at the Armoury, but you have the consolation that no one in this war has a bed of roses. Goodness knows we have enough to do and quite as much as we are physically capable of, and in addition to this there is nothing but harassing criticism from the brigade staff.

Wade sprained a muscle in his leg last week while running after a mule that had broken loose and he has had to be up for some days. I think he is now fairly on the way towards recovery.

The State Express Cigarettes arrived safely on Xmas Eve. They were good and I much appreciate them.

I do hope Ann will take care of herself now that she is on the way to recovery. No doubt she is worried about things in general but rest will do her the most good. I trust that she will soon be able to carry on as usual.

You seem to have had some trouble with Tipping’s affairs. Don’t bother about these things please. They can wait for some time at any rate. If the Promissory Note is of any value, you will find it on the right-hand drawer of my dressing table. Ann has my keys.

As regards what will happen to us, I cannot give you any information. We are, I think, where we shall stay for some time, if not to the end of the war. There are 30,000 Australian troops in Cairo. They are men of fine physique but seem to be almost undisciplined. These will, in my opinion, be sent on to the front when they have finished training and we shall remain.

Of course, we are seeing something of the war from the Bedouin & Turkish forces. A fortnight ago an engineer officer & seven men who crossed with us on the Aragon and who were quartered at Kasr-el-Nil, were all killed by an explosion on the Suez Canal. We only know if their deaths and no explanation of the manner in which they died is forthcoming.

The news which we get is very poor and unreliable. The papers are always stating that great victories have been achieved and correcting the news the next day, so that we don’t know where we are.

Last Sunday part of the battalion – in which I was included – took part in the ceremony of annexation of Egypt when the Khedive was deposed & Sultan Hassan placed in the throne. It was not much of a ceremony but historically very important and nice to be at.

You don’t say in your letter how you are keeping yourself. I trust you have had no return of your trouble and that you are now quite well.

Give Ann my love. I often think of you both & wish I were back in peaceful Ashton. I feel well, keep very fit indeed, and don’t altogether dislike soldiering.

I again wish you all the good things I can & remain

Yours as ever




Abassia Barracks
29th Jany 1915

My dear Ralph,

I was delighted to receive your letter of the 10th yesterday.

With regard to the business portion. I apologize for, & at the same time heartily thank you for the trouble you have taken for me, and you have just done what I should have suggested if on the spot. The result of the half year’s divi is excellent & I hope all participants realise as well as I do, how much they have to thank Ann for this. I enclose the signed form & hope you will carry on your suggestion of transfer of cash.

I suppose we finished our divisional training yesterday. It has been decidedly trying. On one day we travelled over 26 miles of sand & stones to & from the maneuvering ground, & the next day over 20 – that is those who were left, for the men had to fall out by the score & one of the 5th [Manchesters] died the same night of heart failure. Things now seem to have been a steadier & last week’s work has been fairly easy.

We go under canvas tomorrow at Heliopolis, a few miles from Cairo, in readiness I think for rapid transit to the Suez Canal if we are required. Some of our division, the 7th Fusiliers are there now, and our artillery was in action two days ago, so that things are getting lively. All officers throughout the training carry their equipment & carry rifles, so that with revolvers, etc. we shall be able to give a Standout Exhibition on our return and I think one and all have had quite sufficient of military life.

You will be sorry to hear that Archbutt is in hospital suffering with gall stones. I don’t think he will see much more service & he seems to be ageing rapidly.

There are many more things I wish to tell you when I have time & I am now waiting to hand over the barracks to the 10th, so I have enough in hand.

Be sure to draw from my a/c the money I owe to you for kit, etc. Don’t forget this.

Tell Ann how glad I am she is on the improve & no one will be more glad to return home than I will.



P.S. Hope you enjoyed the St. John.

1. Ned’s father died in 1900 leaving £5,277 to his widow, daughters Ann and Bertha, and Son Ned. It would appear that some or all of this money was invested and paid a bi-annual dividend.

2. Major William Henry Archbutt suffered a heart attack and died in Egypt on February 8, 1915 after a short stay in hospital.



Heliopolis Camp
1st Feb 1915

My dear Ann,

Your letter arrived today and I was not surprised to hear that Jack had joined the Lancers. What I don’t like about the job is his manner of going. I really don’t know what to suggest as the best course, for I do not know details, but I fear that his affairs must have got in a bad state indeed. Do not excite yourself and above anything else, don’t throw away money needlessly for the benefit of wholesale firms with whom an arrangement can be made. In fact, I should let Ethel & the Staffords take the matter in hand and you and Ralph keep out of it. I wish I were home to do something myself.

There may be enough to pay all his debts, at least there should be except amounts owing to his wife’s relatives & us & I think the splitting up of that home was certain to come sooner or later.

Jack has never written to me. I think even with his easy-going temperament he feels at times a trifle ashamed. Doubtless soldiering will suit him, for the existence is easy when the physical fatigue is taken out. At any rate, he has shown some pluck in joining the army & it is much better than if he had just disappeared.

Today’s paper tells of submarine raids near Liverpool & we seem to be a long way from Tipperary yet. At the same time, I should not be surprised if things collapsed rapidly as soon as our armies can begin the advance.

The weather here is lovely at present. Rather unpleasantly hot in the day time – about 90o – and I think that summer on the desert, as we are at present, will be almost unbearable.

Ralph seemed more cheerful in his last letter & I hope he will go on taking things as they come & not all he can as he always does. You sound better yourself and must take all the care you can. Get away as much as you can. The half year divi was splendid & to think that this income has been frittered away by Jack makes me angry. Still, I suppose one cannot keep money & spend it.

Give my love to all my friends & relatives & keep as much as you are able to yourself. All things will come out right in the end if we have luck.

Goodbye, I think of you often & often both during the night & the day & pray that you may soon get back your health & strength.



“Jack” is Ned and Ann’s youngest brother John James Stringer. Jack married Sarah Ethel Stafford in 1911 and evidently the marriage had its issues. Jack joined the 17th Lancers and first deployed overseas to France on September 30, 1915. He survived the war but his marriage did not.



Heliopolis Camp
4th Mar 1915

My dear Ann,

Your letter arrived yesterday and I am extremely glad to learn that you have been able to stand the very trying time that must have undergone.

I hope Ralph is not sent out here. His great determination and strength of mind, which he has especially shown since war broke out, would carry him a long way, but Egypt is no place to send a man in the hot season. OKell wishes to stop now and of course you will know whether the change has to take place before you receive this.

Poor Albert Hilton, as you know, died yesterday and we have buried him in the English cemetery at Old Cairo today. He has not shown any sign of improvement since we left England but has had many days of sickness from time to time. Last Sunday he went to the Canal battlefield, returned to Camp about midnight & on Monday he was taken with what was thought to be enteric fever. He was removed to hospital on Wednesday and he died Thursday from meningitis, so that his old complaint claimed him at last. I shall miss him much as he & I have been very pally since we came here & such men cannot be replaced.

As regards other things, the socks have given general delight to all the men with the exception of Golightly. I have told him three times to call for them & he has not yet been. I need sincerely say that, unless he has a good explanation to give, he will get no socks.

Jack has written me. He said nothing of his affairs at home. I know Ernest will deal well with matters and the loss must go by the board. We must not be then skinned & foolish but let matters take their course for this job would have come on with or without the war.

As regards school matters, do not excite yourself more than you can & remember this, no loss is sufficient to cause any one on earth to weaken in any degree the frail hold which we have on life. Let things go on & ask Ernest & Bob to act for you if Ralph is away. They will manage things.

Now Ann you seem to be bearing up well. Keep on and we shall all pull through. If Ralph is not with you, give him my love & all the good wishes I can express. For myself I am very well but I shall be glad to again see you all.

Believe me, dear Ann, to remain

Your loving brother


1. Captain OKell’s first and only son died after a few months of life in early 1915 without OKell ever having seen him. He struggled to deal with this and was eventually invalided from Gallipoli to England suffering from a mental breakdown. The reference in this letter is the first indication of the mental strain he was under.

2. “Golightly” is Pte. 1345 Eric Golightly.



Shepheard’s Hotel
11th April 1915

My dear Ann,

I was very pleased to hear this morning that Ralph has been given another job and is not coming to Egypt. Your letter, along with one from Ralph reached Camp yesterday & I am sure that neither you nor he will be sorry that he is to remain in England.

We are under orders to move to the Canal and we expect to go in a day or two. The Turks are again massing & we are to occupy the defending trenches. This is not a pleasant prospect for summer, for today it is 83o F in the shade & the sun feels to burn one up.

I still keep well & wish I could have a weekend with you all.

Ernest has written me & he seems to be fairly worried to death with ill health, Jack’s business & other things. I am sorry I cannot be present to give a hand at arranging things, for it seems a great deal for Ernest to tackle alone, although I am sure things could not have been put in better hands.

There is little news here to tell either about the war or anything else. Training still goes on; we march up the hill & down again daily & sleep out on the desert from time to time. I enjoy greatly, in a manner, the outdoor life, but it feels nice on Sundays to come to this hotel & do oneself well just for a change.

Food is good here & something like one gets in England & there are few flies. In Camp there are so many of these now that life is almost unbearable.

I hope you are feeling better though your letter shows me that you are not so grand. You must keep up, whatever happens, as well as you possibly can. Ralph will doubtless get an opening with the new 3rd Batt. I hope he gets his Majority for this he fully deserves. Now that he is not coming here, tell him how glad I am, for I am convinced that he would never have been able to stand the terrible heat without a gradual toasting such as we have had.

Remember me to Miss Idle & Miss Whitehead. At any rate you are blessed with friends to give you kindly help while we are away. Don’t worry & let matters take their course & believe me all will be well in the end.

Au revoir, I wish I were just coming in for my Sunday dinner. Good Luck to you both & believe me to remain

Yours as ever




28 Apl 1915

Dear Ann,

We are now really on active service and – why I don’t know but it is an army order – we have on no account to disclose our position.

I may say however that apart from the risks of a bullet the place is much healthier & cooler than Cairo was. Our work is lighter, and I feel much less compunction in facing the summer heat than I did before.

We are living on men’s rations plus some imported tinned goods and I think this is better than eating so much a la stuff from a caterer. At any rate, it suits me & I feel as well now as I ever did in my life.

I received a letter from Ernest a few days ago. He deserves our many thanks, for he seems to have worked well in the interests of us all – Good luck to him.

Bertha says on a p/c that they have been with Janet & Bob and seemingly had a nice time; but the most welcome thing she says is that you are better in health. I am glad of it – let the good work go on apace.

In yesterday’s orders it stated that Ralph had landed in Egypt and would forthwith join us. How the error arose I can’t make out, but during my temporary absence from the mess, bets were freely exchanged, settlement following when I appeared on the scene. I do hope his health is better but from what Harold Hyde & Frank Marland have written me I doubt it. I did hope his operation would have made a wonderful difference but doubtless his many worries have upset him. At least he has the good wishes of all.

Now Ann don’t worry. We are all in the lap of the gods & can take anything that comes however unforeseen. I think of you many times a day & very often in our dark lonely night vigils but all will come out right. Believe me to remain

Yours as ever




2nd May 1915

Dear Ann,

We have not had a very long stay on the Canal. The Turks have retreated again towards El Arish and I think they will be some time before they again attack the Canal.

This must also be the view of the authorities for we are on the move again. This time we go somewhere near the Dardanelles & I suppose our experiences of this terrible war will get worse & worse. However, we can only hope for the best but many must be left behind in Turkey. We have no use for many things and the amount of luggage we are allowed is decidedly limited, so that I thought it best to send home my mufti & other goods.

I am glad Ralph is not here. Food & water are bad. The best food is tinned stuff & our water is got in canals from the Nile & filtered. Needless to say, the health of the men is fair only & to add to our discomfort there are millions & millions of flies. I don’t think our new move will make us any worse from a health standpoint.

My letters will now be few & far between but if anybody gets through, I think I shall.

I suppose I am suffering from a bit of home sickness, but I should so like to see you all once again. Still, this cannot be and I give you all my best wishes & love from the far-off desert. I have had a rough time since I left you all, but all things have only brought home to me our mutual love which will continue to the end of time.

Good luck to you all & may we meet again soon.

Believe me, dear Ann, to remain

Yours as ever




Mediterranean Expeditionary Force
May 28, 1915

My Dear Bert,

Your welcome letter arrived today and as I am “resting”, so called, I have time to reply. We have been three weeks here & during this time I have lived many lives. We saw a bit of fighting on the Canal and then came on here. As we arrived, we found the whole British fleet in action and hundreds of guns replying. I never realised how real Belle Vue fireworks were but this bombardment which I suppose is the biggest that has happened in the history of the world was terrible.

At any rate the army is now well fixed up on land. When we landed, we were heavily shelled & an old South African soldier said he had seen more shells aimed at us in 10 mins than he saw in the whole South Africa war.

We advanced and occupied trenches and all through the night realised what rifle and maxim fire was. Later, we dug ourselves in the earth and then lived in dug-outs in the earth for some days. At last, we occupied the firing line & at the end of five days when we could not sleep, my company was given the job of making an advance. Each man took a pick and shovel and we rushed out in front and began to dig a trench 150 yards forward. We of course got head cover as soon as we could and by 2am were fairly well established though machine guns tried their best to remove our cover and get us at all points. We struck a spring about 3am and the water got above our knees and to add to our discomfort a heavy storm broke over us.

We worked on however, as only men who fear the worst can and they could not relieve us until 3pm next day. During those 30 hours I lived a lifetime and the feeling came that anything was preferable to a continuance of things. Now in the rest camp in delightful sunshine by the sea in a country resembling Marple things seem brighter.

Of our many casualties and trials, I will say nothing but I think all actually fighting & realising what war is, want peace – peace with honour but not too unbending an attitude.

Of the many thousands of England’s best lives lost I say nothing but no one can realise what privations men on service have to go through.

Give my love to all & may we meet sometime again.

This serves as a reply to all letters. As regards business matters, they must go by the board. I am in agreement with any action taken. Money matters so little now that it might not exist at all.

Again, I give you all my love & hope to meet you again before very long.

Ever Yours, dear Bert


Tell Ann the paper may be a bit faded before I see Trafalgar Square.



—— Reg
Mediterranean Expeditionary Force
June 7, 1915

Dear Ralph,

It is my painful duty to inform you that Ned was killed in action on the evening of 7th inst.

On the morning of the 7th our Co. was ordered to charge the enemy & clear them out of two trenches in front of the firing line.

On the left were other troops not belonging to our Bn. who had a similar task to perform.

Capt. Hamer and Wade were to charge one trench and Ned & I the other trench.

I was posted a little to the left to give the signal for the advance.

I gave the signal shortly after 7:30 and with a mighty cheer our troops advanced.

Immediately the enemy opened a terrific rifle and maxim fire but Ned & I succeeded in reaching the trench. Unfortunately, the enemy were able to open enfilade fire which made the trench absolutely untenable.

We had to retire but only about four of us succeeded in doing so to safety.

Hamer and Wade were subject to cross fire and poor Hamer fell before he had reached the trench. Wade succeeded in capturing the trench and held it until about 2 in the morning. I was of [the] opinion that this trench would be enfiladed as soon as dawn came and ordered the men to vacate the trench.

All the Bn was shocked at the terrible news. Ned had made himself a favourite with the men and also with his brother officers.

We all send to you our deepest sympathy.

I may add that we had 18 or 19 killed and 25 wounded out of 120.

I will write you again in a few days’ time.

I am

Yours very Sincerely

G. H. Okell, Capt.

A slightly edited version of this letter was published in the Ashton Report on June 26, 1915. This is the original unedited version.



Mediterranean Expeditionary Force
July 30, 1915

We got the order to attack two saps leading to a gully, about 7 o’ clock pm and we were to attack at 7:30. There was no time for preliminaries, and I never saw Noel after about 6:30. The Company moved to position, and I was ordered to go down the sap which lay on the left with my cousin Ned and his men. This sap met the other sap to be taken, in the gully. Both saps and gully were occupied by Turks, and we were informed that another party was to clear the gully before we attacked. This attack was not successful, and led to our heavy casualties. Capt. Hamer, Lt. Wade, and Noel’s men, and Joe Harrop’s men, went over the top and stormed the other trench across the open. We had just to nip over the parapet into our sap, one after another. Ours seemed an easy job, but a little lower down it turned out a bit of a death trap, and when I got to the bottom, after stepping over one or two, and passing out one or two wounded, cousin Ned, who was then hit in the shoulder, ordered us back. A maxim gun was firing up the sap out of the gully, and another was firing up the other sap, and of course the two fires crossed at the bottom. Out of those who got past the cross fire, only two: Eaton and a chap called Kenna, returned unhurt out of nearly twenty. I came out immediately Ned ordered me back, as there was no more cover near, and to tell the truth I don’t know how I managed without being hit.

It was some time before the other sap was opened to the trench, and I was able to obtain any information of the remainder. They had fared very little better than our party, and as there were more of them, they had too, a good number of hits. Amongst those who had failed to gain the small cover afforded was Noel. Where he was in the charge I don’t know, except that he was on the left of the Captain. And now the only thing that has worried me is this. We have not been able to recover any of the killed, and we don’t know whether they are still lying in the open or not. I should like to have seen them decently buried, but it is out of the question now, unfortunately, and it will be impossible to get any article from their clothing to send home.

From our point of view the object to be gained, was the thing, and although only partially successful, the Turks have not ventured there since, so I understand.

[237 CQMS Henry Stringer]

1244 Sgt. Walter Steuart Eaton. Discharged to commission in 1917.
1389 Pte. Charles Kenna. Discharged in 1916 no longer fit for active duty.
1125 Sgt. Noel Duncan Braithwaite. KiA June 7, 1915.
1126 Sgt. Joseph Cox Harrop. Discharged to commission in 1917.




9th Dec, 1915

Dear Cousin Ann,

I received your welcome letter on 4th Nov two days ago, and saw Potter yesterday, and he showed me a letter from his sister informing him that you had kindly called and paid the £4. Potter wishes me to thank you very much for your kindness in the matter.

Ned certainly had a deal of money with him when we were knocked about in June. Before we went into action, he asked me to pay his servant what he owed him, and said he had several pounds in his pocket. From that day to this, we have not been able to approach the spot where most of the men lie, and only a short time ago I sent a Sgt to the place to make enquiries, but no results came. We have a rumour that the bodies of several have been recovered and buried, but we can get no definite news from the troops now occupying that position of the line. It is possible that at one place a few bodies could have been recovered, as a new sap has been dug, but Ned was not in that neighbourhood. I shall persist in my enquiries, because in addition to Ned, I must try to find something of Noel Braithwaite and some of the others whose mothers have written to me for information.

I sincerely trust that Jack will come through safely. It’s a terrible war, and few families now are not touched by it. However, we are fighting for home, and for those who are dear to us, and not least of all, for those who are coming after us, and we must bear all to win through in the end.

All at Colwyn seem to keep pretty well, and I have sent your kind remembrances along. By this time, it is possible mother has been over in Ashton. The last letter I had said she was thinking of coming over, and if so, I hope you have seen her.

All of us out here fully recognise the good work Ralph has done, and the draft men all speak highly of him, and this in spite of his superior officer, who seems very well known and is disliked indeed. I am sorry his illness still keeps a hold on him, and I am afraid his quality of being a glutton at the good work he is doing, won’t help him much. He does too much and I should certainly like him to be in the pink to welcome us home, which he will not be if he insists on taking too much work on his hands. Can’t you get him away on leave for a month?

The sooner we get compulsion, the better it will be, and I for one would like to see a few Stamford Street M.N.C. out here, just to tame them a bit, and let them realize what life really means.

The old officers still decline, and of those who were in the Battalion before mobilization only Major Connery and Capt. Woodhouse are left.

Major Connery wishes to be remembered kindly to Ralph and yourself.

With kindest regards, and best wishes for Christmas and the coming year.

Yours Very Truly

H. Stringer



These letters and personal papers have been transcribed from originals held at the Imperial War Museum.  They are provided here under Non Commercial Use License and remain the copyright of the IWM.

They are catalogued here at the IWM but note that they are misnamed and somewhat inaccurately described.

Private Sam Littleford, DCM

Samuel Littleford was born on June 19, 1888 in Ashton under Lyne to William and Bridget Littleford (née Philburn). William Littleford was a former Royal Marine who, as a young man, served aboard HMS Falcon during the Anglo-Egyptian War of 1882 and was awarded the Khedive’s Bronze Star campaign medal. Upon his return and discharge he married Bridget Philburn in Ashton under Lyne in early 1884. They went on to have nine children, six of whom survived into adulthood.

Samuel Littleford was the oldest of four sons, (brothers William, John and James), his two sisters, (Mary Ellen and Alice Ann), being the oldest and youngest children respectively. Samuel’s brother William joined the 3rd Volunteer Battalion, the Manchester Regiment in 1907 when he turned 17. In April 1908 the Haldane reforms resulted in the 3rd Volunteer Battalion being dissolved and the men became the founding members of the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment, Territorial Force. Sam Littleford joined his brother in the 9th Battalion on or just before November 1, 1910 and by 1911 Samuel was living with his parents and five brothers and sisters in Ashton and was employed as a general labourer at the Ashton Gas Company, the same as his father.

Private Sam Littleford, D.C.M.

At the outbreak of war, the 9th Battalion, Manchester Regiment was mobilised and on August 20, 1914 they marched into Chesham Fold Camp, Bury. Throughout August around 100 new recruits were added, many of whom had previously served with the battalion in the pre-war years. On September 1, 1914 another 100+ men were added, many of whom were friends and family of the existing members of the battalion. On Wednesday September 9 the battalion entrained to Southampton and at midnight the following day sailed for Egypt. In Egypt the men were drilled, trained and worked hard to build fitness and endurance.

The battalion landed at Gallipoli under shell fire on Sunday May 9, 1915 and at that time Sam Littleford was a 26-year-old Private. Three days later, his daughter Edith was born in Ashton, the product of an over amorous goodbye to his fiancé Mary Lizzie Barber.

Since there is no surviving service record, or mention of him in either official Gallipoli records or local newspaper articles regarding his time on the peninsula, there are no specific details to relate of the actions and events he was directly involved in there.

When he attested in 1910, he would have agreed to serve for four years and also to extend that period, for not more than 12 months, in case of imminent national danger or great emergency. Consequently, he became “time-expired” in Egypt, served another 12 months in Egypt and Gallipoli and by November 1915 he was eligible to be discharged after time served. In fact, he did not return to Ashton until late May 1916 but when he did so he was immediately discharged from the Territorial Force.

On June 3, 1916 the London Gazette announced the King’s Birthday Honours: “His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the undermentioned rewards for Distinguished Service in the Field, dated 3rd June, 1916”. And along with the Military Cross awarded to Major M.H. Connery, three Distinguished Service Medals for the 1/9th Battalion Manchester Regiment were announced:

1792 L./C. A. Davis, 9th Bn., Manch. R. (T.F.)
1623 Sjt. J. Greenhalgh, 9th Bn., Manch. R. (T.F.)
1083 Pte. S. Littleford, 9th Bn., Manch. R. (T.F.)

The Ashton Reporter interviewed Sam but he was frustratingly non-committal on what he had done to deserve the award, in part because he had not yet received any official word or explanation himself. Instead, he told the Reporter that he preferred to “wait and see” rather than speculate since “a good many things happened whilst he was on the Gallipoli Peninsula”.

Seventeen days later the D.C.M. citation was published in the Gazette:

1083 Pte. S. Littleford, 9th Bn., Manch. R., T.F.

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

The annotated listing does not convey much more but the long forgotten administrative code at the bottom shows that his award was separate from those of the other two 9th Manchester recipients who received their D.C.M.s for the small action on December 19, 1915.

Sam Littleford's Annotated D.C.M. Citation

The citation is somewhat ambiguous in that it does not specify whether the bomb was thrown into the trench by the Turks or was dropped by an Allied bomb-thrower, and since he does not appear on any official casualty list the date of the event cannot be ascertained. But one thing is for certain, picking up a lighted bomb and attempting to throw it out of the trench before it wounded or killed anyone, rather than simply diving for cover, was an incredibly brave and selfless act.

Less than a month later, on July 12, 1916, Sam was Mentioned in Despatches when the London Gazette published the list of names of men mentioned for distinguished and gallant services rendered during the period of General Sir Charles Monro’s Command of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force.

Back in Ashton, Sam and his younger brother William had both been discharged from the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment for time expired and were back in civilian life. Their younger brother John Littleford had joined the 1/5th Royal Welch Fusiliers as a Drummer and was undergoing basic training in the UK. As long time Territorials and coming, as they did, from a military family, Sam and William were unwilling to sit out the war without serving further and so sometime in late 1916 they both re-joined the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment and Sam finally married his fiancé Mary Lizzie Barber who was now expecting their second child.

In early 1917, Sam and William were part of a small block of 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment men who were transferred to the 1/5th Battalion Manchester Regiment, who had deployed to France, from Egypt, in March 1917.

John Littleford, with the 1/5th Royal Welch Fusiliers, was onboard the Troop Transport Transylvania when she was torpedoed on her way to Egypt on May 4, 1917 but he was rescued and went on to serve in Italy and France. In June 1917, William was wounded in action and after he recovered joined the 21st Battalion Manchester Regiment, fighting in Italy for 10 months between November 1917 and September 1918, when they returned to France. Sam Littleford was himself wounded in action in France on March 21, 1918. Sam and William both transferred to the 12th Battalion Manchester Regiment and on October 6, 1918 William was gassed and killed in France. The Ashton Reporter of December 7, 1918 noted that Sam’s brother John was on sick leave at the Mechanics Institute, Ashton while his youngest brother Jim was serving in the RAF, having joined in November 1917.

Sam’s father William Littleford died in February 1919. Sam was demobilised in early 1919 and, true to form, his third child, May Littleford, was born in late 1919. On February 18, 1921 Sam’s fourth and final child, John Littleford, was born. But Sam’s brother John Littleford, who had been invalided out of the Army suffering from Tuberculosis, and living with his mother and younger sister at the family home in Ashton, died from the disease later that year on October 22, 1921.

Sam’s older sister, Mary Ellen, died in October 1925 and his youngest, and last surviving, brother James Littleford died on June 9, 1934 in an industrial accident at work. Tragedy struck again in October 1938 when his youngest daughter, May Littleford, died of liver failure at just 18 years of age. By the following year Sam was living with his wife and three children in Ashton and was an unemployed labourer. He died the following year, on February 22, 1940 and is buried in the family grave at Dukinfield Cemetery, Tameside. Samuel Littleford, D.C.M. was just 51 years old.

Lance-Corporal Stanley Pearson, DCM

Stanley Pearson was born on June 18, 1882 in Ashton under Lyne to George and Helen Rachel Pearson (née Ormond). He was the middle of three children with an older sister Ellen and younger sister May. George Pearson was working as a Colliery Manager when Stanley was born but by 1891, he had started a business as a Coal Merchant. He was also commissioned in the militia and by 1894 was an honorary Major in the 4th Volunteer Battalion, the Cheshire Regiment, based at Stockport.

By 1901 Stanley was 18 years old and working as a clerk in his father’s coal business and George Pearson was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel and made commanding Officer of the 4th Volunteer Battalion, the Cheshire Regiment. Around this time Stanley joined his father’s battalion and went on to serve 12 years before leaving. George Pearson resigned his commission in 1904 retaining the rank of Colonel and became active in the volunteer movement in Stalybridge.

Lance-Corporal Stanley Pearson, D.C.M.

By 1911 Stanley Pearson was employed as a salesman in his father’s business and was living with his parents, younger sister, (who was just about to be married), and a domestic servant. The business had evolved from retail, (Coal Merchant), to wholesale and George Pearson gave his profession as a “Coal Factor” and started to travel more. On January 4, 1912 Stanley Pearson married Mary Ann Mills and they made their home on Stanley Street, Newton Heath, west of Ashton under Lyne. A little over a year later, on May 6, 1913, their son George Stanley Pearson was born, four days after the death of his grandfather George Pearson. And the day before George Stanley Pearson’s 1st birthday his grandmother died.

Shortly after the outbreak of war, Stanley joined the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment, Territorial Force as a Private (2148) on Tuesday September 1, 1914 at Ashton. At least one hundred men attested this day, and at that time the intent was for the battalion to take the most experienced and able-bodied men, deferring the others until later in the month, as they knew they were shortly to leave for overseas. Thomas and the others quickly joined the battalion at Chesham Fold Camp in Bury and a week later they entrained for Southampton and boarded HMS Aragon, leaving at midnight September 10, bound for Egypt.

In Egypt the men were drilled, trained and worked hard to build their fitness and endurance. Additionally, the old eight Company model (A-H) was replaced with a four Company model (A-D), 4 platoons in each Company and 4 sections in each platoon. The battalion landed at Gallipoli under shell fire on Sunday May 9, 1915 and at that time Stanley Pearson was a 32-year-old Private with “A” Company.

On August 8, at the start of the Battle of Krithia Vineyard, the battalion went into the trenches and Stanley Pearson was a freshly promoted Lance-Corporal. “A” and “B” Companies with the (125th) Fusilier Brigade, and “C” and “D” Companies with the (127th) Manchester Brigade. 2/Lt. Oliver Jepson Sutton took two platoons of “A” company up to the firing line and was almost immediately wounded. Reinforcements were called for and so Lt. Forshaw and 2/Lt. Cooke took the other two platoons of “A” Company to the firing line. What happened to him there can be understood from Lance-Corporal Thomas Pickford’s account, given to the Ashton Reporter on March 18, 1916:

“We captured the trench after the Turks had been bombed out, and for 26 hours we held it, and were continuously engaged in repulsing fierce attacks. It was a difficult position to hold, because three Turkish saps converged into it. As senior N.C.O. in the trench, I told Stanley Pearson and four of the boys to hold one of the saps, and to keep up a continuous fire, and so keep the Turks back at that point. We had to watch the two other saps. The Turks came right at us. It was a scrap! Bombs were bursting all around us. Some of the boys in their excitement caught the Turkish bombs before they exploded, and hurled them back again. They did not always manage to catch them in time, and three of them had their hands blown off. What made the position worse was that as soon as we had entered the trench a bomb laid out six of us. I was one of them. I bandaged up my leg, and bandaged up the others, and sent them back to hospital. I carried on, that is why I was recommended for the D.C.M. Lieutenant Forshaw did not know that I had not gone to hospital. He was amazed when he came near. ‘Why, I thought you had gone to hospital’ he said. ‘No sir,’ I answered, ‘we were short of men.’

Anyway, I was telling you about the fight. The Turks were at us all the time. Pearson did splendidly, and kept his men there. He fought cooly, and kept picking off the Turks. He was a smart and good lad. We hadn’t much time to waste, I can tell you, for the Turks were determined to get the trench back. Lieutenant Forshaw was in command of the whole of the firing line in the trench, which was in a very dangerous part of the Vineyard. We had to hold the place at all costs. There were 300 men on our right, and had we lost the position the Turks could have taken them prisoners. By holding on we saved a very good position. We refused to be driven out. At one moment the Turks drove us out of one traverse, but we barricaded it up with sand-bags, and they never budged us any further, for we stuck it until we were relieved. Lieutenant Forshaw, I gave you my word on it, did very well. His example repeatedly put new courage into us. It was the first time he had been in such close fighting. He threw the bombs as well as us. At one time he came to me and said, ‘How are you getting on Corporal? Do you think you can manage?’ I said ‘I think so,’ he replied, ‘You are a plucky corporal, you are doing well.’ He well earned his V.C., and I was proud of the chance later to tell the general, (or give evidence, as they call it), about him, which led to his recommendation for the V.C. One thing he did was very fine. Just after we had got the parapet up three Turks got over, and made a rush for Sam Bayley, but Lieut. Forshaw coolly shot all three with his revolver.”

The Army’s wheels can sometimes move slowly and the despatch from General Sir Ian Hamilton of December 11, 1915 covering the fighting in Gallipoli in August was not published until January 6, 1916. Subsequent to that, on January 28, 1916 the London Gazette published the list of names to be mentioned in despatches and they included all of the main players from the 1/9th Battalion Manchester Regiment in the Battle of Krithia Vineyard:

Second Lieutenant (temporary Captain) O. J. Sutton.
Lieutenant W. T. Forshaw, V.C.
Second Lieutenant C. E. Cooke.
No. 180 Serjeant S. Bayley.
No. 2103 Corporal T. Pickford.
No. 2148 Lance-Corporal S. Pearson.

A few days later on February 2, the London Gazette published the names of the men who had been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and on March 11 the Gazette published the citations of those awards:

2148 Lance Corporal S. PEARSON, 1/9th Manchester Regiment. T.F.

For conspicuous gallantry on August 7th and 8th 1915, at Gallipoli, when acting as a look-out man and sniper. He displayed great bravery and skill, and although enfiladed from both flanks he remained at his post, and by his example gave great encouragement to all with him.

He was wounded in late November or early December and medically evacuated off the peninsula. By late October 1916 he was sufficiently recovered and back in Ashton where he was made a presentation at Ashton Town Hall in recognition of his being awarded the D.C.M. earlier in the year.

After rejoining the 3/9th (Reserve) Battalion he rejoined the 1/9th Manchesters who by March 14, 1917 were at Pont Remy, South of Abbeville, in northern France. In April the battalion moved around 100km East to Epehy where they went into the line. In early May they moved 10km South West to Marquaix where on the evening of May 6th and into the early morning of May 7th “B” Company, under Major Howorth, was responsible for carrying out the following special order:

Two small posts are to be established on either side of the road running from locality b. to QUENNEMONT FARM, one on either side of the road, and joined up. This should be undertaken as a very minor operation, with only sufficient men to dig a rifle pit on each side and then connect up. The object should be to advance these posts a short distance every night without attracting the enemy’s attention; and connect them up from behind with a communication trench.

Lt. Charles Earsham Cooke commanded the party and they were met with heavy resistance from German machine guns resulting in many casualties, prompting several acts of heroism bringing wounded men in under fire.  Lt. Cooke was wounded and evacuated to Hospital in Rouen where he later died from his wounds. Stanley Pearson, D.C.M. was killed in action. He was 34 years old, dying less than 2 weeks before his 35th birthday.

He is buried in the Templeux-Le-Guerard British Cemetery, plot II. E. 32. and commemorated on the Ashton under Lyne War Memorial.

Corporal Samuel Bayley, DCM

Samuel Bayley was born in Stalybridge on June 10, 1885 to James and Sarah Bayley (née Gee). He was the youngest of three children, his two older sisters, Esther and Mary Ann being four and six years older than him respectively. Sam grew up in Stalybridge, on the border of Stalybridge and Dukinfield, and prior to the war he had lived in the same house since birth. By 1901 Sam had left school and was working as a piecer in a cotton mill while his father James Bayley was employed as a Carter.

His mother died in 1908 and around this time he joined the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment. By 1911 he was living with his widowed, and now out of work, father and his sister Esther (‘Esty’) and was still working as a piecer. Outside of work he was a member of the Ebenezer Particular Church, on Cross Leach Street, Stalybridge and a goalkeeper for the Sunday School football club.

Corporal Samuel Bayley, D.C.M.

At the outbreak of war, the battalion was mobilised and on August 20, 1914 they marched into Chesham Fold Camp, Bury. Throughout August around 100 new recruits were added, many of whom had previously served with the battalion in the pre-war years. On September 1, 1914 another 100+ men were added, many of whom were friends and family of the existing members of the battalion. On Wednesday September 9 the battalion entrained to Southampton and at midnight the following day sailed for Egypt. In Egypt the men were drilled, trained and worked hard to build fitness and endurance. Additionally, the old eight Company model (A-H) was replaced with a four Company model (A-D), 4 platoons in each Company and 4 sections in each platoon.

The battalion landed at Gallipoli under shell fire on Sunday May 9, 1915 and at that time Samuel Bayley was a 29-year-old Corporal with “A” Company, No 1 Platoon.

On August 8, 1915 the battalion took part in the Battle of Krithia Vineyard. Lieut. W.T. Forshaw won the Victoria Cross and three N.C.O.s won the Distinguished Conduct Medal. In Forshaw’s own words …

“On the morning of August 8th 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 that had been captured and occupied. I and about twenty men were instructed to hold a barricade at the head of the sap. Facing us 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 objective of storming the parapet. They were met by a combination of bombing and rifle fire, but the bomb was chief weapon used both by the Turks and ourselves”

“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 loses. 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, and so it was impossible to get any sleep.”

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 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.

“We decided that we would hold on to the position whatever it cost us for we knew what it meant to us. If we had lost it the whole of the trench would have fallen into the hands of the enemy. I had half of the men with me, and the other half I placed along the trench with a subaltern [2/Lt. C.E. Cooke]. The Turks were at it for all they were worth, and they had sap heads right up to my position; but I had a fine supply of bombs, which, by the way, had been made out of jam tins by our Engineers. Obliging little fellows, those Engineers! Fortunately, we had no fewer than 800 of those bombs, but we got rid of the lot during the greatest weekend I have ever spent.”

“Three times during the one night the Turks made tremendous efforts to get over the parapet, and once they succeeded, but not one of them got back again. We were too busy during the night to look after their dead bodies, but we found them lying at the bottom of the trench next morning. They were armed with rifles and bayonets, and huge men they were. Three of these big, dark-skinned warriors appeared. Immediately one made a move for a Corporal [Sam Bayley] who was digging a hole from which to fire during the night. I saw the Turk make for him with his long bayonet, and I straightaway put a bullet through him from my useful Colt revolver. My weapon was a very fine friend to me during those thrilling minutes. A second Turk came for me with his bayonet fixed, evidently with the object of covering his pal, who was making for the box of our bombs, but I managed to put them both out of action. They never came over the barricade again; but realising as they did what position meant, they kept up the fusillade during the whole of the night.”

Writing on August 10th Corporal Bayley described the Congratulatory Card he received from Sir John Francis Davies, commanding 8th Corps, (which he subsequently mailed to his sister Esty):

“We have had it rough again for two nights, but I am proud to tell you I am quite safe, although I have had many narrow escapes. I have the pleasure to tell you that I have had a bit of honour attached to my name. Myself, and a few men and the Captain held a trench which was almost impossible to hold, but we stuck it like glue, in spite of the Turks attacking us with bombs. I can tell you I accounted for a few Turks. Our Captain has been recommended for the V.C. and I hope he gets it because he was very determined to hold the trench till the last man was finished. But we did not lose many. Our Captain has not got over it yet, but it is only his nerves that are shattered a bit, and he will soon be with us again. I have been congratulated by Sir John Francis Davies, commanding the 8th Corps. You will find it enclosed.

“To No 180 Corpl. BAYLEY, 1/9th Manchester Regiment … I congratulate you heartily on being awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for your gallant conduct in the field – Lieut. General Sir Francis Davies, commanding 8th Corps.”

A few months later, on November 16, 1915 the London Gazette published the following D.C.M. citation:

180 Corporal S. Bayley, 1/9th Battalion, Manchester Regiment, T.F.

“For conspicuous bravery on the 7th and 9th August, 1915, at Cape Helles (Dardanelles). Corporal Bayley remained with Lieutenant Forshaw, V.C., holding a barricade for forty-one hours continuously. On the evening of the 8th August his party was relieved by another unit, but he volunteered to remain on. He displayed the greatest gallantry and endurance under the most trying circumstances in repelling many severe attacks, and when the barricade was at last broken through, he was the foremost in the successful counter-attack led by Lieutenant Forshaw, which regained it, and finally retained it. On being ultimately relieved he was utterly exhausted by his arduous and gallant work of bomb-throwing.”

And belatedly, on January 28, 1916, the London Gazette published the list of the names of the officers and men whose services General Sir Ian Hamilton wished to mention in connection with the operations described in my despatch of 11th December, 1915

Manchester Regiment (Territorial Force)
No. 180 Serjeant S. Bayley.

Additionally, for his actions at the Vineyard, he was awarded a field promotion to sergeant.

Since there is no surviving service record, there is no precise timeline of Sergeant Bayley’s subsequent movements but there are some things that can be reliably inferred. His medal roll does not list the six-digit service number that was assigned to each of the men in February 1917. However, his pension ledger index card does list this number (350018) and this strongly implies that by February 1917, when the six digit numbers were assigned, he was serving at home, probably with the 3/9th (Reserve) Battalion, Manchester Regiment.

On January 8, 1916 his sister Esty received a letter from him informing her that he was 10-days on a hospital ship after being wounded in both legs from bomb throwing around the middle of December. It is likely that these wounds led to him being repatriated and unable to subsequently serve overseas. He then would have served out the remainder of his time on home service in England, possibly in recruiting and other support functions.

To understand the end of his service it’s useful to review the surviving pension record of Sergeant Titus Knight Broadley Cropper. Sgt. Cropper was repatriated from Gallipoli suffering from dysentery and after recovering was deployed to the Regimental Command Depot at Heaton Park. He remained there for the duration of the war until he was transferred to the 8th (Reserve) Battalion, Manchester Regiment at Hunmanby, near Filey. On October 2, 1918 he was transferred to the 2/1st Shropshire Yeomanry, at the Curragh, County Kildare and given the service number 160758. Sergeant Bayley was transferred with him and was given the service number 160757. Sgt. Cropper was medically assessed at the Rath Camp, at the Curragh, on January 15, 1919 and was demobilised on February 22, 1919. It’s reasonable to assume that Sgt. Bayley followed a similar course and timeline.

Sgt. Bayley’s pension ledger index card shows that he applied for a disability pension but was rejected. As a D.C.M. recipient he was entitled to a flat payment of £20 or, if eligible for a disability pension, a weekly payment of 3sh 6d. Clearly, over time, the weekly pension was a financially better option and presumably this is at least partly why he applied for it.

After he was demobilised he married Alice Malinda Bowker, in Ashton, on September 4, 1920 and by this time he was working as a labourer at Broadbent & Sons Iron Foundry but prior to the marriage was still living with his sister Esty in Stalybridge, his father now deceased.

Samuel and his wife made their home in Stalybridge, next door but one to his old family home and his sister. But on August 22, 1924 Samuel Bayley, D.C.M. died suddenly at the age of 39 of chronic nephritis and secondarily from uraemia.

Lance-Corporal Thomas Pickford, DCM

Thomas Pickford was born in Audenshaw on July 25, 1882 to Mathew and Martha Ann Pickford (née Greenwood); impressively he arrived the day after their marriage. He was the oldest of six children and his father was employed as a Brewer’s Drayman. The family settled in Ashton, where Thomas was educated at Trafalgar School, and by 1901 Thomas was 18-years-old and had joined his father as a Carter.

Around this time, he joined the 3rd Volunteer Battalion, the Manchester Regiment which in 1908 became the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment, Territorial Force. He served with them for some time but did not re-enlist when his time was up. In 1908 he married Ada Ann Clough and by 1911 they were living at 130 Wellington Street, Ashton with Ada’s son and daughter from a previous relationship and their own two infant daughters. Thomas was still working as a Carter but by now was employed by Noel Duncan Braithwaite, a local Coal Merchant and sergeant in the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment.

His brother William Pickford joined the regular Army as a Private with the 5th (Princess Charlotte of Wales’s) Dragoon Guards and was stationed at Aldershot by 1912. War was declared on August 4, 1914 and by now Thomas’s first son, Joseph Pickford, had been born less than six months earlier. On August 11, 1914 his youngest brother, John Pickford, attested with the 11th Battalion Manchester Regiment. Four days later, his brother William deployed to France with the 5th Dragoon Guards.

Lance-Corporal Thomas Pickford, D.C.M.

With his two brothers and his employer already mobilised, and himself a former militia man, the pressure on Thomas to attest must have been overwhelming and he re-joined the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment, Territorial Force as a Private (2103) on Tuesday September 1, 1914 at Ashton. At least one hundred men attested this day, Thomas being one of the very first to do so. At that time, the intent was for the battalion to take the most experienced and able-bodied men, deferring the others until later in the month, as they knew they were shortly to leave for overseas. Thomas and the others quickly joined the battalion at Chesham Fold Camp in Bury and a week later they entrained for Southampton and boarded HMS Aragon, leaving at midnight September 10, bound for Egypt.

In Egypt the men were drilled, trained and worked hard to build their fitness and endurance. Additionally, the old eight Company model (A-H) was replaced with a four Company model (A-D), 4 platoons in each Company and 4 sections in each platoon. The battalion landed at Gallipoli under shell fire on Sunday May 9, 1915 and at that time Thomas Pickford was a 32-year-old Private with “A” Company. His section N.C.O. was 19-year-old Lance-Corporal Gerald Massey and his Platoon commander was 19-year-old 2nd Lieutenant Charles Earsham Cooke. On the morning of June 20, Gerald Massey was shot in the head and killed by a Turkish sniper when he peered above the parapet. Thomas was promoted to Lance-Corporal to fill the now vacant position and took the trouble to write to Gerald’s parents and the letter was published in the Ashton Reporter of August 21, 1915:

“I was your late son’s friend; he was my section commander and I have now got his place, but I would rather he had been spared. He had a very nice grave behind the firing line. I helped to bury him. Our minister prayed very nice over him. I placed a cross on his grave. I remain, yours, Tom Pickford.”

On August 8, at the start of the Battle of Krithia Vineyard, the battalion went into the trenches. “A” and “B” Companies with the (125th) Fusilier Brigade, and “C” and “D” Companies with the (127th) Manchester Brigade. 2/Lt. Oliver Jepson Sutton took two platoons of “A” company up to the firing line and was almost immediately wounded. Reinforcements were called for and so Lt. Forshaw and 2/Lt. Cooke took the other two platoons of “A” Company to the firing line. The recently promoted Lance-Corporal Thomas Pickford was with 2/Lt. Cooke.  What happened to him there is best understood from his own account, given to the Ashton Reporter on March 18, 1916:

“We captured the trench after the Turks had been bombed out, and for 26 hours we held it, and were continuously engaged in repulsing fierce attacks. It was a difficult position to hold, because three Turkish saps converged into it. As senior N.C.O. in the trench, I told Stanley Pearson and four of the boys to hold one of the saps, and to keep up a continuous fire, and so keep the Turks back at that point. We had to watch the two other saps. The Turks came right at us. It was a scrap! Bombs were bursting all around us. Some of the boys in their excitement caught the Turkish bombs before they exploded, and hurled them back again. They did not always manage to catch them in time, and three of them had their hands blown off. What made the position worse was that as soon as we had entered the trench a bomb laid out six of us. I was one of them. I bandaged up my leg, and bandaged up the others, and sent them back to hospital. I carried on, that is why I was recommended for the D.C.M. Lieutenant Forshaw did not know that I had not gone to hospital. He was amazed when he came near. ‘Why, I thought you had gone to hospital’ he said. ‘No sir,’ I answered, ‘we were short of men.’

Anyway, I was telling you about the fight. The Turks were at us all the time. Pearson did splendidly, and kept his men there. He fought cooly, and kept picking off the Turks. He was a smart and good lad. We hadn’t much time to waste, I can tell you, for the Turks were determined to get the trench back. Lieutenant Forshaw was in command of the whole of the firing line in the trench, which was in a very dangerous part of the Vineyard. We had to hold the place at all costs. There were 300 men on our right, and had we lost the position the Turks could have taken them prisoners. By holding on we saved a very good position. We refused to be driven out. At one moment the Turks drove us out of one traverse, but we barricaded it up with sand-bags, and they never budged us any further, for we stuck it until we were relieved. Lieutenant Forshaw, I gave you my word on it, did very well. His example repeatedly put new courage into us. It was the first time he had been in such close fighting. He threw the bombs as well as us. At one time he came to me and said, ‘How are you getting on Corporal? Do you think you can manage?’ I said ‘I think so,’ he replied, ‘You are a plucky corporal, you are doing well.’ He well earned his V.C., and I was proud of the chance later to tell the general, (or give evidence, as they call it), about him, which led to his recommendation for the V.C. One thing he did was very fine. Just after we had got the parapet up three Turks got over, and made a rush for Sam Bayley, but Lieut. Forshaw coolly shot all three with his revolver.”

The Army’s wheels can sometimes move slowly and the despatch from General Sir Ian Hamilton of December 11, 1915 covering the fighting in Gallipoli in August was not published until January 6, 1916. Subsequent to that, on January 28, 1916 the London Gazette published the list of names to be mentioned in despatches and they included all of the main players from the 1/9th Battalion Manchester Regiment in the Battle of Krithia Vineyard:

Second Lieutenant (temporary Captain) O. J. Sutton.
Lieutenant W. T. Forshaw, V.C.
Second Lieutenant C. E. Cooke.
No. 180 Serjeant S. Bayley.
No. 2103 Corporal T. Pickford.
No. 2148 Lance-Corporal S. Pearson.

A few days later on February 2, the London Gazette published the names of the men who had been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and on March 11 the Gazette published the citations of those awards:

2103 Lance-Corporal T. Pickford, 1/9th Battalion, Manchester Regiment, T.F.

For conspicuous gallantry on the 8th August, 1915, at Gallipoli, when he rallied his party, which had been driven back by bombs in the Barricade of the Vineyard, and by his bravery and example was largely instrumental in saving a precarious position.

Thomas Pickford's Annotated D.C.M. Citation

L/Cpl. Pickford had been wounded in the leg during the battle and after it was over, he was medically evacuated to hospital. By late January 1916 he was back in Ashton recovering, and had time to visit Trafalgar School Ashton, of which Captain Ralph Lees of the 2/9th Manchesters was headmaster and where he was formerly a pupil.

Sometime between August 1916 and February 1917 he was sufficiently recovered to be transferred to the King’s Liverpool Regiment as Private (310177) along with several other men of the 9th Manchesters (310176—310178 being former 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment N.C.O.s). Pickford was attached to the 1/5th Battalion of the 165th (Liverpool) Brigade and 55th (West Lancashire) Division, in XIX Corps. By July 1917 they were at Pilckem Ridge, Belgium and Thomas had become a father for the fourth time when his youngest daughter, Martha Ann Pickford, was born on May 19, 1917.

On July 31, 1917 the battle of Pilckem Ridge commenced which marked the start of the 3rd Battle of Ypres. Although the Allied attack started well, by the early afternoon the Germans counter-attacked just as the rain started to fall reducing visibility. The 39th Division on the XIX Corps’ left flank was pushed back to St Julien, exposing the left flank of the 55th (West Lancashire) Division, just as it was attacked frontally by six waves of German infantry. Attempts to hold the ground, now turned to mud, failed and the reserve brigades of the 55th (West Lancashire) and 15th (Scottish) Divisions were rolled up from North to South but were either overrun or forced to retreat. The British eventually stopped the German advance with artillery and machine-gun fire in the early evening hours.

The 1/5th Battalion King’s Liverpool Regiment had attacked at 3:50am and by the end of the day had suffered other ranks casualties of 105 wounded, 26 killed and 45 missing. Thomas Pickford was reported wounded and missing on July 31, 1917. His body was never found and so his widow was not officially notified of his death until September 18 and Form 104-76, “Death notification of a married man sent from the Territorial Force Record Office to the War Office”, was only received four months later, on January 28, 1918. Army paperwork satisfied, a weekly pension of 33sh 9d was paid commencing April 16, 1918; this to cover Thomas’ widow and six dependents. It’s not clear whether this included the 6d per day pension she was also entitled to for Thomas’ D.C.M.

Thomas Pickford was now declared officially dead, killed in action on July 31, 1918 just five days after his 35th birthday. He is commemorated on the Menin Gate and on the Ashton Under Lyne Civic Memorial.