William's exact age is hard to place.The army had him as being 36, he was reported as being 38 in the Oldham Chronicle and the only William Baguley to be found in the records being born in the area would have been at least 42. His family life is likewise difficult to decipher from the distance of a century. He had 6 children, the youngest four of whom at least were born to Margaret Studholme who was not his wife. His wife seems to have left him at some point and she died before William,probably in 1914. William & Margaret Studholme's family was hit by tragedy in 1912 when their daughter Sarah died at the age of 4. They lived at 22 Union Street (where Harry Lomas had previously lived) and William was a carter by trade.
At the time of the outbreak of the First World War, William was an army veteran who had served as a Corporal with the 6th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers during the Boer War. He rejoined his old regiment and found himself fighting in Gallipoli with the 1st Battalion.
He reached Gallipoli and
his new unit the 1st Lancashire Fusiliers on June 2nd 1915 along with 17
officers and 506 other ranks from the new army, also joining that day was another Royton man Edwin Hyde. The 1st LF had suffered
gravely during their landing at Gallipoli and had already lost over 650
men killed, missing and wounded. They had famously won 6 Victoria Crosses before
breakfast on April 25th when, whilst landing at W Beach, during the
British amphibious landings at Cape Helles so many of them had been
Just two days after William's arrival he was to go over the top in what became known as the Third Battle of Krithia,
along with the hundreds of newly arrived fresh green troops and what little
remained of the old regular battalion. Once again the 1st Lancashire
Fusiliers were to suffer massive casualties.
That morning saw a massive naval bombardment of the Turkish positions in
front of Edwin and the rest of the 1st LF.At 11:20 the shelling stopped
and the British, en-masse, poked their bayonets above the parapets as
if they were about
to launch their assault. This was a ruse to get the Turks out of their
deep dugouts and back into their open trenches and ten minutes later the
naval bombardment began again. 30 further minutes of the Turkish lines
being pounded and then it really was time for Edwin and his comrades to
go over the top. They had already suffered under a Turkish counter
bombardment. They charged the Turkish lines with bayonets fixed straight
into a hail of fire from only a hundred yards or so. Many men died the
moment they climbed over the parapet with many more mown down in front
of the Turkish wire. The attack was a complete failure and by nightfall
the survivors were back in their original trenches under heavy fire. William had survived but the lengthy casualty list contained the deaths of Edwin Hyde and 7 others from the Oldham area.
William died at the Battle of Scimitar Hill in the battalion's next major action in August 1915.This was the last offensive launched by the British at Suvla.The purpose of the attack was to clear the Turks from Suvla and also link up with the Anzac units further south. It was a costly failure, in one day of fighting the British suffered 5300 casualties out of the 14300 soldiers who participated.
The 1st Battalion were to support the 1st Royal Munster Fusiliers on an attack on a well entrenched Turkish position called Hill 112. The wide stretch of No Man's Land was rough, stony and studded with patches of shrub. The vegetation caught fire in many places during the attack which added to the general confusion and mixing of units. The Munsters were held up by heavy fire and the 1st Lancashire Fusiliers advancing at 15:30 were met by heavy machine gun and rifle fire. Their attack and that of a neighbouring battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers also failed. By 19:30 scattered positions held by men of the Lancashire & Dublin Fusiliers were ordered to withdraw. The attack had been a complete failure.
The unit war diary says:
"Move to Brigade Reserve at 10.30 am and made necessary arrangements for attack on Hill 112 at 3.30pm. Bombardment commenced at 2.30pm. Battalion advanced by companies beginning with A Coy. at 3.30pm as reinforcements to the Munsters – B. C. D. at intervals of 40 minutes. Fire broke out on the ground over which we had to advance and rather disorganised things.
Casualties were NCO's Men 222 – Killed 17. Wounded 50. Missing 155.
Officers 12 - wounded"
Perhaps the bulk of the missing 155 were eventually located alive as the CWGC has 34 others dying alongside William Baguley that day. They were:
Private Edward Ainsworth,1546,27 years old,from Manchester
Private Thomas Beesley,2486,24 years old,from Preston
Private James Birtwell,5088,17 years old,from Blackburn
Private George Bradley,4730,35 years old,from Chorlton-cum-Hardy
Corporal Richard Browitt,4738,from Bolton
Private Richard Brown,4737,20 years old,from Warrington
Private William Burgess,17191,21 years old,from Dalbeattie
Private William Connor,18244,from Salford
Private Joseph Hagan,4233,33 years old,from Chorley
Private John Heywood,4999,18 years old,from Ardwick
Private Stephen Johnson,5496,from Yorkshire
Private John Keegan,9936,from Dublin
Corporal Thomas Kelly,3694,19 years old,from Bolton
Private John Lewis,5234,from Wigan
Private John Miller,3804,18 years old,from Bolton
Private William McHale,4665,26 years old,from Rochdale
Private Arthur Edward Roberts,18207,from Pendleton
Private James Rourke,804,31 years old,from Stoke-on-Trent
Private Joseph Rustidge,785,from Salford
Regimental Sergeant Major George Edward Simpson,4486,36 years old,from Portsmouth
Private David Sinclair,18161,from Kirkcaldy
Private John Smalley,3000,from Oldham
Private John Sullivan,5331,from Hull
Private Oscar Thomas,17160,from London
Private Joseph Travers,3641,23 years old,from Bolton
Private William Tudor,5998,from Berwick
Private Joseph Waite,2853,27 years old,from Manchester
Private James Watkinson,3350,27 years old,from Liverpool
Lance Corpoal George Watson,9551,from Barrow
Private George Whitehead,18100,21 years old,from Manchester
Private John Whittle,3424,from St Helens
Private Thomas Whittle,8496,from Wigan
Private Ernest Williams,5366,from Salford
Private Daniel Winnard,13263,33 years old,from Burnley
JAMES WILLIAM BAIRSTOW
Regiment:Royal Field Artillery
Unit:12th Ammunition Col.
Date of Death:14/07/1918
Memorial:Kirkee 1914-1918 Memorial
Panel Reference:Face 1
James Bairstow was born to Robert and Jane in Royton c.1887. They lived on Jones Street but from there moved to Crossley,Longsight in time for the 1911 census. His mother Jane passed away in 1900 leaving his father to bring up William and his two sisters,Mary and Hannah. Another sister,Sarah, had passed away in 1892 at the age of 10.
James worked at the Co-Op as a Grocers Assistant before becoming branch manager. He married Leah Schofield at the Trinity Methodist Church in 1915.He and Leah lived at 35 Glen Grove.
James & Leah
James joined the army in 1916 and was posted to India in March 1917. He died from enteric fever in Amritsar in July 1918 and was buried in the cantonment there. Unfortunately, many of the old British cemeteries have fallen into disrepair since Indian independence in 1947. Sadly the one at Amritsar is now neglected,overgrown and home to several illegal dwellings. James' name, like others buried in cantonments like Amritsar, was inscribed on the Kirkee Memorial.
The year after his death the following appeared in the Oldham Chronicle:
We have lost,heaven has gained,
One of the best the earth contained,
From his loving wife Leah,and his sisters,Mary H and Hannah J. (his father had passed away in March of that year)
Sister Hannah and wife Leah at the Tandle Hill Monument after the war
The Bairstow family were members of the Primitive Methodist Church on Old Road where this memorial to the war dead of the congregation was erected.
All photos kindly provided by James' relative, Peg Griffin
Royal Navy HMS Edinburgh Age - 21
Date of Death - 02/05/1942
Service No - D/JX 250281
Plymouth Naval Memorial
Panel 67, Column 1
John was born in Royton in 1920 to Ernest and Alice Ann Bamford. Ernest had been badly wounded whilst serving with the Royal Garrison Artillery in 1918,his left leg had had to be amputated and he also suffered from wounds to the right
hand and leg.Two of John's uncles on his father's side also served as artillerymen in WW1. John has an older brother, James, who was born in 1913.
John served on the famous HMS Edinburgh which was sunk in 1942 whilst carrying a large amount of gold from Murmansk which the Soviets were using to pay for weapons from the western Allies. On April 30th the Edinburgh was struck by two torpedos from the German submarine U456 and seriously damaged, she was taken in tow, but later was able to proceed at slow speed under her own steam.
The crippled HMS Edinburgh
On 2 May, however, after driving off attack by torpedo aircraft, she was attacked off Bear Island by German destroyers (damaging the German vessel Hermann Schoemann so badly that it had to be scuttled), but was agained torpedoed, and later had to be abandoned, being finally sunk by torpedo from the destroyer HMS Foresight, 2 officers and 56 ratings were lost. In addtion to those losses further men were killed when the ships carrying them home were also lost. For an excellent account of the final days and hours of the HMS Edinburgh please click on the link on Walter Gomery's name below.
An incomplete list of those who died (including another local lad,Clifford Stockport from Chadderton) on that day along with John is:
BEATTIE, Patrick K, Stoker 2c, D/KX 118339, 21 year old,Ayrshire
BLEAKLEY, Joseph, Able Seaman, D/SSX 27362, 21 yo, Bolton
BLUNDELL, Peter, Able Seaman, D/JX 223496, 25 yo, Liverpool
BROAD, Colin G, Stoker 2c, D/KX 138087
BROWN, John B, Ty/Leading Stoker, D/KX 79784, Seaham
CARTER, Donald M, Ordinary Seaman, D/JX 288532, 35 yo,Liverpool
COLEMAN, William, Ty/Act/Leading Stoker, D/KX 105116,21 yo,St Helens
DAVIS, Charles E, Petty Officer, D/J 93416, 39 yo,Cornwall
DEVONPORT, William, Stoker 1c, D/KX 100748, 20 yo, Leeds
EVANS, Albert E, Ordinary Seaman, D/JX 166464, 19 yo,Cheshire
GIBSON, Andrew, Ordinary Seaman, D/JX 166477, 19 yo, Glasgow GOMERY, Walter E, Boy 1c, D/JX 170203,18 yo, Yorkshire
GRAY, Thomas I, Chief Petty Officer Cook, D/MX 45516, 36 yo,Monmouthshire
HARRINGTON, John, Stoker 1c, D/KX 112421, 26 yo, Glamorgan
HARRIS, Frederick W, Ordinary Seaman, D/JX 239116
HELLYER, Samuel G, Petty Officer, D/JX 142006, 25 yo,Devonport
HILLER, Benjamin A, Able Seaman, D/SSX 27599, 23 yo,Belfast
HOLT, Neville, Ordinary Seaman, D/JX 163655, 18 yo,Sale
HOOKINGS, Thomas E, Act/Leading Stoker, D/K 65032, 40 yo,Devonport
HORSFIELD, Andrew, Stoker 1c, D/KX 103875, 22 yo,Yorkshire
JONES, George W, Stoker 2c, D/KX 134083, 35 yo,Gloucester
JONES, Ronald J, Able Seaman, D/JX 188034, Carmarthenshire
JONES, Thomas, Stoker 1c, D/KX 99764, 22 yo,Lancashire
LLOYD, Ifor O, Ordinary Seaman, D/JX 250126
MARSDEN, Harry, Ordinary Seaman, D/JX 250503,21 yo,Nelson
MARTIN, Thomas, Able Seaman, D/SSX 28455, 20 yo,Ardwick
MCDONALD, Donald, Ordinary Seaman, D/JX 302388, 23 yo
MOREY, Henry S G, Able Seaman, D/JX 95678, 39 yo,Southsea
MURPHY, Charles, Stoker 2c, D/KX 118021, 25 yo,Glasgow
NASH, George H, Boy 1c, D/JX 162888, 17 yo,Dundee
OATES, Dudley, Ordinary Seaman, D/JX 170315, 18 yo,Edinburgh
O'HAGAN, Bernard R, Stoker 1c, D/KX 109521
SMITH, Edwin A, Stoker 2c, D/KX 129360, Bristol
SMITH, Mark R, Able Seaman, D/JX 159032, 37 yo,Devonport
SPICER, William G E, Able Seaman, D/SSX 29593, 20 yo,Bedminster
STOCKPORT, Clifford, Stoker 2c, D/KX 127890, 26 yo,Chadderton
STONE, William A, Ty/Act/Leading Stoker, D/KX 97224, 22 yo,Cornwall
TRUSLER, Stephen, Able Seaman, D/J 36012, 42 yo,Gloucestershire
WAFFORNE, John W, Able Seaman, D/SSX 17561, 26 yo, Gorton
WIBBERLEY, Wilfred, Able Seaman, D/J 33757, 44 yo,Stoke-on-Trent
WIGNALL, Arthur, Stoker 2c, D/KX 107674, 25 yo,New Moston
YATES, James, Ordinary Seaman, D/JX 286892, 20 yo, Lancashire
Documentary on the salvage operation on the HMS Edinburgh.Contains footage of the vessel and some interviews with crew members
Date of Death:30/07/1916
Unit:18th Battalion Memorial:Thiepval Memorial Panel Reference:Pier and Face 13 A or 14 C
Alfred's inscription on the Thiepval Memorial. Courtesy of IWPP
Alfred was born in Royton in 1893 to James & Rosena and at the time of enlistment was living at 137 High Barn Road. Earlier his family had lived on Rochdale Road. He was one of 9 children, brothers William(who also served in the Manchester Regiment) & James and sisters Mary,Ada,Annie,Alice and Doris (if you know who the 9th was please get in touch). Interestingly Alfred lived right next door to Fred Bardsley (see entry directly below). No evidence has yet come to light that they were related but it seems quite a coincidence!
Alfred worked at the King Mill as a piecer and enlisted in Royton on December 11th 1915. His last sight of England was sailing from Folkestone on May 26th and he arrived at the famous British base camp at Etaples the following day before joining his battalion 'in the field' on June 21st. The 18th Battalion, formed in August 1914, had been out in France since November 1915.
Very soon after Alfred's arrival the unit was to be involved in the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army. That day the battalion were the support unit of the 90th Brigade, the other 3 infantry battalions of which - the 16th & 17th Manchesters and the 2nd Royal Scots - were to attack the village of Montauban.
Alfred's battalion was to carry out supplies and ammunition, an order for them stated:
"After the first bombardment has been completed they will come and go to Montauban by the communication trenches, moving on top of and beside the trench. In the event of coming under fire they will get into the trench and continue to move as fast as possible. As far as possible the loads of casualties will be picked up and taken on....Carrying parties must not halt on account of hostile fire"
Throughout the day the 18th Manchesters suffered a considerable mauling whilst carrying out it's duties. 175 men were listed as having been killed, wounded or were missing. About 100 of these casualties were suffered by C Company which was caught by enfilading machine gun fire. Alfred Bardsley had survived but elsewhere many Royton men had been killed. As part of the attack of the 90th Brigade, James Heywood had been killed and he was just one of the thirteen men remembered on this website.
The following day the battalion stayed in reserve for the 90th Brigade before being relieved on July 3rd. From July 4th to 7th men from each company were detailed for burial duties.
On July 7th the 18th were to go into combat. An attack had been made on the German held Trones Wood that morning and the battalion went forward in support at 15:00. They received orders to push into the wood and consequently became heavily involved in the fighting. Their advance was under heavy shrapnel and machine gun fire and there were many casualties. They got as far as they could and then consolidated their position as best they could until morning.
Three German attacks were launched through Trones Wood that night but all were fought off. On the morning of July 8th the survivors were ordered to follow an attack of the 17th Manchesters. This came as something of a surprise as they had practically exhausted all their ammunition. Enough was gathered from the dead and wounded though and they followed the 17th Battalion into the attack. Then came a hurricane of shells from the Germans. Trees crashed down all around, men lost touch with each other in the confusion, the wounded lay where they fell as no help could be given and within 30 minutes the attack had been broken and groups of men wandered about Trones Wood struggling to survive under the bombardment. The battalion was being wiped out and those men that could be gathered together were then ordered to withdraw. The survivors remained in reserve until being relieved at 04:00 on July 11th. On July 14th, whilst billeted at Daours a new draft of 440 men came to help bring the battalion up to strength. After only four days spent attempting to instil order and discipline into the new unit the battalion was sent back to the front line.
The reconstituted battalion were to suffer terribly in an attack on July 30th. At 23:00 on July 29th the men marched through Trones Wood towards Guillemont. This had been captured on July 14th and the battalion marched through it in single file.Tree trunks, barbed wire and human remains lay all around them. They reached the assembly trenches not long before 05:00 which was to be zero hour. The attack went ahead without the usual preceeding artillery barrage with the 18th Manchesters and 2nd Royal Scots forming the leading battalions of the 90th Brigade. The men, advancing through a heavy ground mist, established themselves on the western edge of the German held village of Guillemont after suffering heavy casualties from machine gun fire.Two companies of the 17th Manchesters got through the withering fire to support them. Unknown to them at the start of the attack they had advanced directly towards a very large German force that had been brought together to launch a counter attack on Trones Wood. As they pushed into the village they were met by more machine gun fire and still intact barbed wire defences. They found themselves vastly outnumbered by perhaps as many as ten German Battalions and the 2nd Royal Scots were to be completely obliterated, not one of their men returned - any survivors having been made prisoners. The 18th Manchesters and the men from the 17th Battalion fared little better. Many were taken prisoner and the majority of the casualties were those listed as 'missing' - the large majority of which were lying dead in No Man's Land.
Alfred Bardsley was one of the many men killed that day.
Those who died on the same day as Alfred were (including 1 from Chadderton,1 Hollinwood & 3 Oldhamers):
Private Ernest Bailey,9812,29 years old, from Salford
Private Bruce Gladstone Edmondson,9845,29 years old,from Collyhurst
Corporal Joseph William Harwood,9861,25 years old,from Odiham,Hampshire
Lance Corporal Percy Wilkinson,9955,from Prestwich
Private James Sutton,10217,24 years old,from Manchester
Second Lieutenant Harry Collier Clough,21 years old,from Urmston
Corporal Leslie Scott Anderson,9963,21 years old,from Urmston
Private James Henry Ashcroft,10074,from Manchester
Private Harold Ball,33459,from Moorside,Oldham
Private Robert Banks,27305,23 years old,from Wigan
Private Arthur Beattie,33705,from Manchester
Corporal Albert Henry Beecroft,31312,from Manchester
Private Herbert Bell,33702,29 years old,from Stretford
Private Harry Bellis,33684,from Manchester
Captain Percy Alfred Blythe,21 years old,from Swinton,M C, Mentioned in Despatches
Private Albert Booth,11007,from Liverpool
Lance Corporal Archie Booth,10528,25 years old,from Gorton
Private Samuel Dutton Booth,10764,from Hulme
Serjeant Robinson Brant,9824,32 years old,from Spilsby,Lincolnshire
Private Arthur James Brocklehurst,11295,21 years old,from Harpurhey
Private William Carruthers,32533,from Manchester
Private Samuel Chapman,9972,26 years old,from Salford
Private William Edward Chease,10967,from Devon
Private Arthur Clifford,32526,23 years old,from Huddersfield
Private James Leo Coghlan,9829,from Eccles
Private Charles William Cope,10374,25 years old,from Salford
Private Patrick Daley,10108,from West Ham
Private Thomas Davies,33447,25 years old,from Chorlton-on-Medlock
Private Archie Day,11277,25 years old,from Ardwick
Corporal Vernon John Deakin,9838,from Pendleton
Private Fred Delaney,27291,18 years old,from Oldham
Private Benjamin Denton,9844,from St Helens
Private William Dolan, 33460,from Manchester
Private William Domney,9840,from Merioneth,Wales
Serjeant James Donaldson,11001,22 years old,from Altrincham
Company Serjeant Major Reginald Dootson,10108,30 years old,from Gorton
Serjeant Arthur Charles Dunn,10103,from Levenshulme
Corporal John Dyson,9973,from Colne
Private G Eatnough,31448
Private Harold Eaton,34096,from Manchester
Serjeant Francis Egan,10016,from Pendleton
Lance Corporal Harry Eliffe,10862,from Heywood
Private Frederick Faux,5248,from Hulme
Serjeant Joseph Fitzpatrick,10537,from Salford
Lance Corporal Francis Joseph Gargan,10817,from Salford
Private Joseph Gidman,31382,23 years old,from Levenshulme
Lance Corporal John Gough,10586,from Manchester
Private John Greenhalgh,27231,19 years old,from Oldham
Private Vincent Griffin,10813,22 years old,from Manchester
Serjeant Alfred Griffis,10646,20 years old,from Sale
Lieutenant Percy Geoffrey Du Val Haworth,21 years old,from Manchester
Corporal George William Hayes,10490,from Openshaw
Private William Henry Hewitt,9866,22 years old,from Hyde
Lance Corporal Jack Hilton,11013,22 years old,from Harpurhey
Private Harry Hinchley,27328,from Manchester
Private George William Holmes,31435,from Chorlton-cum-Hardy
Private Ernest Howarth,10400,24 years old,from Bury
Corporal Alfred Hunt,9873,from Salford
Serjeant Robert Harold Hutchinson,10029,32 years old,from Northallerton
Private Hubert Leslie Jones,10666,28 years old,from Thornton-le-Fylde
Second Lieutenant Edward Kavanagh,24 years old,from Ireland
Private Carswell Groves Kay,33492,from Ramsbottom
Private Arnold Kettle,10284,from Chorlton-cum-Hardy
Second Lieutenant Percy Reginald King,24 years old,from West Ealing
Private Joseph Langton,27294,from Wigan
Private Stephen Lord,34115,from Manchester
Private James Lunt,10162,from Stockport
Private Francis Macauley,34028,21 years old,from Hollinwood,Oldham
Lance Corporal Reuben Martin,10427,21 years old,from Ancoats
Private Frank Harold May,11089,from Manchester
Private William Mellor,31288,from Manchester
Lance Corporal John Mitchell,9897,21 years old,from Cheetham
Private John Morrison,9894,from Belfast
Serjeant William McCann,10036,from Dublin
Lance Corporal William McCreery,10256,from Moston
Private William Alexander McElroy,27129,23 years old,from Beswick
Corporal Daniel McIntyre,11252,42 years old,from Higher Broughton.Schoolmaster
Private William Thomas Naylor,10691,from Lower Broughton
Private Edwin Normington,10038,25 years old,from Stalybridge
Private George Nutter,31293,22 years old,from Ramsbottom
Private Frederic Samuel Oliver,10437,20 years old,from Higher Crumpsall
Private George Orman,10192,from Collyhurst
Private Harold Wallace Pettigrew,33476,23 years old,from Cheetham Hill
Private Clifford Potts,34024,from Harpurhey
Private Frank Riley,34025,from Chadderton
Private John Ryan,34016,19 years old,from Salford
Private James Sayers,27036,from Manchester
Private Charles Shields,32502,20 years old,from Manchester
Private Samuel Silverstein,31302,from Manchester
Private Albert Stott,9995,28 years old,from Flixton
Serjeant Frank Swindells,31375,27 years old,from Harpurhey
Private Frederick Taylor,10970,from Manchester
Private Frederick James Taylor,35057,20 years old,from Harpurhey
Private James Tidswell,10984,from Beswick
Private James Tucker,31394,born London,enlisted Manchester
Lance Corporal Samuel Edward Tunstall,10573,from Cheadle Hulme
Second Lieutenant Francis Cecil Twist,20 years old,from Paddington.Captain of Rugby School 1914-1915
Private Richard Valentine,34227,from Gorton
Private Arthur Webb,9948,from Pendleton
Lance Corporal Walter Whitworth,10742,23 years old,from Clayton
Private Frank Wilber,31274,from Manchester
Company Serjeant Major Robert Bertram Wilford,9959,from Chorlton-on-Medlock
Private Frank Newton Woodward,10735,29 years old,from Levenshulme
Corporal Leo Joel Lawson Worswick,11199,22 years old,from Crumpsall
Second Lieutenant John Frederick Motler,21 years old,from Manchester
It was reported in the Oldham Chronicle
of September 2nd that Alfred's parents had been notified that he was
missing. His body was discovered by three Privates of the 1st Bn.Irish
Guards - Hendry (3765),Ruffley(7910)&Crawley(5177) - on September
10th and buried. Ruffley and Crawley were themselves killed in action
just 5 days later but Hendry was injured on September 14th and whilst in
hospital informed a chaplain of Bardsley's burial. This allowed the
authorities to confirm to the Bardsley family that Alfred had been
Alfred's brother William was wounded in early 1917 whilst with the
Manchester Regiment, later recovering and transferring to the Border
Regiment. After the war Alfred's parents moved to St.Ives in Cornwall
Date of Death:28/10/1916
Regiment:The King's (Liverpool Regiment)
Unit: 4th Bn
Memorial: Thiepval Memorial Panel Ref: Pier and Face 8B
Fred lived at 135 High Barn Street (next door to Alfred Bardsley,see entry above), the son of Ernest & Betty. He had four younger sisters - Alice,Annie,Clare & Elsie. Before joining up in February 1916 he was a minder at the Fir Mill. He went on active service towards the end of August and was dead two months later. Before he joined up with the battalion, Harry Swain had already been killed whilst serving with them.
This online memorial to Stafford Thomas Eaton-Jones describes what happened to Fred and the comrades who fell alongside him:
On the 22nd of October 1916 the 4th Battalion King's Liverpool Regiment arrived at the village of Meaulte where they received orders to move to the Les Boeufs sector of the front line on the Somme. At 8am on the morning of the following day they set out across the old battlefield , through heavy mist, for Trones Wood. It was not until 8pm that evening that they arrived at the remains of the wood where there was no shelter. Here they waited, in heavy rain and appalling conditions until the morning of the 24th when two companies moved off for the trenches at Les Boeufs at 1pm. The two other companies marched off to join them at 3.30pm and, due to the conditions, the relief was not complete until 5am on the morning of the 25th.The battalion remained in the front line under shell fire suffering casualties until orders came through on the 27th for the battalion to make an attack the following day. Their objective was the German trench "Dewdrop trenches and the enemy trenches and dug outs to the north east of "Dewdrop" which were to be cleared. They would be joined by the 1st Battalion Middlesex Regiment, who would attack and clear "Rainy" trench, with the 2nd Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in support.
At 6am on the morning of the 28th of October 1916 the A and C Companies of the battalion, preceded by a barrage, moved across no man's land in four waves. By 10am reports came back that "Dewdrop" trench had been taken and the enemy trench and dug outs beyond had been bombed and cleared. By 5pm the Middlesex had taken "Rainy" trench and both battalions had consolidated their gains.
Eyewitness reports said that Stafford Eaton-Jones was last seen close to the firing line and that he was subsequently seen being carried away on a stretcher having been badly wounded. A further statement said that Eaton-Jones and the stretcher party carrying him were hit by a shell killing them all and leaving no trace of them.
Casualties for the attack had been four officers and fourteen other ranks killed with two officers and sixty three other ranks wounded and fourteen other ranks missing believed killed.
The CWGC has the following men from the 4th Battalion being killed in action that day:
Private Harry Atkinson,35497,born Bradford,lived Manchester
Private Edward Beattie,29878,Liverpool
Private Fred Burton,51505,Garston,Liverpool
Private John Dickinson Cooper,22 years old,44893,Tarporley,Cheshire
Serjeant Thomas Davidson,21 years old,13224,Perth
Private David Davies,30432,born Carmarthenshire,lived Wigan
Private William F Dykes,14940,Walton,Liverpool
Second Lieutenant Stafford Thomas Eaton-Jones,20 years old,Walton,Liverpool
Private Charles Elliott,19023,Manchester
Private Joseph Fletcher,21 years old,8678,Runcorn
Private Patrick Franklin,34741,born Waterford,lived Liverpool
Private Daniel Graham,30 years old,12191,Kirkdale,Liverpool
Lance Corporal Frank Eversley Halstead,19 years old,Blackpool
Private Robert Higgins,30404,Liverpool
Corporal Charles Holliday,31479,Bootle
Private Herbert Douglas Kelly,21 years old,48512,Liverpool
Private Samuel Lewis,8666,Liverpool
Second Lieutenant Ronald Hamilton William Murdoch
Private Herbert Musgreave,30 years old,30529,Barnsley
Private John Joseph Power,32 years old,Liverpool
Serjeant Albert Skelton,MM,12434,Liverpool
Private William Tedcastle,24 years old,12485,Liverpool
Private William Thomas,39105,Liverpool
Lance Corporal Frank Wilkinson,9020,Liverpool
GEORGE HENRY BARKER
Regiment:Durham Light Infantry
Age - 25
Date of Death - 29/04/1945
Service Number - 4461946 Becklingen War Cemetery
Grave Reference: 2.G.11
George Barker was born in Royton in 1920, the son of George and Mary. He had two younger sisters,Emily and Mary.
His unit, the 9th Durhams, fought through North Africa & Italy before being being involved in D-Day being one of the battalions to land on Gold Beach. The 9th took part in the final push into Germany in 1945 and it is there that George Barker fell in a tragic accident.
Just days from the end of the war whilst the 9th DLI were preparing for an attack on the city of Hamburg he was killed, alongside Corporal Laurence Jones,whilst laying grenades across a road for an enemy that would never come.
JAMES WILLIAM BARKER
Date of Death:23/12/1915
Regiment: Manchester Regiment
Unit: 12th Bn
Memorial: Menin Gate
Panel Reference: Panel 53
Barker (known as Jimmy) was born in Poynton,Cheshire c.1885 to James and Mary Ann. By 1891, the family had moved to Failsworth with James senior working as a lamplighter. At this time Jimmy was the youngest in the family with him having older sisters Edith & Emma. A younger sister, Beatrice, was born in Failsworth in 1892 and then in the period between then and 1901 the Barkers moved to Royton. The census of that latter year has the family at 11 St.Pauls Street in Royton and Jimmy was now a cop packer in one of the local mills, at the time he enlisted in 1914 he was doing the same job at the Shiloh Mill.
The family suffered a loss in 1903 when Jimmy's sister Edith, who had married in 1902, died aged only 26.The
family moved to Failsworth not long after that and were in Royton by the
time of the 1901 census. In 1911, aged 25, Jimmy and his two surviving siblings were all still living with their parents at 72 Rochdale Road. Jimmy had moved out by 1914 and was living at 342 Oldham Road with his parents a little further away on the same road.
Jimmy enlisted shortly after the outbreak of war, in Oldham, and became a member of the freshly formed 12th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. The 12th had been created at Ladysmith Barracks, the Regiment's Depot, in Ashton under Lyne in September 1914. Jimmy sailed with his battalion, 1005 strong, out from Folkestone on July 15th 1915,
reaching Boulogne the following morning. The 12th Manchesters were first
shown the niceties of trench warfare by the Liverpool Scottish before
going into the line on the 24th July.For the rest of the year they were
in and out of the line around Ypres.
In the time leading up to Christmas 1915, Jimmy was one of the Royton men in the Battalion who co-signed an appeal to those still back home:
"It will soon be Christmas. We ask the people of Royton to give their hearts in prayer to God that He will safeguard us through the great perils and hardships which lie before us....There are many Royton boys both here and on other fronts. All single boys ought to be helping in this great fight who have sisters and mothers to protect. They should show that they are worthy of the name of man. What will our dear ones say? How proud they will be of the lads who are left behind here who have sacrificed their lives in this most honourable cause"
Shortly after Jimmy Barker was dead.Even though the battalion war diary says that there was no action on or around
December 23rd Jimmy and a comrade, Private William Yates (4278) from Manchester were both killed then.
News travelled fast - presumably through a local man lucky enough to get leave over Christmas - and there was talk around Royton on December 27th & 28th that James had been killed. His parents then received a letter on the 28th from a Private Teddy Beswick:
"Dear Mr & Mrs Barker, just a few lines to let you know how Jimmy died. I was placed in a forward post about 20 yards from the enemy, and Jimmy was just on my left in the firing line. It was about 11am on the 23rd. They rushed down to tell me that he had been hit and I rushed up to the line and saw him on a stretcher and at once saw he was done for. I watched him, hoping he would speak just before he died, but he never regained consciousness. He looked so happy in death, for he had such a nice smile on his face, which made him look so happy. The platoon looked so downhearted. They were all round him, and I looked up at them all and said 'Boys we must avenge his death'. But they could not answer just then, for tears were running down all our cheeks. You see he was so well liked by all of us. he would do any of us a good turn if he could help it. I was at the funeral, his grave was dug at the back of the firing line. It was a deep grave, and Jimmy's body was put in an oil sheet and covered with sand bags. We made a cross and put it at the head of the grave. The Captain gave a splendid service. We were under fire all the time. You can rest contented that he was buried decently".
On Sunday January 2nd 1917 during a sermon at St.Paul's Church, the Reverend Humphreys referred to Jimmy and the above letter:
"On December 23rd one of those very lads who wrote that letter gave his life in that most honourable cause, for King, for country, for God. A few days before he had received the blessed sacrament in a small barn. He went back to the trenches strengthened and refreshed by that heavenly food, and now he was resting from all the cruelty, the suffering and the anguish of the war, in peace. Highly respected by his regiment and loved by his friends, he died the hero's death. The Captain buried him whilst shot and shell were flying around, and his comrades followed him to his grave, over which they had placed a wooden cross"
Although Jimmy Barker was buried by his comrades his grave was obviously later lost in the fighting and his name can be found on the Menin Gate Memorial to the missing.
Barker's inscription on the Menin Memorial.Photo from Manchester Regiment Group
Age - 19
Date of Death - 20/01/1941 Tower Hill Memorial
The inscription for the SS Florian at the Tower Hill Memorial
Ronald Barker was born in Oldham in 1921, the son of Albert and Ada. He died aged only 19 as a Merchant Navy cadet on board the SS Florian which was lost with all hands after being sunk by the U-94. She was sailing from Hull to New York in ballast and went down in 42 seconds - leaving no time for either a distress signal or for any of her crew to abandon ship.
The U94 was itself sunk in August 1942 after being rammed by the HMCS Oakville.
The crew, plus two Royal Naval Gunners,who perished alongside Ronald were:
ALLAN, Fireman and Trimmer, FRANK, 35 years old, Hull - brother of Walter,below
ALLAN, Fireman and Trimmer, WALTER CHRISTOPHER, 21 years old,Hull - brother of Frank,above
ALLEN, Apprentice, GRAHAM SIMSON, 19 years old
BARBER, Trimmer, WILLIAM ERNEST,22 years old,Wellington,Shropshire
BEWLEY, Assistant Cook, FREDERICK,24 years old,Doncaster
BROBERG, Fireman and Trimmer, GUSTAV VICTOR,33 years old,Hull
BROWN, Fireman and Trimmer, JOSHUA, 23 years old,Grimsby
BROWNLEE, Carpenter, GEORGE LESLIE, 30 years old,Warwickshire
CAWKWELL, Fireman and Trimmer, HAROLD, 25 years old,Hull
CONSITT, Able Seaman, VICTOR, 22 years old,Hull
CROWELL, CLYDE. FIREMAN AND TRIMMER. Canadian Merchant Navy.
DEAKIN, Sailor, SIDNEY, 20 years old
EVANS, Able Seaman,ALBERT HENRY,D/JX 219188.RN.23 years old,Llanelli
FOSTER, Cadet, JOHN GERALD, 16 years old, Hoylake,Cheshire
GEDDES, Fireman and Trimmer, JOHN CORAL, 21 years old
HARWOOD, Fourth Engineer Officer, ROBERT SAMSON,21 years old,Wallasey
HAZELL, Chief Steward, GEORGE RONALD,21 years old,Bootle
HOLMES, Able Seaman, THOMAS GEORGE, 60 years old
HUNT, Donkeyman, ALFRED ALBERT DARDANELLES, 25 years old
HUNTER, Able Seaman, WILFRED, 43 years old,Hull
IBBETSON, Able Seaman, LESLIE, 21 years old
KRINKLE, Assistant Steward, FRANK, 18 years old
LIKEMAN, Third Officer, THOMAS GEORGE, 36 years old
LOVE, Cadet, DAVID RONALD, 19 years old,Purley
LOWSON, Trimmer, FREDERICK, 33 years old
MANN, Master, LAURENCE ROBERT,54 years old,Wallasey
MANNING, Donkeyman, ERNEST CARR, 39 years old
MARKWELL, Boatswain, EDWARD, 37 years old
McGOWAN, Fireman and Trimmer, BERNARD, 38 years old
MOIR, Chief Engineer Officer, JAMES ARCHIBALD, 54 years old,Birkenhead
NEEDHAM, Chief Steward, STANLEY OSCAR, 57 years old,Liverpool
PETLEY, Chief Officer, JAMES ARTHUR, 39 years old,Devon
ROCHE, Able Seaman, JOHN WILLIAM, 48 years old
SHAW, Second Radio Officer, JACK, 18 years old
STEPHENS, Third Engineer Officer, CLARENCE FREDERICK,27 years old,Bristol
STEVENSON, Cook, ARTHUR, 18 years old
STONE, First Radio Officer,RENDLE CHARLES JAMES, 34 years old,Liverpool
TAYLOR, Fireman and Trimmer, WILLIAM, 23 years old
WETTON, Donkeyman, JOHN HENRY, 60 years old,Hull
WHEATLEY,Able Seaman,REGINALD HORACE, P/JX 204917.RN.35 years old,Bristol
WILLIAMS, Second Officer, WILLIAM LLOYD, 57 years old,Liverpool
YEOMAN, Trimmer, GEORGE HERBERT, 27 years old
YORGENSON, Second Engineer Officer, ARTHUR CARLO,39 years old,Hull
Date of Death:26/08/1916
Regiment: Manchester Regiment
Unit: 23rd Bn
Memorial: Thiepval Memorial
Panel Reference: Pier & Face 13A or 14C
John,born in Royton in 1891, was the only
child of Robert & Alice Barlow of 33 Queen Street,Royton. Another
boy,Joseph,had died in infancy. Robert was the Secretary of the Royton
branch of the Oldham Operative Spinner's Association and son John worked
at the Vine Mill.
enlisted in early 1916 and was summoned to the colours on February
5th,1916. It looks like he signed up with a friend from the Vine Mill, Harry Brassington,
and together they spent time together in the 27th Battalion of the
Manchester Regiment in Southport before they were allocated to different
battalions. Also reporting for duty at Ashton the same day was Abraham Singleton.
John & Abraham were sent together from England to France, arriving
on July 4th 1916 and being posted to the 23rd Manchesters the following
day.The battalion has been formed in Manchester in November 1914 as the
8th of the City's Pals Battalions. They were one of the army's new
Bantam Battalions. These were for men under 5 foot 3 inches tall (the
old, prewar, army height restriction) and were drawn from
industrial and coal mining areas where short stature was no sign of
weakness and probably also rather more common.
On July 18th the battalion had arrived in the area of the Battle of the Somme where after severe fighting the British had gained possession of Trones Wood, Bernafay Wood, and Montauban. The French Army on the right had pushed forward a similar distance to the east and north-east bringing the junction of the two armies together near Maltz Horn Farm, half a mile south of Trones Wood. Two ruined villages, Guillemont and Ginchy, lay on the right flank of the British advance, and father to the south lay Falfemont Farm… all these points were strongly fortified by the enemy.
On July 20th the British and French launched a joint attack. The 15th Sherwood Foresters who were in the trenches opposite Maltz Horn Farm had been chosen to make the attack but the day previous they had been badly shaken by shelling and gas which left only two of it's four companies in a fit state to operate. The 104th Brigade, of which the 23rd
Manchesters were part of, were instructed to supply supporting troops and at very short notice two companies of the 23rd
were ordered up and reached their positions at 3am. They Sherwood Foresters went over the top at 5am in an attack that
proved unsuccesful. The rising sun illuminated the troops as they advanced, the company on the right reached their
objectives but were forced back, that on the left was devastated by enemy fire upon topping a ridge. Survivors from both
arrived in dribs and drabs to the trenches manned by the 23rd Manchesters.
The French attacking to the right of the Sherwood Foresters had made headway and the two companies of the 23rd
Manchesters in the front line were sent forward at 10:45 to secure their flank with the remainding two companies also
moving up, one was ordered to follow the other two and the remainder was to hold the trench. The attacking troops again
reached the shattered German trench but were swept by machine gun fire and were forced to retreat. Word then came from
the French that a German counterattack was coming,and the men of the 23rd and the hard hit 15th Sherwood Foresters (who counted amongst their number Royton man Frank Sutcliffe) dug in for an attack that thankfully never materialised.
The following days found the men of the 23rd under prolonged German shellfire with a fair few deaths and many more being wounded and shellshocked. They were relieved from the frontline on July 25th. On July 29th the battalion was lent to the 90th Brigade to provide working and carrying parties to support an attack on Guillemont. In this action 5 men from the
23rd Manchesters were listed as being killed, 30 wounded, 4 gassed and 11 missing.
After a spell out of the front line the battalion, on August 19th, took up position again on the front line. The position taken up was in a very poor condition with many dead British and German bodies to be found. The battalion managed to improve their position greatly before being temporarily relieved on August 22, they were back again on August 24th. They were neighbours to the 17th Lancashire Fusiliers who were to launch an attack the following day at 17:45. The Manchesters were to act in support carrying up rations, ammunition and water. Over the course of the 25th and 26th nine men from the battalion were to die, John Barlow was one of them.
The others to die were:
BARNARD LEWIS 23 Lieutenant from Manitoba,Canada
CUNNINGHAM ARTHUR from Manchester
GAVAGHAN MICHAEL 23 Lance Corporal 21731 from Rochdale
GREEN JOSEPH 28 21586 from Miles Platting
HOWELL JOHN 34249 from Oldham
LUPTON ENOCH 33431 from Oldham
RODGERS ROBERT 34421 from Manchester
WAITE WILLIAM 20 27237 from Oldham
His commanding office wrote to his parents:
"Dear Mr and Mrs Barlow - I have the painful duty of informing you of
the death of your son J.Barlow(32929). He was killed on the night of
August 25th while carrying out his duty during our tour of the
trenches.He was buried on the battlefield,as all heroes are.Please
accept my sincere sympathy on losing your son.Try not to mourn his loss,but glory in the fact that he
has done his duty"
The Oldham Chronicle of 9/9/1916 reported on the Memorial Service that had been
held at St.Paul's,Royton for John & another Royton casualty,Eric
First the Rev JH Humphrey went over the letter received by Barlow's parents and then..
"I am quite sure of that - that John Barlow would do his duty.My mind
goes back to him as a boy who used to take the deepest interest in the
foreign mission work of the Church,and whose missionary box fo rmany
many years always headed the list of "amounts collected".That was merely
a sidelight into his life generally.He was a good,honest,God fearing
young fellow,a credit to his parents,to his church and to all who had
the pleasure of his friendship.He never came home
on leave without making it his rule to receive the blessed sacrament.
The last time he was with us was at Whitsuntide.In one of his letters he
tells how under trying conditions he chaplain administered holy
communion.Shells flying,and an air duel up above,and a full view of the
"Anybody coming out here will say his prayers if he has never done before". On the day on which he was killed he wrote his last letter to his
parents,and how solemn the words - his last words - ought to be regarded
by us! Listen to them: "I only wish I could see you,if it was only once more.The times that I
have said my prayers in the trenches - well, I cannot count them!You
must keep on hoping and praying for the best While I am away.We shall
have to wait and see what God's will is.I am all right,mother. I hope
you are the same.If anybody wanted a wish fulfilling it is the lads out
here.They want peace,and pray for it.I will write again as soon as I get
more time.Till then,
God bless and guide you till we meet". Till we meet! Yes, the brave young soldier has fought and laid down
his life doing his duty.He is now resting from all the awful din and
fury of the contest.He has got the peace which God has now given
him.Till we meet.Let us pray as humbly and sincerely as he did and then
indeed his last wish will be fulfilled."
Special hymns were sung and special prayers said and the "Dead March" was played at the conclusion of the service.
From the Chronicle of 23/8/1916 In affectionate remembrance of our dear son,Private John Barlow,Manchester Regiment,killed in
action near Guillemont,France on August 25th,1916
Can a father and mother forget
The son they loved so well?
God takes them first who are the best,
His vacant place no one can fill.
Father and Mother.
I often sit and think of you
When I am all alone
For memory is the only thing
That death can call its own
Date of Death:20/09/1917
Memorial:Tyne Cot Memorial
Panel Reference:Panel 93 to 94
George Baron's inscription at Tyne Cot
George Baron was born in Royton in 1898, the son of James and Hannah.He had a brother Walter and sisters Alice,Mary&Ethel. George like most lads in Royton worked in the cotton industry. He was called up on February 26th,1917 and posted to the Welsh Regiment on 25th August of that year,arriving at Le Havre from England the following day.He met up with his battalion on September 2nd and eighteen days later went over the top during the Battle of the Menin Road.He was killed along with 58 others from his unit whilst under heavy German machine gun fire. They were:
Private James McDonald Abbott,62535,19 years old,from Carlisle
Private William Charles Allen,55834,19 years old,from Bath
Private John Winter Bell,59297,20 years old,from Durham
Private Harry Bennett,15706,from Taunton
Private Henry James Bennett,25946,from Newport,born Taunton
Private James Berry,62547,from Chorley
Private Leslie William Beyer,285407,22 years old,from Maidstone
Lance Corporal William John Bowen,16774,from Bargoed
Private Patrick Buckley,285516,20 years old,from Cardiff
Private Richmond Burd,30426,34 years old,from Shropshire
Private Frederick John Burns,41996,33 years old,from Swansea
Private Richard Cartwright,1469,21 years old,from Cheshire
Private Frederick Chard,55839,from Somerset
Private Frank Morris Chorley,242106,enlisted in Cardiff
Private Clifford Thomas Colman,46346,from Somerset
Private Andrew Coyle,34285,from Newcastle-on-Tyne
Private Joseph Crowley,62558,from Liverpool
Private Stanley Charles Cryer,62554,19 years old,from Rochdale
Private Morgan Davidson,39396,from Bridgend
Private Evan Thomas Davies,44466,26 years old,from Newquay,Cardiganshire
Private Joshua Davies,24993,from Aberavon
Private Tom Emms,28130,from Cardiff
Private Richard John Evans,14816,from Penydarren,Glamorganshire
Private Thomas Evans,58737,from Glamorganshire
Private Walter Frodsham,62570,from Bolton
Private John Henry Fry,2855313,31 years old,from Cardiff
Major John Angel Gibbs,DSO,37 years old,from Penarth,Cardiff
Private Arthur Gorvin,285005,from Newport
Private James William Groves,285520,30 years old,from Hereford
Private Frank Maurice Guy,60859,from Wolverhampton
Private William Hart,62593,19 years old,from Liverpool
Private William Henry Howland,57161,23 yeard old,from Ramsgate
Private David Hughes,21429,36 years old,from New Tredegar
Private William Thomas John,54265,19 years old,from Haverfordwest
Private Hugh Jones,34966,37 years old,from Llantrisant,Glamorganshire
Private John Jones,62600,19 years old,from Shrewsbury
Second Lieutenant John Arllwyd Jones,34 years old from Wrexham
Second Lieutenant Llewellyn Price Jones,24 years old,from Cardiff
Corporal Thomas Owen,20970,30 years old,from Treorchy,Glamorganshire
Private William Thomas Jones,37184
Second Lieutenant Frederick Jukes,26 years old,from Cardiff
Private John Lennon,26221
Private Arthur Ludgate,43585,22 years old,from Gorton
Company Serjeant Major James Morris,53690,26 years old,D C M,from Newport
Corporal Howell OWen,14544,24 years old,from Merthyr
Private Edwin Parsell,53841,22 years old,from Ebbw Vale
Lance Corporal John Perry,19121,19 years old,from Pembrokeshire
Private Edward David Phillips,1642
Corporal Henry Russell,12894,36 years old,from Cheltenham
Private James Simmonds,22360
Second Lieutenant Lionel G.T Thomas,19 years old,from Pembrokeshire
Private William Henry Trinder,19 years old,from Blackburn
Private William Ivor Tucker,56579,20 years old,from Swansea
Private Percy Albert Wildish,57170,22 years old,from Kent
Private Glyn Williams,46452,20 years old,from Llanelli
Private Ernest Worth,285049,from St.Helens
The official history of the Regiment describes the action of that day: As was to be expected the enemy put up their strongest resistance on the high ground south of St. Julien where the ground was firmer for attack, and Sir Douglas Haig accordingly extended the battle area of the Second Army to include the Menin Road, and brought up fresh Divisions for the attack, which was fixed for 20th September. The weather improved in September, though on the night of 19th-20th September rain fell and there was a morning mist.
The front of attack extended from the Ypres-Comines Canal north of Hollebeke to the railway north of Langemarck, a distance of eight miles.The Welsh were represented by the 9th Battalion in the 19th Division, which attacked on the right of the British line. The task allotted to the Division was to protect the right flank of the 39th Division. This entailed an advance of about 900 yards on the left and centre, to the eastern edges of Belgian and Hessian Woods, and then a curved line running back to our original front line about 600 yards to the north of Lock 6 on the Canal. The 57th Brigade attacked on the left on a frontage of about 700 yards, and the 58th Brigade on the right on a frontage of about 1,200 yards, divided between the 6th Wilts on the south, the 9th Welsh in the centre, and the 9th Cheshires on the north, next to the 57th Brigade.
The first objective was the Red Line, an irregular line, 400 yards to 600 yards from the front trenches, and a pause was made on this before attacking Belgian and Hessian Woods, included in the second objective- the Blue Line- 300-500 yards further forward. The 9th Welsh were brought up from camp on 10th September and took over the narrow attacking frontage of about 400 yards with one Company, the other two Battalions doing the same. Familiarising themselves with the ground, the Battalions were withdrawn from 14th-18th September to rest, coming into line again on the night of 18th-19th September.
At 5.40 a.m. on 20th September the attack commenced, ‘C’ Company leading the attack on the right, with ‘A’ in support, ‘D’ Company leading on the left, with ‘B’ supporting it. The ground was heavy with rain, and the troops could not keep up with the barrage which had been purposely accelerated up to the first objective, to get the troops quickly clear of the counter-barrage. As a result they came in for more machine-gun fire.
At 7.40 a.m., Major J.A. Gibbs, DSO, who was in command, was wounded, and Lieutenant-Colonel Godfrey came up to take his place. The advance to the second objective began at 6.24 a.m. and he found ‘A’ and ‘C’ Companies held up by machine-gun fire from an isolated emplacement, which could not be rushed, and from persistent machine-gun fire from Hollebeke Chateau. On the left ‘B’ and ‘D’ Companies were also held up by machine-guns in the western edge of Hessian Wood, but with the aid of a Company of the Cheshires under Lieutenant Colvin, who outflanked the enemy, they got possession by 1 a.m. At about 2 p.m. the Germans launched a general counter-attack on the front of the 19th Division, but warning had been given from the air and the attack collapsed under our artillery fire.
Brigadier-General Glasgow got the Heavies turned on to Hollebeke Chateau, which quieted the machine-guns, and the eastern part of Hessian Wood was captured, but finding it very marshy the final line was fixed on the western edge.
The assault was generally successful on the whole front, but in the area lately held by the 38th Division, the attack on Eagle Trench and the Cemetery again failed, and these places only succumbed on 23rd September.
The Second and Fifth Armies took 3,243 prisoners this day, to which the 9th Welsh contributed 4 officers and 261 other ranks.
Our casualties, nearly all from machine-gun fire, were very severe.
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