‚ÄčRoyton Roll of Honour

ALFRED BARDSLEY
Age:22
Date of Death:30/07/1916
Rank:Private
Service No:27249
Regiment:Manchester Regiment
Unit:18th Battalion
Memorial:
Thiepval Memorial
Panel Ref:Pier&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.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 killed.
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