‚ÄčRoyton Roll of Honour

FLORIN BEDFORD
Age:21

Date of Death:01/04/1918
Rank:Private
Service No:376740
Regiment:Manchester Regiment
Unit:9th Bn.
Cemetery:
Le Cateau Military Cemetery
Grave :I. A. 17.


Florin Bedford was born in Warley near Halifax to parents Aquilla & Martha.He was one of four boys - Arthur,Herman (he also served in WW1) & Albert being the others.At some point after 1901 the family moved to Royton. Florin attended Blackshaw Lane school and was also connected with the Luzley Brook Wesleyan Chapel and Sunday school.
Florin worked as a piecer at the King Mill before signing up with the army in late 1915 and went on active service in early 1917 with the 9th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment.This unit started life as the Ashton Pals but casualties would have considerably changed it's composition by the time Florin joined up with them. Before Florin went on active service the Bedford family was hit by tragedy when Aquilla was killed in an accident at the Roy Mill on August 29th 1916.In his capacity as the oiler and greaser there he had been struck by the fly wheel,breaking his neck instantly.
Florin had the misfortune of being on the front line on March 21st, 1918. This was day one of the great German spring offensive .At 04:35 a heavy German barrage began along a 40 mile front. Trench mortars, mustard gas, chlorine gas, tear gas and smoke canisters were concentrated on the forward trenches, while heavy artillery bombarded rear areas to destroy Allied artillery and supply lines Over 3,500,000 shells were fired in five hours, hitting targets over an area of 150 sq mi ,this was the biggest barrage of the entire war.
Winston Churchill, in his capacity as Minister of Munitions, was in the area inspecting a Scottish division and said:

"And then, exactly as a pianist runs his hands across the keyboard from treble to bass, there rose in less than one minute the most tremendous cannonade I shall ever hear...It swept round us in a wide curve of red leaping flame stretching to the north far along the front of the Third Army, as well as of the Fifth Army on the south, and quite unending in either direction...the enormous explosions of the shells upon our trenches seemed almost to touch each other, with hardly an interval in space or time...The weight and intensity of the bombardment surpassed anything which anyone had ever known before"

After the bombardment the German army poured forward and in places the British front line was swept away with massive loss of life. Amongst the various battalions of just the Manchester Regiment well over 400 men died that day. Florin Bedford was injured and captured by the Germans. He died in their care in hospital on April 1st