‚ÄčRoyton Roll of Honour

Date of Death:23/07/1916
Service No:25089
Regiment:Manchester Regiment
Unit:19th Bn.
Thiepval Memorial
Panel Ref:Pier&Face 13A&14C

Robert Marsden was born in Royton in 1893, the son of Samuel and Hannah. Both his parents worked in the cotton industry. He was a year younger than his sibling James. A third brother,Herbert,was born in 1895 but sadly died the following year.In 1901 the family were living at 176 Heyside and two years later, at the age of only 37, Samuel Marsden died.
In 1906, Hannah married Benjamin Wild at St.Mark's in Heyside and Robert gained five step siblings - William, James, Sarah, Edwin and Benjamin. A half sister, Mary Alice, followed in 1907. At the time of the 1911 census the family were at 174 Heyside and Robert was working as a piecer in one of the local mills.
Robert enlisted in Shaw, probably in December 1915, and became a member of the Manchester Regiment at Ashton-under-Lyne in January 1916. He became a member of the 26th Battalion,this was a reserve and training battalion based in the Southport area. Joining at around the same time was another 23 year old resident of Heyside, George Hurlston. It's not known exactly when Robert reached France for active service but George arrived there on June 25th and probably arrived with the 19th Battalion on July 9th or 13th. It's probable that Robert's path was a similar if not identical one.
The 19th Battalion, one of Manchester's Pals Battalions, had seen action on July 1st 1916 , the opening day of the Battle of the Somme in which the British Army suffered terrible losses. The battalion's objective had been the Glatz Redoubt, a heavily fortified German position some 700 yards in front of the village of Montauban. They took their objective and even though they suffered relatively light casualties compared to other units that day some 41 were killed, 12 recorded as missing and 137 wounded. They were again in action on July 8th suffering 13 killed, 3 missing and 44 wounded.
The two new drafts,presumably containing Robert amongst their number, that arrived on the 9th and 13th were 89 and 224 men strong respectively.
Whilst out of the line reorganising orders were received that the battalion was to attack the village of Guillemont on the 23rd.They moved up to Silesia support trench on the 22nd and then at 22:00 that night moved off in single file and formed up behind Trones Wood facing their objective. At 02:30 on the morning of the attack they moved through the wood and took up their positions.
The attack began at 03:40, after a massive British artillery bombardment, and from the start the men were subject to heavy shell, rifle and machine gun fire but casualties were light up until the men reached the German wire when losses began to mount alarmingly.It's not known which of the Battalion's four Companies Robert Marsden was a member of but the unit war diary describes the experience of each in turn:
A Company reached the German front trench without serious opposition but then before pressing on came under heavy machine gun fire from the flank. Groups of differing strengths made attempts to push forward but were all either killed or forced to fall back under the strength of the German resistance.
D Company found their section of the German frontline with it's wire uncut despite the force of the preceding artillery barrage. About 30 men were cut down by enemy fire at this point before the rest managed to force their way through the first bank of wire. The second row was found to also be uncut and although the German trench was only a matter of yards away the men were forced to fall back under heavy grenade and rifle fire. B Company had a similar experience to D Company, they were originally in support and had followed D Company into the fray and were forced to fall back with them.
The worst losses were suffered by C Company. They managed to force their way through the wire and into Guillemont in which fierce fighting broke out. Some of the men got as far as the eastern edge of the village and for a time had surrounded the HQ of the defending German regiment. The Manchesters were badly outnumbered and with no reinforcements able to cross the withering fire coming down on no-mans land, C Company was cut off and doomed to death or capture.
Robert Marsden was one of the many men missing after the fighting, as was fellow Heyside resident George Hurlston. The battalion's initial casualty report was that 7 had been confirmed killed, 55 wounded and 500 were missing. A report in the Oldham Chronicle in mid September stated that the two lads were missing. Then in June 1917 Robert's father and stepmother received the official notification that he was dead. His body was either never found or identified and his name is on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing.
The family suffered further agony in 1917 when Robert's stepbrother William was killed whilst serving with the 2nd Battalion Manchester Regiment. Like Robert his name can be found at Thiepval.
Robert's mother Hannah died in 1949 aged 83 and is buried at Royton Cemetery along with Robert's father Samuel,stepfather Benjamin (died in 1939,aged 76) and brother James (1950 aged 58).
The other men of the 19th Manchesters listed as having died that day along with Robert and George Hurlston were:

ADSHEAD ALAN Private 11727 from Stockport                    
ASHBY BERNARD Lance Corporal 12811 from Southport                    
BACKHOUSE CHARLES Private 12279 from Oldham                    
BAKER WILLIAM Private 31174 born Manchester,lived Ripon                    
BATE CHARLES 23 Lance Corporal 11470 from Manchester                    
BAYLEY WILLIAM Lance Corporal 11471 from Manchester                    
BERKENHOUT WILLIAM 19 Private 26579 from Manchester                    
BIRLEY HUGH 48 Captain from Irlam                    
BLEARS FRED Private 12287 born Pendleton,enlisted Manchester                    
BOLD HARRY 25 Private 11749 from Stockport                    
BRADBURY ALFRED Private 31177 from Manchester                    
BRADY ARTHUR 41 Private 17833 from Barrow in Furness                    
BRIERLEY CHARLES Private 26882 from Manchester                    
BROOKES  WILLIAM 38 Serjeant 11491 from Swinton                    
BROWN JAMES Private 12537 from Manchester                    
BROWN JOSEPH Private 11492 born Salford,enlisted Manchester                    
BROWNBILL RICHARD Private 11768 from Chorley                    
BRUCE WILLIAM Private 11493 from Manchester                    
BRYANS WILLIAM 20 Private 12840 from Manchester                    
BUTLER WALTER Lance Serjeant 12793 from Manchester                    
CHADWICK CYRIL Private 12297 from Salford                    
CHALMERS CECIL 19 Private 12298 from Manchester                    
CLOWES JAMES 37 Private 11509 from Macclesfield                    
COLLINGE WILLIAM 31 Private 25046 from Hollinwood                    
COOK EDWARD Private 12300 from Manchester                    
CRAIG HENRY 19 Private 31076 from Manchester                    
CRAVEN ALFRED 21 Private 12295 from Manchester                    
CURRELL NORMAN Private 26923 from Manchester                    
DAWBER JOHN 23 Lance Corporal 12315 from Pendleton                    
DAWSON WILFRID 25 Corporal 1319 from Middleton                    
DODD JOSEPH 20 Private 31176 from Manchester                    
DUNN FRANCIS 27 Private 31165 from Buxton                    
DUXBURY JAMES Lance Corporal 12069 born Salford,enlisted Manchester.

EDWARDS GEORGE Corporal 12071 born Northamptonshire,lived Sussex                
FAIRCLOUGH THOMAS Corporal 12076 from Manchester                    
FENTON FRANK 31 Corporal 11539 born Salford,lived Lytham                    
FINCH THOMAS 27 Private 11806 from Manchester                    
FITZPATRICK EDWARD 21 Private 31156 from Manchester                    
FLETCHER FRANK Private 26724 born Cheshire,enlisted Manchester                    
FOLEY THOMAS 27 Private 12079 from Manchester                    
FOSTER BERNARD 23 Lieutenant from Somerset                    
FRIDAY ROBERT Private 31199 from Manchester                    
FURY JOHN Private 11810 born Rochdale,enlisted Manchester                    
GARSIDE LEES 26 Corporal 11811 born Hollinwood,lived Failsworth                    
GEORGE THOMAS 22 Private 12347 from Gloucester                    
GLEADHILL LEONARD Private 12342 from Beverley                    
GLOVER PERCY Private 12333 from Stockport                    
GLOVER THOMAS Private 11555 from Manchester                    
GREGORY  GEORGE Corporal 11563 from Manchester                    
GWYTHER JOSEPH Private 26531 from Manchester                    
HAGUE ARNOLD 22  Lance Serjeant 12090 from Manchester                    
HANCOCK JOHN Private 12361 from Manchester                    
HARDING  FRANK Private 34049 from Chadderton                    
HARRISON ROBERT 24 Private 12095 born Manchester,lived Salford                    
HEATON ALFRED Private 26725 from Manchester                    
HIGGINBOTTOM WILLIAM Private 17922 from Stockport                    
HOLDSWORTH JAMES Private 12109 from Manchester                    
HOLMES PHILIP 19 Private 12710 from Manchester                    
HOUGH JOHN 31 Private 33633 from Manchester                    
HULME GEORGE Private 33864 from Manchester                    
HYNES JAMES Private 11858 born Dublin, lived Manchester                    
JACKSON HAROLD 19 Private 12547 from Manchester                    
JEVONS RUPERT 23 Private 12375 from Manchester                    
JOHNSON SAMUEL Private 12816 born Salford, enlisted Manchester                    
JONES ALBERT 25 Private  12374 from Denbigh                    
JONES FRANK Private 26928 from Crewe                    
JONES WILLIAM 24 Private 11588 from Manchester                    
KAY WILLIAM 19 Private 26521 from Manchester                    
KETTLE EDWARD Private 25022 from Manchester                    
KNOWLES    GEOFFREY 26 Private 12382 from Manchester                    
LEEMING    HARRY 22 Private 34074 from Manchester                    
LEWIS ARNOLD Private 33830 from Manchester                    
LOMAS WILLIAM 20 Private 12398 from Manchester                    
LYNCH MARTIN 21  Private  26713 from County Clare                    
LYONS JAMES Private 11600 from Manchester                    
MACKERETH FRANK 28 Private 12407 from Ambleside                    
MANNION    JOHN Private 12674 from County Mayo                    
MAPLEY GEORGE 21 Private 11886 from Manchester                    
MASON ARTHUR Private 31157 from Manchester                    
McCLUSKEY WILLIAM 28 Private 12412 from Manchester                    
McKIE WILLIAM 22 Corporal 12143 from Stranraer                    
McNAMARA GEORGE 20 Private 12144 from Manchester                    
MEREDITH HUGH Private 26627 born Wrexham,lived Manchester                    
MOE HAROLD Private 11606 born San Antonio,Texas.Enlisted Manchester                
MOORHOUSE EDWARD Private 12414 from Manchester                    
MORTON TOM 19 Private 12663 from Manchester                    
NORRIS THOMAS 24 Lance Serjeant 11898 born Congleton,lived Blackpool                
NUTTALL ROBERT Private 26518 born Droylsden,enlisted Manchester                    
OGDEN FRED Private 31105 from Oldham                    
OGDEN WILLIAM Private 12601 from Manchester                    
ORME FREDERICK Private 12802 born Woolwich,lived Manchester                    
PATERSON FRANK Serjeant  12429 from Manchester                    
PEDLEY JOHN Private 18098 born Manchester,lived Wilmslow                    
PILLEY GEORGE 25 Private 26141 from Manchester                    
POIZER SIDNEY 29 Serjeant 12180 from Manchester                    
POYNER SYDNEY 19 Private 12803 from Manchester                    
PRICKETT VICTOR 19 Private 12552 from Manchester                    
PUGH TOM Private 31045 born Eccles,lived Bramhall                    
RAMSBOTTOM WALTER Lance Corporal 11643 from Failsworth                    
REEVES DAVID Private 11660 from Manchester                    
REID JAMES Private 11646 from Manchester                    
RENSHAW    HARRY Private 18436 from Manchester                    
RILEY THOMAS 25 Private 11657 from Stockport                    
ROBERTS  JOHN Private 11650 from Manchester                    
ROBINSON JOHN Private 12571 from Preston                    
ROGERS WILLIAM Private 12436 from Manchester                    
ROTHWELL WILLIAM 26 Private 11920 from Manchester                    
ROYSE ARTHUR 21 Private 12197 from Manchester                    
RUBENSTEIN MORRIS Private 34041 from Manchester                    
RUSSELL ROBERT Private 11659 from Bramhall                    
SENIOR WILLIAM 26 Private 11661 from Manchester                    
SHAW TOM 25 Private 11666 from Bury                    
SHAWCROSS WALTER Private 31209 from Manchester                    
SHEASBY  JOHN 28 Lance Serjeant 11667 from Manchester                    
SHIRES LEONARD Lance Corporal 31060 born Salford,enlisted Manchester                
SMITH ALFRED Private 26692 from Manchester                    
SMITH JAMES 22 Private 11671 from Manchester                    
SPENCER  ARTHUR Serjeant  11674 born Isle of Wight,lived Stretford                
SPINK ERNEST Serjeant 12462 from Manchester                    
STRETCH THOMAS Private 12215 from Manchester                    
STUART CHARLES Lance Corporal 28865 born Wigan,lived Berkshire                    
SUTTON HAROLD 28 Private 33840 from Manchster                    
SWETNAM ARTHUR Private 12695 from Stoke                    
TAYLOR ALFRED 20 Private 11686 from Manchester                    
THOMPSON HAROLD 27 Private 11987 from Manchester                    
THORNLEY WILLIAM Private 26618 born St.Helens,enlisted Manchester                
THROWER  HARRY Private 33849 born Lincolnshire,lived Walthamstow                    
TITLEY PERCY 21 Private 27521 from Manchester                    
TOMLINSON ARTHUR 30 Private 12469 from Manchester                    
TURNBULL ARTHUR Private 25016 from Manchester                    
TURNER FRED 24 Serjeant 11689 from Bury                    
WALTON CHARLES 27 2nd Lt.from Manchester                    
WATERS JAMES 23 Private 11692 born Pendleton,enlisted Manchester                
WATTS CYRIL 20 Private 12481 from Manchester                    
WEBB ALFRED 22 Private 34184 from Manchester                    
WILKINSON ALBERT 29 Private 11708 from Manchester                    
WILLCOCKS CYRIL Private 12243 born Cardiff,enlisted Manchester                    
WILLIAMS ALBERT Private 11704 from Salford                    
WILLIAMS ARTHUR Corporal 11960 from Salford                    
WILLIAMS PETER 31 Private 12785 from Salford                    
WILLMOTT ALFRED Private 31031 born Manchester,lived Salford                    
WOOD JOHN 28 Private 11716 from Manchester                    
WOOD JOHN 19 Private 11970 from Salford