The next WFA Branch Meeting takes place at:
Venue: The Stockport Armoury
Friday 12th August 2022.
Gate open 7pm Meeting commences 7.45pm.
Three Days at Marfaux - July 1918 - 2nd Battle of the Marne.
In July 1918 the 62nd Division was rushed to the Reims front to support the French Army. Used to the open ground of Northern France they found themselves in hilly wooded terrain. Their attack on 20 July cost them heavily as they came up against new defensive tactics that neutralised many of the methods that had brought success in trench warfare. Two days later they were able to smash through and begin an advance that would rival their record performance at Cambrai. How was it possible to turn the situation around so quickly? This talk focuses on the challenges of that 72 hours and how the officers and men of Braithwaite’s Division rose to them.
Fraser is a former TA officer and the author of “Massacre on the Marne” the Battalion history of the 2/5th West Yorkshire Regiment. When he is not studying the Great War and visiting battlefields he runs a specialist consulting company in the development of new medicines
Hawthorn Ridge Crater Association
28 January 2022 Update
Despite the difficulties of the last two years, the team continue to move ahead with research and maintenance on the site and look forward to getting out to the Somme regularly throughout 2022.
The team managed a trip out in early November to undertake maintenance on the ground and boundary fences and are happy to report the site is looking excellent. We also held commemorations on 11th and 13th November, with fabulous attendance, especially from the locals of Beaumont Hamel. Along with 1st July, these will be annual events and all are welcome.
The website is now up and running - www.hawthornridgeca.com – and will continue to be updated with information, updates and news. There is also the facility to donate to the charity, your donations are very important to the upkeep and running of the site and all gratefully received.
Finally, our Twitter page is proving a huge success - @HawthornRidgeCA - please do follow us for regular updates on our visits out to the site. If you are on the Somme and would like a free tour, please contact us and if we are over we will happily oblige.
Newsletter for March 2022
The latest newsletter is here!
We have learned that longtime branch member Ken Smallwood has passed away after a fall.
"Ken was an early member of the Western Front Association and was approached by John Giles to form a local branch in the Manchester area.
Ken was far too modest a man to put himself forward but he did make contact with other members of the WFA in the locality and through his efforts a branch was born! Ken knew and had many in-depth conversations with surviving WW1 veterans including Paddy Kennedy and George Ashurst, whose book may well not have been published without Ken.
He told me of an early branch meeting where a speaker on the 1918 German offensive was constantly being interrupted by an old gentleman. When challenged the heckler just said "That was not how he remembered it".
Ken was a true Gentleman and never had a bad word to say about anyone, but more than that he was a true friend. I will miss Ken terribly and trips to and from the WFA meetings will never be the same for me."
Terry has written four new articles on the neutrals in WWI: one on the Dutch, click here, one on the Swiss Red Cross and PoWs, click here, one on Switzerland itself in WWI, click here annd finally one on tracing PoWs, click here.
We have an article from Jackie and Roger Berry on their exploration of Buxton looking for traces of the wartime hospitals - see here.Search for Relatives of Soldier, John William Beverley
A book wrapped in brown paper found in a cupboard in a house in Milnrow has led to a family history search by two ladies from Huddersfield. The book, ‘To Pay the Price’ by Silas K. Hocking, was a present to a John William Beverley given to him by his cousins, Clara Bell Matthews and May Matthews on his twelfth birthday in December 1900. Even more intriguing was a letter found inside the book from John William Beverley to his mother dated 26 September 1917 from the battlefields of France where he was a soldier.
The discovery of the book and letter led to Oldham where John William Beverley was born on 4 December 1888. A property repairer by trade, he lived with his mother, Martha and Stepfather, Albert Whiteley, until he married Annie Smith (dob circa 1889) at the beginning of 1912. They subsequently had a son, John Beverley, born Jan/Feb/March 1912.
John Wm Beverley joined the 2/10th Manchester Regiment of the Oldham Territorials at Whitsuntide 1915, and was sent to Egypt early in 1917. He was later sent to France where he was wounded in the knee with shrapnel on 5 April 1918. Transferred to the Lord Derby Hospital, Warrington he died on 20th May 1918, aged 29 and was buried in a war grave in Chadderton cemetery on 24th May 1918.
The researchers are trying to trace relatives of the above to return the book and letter to them. It is especially important as this year (1918) is the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI.
Mike O'Brien's new book
There is a review of Mike's new book on Americans in the British forces, here.
Medals of Private George William Shaw
We were contacted recently through the website by Mark Shaw who is searching for information about his great uncle, Private George William Shaw, 12364 of 9th battalion Cheshire Regiment. Mark's email reads as follows:
I hope you may be able to help me, as I am currently researching my Family Tree. I have identified George William Shaw as my Great Uncle. He served in A Company 9th Battalion Cheshire Regiment, from 01/09/1914 until his death 22/06/1917. His service number was 12364.
I have found that his medals (with the exception of his BWM), death plaque and associated certificates were sold on Ebay in 2014. I am unable to identify the seller or the purchaser.
I would like to find who it was that bought the items, if only to ask for copies of the documentation and, maybe provide a little background information in regard of my Uncle. Ideally, I would love to buy the items.
I know it is a long shot but I thought that it may be possible that one of your members may be the purchaser. I would be obliged if you could see your way clear to circulating the details to your membership.
There is an account of the visit to Ypres by Martin and Winifrid Logan to honour the memory of those Manchester Corporation Tramways who fell in WWI - Tramways workers
Manchester Military History Society
The Society meet at:
East Manchester History and Gaming Centre,
Knivton Street, Godley, Hyde, SK14 2PU
More details on their website - Manchester Military History Society
A new memorial to Manchester railwaymen killed in WWI