Edward Eaton, Private 9156, 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
Killed in action 24th August 1914 in France, aged 24
Edward Eaton was born in Macclesfield on 23rd November 1889, the son of Priscilla and Charles Eaton, a silk weaver of 3 Hatton Street, Macclesfield. He was baptised in May 1890 at St George’s Church, High Street, Macclesfield (which once was part of the Sutton Parish). Edward had older siblings Charles, Florence, Lily and Annie. Edward was educated at St. John’s School, Macclesfield, from 31st October 1893.
After leaving school, Edward was employed as a railway engine cleaner for about two years before joining the Army Reserve in August 1908. His former employer. Mr E Woolley, Loco Foreman of 21 Beech Lane, Macclesfield, provided a character reference, stating that he had known Edward for about two years while he had been working as an engine cleaner, he was sober and honest, and had resigned from his job in order to better himself.
In January 1909, Edward joined the Regular Army as a Private in the Cheshire Regiment. His medical records describe him as being 5 feet 9¾ inches tall, weighing 133 pounds and having a chest measurement of 31½ inches. He had a fresh complexion, grey eyes and light hair. His service records show him to have been a man of some ability as he was soon promoted to Lance Corporal and was appointed a bandsman. He later relinquished both rank and appointment at his own request. His employment sheet, dated 1st October 1913, describes him as “intelligent, hard-working and reliable. A fair instrumentalist on the bassoon and bass clarinet; progressing well on the violin.”
The 1st Battalion was stationed in Ireland before the War and landed in France as part of the British Expeditionary Force on 16th August 1914. It was soon deployed in action against the Germans to cover the withdrawal of British troops from Mons. Heavy fighting took place at Audregnies near the French-Belgian border on 24th August and the Battalion was almost overwhelmed by four German regiments. By the end of the day, only 205 officers and men could be mustered from the Battalion’s original strength of 1000. The remainder had been killed, wounded or captured by the Germans. It was later confirmed that 3 officers and 54 men had been killed on that day, including Privates Edward Eaton and Arthur Frost (who was born in Macclesfield but moved away) – the first two men from the Macclesfield area to be killed in the Great War. Edward’s death was not officially confirmed until September 1916.
Private Edward Eaton has no known grave, and his name is listed on the La Ferte-Sous-Jouarre Memorial in Seine-et-Marne, France. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private Edward Eaton, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
The floral tributes laid when the Macclesfield Park Green War Memorial was unveiled on 21st September 1921 included one with the words “In affectionate remembrance of brother Edward Eaton, from Florrie and Annie.”