Roy Mellor, Lieutenant, 22nd Battalion, Manchester Regiment
Killed in action 1st July 1916 in Somme, France, aged 21
Roy Mellor was born on 16th January and baptised on 5th June 1895 at St George’s Church, Sutton, South Macclesfield, the only son of Harriet and Richard Clowes Mellor, a dyer of 41 West Bond Street, Macclesfield. In 1901, six year old Roy was living at that address with his parents and sisters Margery Clowes (8) and Hilda Mary (5). Ten years later, the family had moved to Ravenswood, 217 Park Lane, Macclesfield, and all three children were still at school.
Roy was educated at the Kindergarten of Macclesfield Girls High School, followed by the Modern School and Macclesfield Grammar School, where he was captain of the football team for two seasons, a member of the cricket team, and a keen athlete, winning the championship bowl for athletics in 1912. He was also a member of Macclesfield Golf Club.
In 1913 Roy went to Manchester University to study chemistry, where he joined the University Officers’ Training Corps.
Roy enlisted in the Public Schools’ Battalion in September 1914, as recorded in the Macclesfield Courier, and went to Leatherhead for training. In January 1915 he accepted a commission as Second-Lieutenant in the 22nd Manchester Regiment, and underwent several more training courses: at Morecambe in January 1915, Grantham from April 1915, and at Larkhill from September 1915 onwards. Roy was musketry instructor to the battalion, and had also acted as assistant adjutant and intelligence officer.
Roy was drafted to France on 11th November 1915, landing at Boulogne, at which point the regiment came under the command of the 91st Brigade in the 7th Division. From the 22nd Manchester Regiment’s war diary:
Between 26th and 30th June 1916 the battalion was in camp at Bois des Tailles, and at 9.30pm on 30th they moved to the assembly trenches, ready for the attack on 1st July.
The attack commenced at 7.30am and the leading companies reached their first objective, Bucket Trench – Dantzig Alley, with heavy casualties, and the supporting companies then pushed on towards the final objective, Fritz trench; but owing to further casualties, mainly from machine gun and shell fire, were unable to reach it; there were still large numbers of the enemy in dugouts in Dantzig Alley. The battalion, together with the 2nd Queens Regiment, cleared Dantzig Alley by use of bombs, and also Fritz Trench and Bright Alley, taking 75 prisoners as a result of this action. 2nd Queens Regt then occupied Fritz Trench and Bright Alley while 22nd Manchester Regiment occupied Dantzig Alley.
By the end of the day, the regiment had lost 18 officers (10 killed, 8 wounded) and 472 other ranks (120 killed, 241 wounded and 111 missing – i.e. unaccounted for and probably either killed or wounded). Lt Roy Mellor was one of the officers who lost his life that day.
Lt Roy Mellor was one of three Macclesfield men known to have been killed on 1st July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme. His death was reported in the Macclesfield Times of 14th July 1916:
LIEUT. ROY MELLOR KILLED – A PROMISING CAREER CUT SHORT
It is with the deepest regret that we record the death in action of Lieut. Roy Mellor, only son of Mr and Mrs R C Mellor, Ravenswood, Park Lane, Macclesfield, who fell in the early stages of the big advance on July 1st. Official information was received by MR and Mrs Mellor on Friday evening that their son was reported killed. Some uncertainty, however, appeared to exist concerning his fate, and during the week-end Mr Mellor interviewed at Stockport a wounded soldier who was said to have seen the Lieutenant on the battlefield. It transpired that Lieut. Mellor’s regiment, the Manchesters, were the first over the parapet of the trenches, and the soldier informed Mr Mellor that during the advance he saw his son lying on the ground wounded in the act of reloading his revolver. Asking if he required any assistance, the brave young officer replied in the negative and urged the men to continue their advance. Half-an-hour later the soldier returned, and finding that Lieut. Mellor was missing, naturally concluded that he had been picked up and taken to hospital. Unhappily, all doubts were dispelled on Monday morning, when Mr and Mrs Mellor received a letter from the wife of the Colonel of the regiment, informing them that Lieut. Mellor’s body had been found and buried. She knew the Lieutenant personally and extended her sympathy to the parents. Further information shows that Lieut. Mellor’s death was due to shrapnel wounds received subsequently to the first advance. His first injury was a shot in the leg, and a letter from the Colonel makes it clear that the deceased officer was later killed by shrapnel.
Lieut. Mellor, who was only 21 years of age last January, was a young officer of great promise and took a keen interest in his military duties. He was of excellent physique, being half an inch over six feet in height, and weighed 13 stone. As a little boy, he was in the Kindergarten of the Girls’ High School, from which he went to the Modern School, and on the amalgamation of that institution with the Grammar School he transferred to the Cumberland Street buildings. He had a successful scholastic career, passing the Matriculation examination when 16 years of age, and the intermediate examination for the London University B.A. degree. He won a County Council scholarship for three years, and also a scholarship tenable at the Manchester University, to which he proceeded a year prior to the outbreak of the war. At Manchester he was taking the honours course in chemistry and studying for his B.Sc. degree.
While in Manchester he became a member of the University Officers’ Training Corps, and a month after hostilities were commenced he enlisted in the Public Schools’ Battalion and trained at Leatherhead. In January 1915 Mr Mellor accepted a commission as Second-Lieutenant in the 22nd Manchesters, and underwent several military training courses. He was musketry instructor to the battalion, and had also been acting as assistant adjutant and intelligence officer. Lieut. Mellor went out to France last November, since when he had spent most of his time in the trenches. He was home for his first furlough five weeks ago.
…of over 700 men of the Manchesters who took part in the advance, only 100 returned unhurt, while of the officers, only the colonel, the medical officer and a second-lieutenant [remained unharmed].
Lieutenant Mellor showed himself an accomplished athlete during his school career. In 1912 he won the championship bowl for athletics, and for two seasons he was captain of the football eleven. He was also a member of the cricket team. Like his family, the deceased officer had been connected with St George’s Church all his life.
Lt Roy Mellor has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel Ref. Pier and Face 13 A and 14 C. of the Thiepval Memorial in France. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Lt Roy Mellor, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
In Macclesfield, Lt Roy Mellor is commemorated on the Park Green, Town Hall, St Michael’s Church, St George’s Church, Macclesfield Grammar School, Park Green Club and Macclesfield Golf Club war memorials.
Elsewhere, he is commemorated on the Manchester University war memorial.