Bygone news: 13 Oct 1916 – The Macclesfield Times

News from the Macclesfield Times and East Cheshire Observer of Friday 13th October 1916.

Roll of Honour; Other News; In Memoriam



Macclesfield men, both amongst the officers and in the ranks, are playing their part heroically in the great Somme battle that is slowly but surely changing the whole course of the war. Particulars relating to Sergt Tom Roscoe and Private Wilson, whose portraits appear in this issue, were published last week. Sergt Roscoe, a member of the Australian Contingent, had fought in Gallipoli, Egypt and France, and Private Wilson was in the Grenadier Guards. A native of Macclesfield, he was, prior to enlistment, a member of the Salford Police Force.



… On Saturday night Mr Henry Barber, 65 Prestbury Road, Macclesfield, received the sad news of the death of his second son, Second-Lieut George Barber, Royal Fusiliers, who was killed in action in France on the 4th inst. Lieut Barber, who left a lucrative post abroad and travelled to England specially with the object of entering the service of his country, was a very promising young officer… the deceased was Mr Barber’s second son and he was 28 years of age. He was a scholar at Christ Church School, in which he afterwards served as a pupil teacher and assistant. Subsequently he was on the staff at St George’s School, Macclesfield, for about 18 months…. He pursued his studies for three years at the Saltley Training College, near Birmingham. Lieut Barber took an active interest in the Boy Scout movement in Macclesfield, and was formerly the assistant scoutmaster of the Christ Church troop. Five years ago he went out to Malay as a teacher and master of sports at the Victoria Institute, where the pupils are prepared for admission to the Oxford and Cambridge Universities. He there organised a troop of Boy Scouts, of which he was the scoutmaster, and at the time of his departure the roll of membership stood at 200. In addition, he was a member of the Malay Volunteers and a Lieutenant int he local fire brigade.

In January 1915, Lieut Barber came over to England for the purpose of enlisting in the Army, and the authorities of the Institute undertook to keep his position open in addition to supplementing his Army pay. Joining the Royal Fusiliers as a private, he trained at Epsom and Clipstone Park, and while stationed at the last-named camp received his commission as Second-Lieutenant, being gazetted to another battalion of the Royal Fusiliers. Twelve months later he went out the France and was invalided home last March suffering from frost-bite and double pneumonia. He was in three or four hospitals in France and England. Upon his recovery he rejoined his regiment at Shoreham, and six weeks ago was drafted out a second time… His father, on Monday morning, received the following communication… I am writing this lying in what is nothing more than a shell-hole. We are… in the thick of it. It is terrible: the stench is unbearable, and the sights are enough to turn the strongest man pale… we cannot dig, because [we would] be… digging up bodies. There are no dug-outs, no water, no trenches… Woods, roads and villages are wiped off the map… shells are falling like hail… you would laugh to see my new raincoat now… All we have to eat are biscuits, harder than dog biscuits, and bully beef… If I do not come through, you will know that I do not wish for anything better than to give my life for my country. Good-bye and God bless you all.

The deceased officer was only married last December to a London lady, who has lately been residing with her sister-in-law, Mrs A B Frith, at Upton. Lieut Barber had been connected with Christ Church and Sunday School all his life… Mr Barber’s eldest son, William Henry, is serving in the Royal Flying Corps.



Mrs Benton, 127 Broken Cross, has received a notification… presuming the death of her son, Private Percy Bradbury, Grenadier Guards. Pte Bradbury enlisted on August 11th 1914, being at that time, although only 18 years of age, the tallest recruit sent up from Macclesfield. He stood 6ft 2 ins. After training, he left for France on May 23rd 1915, and was reported missing after an attack on October 17th 1915. Pte Bradbury had fourteen cousins serving… one of whom has been killed and others wounded.



The death in action is reported of Pte John William Douglas Stevens, of the Cheshire Regt, son of Mrs Connolly, 51 Ryle St, Macclesfield. The sad news was… in a letter written by Pte J Sellman, a Macclesfield soldier, whose home is at 6 Vincent St… I am sorry to inform you of Jack’s death. He was killed just entering the German’s front line trench. A shell dropped between jack and a few more lads, and all were killed…. 

Pte Stevens was only 18 years of age and enlisted in September 1914. He was drafted out to the front six weeks ago. Prior to joining the colours Pte Stevens was employed as an embroiderer at Pool Street Mill. He was a native of Macclesfield and was educated at Christ Church School. Two step-brothers have served… Pte Edwin Connolly, Liverpool Regt (killed in action in France twelve months ago); and Corporal T Connolly (wounded). A brother-in-law of Mrs Connolly, Lance-Corporal J Shaw, Royal Fusiliers, was killed in action on June 30th.



Sgt Robert Norton… passed away on Saturday night at the 2nd Western General Hospital, Manchester. The deceased had been ailing for some time and was… in the hospital for about a month… Sgt Norton, who was 56 years of age, was a native of Macclesfield and served for seven years in the Royal Marines, his service including duty abroad. Subsequently he returned to Macclesfield and was appointed caretaker of the Drill Hall, which position he… occupied for 22 years. He was connected with the 5th Volunteer Battalion, Cheshire Regt, and transferred… to the Territorials, holding the rank of Regimental Quarter-master Sergeant in the 7th Cheshires at the time of his retirement. He then joined the National reserve, with whom he was mobilised on the outbreak of war, and went to Queensferry. Later he was transferred to the Manchester Regt and acted for a time as sergeant-instructor at… Ashton. Afterwards he was drafted to Cleethorpes, where he was stationed at the time he was taken ill.

Before the war he took an interest in the Church Lads’ Brigade, in which he held a commission as Second-Lieutenant, and he was formerly swimming instructor to the boys of the Macclesfield Grammar School and the Industrial School. Sergeant Norton leaves a widow and three sons, all on foreign service… The eldest, Frank, aged 32, had completed his time as a trooper in the 5th Irish Lancers when war broke out. He was called up as a Reservist and is now in France. Percy, aged 29, has been in the Army eleven years and is now a sergeant with the Cheshire Regt in Egypt, while the youngest son, Lance-Corpl Fred Norton, is with the Cheshire in France. He is 25 years of age and was… a clerk with Mr F May, solicitor and clerk to the Macclesfield Board of Guardians and Rural District Council… He is now lying in Rouen Hospital suffering from wounds…

Yesterday the funeral took place at the Macclesfield Cemetery with military honours… The mourners were Mr Wilcock, Mr Whalley (sen), Mr W Whalley (jun), Mr J Norton, Mr Walker, Mr A T Pattinson, Mr Okell and Mr Hollinshead. The widow and relatives afterwards visited the grave. Corporals J W Bullock, Hatton and Radfirth and Private Hordern were the bearers…



…Sergeant John Baguley, Lancashire Fusiliers, brother of Mrs Frost, Crompton Road, Macclesfield, has been awarded the Military Medal for gallantly rescuing wounded comrades under heavy fire. In a letter to his sister the Sergeant states: I was in the front line, and on looking over the top I saw a couple of chaps wave their hands to signal that they were wounded. Out I went and got the first one in and then down to the dressing-station. I then came back and fetched the other one. Of course, I had a pretty rough time in ‘No Man’s Land,’ for I had to bring them across about twenty yards of barbed wire, which was in the grass. With it being daylight I was compelled to go… on my stomach… [when] I obtained [my] wounds… There was plenty of shrapnel flying about… that rusty barb is dangerous… Both fellows had been out three days in the blazing sun without a drink or anything to eat. In fact, they were wounded too badly to help themselves. Mrs Frost has also received a copy of the regimental orders… Military Medal to 17989 Sergt J Baguley for gallantry…

Sergt Baguley is 24 years of age, the son of the late Mr Charles Baguley, 156 Crompton Road, Macclesfield. He received his education at the Crompton Road Day School and was a member of the Parish Church Men’s Bible Class. Prior to enlisting he was a police-constable at Salford. Sergt Baguley joined the colours two years ago and was drafted out to France last October.



Corporal H Bailey, of the Grenadier Guards, son of Mrs Bailey, 24 Water St, Macclesfield (and nephew of Sergt-Major Parker, of the Macclesfield Battalion, Cheshire Volunteer Regt) is in hospital at Bristol suffering from wounds… His father, who was in the employ of the Corporation, enlisted immediately on the outbreak of war, and is now at the front with the Army Service Corps. Corporal Bailey, with patriotic enthusiasm, joined the Guards when he was 16½ years of age, being at that time five feet eight inches in height. Writing to his mother from the Beaufort War Hospital, Fishponds, Bristol, he states: I was X-rayed last Saturday and they found that my arm was fractured just below the elbow. The bullet just grazed the bone and split it, but there is no danger of losing my arm. Had it been shrapnel it might have been different. Any man who gets out of the awful place with only a wound is lucky. I came to this place… with a pal who was with poor Raymond Asquith (son of the Prime Minister) when he was killed. He gave him his last drink out of his flask and was asked by Lieut Asquith to return the flask to his father… I have handled the flask.

In a previous letter, written from the hospital at Rouen, Corporal Bailey describes how he received his wound: … we charged the German trench amid a hail of shot and shell. As soon as we got there, the Germans… threw up their hands. So in we jumped to take them prisoners… a German who was standing in the doorway of a dug-out fired at me and got me through the left arm just below the elbow. I dropped my gun, but not the bomb I had, and I let him have it very soon…



Mrs Gosling, 383 Park Lane, Macclesfield, has been officially informed that her husband, Pte Harold Gosling, of the Canadians, is in Edmonton Hospital… with a wound in the ankle. Private Gosling is 39 years of age, and has six children. He formerly followed the occupation of a stud-groom. He joined up seven weeks ago, being attached to the Canadians, and had only been in France a week. Private A Hall, a brother-in-law, was killed at Hill 60.



Lance-Corporal H Briggs, of Macclesfield, has been promoted to the rank of Company Quartermaster-Sergeant in the Cheshire Regt. He is stationed at Prees Heath, near Whitchurch, and before enlistment was employed on the reporting staff of our contemporary.  CQMS Briggs, who is 19 years of age, has only been in the Army a few months, and he obtained his first stripe in a few weeks…



Second-Lieutenant Philip Thompstone, only son of Mr and Mrs W T Thompstone, The Shirleys, Macclesfield, has been removed to hospital in this country, suffering from wounds and shell-shock. Lieut Thompstone is an officer of the South Lancashire Regt, and during his time in France has taken part in a considerable amount of severe fighting. On Monday last his parents received a telegram… stating that he had been wounded… and was making satisfactory progress in a hospital in France. Later came the welcome news of his transference to a Manchester hospital… Lieut Thompstone has a scalp wound caused by a German bayonet, and the shock is the result of being buried through a shell explosion. The shell fell into a trench and exploded there, the consequence being that the Lieutenant and four men were buried. One was found dead, another wounded, and Lieut. Thompstone was unconscious when extracted. In the course of the fighting he has had three similar experiences, and has taken part in three attacks…

Lieut. Thompstone has given a modest but thrilling account of his adventures: It was on October 1st that we took over part of the line on the Somme from another Battalion, which had been in the trenches for four days… It was extremely difficult to get along owing to the trenches being so narrow… the Bosche started to shell us very heavily and we lost a few men… we began to dig ourselves in for the night, having first to dispose of the dead, both friend and foe; the Germans… sending up search-light rockets to see what was going on… we passed a fairly quiet night, having a few German whiz-bangs at intervals, they being perfectly aware that we had just come up.

At sunrise the order came down the trench, ‘Be in readiness for a charge.’ we immediately divested ourselves of our equipment and fell in by platoons… Then the order came to fix bayonets. At 4.30am ‘Stand-to,’ and at 5 the order was given for two platoons to charge a certain point of the German front line. This little lot fell to me, having to use my own initiative, sacrificing as few men as possible. So armed with rifle and bayonet I said, ‘Over boys and at ’em.’ We leapt over the parapet, but some of the poor fellows did not manage to clear it. Those who did were quite safe from the hurricane of shells… The distance we had to get across was about 150 yards. We got within ten yards of the Bosche trench, when we were met with a fusilade of bullets which was so heavy that we could not get any further without sustaining more casualties. So I gave the order to retire in order that we might get reinforcements… Again we tried and failed; then the Bosche counter-attacked behind the barrage formed by his artillery. This attempt… was hopelessly crushed and those who survived our fusilade were taken prisoner.

Then I rallied what was left of my platoon and this time the Bosche turned tail and ran… We got into the… trench and… made a block a good way down his communication trench. It was here that I got a scalp wound from the Bosche who tried to finish me, but… he missed and fell a victim to my bayonet… The Bosche again shelled us very heavily… four men and myself got completely buried. One man was killed, two were unhurt and the other man and myself were unconscious for two hours. The only way we could be dug out was by the rest of the platoon using their bare hands…

The next thing I remember was the kind attention of a doctor. I was removed down the line on a stretcher and conveyed in a motor ambulance to No 1 casualty clearing station. After spending an hour there, I was conveyed some distance and eventually arrived at [censored] in safety… At 12pm I was placed on a stretcher in a bell tent and a sleeping draught was given to me. I slept peacefully until 11.30 the next morning. At 1pm I was removed in a motor ambulance to a railway station. The train left at 3.30, arriving at our destination at 5.30pm, where we were met by nurses and doctors who accompanied us in motor ambulances for some distance to a beautiful chateau… I remained here for four days, undergoing treatment… I was taken to the Base Hospital at Boulogne, this journey lasting from 8pm to 4am. It was interesting to note that we have English Red Cross trains running on this route. They run decidedly smoother than the French Red Cross trains. After being at the Base Hospital for a few days I was sent to England by hospital ship, arriving at Dover after an extremely rough passage. At Dover a hospital train brought the wounded men and officers to Manchester, much to the writer’s delight…  



Second-Lieutenant S Gaskell, son of the late Mr Samuel Gaskell, Mill St, Macclesfield, was wounded on September 26th… in the Somme district. He received a gunshot wound in the left foot and was removed to hospital at Calais, where he is making splendid progress. Lieut Gaskell was educated at the Macclesfield Grammar School, and was studying at the Manchester University when he enlisted in the Public Schools’ Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers…



Official intimation has been received by Mrs Biddulph, 13 Wellington Rd, Bollington, that her son, Private Arthur Biddulph, of the Canadians, was killed in action in France on September 23rd. The deceased was born in Bollington 27 years ago… For some time he was in the employ of Messrs A J Hammond & Co, and also worked at the Ingersley Vale Bleachworks. Three years ago Pte Biddulph emigrated to Canada. He enlisted in June 1915, being at that time in British Columbia, and was sent to France twelve months ago. Formerly he was a regular attendant at the Kerridge Wesleyan Chapel…



Langley is proud to have many serving… a number of them have been wounded [but] Saturday last news came of the first to be killed in action. The deceased is Sergeant Thomas Avery, aged 31, who had been in France for over twelve months with the 2nd Canadian Contingent… a sergeant in the bombing section. News of his death in action on September 26th was received with the deepest regret throughout the village. Sergt Avery was employed at the Langley Print Works as a boy, and… he studied at the Holmes Chapel Agricultural School. He went out to Canada in 1906 and had established a good business as a landscape gardener in Calgary. He was captain of the YMCA Football Club… and was highly respected… He married a Nova Scotian lady some three years ago, adn his widow is at present staying with Mr and Mrs John Avery at Sutton Lane Ends…

Mr John Avery, brother of the deceased, is head gardener to Mr Harold W Whiston, JP, at the Elms, and his mother lives in Langley village. When he emigrated to Canada, Sergt Avery was accompanied by his younger brother, Wilfred, who is now in France with the Canadian Force…



Trooper Sidney Hague, Australian Expeditionary Force, visited his friends during the week. He is the son of Mr Hague, late of Walker’s Heath Farm, and was educated at the Gawsworth School. Trooper Hague went through the Gallipoli campaign, being twice wounded. Subsequently he was transferred to Egypt. He went out to Canada ten years ago, and afterwards emigrated to Australia.



Gunner J H C Cheetham, Canadian Field Artillery, has been spending a few days leave with his relatives at Bosley. He enlisted at Winnipeg, and has been training at Ontario, and is now training in this country. Gunner Cheetham was born at Winnipeg, and is the son of Mr Joseph Cheetham, Cheshire Dairy, Winnipeg, and grandson of the late Mr Joseph Cheetham, Post Office, Bosley.



NADIN – In loving memory of Private Harry Nadin, 3rd Batt Cheshire Regt, who was killed in action at the battle of Loos, Oct 3rd 1915, aged 19 years.
Not dead to those who loved him,
Not lost, but gone before;
He lives with us in memory still
And will for evermore.
Sadly missed by Mother, Father, Sisters and Brothers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.