Bygone news: 31 Mar 1917 – The Macclesfield Times

Roll of Honour; News from the Front




Mr Peter Burgess, 11 Jackson St, Macclesfield, has been informed that his son, Driver Frank Burgess, of the Army Service Corps, was accidentally killed in France on March 19th. The sad tidings were contained in a letter from Captain Everard Jones, the deceased soldier’s officer: … your son, 3697 Driver Frank Burgess, ASC… was accidentally killed whilst on duty on the 19th March by falling off his wagon. He suffered no pain and did not regain consciousness. He was buried with full military honours… was an excellent soldier… a great favourite with his comrades… Born in Macclesfield 24 years ago, Driver Burgess was educated at St George’s Day School… He enlisted in September 1914, being at that time employed as a carter by Messrs Gorton and Wilson. He trained three weeks at Aldershot, and seven days later was drafted to France. Driver Burgess took part in the retreat from Mons and… had several narrow escapes, and went into hospital in consequence of being kicked by a horse. The deceased was home on furlough in February 1916 and his parents received a letter dated the day before his death in which he stated that he expected to be home on leave during the following week. He has two brothers in the Army, one of whom was recently recommended for a commission and is now attached to an officers’ cadet battalion at Kinmel Park, North Wales. The other brother, Corpl Harold, ASC, has been serving in France for the past fourteen months.



Mrs Needham, Mason’s Lane, Macclesfield, has received a sympathetic letter from Second Lieut R Allen, Machine Gun Corps, respecting the death of her husband, Private Frank Needham, Cheshire Regt, who was killed in action on the 12th inst: … during the short period he had been with the Machine Gun Company he had become well-liked by both officers and men on account of his fearlessness and devotion to duty… in losing him we know that we have lost a good man… Private Needham was 28 years of age and a native of Bollington, where his parents reside. He was educated at the Church School, and before enlistment was employed as a cotton doubler at the Waterhouse Mill. He was married five years ago and leaves a widow and one son. Mrs Needham’s father has been in the Army nearly thirty years and fought in the South African campaign. He is now serving in the present war and has a son in India and another in the Navy.



Private John Broadhead, Cheshire regiment… was killed on February 17th while taking part in an attack on the German trenches. He was the son of Mr and Mrs C Broadhead, Kerridge End, Rainow, and prior to enlisting in March, 1916, was employed as a carter by Messrs Wetton and Sons, stone merchants, Bollington. Private Broadhead was 31 years of age.




Mr Harold Booth, son of Mr John Booth, Great King Street, Macclesfield, who is engaged in an important branch of the naval service, is at present home on leave. He recently passed through an exciting experience, in the course of which he was taken on board a German submarine and subsequently released.



Sergeant Harold Holloway, only son of Mr F W Holloway, corn and seed merchant, Stanley Street, Macclesfield, arrived home on Monday from Salonica, this being his first leave during two years on foreign service. Immediately on the outbreak of war the Sergt, who was employed as a locomotive engineer at the Stoke Works of the North Staffordshire Railway, enlisted in the Royal Engineers. He went out to the Dardanelles early in 1915, with the 10th Division, being among the first contingent of English troops who landed at Suvla Bay… After a short time in hospital at Malta, he was transferred to Salonica, where he has experienced some lively adventures. Holloway participated in the battle of Strummitz against the Bulgars, and was in the famous retreat of the Serbian Army… With his corps the Sergeant was busily employed in making roads, blowing up bridges, etc… He has had many narrow escapes. On one occasion the bullets flew off his helmet like peas, and a bullet struck the magazine of his rifle, while others penetrated his uniform. Owing to the intense cold on the Balkan front, the water in the bottles froze in a solid mass, and he had to shave in melted snow. At one time, when engaged in bridge-building behind the line, he had a daily tramp of twelve miles to and form his billet. …Sergt Holloway, who is 24 years of age and stands over six feet, has enjoyed remarkably good health throughout. He was nearly a month in reaching Macclesfield from Salonica, to which place he will return on the completion of his sixteen days’ leave at home. He was recently promoted from Corporal to Sergeant, after holding the first-mentioned rank for about 18 months.



Miss Ada M. Beesley, daughter of the late Mr Stephen Beesley and of Mrs Beesley, 50 Duke St, Macclesfield, was on board the British hospital ship Asturias which was torpedoes without warning by a U-boat on the night of March 20-21. Happily she escaped without injury and is now spending a few days at her mother’s home… Miss Beesley is a native of Macclesfield, her late father being formerly second master at the Modern School. She was educated at the Macclesfield Girls’ High School, and has been actively engaged in the nursing profession for many years. After training at Guy’s Hospital, London, she held appointments in various parts of the country and was matron of a hospital at High Wycombe up to July 1915, when she volunteered for and was accepted as a staff nurse in Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve. Drafted out to France, her first experience was in the base hospital at Etaples, which has accommodation fro 1,000 beds, and here she remained for nearly twelve months. At the commencement of the “big push” last July Miss Beesley was transferred with 15 other nurses to a newly-established clearing station on the Somme lines. Accommodation was provided in tents and the station was so near the fighting area that Miss Beesley could hear the sound of guns and see the flashes. Miss Beesley described the work here as very exciting, inasmuch as the staff had to deal with the wounded as they were brought down directly after treatment in the dressing stations, and the hours were long and the duties arduous. Following a brief spell at Havre, Miss Beesley was drafted to the Asturias about six months ago. Since that time the ship has made scores of voyages across the Channel and brought over thousands of sick and wounded soldiers, together with German prisoners of war and French soldiers.

The British hospital ship Asturias, whilst steaming with all navigating lights and with all the proper distinguishing Red Cross signs brilliantly illuminated, was torpedoed without warning. The following casualties occurred: Military – 11 dead, 3 missing, 17 injured; Crew: 20 dead, 9 missing, 22 injured. The missing include a female staff nurse and a stewardess.

Miss Beesley [said] the attack took place just before midnight… We had disembarked the sick and wounded the day before, and those on board comprised the nursing staff, RAMC orderlies and the crew. Most of us were in bed and were awakened by the noise of the explosion caused by the torpedo. I dressed, and came on board with a life-belt on. The people who suffered most were the RAMC men, who slept int he stern of the ship. Their quarters being filled with fumes from the explosion, which blew off the propeller, they had no time to dress and some of them were hurt… I was taken off in one of the big lifeboats from the starboard side… the operation of lowering the boats was extremely hazardous… the Asturias… eventually settled on a rock after drifting for some miles… Miss Beesley was not thrown into the water. The sight of the stokers and members of the crew, she said, was a pitiable one. Having no time to dress, they appeared clad in eiderdown, travelling rugs, etc. Most of them had night attire showing underneath the clothing they had hastily donned, and I saw one private walking about in the Colonel’s overcoat. Some of those on board were badly burnt. She was in the lifeboat on the water for about four hours, when a small boat came to their aid, and Miss Beesley was landed with others in a little fishing village… Subsequently she journeyed to London by special train and arrived in Macclesfield yesterday week, feeling little worse for her unpleasant adventure. She is now awaiting orders to rejoin the military nursing service.

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