Philip Ashton Murray, Private 661814, Labour Corps
Conscripted 14th June 1918 and survived the war
Philip Ashton Murray was born on 2 June and baptised on 9 July 1900 at Park Green United Methodist Free Chapel, Macclesfield, the son of Rachel, a provision dealer and John George Murray, an insurance agent of 5 Cross Street, Sutton, Macclesfield. In 1901, ten-month-old Philip was living at that address with his parents and siblings Edith (9), Gladys (8), Martha (4) and John (2).
In October 1905, at the age of 5, Philip was admitted to Lord Street School, Sutton, Macclesfield. By 1911, the family had moved to 95 Peel St, Macclesfield, and Philip had three more siblings: Rachel, then aged 9, and five-year-old twins Douglas and Clifford.
After leaving school at the age of thirteen, Philip first worked in a silk mill carding room for which he received the princely sum of six shillings per week. However, after a year his father, who knew the editor of a local Macclesfield newspaper, obtained an opening for him as a trainee reporter, unfortunately with a drastic pay cut to just 2s and 6d per week, but with much better prospects.
Philip was conscripted into the Army on 14th June 1918, shortly after his eighteenth birthday. He was sent his call-up papers and a railway pass to travel to Chester for a medical examination. His service records describe him as 5 feet 2½ inches tall, with a 28½ inch chest, brown hair and blue eyes. He was initially drafted to the King’s (Liverpool Regt).
Philip was sent to Kinmel Park for training but was hospitalised for three days in July 1918, suffering from scabies. He also contracted influenza. By September 1918, after being diagnosed with ‘some tachycardia’, it was decided that he was best suited to working in the Labour Corps as a clerk. Philip was transferred to the Eastern Command Labour Centre at Sutton, and spent much of his time at Newhaven.
Philip was demobilised on 25th February 1919 and returned to Macclesfield to work as a journalist.
In 1985, Philip Murray was interviewed about his memories of life in Macclesfield during the First World War by the Imperial War Museum. Click on the links below to listen to the two 30-minute recordings (warning – there is a loud high-pitched whistle shortly after the start of each recording):
Philip died in Macclesfield in 1990.
Brother of John Murray, who served as Private 316954 with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and survived the war.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Lives of the First World War website
The Imperial War Museum website
GRO (England & Wales) Index: Births, Deaths
Cheshire Non-conformist Baptism Registers: Park Green United Methodist Free Chapel, Macclesfield
Census (England & Wales): 1901, 1911
National School Admission Registers and Log-books: Lord Street School, Sutton, Macclesfield
WWI British Army Service Records 1914-1920