Armstrong, Samuel (DCM)

Samuel Armstrong (DCM), Sergeant 290134, 1st/7th Bn. Cheshire Regiment
Died of pneumonia 15th November 1918 in Belgium, aged 23

 

EARLY LIFE

Samuel Armstrong was born on 27 October 1895 and baptised on 16 September 1896 at Christ Church, Macclesfield, the son of Martha and John Armstrong, a weaver of 10 Chatham St, Macclesfield. In 1901, five-year-old Samuel was living at that address with his parents and siblings Albert (19), Harriet Ann (17), Joseph (15), Charlotte (13), Sarah (11), John James (9) and James (2). Ten years later, the family was at the same address and Samuel was employed as a silk winder.

 

WWI SERVICE

Samuel enlisted in Macclesfield, joining the local 7th Cheshire Regiment with service number 1490 (later changed to 290134), and was drafted overseas after 1915.

Sgt Armstrong became ill with influenza and was admitted to No 62 Casualty Clearing Station at Courtrai (Kortrijk), Belgium, but developed pneumonia and died there on 15 November 1918.

Sgt Armstrong’s death was reported in the Macclesfield Times on Friday 13 December 1918:

Sergt Samuel Armstrong, 1/7th Cheshire Regt, of 10 Chatham St, Macclesfield, has died in France of pneumonia following influenza. He was 23 years of age and was mobilised with the local Territorials, with a draft from which he went out to Egypt and fought in the Gaza battles. Later he was transferred to France.

He was educated at Duke Street School, attended Church Street West Sunday School, and prior to the war was in the employ of Messrs Trotter and Hayes. Sergt Armstrong and a Congleton colleague were home on leave in October, and it is a sad coincidence that both, on their return, have succumbed to the effects of “flu.”

The sergeant was very popular in Macclesfield. Five of his brothers are in the Army and they have all served abroad. A notable tribute to the deceased comes from his officer, Lieut K M Power, who writes to the father as follows: “No words of mine can express my sympathy with you in the loss of your son. I who have worked with him for the last 3½ years and have watched him rise from private to sergeant, know what a reliable lad he was. Only last July, when there was a vacancy for a sergeant, the Colonel asked me who I would like. I immediately told him the only lad for me was Armstrong. He let me have my way and has over and over again told me that I could not have selected a better or more conscientious man. He was liked and respected by officers and men, and I can assure you he was a tremendous help to me. I was able to put such trust in him and leave such a lot to him. He was able to get the best work out of his men without worrying them He always seemed so happy, too… No one besides me has any idea of the work and devotions to duty of the Transport Section; they have never once failed to get rations to the regiment, and many times it has looked almost impossible, but thanks to Sammy Armstrong’s dogged determination, we have always managed to pull through.”

On 30 May 1919, the Macclesfield Times reported that Sgt Armstrong had been awarded the DCM:

PRESENTATION OF THE DCM – SERGT ARMSTRONG – At Chester Castle on Saturday the Distinguished Conduct Medal awarded to the late Sergt Samuel Armstrong, 1/7th Cheshire Regt of 10 Chatham Street, Macclesfield, was presented to his next of kin by Major Clarke, DSO…

The citation for the medal reads:

He has shown conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty throughout the whole of the period under review. He set a splendid example to all the men under him during the operations south of Soissons in July and August 1918, and east of Kemmel in September. On a great many occasions during that period he performed very dangerous and arduous tasks under heavy shell fire, and it was in a large measure due to his fearlessness, grit and determination that the battalion never once failed to get its supplies.

 

COMMEMORATION

Sergeant Samuel Armstrong is buried in grave ref. A. 13. at Kortrijk (St Jan) Communal Cemetery, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Sergeant Samuel Armstrong, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.

Locally, Sergeant Samuel Armstrong is commemorated on the Park Green, Town Hall and St Michael’s Church war memorials.

 

NOTES

Brother of Albert (Private 290953 1/7 Bn Cheshire Regt), Joseph, John and James (Driver 247777 Royal Field Artillery) Armstrong, who all served.

 

SOURCES

Cheshire Parish Baptism Registers (FindMyPast): Christ Church, Macclesfield
Census (England & Wales): 1901, 1911
WWI British Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects (Ancestry)
Citations of the Distinguished Conduct Medal, 1914-1920 (Ancestry)
WWI Absent Voters Lists (FindMyPast): Macclesfield Parliamentary Division
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Lives of the First World War website
Macclesfield Times:
13 December 1918, 30 May 1919, 23 September 1921 (photo supplement)


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