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Museum of the Manchester Regiment


Service Battalions 1914 / 1919

- Pals Battalions (16th - 23rd Battalions)

11th (Service) Battalion The Manchester Regiment

Formed at Ashton under Lyne during August 1914. To Grantham, Lincolnshire in April 1915 as part of 34 Brigade, 11 Division. Embarked Liverpool on 30 June 1915 for Mudros, then Imbros. Landed under fire at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli on 6 August 1915. Hill 10, Scimitar Hill, Sari Bari, Tronail, Oglu Tepe, Truhuk Anafarta. 30 January 1916 to Egypt. 3 July 1916 to France and active service on the Western Front. 11 July 1916 Marseilles to Arras. Remained in France until the end of the war.

12th (Service) Battalion The Manchester Regiment

Formed at Ashton under Lyne during September 1914. To Wool in January 1915 as part of 52 Brigade, 17 Division. To Wimborne in February and Hursley Park in May 1915. To Boulogne on 15 July 1915 and active service on the Western Front. 5/11 July 1916 - Contalmaison.

On 24 September 1917 absorbed the RHQ & 2 Squadrons DOLY (7 officers & 125 other ranks) now dismounted after serving as the cavalry regiment of 3 Corps. Battalion redesignated 12th (Duke Of Lancaster 's Own Yeomanry) Battalion Manchester Regiment. March 1918 - Rocquigny. 11 November 1918 near Beaufort, France. 5 April 1919 Cadre to UK.

13th (Service) Battalion The Manchester Regiment

Formed at Ashton under Lyne during September 1914. Trained at Eastbourne, Seaford and to Aldershot in May 1915. To France in September 1915 as part of 22 Division. Initially at Hebuterne then to the trenches at Foucaucourt on the Amiens - Peronne road. To Salonika in October and November 1915. Returned to France 22 June 1918. Arrived Abancourt on 11 July as part of 66 Division. 13 August 1918 absorbed into 9th Battalion.

14th (Reserve) Battalion The Manchester Regiment

Formed at Ashton under Lyne in November 1914. It had a Wigan and District Pals Company. Initially in the 4th New Army. In 1916 it was re-designated 14th Reserve and Training Battalion, Cannock Chase, in 3rd Reserve Brigade. Remained in UK.

15th Battalion

There is no record that a 15th Battalion was ever formed.

Pals Battalions (16th - 23rd Battalions)

The coming of war in 1914 considerably weakened the family influence in many of the great industrial and commercial companies of Manchester. At a meeting of the Manchester Home Trade Association held on Monday 24 th August 1914 it had been agreed that recruiting for the army should be encouraged amongst the clerks and warehousemen of the city. Four days later, under the auspices of the Lord Mayor, an influential body of employers met at the Town Hall and resolved to raise a battalion of men drawn from the city's many warehouses and commercial districts, to be known as the Manchester Clerk's and Warehousemen's Battalion, and an organising committee was formed. All employers were asked to agree that, 'in order to encourage enlistment we are prepared to offer to all employees enlisting within the next two weeks the following conditions:

Four week's full wages from date of leaving. Re-engagement on discharge from service guaranteed. Half pay during absence on duty for married men from the date that full pay ceases, to be paid to the wife. Special arrangements made for single men who have relatives entirely dependent on them.

Within a very short time, seven battalions of volunteers had been raised in the city. Every possible encouragement had been given by their employers, often very much to their own detriment, not only losing key members of their companies but also the junior, and occasionally senior, members of the founding families enlisting at the same time.

16th (Pals) Battalion The Manchester Regiment (1st City)

Formed at Manchester 22 August 1914. Recruiting commenced at Artillery HQ, Hyde Road. To tented camp at Heaton Park, Manchester then to Belton Park, Grantham as part of 90 Brigade 30 Division. To Lark hill on 24 April 1915 as part of 90 Brigade of 30 Division. Then to Lark Hill camp on Salisbury Plain. 6 November to Amesbury and on to Folkestone for embarkation.

To Boulogne on 6 November 1915 and active service on the Western Front. Entrained for Pont Remy. Stayed at Villers Bocage until 27 July 1916. To Bonneville for further training. Lieutenant Colonel Hubert Know, the commanding officer, was killed in action on 13 October 1916.

7 December to Hebuterne. Encountered heavy shelling.

2 January 1917 - Montauban, Trones Wood. March 1918 - Francilly Selency & Manchester Hill. Lieutenant Colonel Wilfrith Elstob, the commanding officer, killed in action at Manchester Hill. To Training Cadre on 18 May 1918. To UK on 18 June 1918 for reforming. Absorbed 29th Battalion. Returned to France and active service on 4 July 1918 as part of 42 Brigade 14 Division.

17th (Pals) Battalion The Manchester Regiment (2nd City)

As per 16th Battalion until 17 February 1918 to 21 Brigade 30 Division. 15 May 1918 to Training Cadre. 30 July 1918 absorbed into 13th Battalion and both into 9th Battalion in August.

A memorial window in St John's Chrysostoms Church, Anson Road, Manchester is dedicated to Corporal Frank Lucas of the 17th Battalion. 'Aged 23 years, 12 years a chorister - erected by his parents'.

18th (Pals) Battalion The Manchester Regiment (3rd City)

Recruiting began at the Albert Hall, Manchester in September 1914

As per 16th Battalion until disbanded in February 1918 at Haut Allaines. Lieutenant Colonel W A Smith, the commanding officer, was killed in action on 9 July 1916

19th (Pals) Battalion The Manchester Regiment (4th City)

As per 16 th Battalion until 21 February 1915 to 21st Brigade 30 Division. 23 July 1916 - Guillemont. Disbanded in France on 6 February 1918.

20th (Pals) Battalion The Manchester Regiment (5th City)

Raised in Manchester on 8 November 1914. To Morecambe then in April 1915 to Grantham, then Lark hill. To France in November 1915 as part of 22nd Brigade 7 Division. Lieutenant Colonel H Lerwis, the commanding officer, was killed in action on 1 June 1916. 30 July 1916 - Guillemont. 3 September 1916 - Ginchy. To Italy in November 1917. Returned to France and 7 Brigade, 25 Division on 16 September 1918. Their last action on 6 November 1918 at Dompierre.

11 November 1918 in the Landrecies area.

21st (Pals) Battalion The Manchester Regiment (6th City)

Raised in Manchester on 13 November 1914. To Morecambe in January 1915. To Grantham in April 1915. September 1915 at Lark hill. November 1915 to France and 91st Brigade 7 Division. 1 July 1916 - Danzig Alley. November 1917 to Italy. Returned to France and 7 Brigade, 25 Division on 16 September 1918. Their last action on 6 November at Dompierre. 11 November 1918 in the Landrecies area.

22nd (Pals) Battalion The Manchester Regiment (7th City)

Raised at Manchester 21 November 1914. December 1914 to Morecambe then as 21st Battalion until September 1918 when it remained in Italy west of Udine.

23rd (Pals) Battalion The Manchester Regiment (8th City)

Raised at Manchester on 21 November 1914 as a Bantam Battalion for men between the height of five feet and five feet three inches. This was the last of the Service Battalions actually raised in Manchester and completed the 91st (City) Brigade. To Morecambe in December 1914. To Grantham in April 1915. Then to Lark hill, Salisbury Plain. Embarked from Folkestone on 29 January 1916 but after two hours on board the battalion returned to Folkestone as mines had been reported in the Channel. Afresh departure was made on the following day and the passage made to Boulogne in cold, dull and misty weather. The battalion was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel R V Smith with Major J F Bannantyne as his Second in Command.

The battalion entrained to Blondequer near St Omer and proceeded to billets at Quiestede where they received special training in bombing and automatic gun firing. On 11 February they were inspected by Lord Kitchener. On 18 February the battalion marched to Boeseghein and the following day was billeted at Calenne. Le Touret in the area of Bethune was reached on the 20th and here the battalion was attached to 114 Infantry Brigade for instruction.

'X' and 'Y' Companies went into the trenches at Richebourg (St Vaast) on 20 February until relieved by 'Z' and 'Y' Companies on the 24th. There was little artillery activity at this period on either side. The weather was cold and there was some snow. Whilst on patrol duty 2nd Lieutenant W M Reid was killed and five men wounded. A move was made to La Pannerie on the 27th.

On 1 March the battalion moved into billets at Calenne in the area of Bethune, where fur-coats and waterproof capes were issued preparatory to the battalion going into the trenches. On the 7th the battalion took over from the 9th Bn Welsh Regiment and stayed there until the 15th. At this time there was a great deal of enemy shelling and snipers were active, resulting in some casualties. The 18th Lancashire Fusiliers took over on the 15th and the battalion moved into new billets, Finishing up at Sailly-sur-la-Lys on 28 March.

The battalion moved from Sailly on 4 April and took over trenches from the 19th Durnak Light Infantry, now having the 17th Lancashire Fusiliers on their right and the 16th Royal Scots on their left. The battalion was relieved on the 8th but was back in the trenches on the 12th. Out to rest billets at Fosse on the 20th, where they remained until the 28th. A further move was now made to Neuve Chapelle where they took over trenches from the Highland Light Infantry.

On the night of 1st/2nd May a raiding party of three officers and eighteen men went out and bombed the German trenches. For this work the Brigade Commander personally conveyed the congratulations of the Divisional Commander on the complete success of the raid. A further raid took place on 8 May but was held up by wire in their attempt to enter the enemy trenches. As a result two men were killed and nine wounded. The divisional commander in person heartily congratulated to raiding party for their gallant conduct during this operation and Military Medals were awarded to 22745 Sergeant A Hare, 22144 Corporal J O'Connor, 28512, Private W Lee and 21626 Private W Townley.

On that same day there was heavy shellfire on the trenches, no doubt in response to the earlier raid, and seven men were killed and fifteen wounded. Major Ballantyne, who had been in temporary command of the battalion was wounded and died of his wounds on the14th. The battalion then moved into rest billets at Fosse on the 14th. Back to the trenches on the 22nd when it took over the Ferne du Bois trenches from the 18th HLI. On the 26th it was relieved by 20th Lancashire Fusiliers and moved to support billets at La Touret and King's Head. Major E L Maxwell assumed command on the 28th and the battalion moved back into the Ferne du Bois trenches the following day.

Relieved on 1 June by 20th Lancashire Fusiliers but back in the trenches on the 6th. On the 10th 18th Lancashire Fusiliers on the battalion's left, raided the enemy line supported by the Manchesters with intense rifle and machine-gun fire. The enemy retaliated with artillery and severely damaged the parapet of the trench. 2nd Lieutenant Cook was wounded and there were three other casualties.

The battalion withdrew from the trenches on 12 June and, after various moves, found itself in Neuvillette on 2 July. Following various moves the 'W' and 'X' Companies were detailed to support 105 Brigade in an attack on the German line, timed for 5am. This attack proved unsuccessful. Meanwhile 'Y' and 'Z' Companies with HQ and Lewis-gun detachment received instructions to join the other two companies before Maltz Hom Farm and at 1130am, in conjunction with French forces on the right, launch an attack on the enemy line.

Unfortunately this operation did not work according to plan. The troops were unable to arrive in time and the assault had already begun. Consequently officers and men went over with no clear idea of their direction or objective. Meeting with very heavy artillery, machine-gun and rifle fire were ultimately compelled to retire to the starting point. Here the battalion remained in the line until 9 pm when it was relieved by18th Lancashire Fusiliers and moved back to Talus Boise.

Major Maxwell, the commanding officer, had fallen in the attack. He had been the first over the parapet and was reported missing believed killed. Captains Rothband and Gosling were killed; Major Grimshaw, Captain Cooper, Lieutenant Wilson and 2nd Lieutenants Hamer, Simpson and Tye wounded. 2nd Lieutenant Tye died of his wounds on the following day. In addition twenty other ranks were killed, 107 wounded and thirteen missing.

The battalion was back in the front line again - Trones Wood - Maltz Hom Farm - on the 23rd and had three men killed and seventeen wounded that day, and two men killed and forty-five wounded on the 24th. There were a further thirty-six casualties on the following day after which the battalion returned to Talus Bois and later went into Divisional Reserve bivouac.

On the 29th the battalion was lent to the 90th Brigade to provide working and carrying parties in support of an attack on Guillemont. The brigade entered Guillemont and parties of the battalion succeeded in dumping ammunition and bombs in the village. Later the attacking forces were compelled to fall back and the working and carrying parties then carried on supplying the line and subsequently assisting in manning the trenches. Casualties that day were five men killed, thirty wounded, four gassed and eleven missing. The GOC 30th Division expressed his great appreciation of the work carried out by the battalion that day.

On 30 July the battalion moved to Happy Valley where it remained until2 August. Then to Sailly-le-Sec where small drafts of reinforcements were received. Back into the trenches on the19th. During the night of the 20th/21st the battalion dug a new trench (Bantam Trench) in advance of the existing line. These existing trenches, some of which had only been captured on the day when the battalion took over, were in a very bad state with many dead requiring to be buried and the place was beginning to smell vary badly.

On the 21st the battalion raided the German dugouts and captured a machine-gun.

The rest of August was spent in and out of the trenches, carrying rations and ammunition and digging yet another trench. On the 30th, in pouring rain, the battalion marched to Heilly, entrained for Condas and marched from there to Neuvilette. Lieut Colonel L M Stevens DSO was now in command. During August the battalion had four officer casualties and eighty-two other ranks.

The battalion movements in September are not known but on 4 October they were in the Arras area and on the 4th took over trenches from 20th Lancashire Fusiliers. On the night of 8th/9th poison gas was discharged from the battalion's front against the German line. Two hours later three strong patrols attempted to enter the German trenches but these were strongly held and the patrols were heavily bombed and forced to retire. A shell killed two men and wounded three others. Thirty-three men fell victims to the gas that had remained in the trenches after it had been discharged.

On the 20th a patrol made an unsuccessful attempt to obtain a prisoner but was observed after reaching the enemy parapet. Bombs were exchanged and 2nd lieutenant Hines and an NCO were wounded and two men killed. 2nd Lieutenant Broadhead was also wounded that day. During the rest of October and November the battalion alternated between the trenches and billets in Arras. In December 171 other ranks of average height and over were drafted to the battalion but upon a subsequent inspection by the Corps Commander 166 were marked down as unfit.

During January 1917 the battalion received three drafts of reinforcements, one of 200, one of 94 and one of 30, all of average height. On the 24th 13 unfit men were sent to the 181st Tunnelling Company and on the following day 163 other ranks were sent to the 25th Labour Company at Boulogne and 30th Infantry Base Depot. All this in accordance with the scheme of 'De-bantamisation' of the Bantam Battalions.

There were frequent moved during February and on the 16th 2nd Lieutenant Barker was wounded and one man killed during bombing practice. On March 6th the battalion moved to the Chilly left sub-sector, taking over from 16th Cheshires. During this tour of duty numerous patrols were carried out successfully by the battalion during one of which 2nd Lieutenant Chaffey was mortally wounded whilst patrolling the enemy wire on the 9th. During the night of the 16th the enemy withdrew from their positions on this front and the battalion moved forward to Meharicourt where they occupied cellars. Shortly afterwards the battalion was occupied in road-repairing.

1st April saw the battalion at Beauvois where working parties were provided for filling craters and repairing roads. Similar work was carried out for the nest few days at Donilly, Vaux and Etreillers. Back into the line on the 10th and on the15th a raiding party of nine officers and 160 other ranks under cover of artillery and machine-gun barrage entered Pontruet. The village was thoroughly searched but although there was evidence of recent occupation the enemy had disappeared.

The rest of the month was spent in finding work parties for labour in the trenches opposite Bibecourt.

On 5 May a party of six officers and 189 other ranks raided and captured Somerville Copse. Bombing all dugouts and shelters they drove the enemy out and captured four prisoners. They killed about sixty of the enemy. The battalion's own casualties were nine other ranks wounded. The battalion was again in the line at Vadencourt on the 9th, remaining there until the 15th when it was relieved by Strathcona's Horse and the Royal Canadian Dragoons of the Canadian Cavalry Brigade and went into camp in Poenilly Valley.

Following other minor moves the battalion relieved 17th Lancashire Fusiliers in the Gauche Wood sector on 2 June, remaining there until 10 June. The battalion returned to the line on the 26th and on the 27th five men were killed and four wounded by shellfire. At 6 am on the 30th, taking advantage of a thick mist, the enemy raided the right company front. About thirty men crept up under cover of artillery and mortar barrage but were quickly ejected from the line. Unfortunately they captured a Sergeant but left one of their own mortally wounded.

July was spent as usual, in and out of the line with many useful patrols carried out. On the 29th July four officers and sixty other ranks carried out a successful raid on Hawk Trench, immediately north of Ossus Wood. Two machine-guns were captured. Casualties were inflicted on the enemy and the raiding party had one man missing and nine wounded. Another major raid was carried out on 21 August when a party of fourteen officers and 259 other ranks carried out a successful raid on Hawk and Canal Wood trenches. After cutting their way through formidable barbed wire entanglements they entered the enemy trenches at 4.30 am, bombed and blew up dugouts and, after inflicting severe casualties on the enemy, withdrew. The cost however was also severs with four officers wounded, five other ranks killed, three missing and forty-four wounded.

September was spent in training and providing working parties plus a few days in the line at the end of the month. The battalion marched to Peronne on 2 October, entrained for Aubigny and marched to billets at Hauteville where training was continued. On the 16th it was back in the line once again

On 22 October the battalion was part of a major assault against the line Aden House to Angle Point. The first objective was reached with minor casualties. From this point the resistance was more stubborn and very heavy rifle and machine-gun fire was experienced from both flanks. So devastating was this that all the officers, with the exception of one who was acting as liaison officer with the 34th Division on the right, were either killed or wounded. It was almost the same with the NCOs and men. Consequently the battalion was unable to make further progress.

Such survivors as could be brought together about fifty other ranks under a Company Sergeant major, withdrew to their original line. Later in the morning they were relieved by two companies of the 20th Lancashire Fusiliers who had been in reserve and withdrew to the vicinity of Egypt House. That same evening the survivors moved back to Pascal Farm and the following day moved out of the line. Casualties that day were one officer missing, five officers killed and five wounded. Twenty other ranks were killed, fifty-five missing and 115 wounded.

On the 23rd the battalion moved to De Wippe Camp, then to Elverdinghe and then to Privett Camp, Proven on 3 November. Training was carried out and there was an inspection and presentation of medal ribbons by the Divisional Commander. The battalion was back in the line again on the 20th for two days and again on 2 December for four days. Into rest billets at Nouveau Monde until 7 January where training was carried out.

On 8 January 1918 the battalion relieved the 2/3rd London Regiment in the Langemarck area and three men were wounded during a relief. From the 18th to 21st three companies were attached to 225 Tunnelling Company of the royal Engineers. On the 24th the battalion was in support and on the 26th was back in the line. One of the battalion's posts was rushed by the enemy at about 6am on the 27th during a heavy mist. One NCO and thirty men were captured. One man managed to escape when a nearby post opened fire with a Lewis gun. One officer and two men were wounded by machine-gun fire whilst wiring the support line. Relieved on the 28th, the battalion was back in the line on the 30th and two men were gassed whilst carrying out wiring.

On 1 February 1918 the battalion was relieved by 14th Gloucester 's and moved to Divisional Reserve at Kempton Park. They were then told that, as a result of the reorganisation of infantry brigades, the battalion was to be disbanded. The battalion was now to send reinforcements to other battalions of the Manchester Regiment as follows:

  • 2nd Battalion - 7 officers and 150 other ranks
  • 11th Battalion - 12 officers and 250 other ranks
  • 12th Battalion - 12 officers and 230 other ranks

The draft for the 2nd Battalion left on 6 February and those for the 11th and 12th on the 11th February. Regimental transport moved on the 15th to join 45th Infantry Brigade of 15th Division. On the following day the remainder consisting of Battalion Headquarters Warrant Officers and Company Quartermaster Sergeants moved to II Corps Reinforcement Camp and later on to the Manchester Regiment Base Depot.

Orders were now received for the formation of Entrenching Battalions and a new unit, known as the 12th Entrenching Battalion, was formed and ready for work on the 20th. This was under command of Lieutenant Colonel L M Stevens DSO who had for some time commanded the 23rd Manchester's. To this battalion all surplus personnel of the 23rd Battalion were posted.

24th (Pals) Battalion The Manchester Regiment (Oldham Pioneers)

Recruiting began at Oldham on 5 November 1914 when 150 men enlisted. 8 March 1915 to Llanfairfechan strength 1,150. 4 May 1915 to Belton Park Camp, Grantham, Lincolnshire. 13 September to Larkhill Camp, Salisbury Plain and 91 Brigade 30 Division. On 8 November 1915 to France aboard the Mona's Queen arriving Le Havre at 7 am on the 9th.

On 27 November to Berles-au-Bois attached to 110 Brigade for instruction in the trenches at Berles until 5 December. The trenches were waist deep in water and conditions were dreadful. The battalion had its first casualty on 2 December when one man was wounded by shellfire.

20 December 1915 to 91 Brigade 7th Division and to 22 Brigade 7th Division.

22 May 1916 became Pioneer Battalion 7th Division. 14th July 1916 - Bazentin-le-Petit Wood.

November 1917 to Italy. November 1918 in Italy near Udine.

Reduced to cadre and disbanded 29 July 1919 at Ashton-under-Lyne.