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Michael Neville

Michael NevilleGiving his address as “with the British Expeditionary Force in Belgium”, Michael Neville wrote to his mother in a letter dated 2nd December 1915:- “I am in the best of health, and hope you and the rest are the same. I am in the firing line at present, and we are having a nice time of it so far. I have signed a paper for you to get some money while I am in this war. Tell my grandmother, brother and father that I am thinking of you all, and I am wondering if you are all in the best of health. Give my best respects to all my cousins and friends at home from me. So good-night and God bless you all.” 

The family at the time lived in Haigh Street, Westtown, Dewsbury. Michael Neville had been born on 12th April 1892 and baptised on 24th April 1892 in the church of Our Lady and St. Paulinus by Father Joseph Locke. He was the son of Anna Neville, of New Street, Dewsbury.

He had originally enlisted in the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry , and at some stage was transferred to the Manchester Regiment. On the 9th of October 1917 he married Margaret Hoyles in St Paul’s Anglican Church, Kersal, Salford, and for their all too brief marriage the family home was in Rainsough, Prestwich, Manchester.

Michael Neville in local football team

He was killed in an engagement near Givenchy-Les-la-Bassee at a place called the Red Dragon Crater, in which one of his fellow soldiers Walter Mills was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross; in death, both men lie in the same row of fallen comrades.

In December 1914, rumour of Michael Neville’s death reached Dewsbury when it was reported: “Unofficial news has this week been received of the death in action of Private Michael Neville, Westtown, Dewsbury, a member of the 5th Division King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. The information has been conveyed by letter from Private John Neville, a West Yorkshire Regiment man at present in England. He says: ‘Mick has got shot, and I am sending you this letter telling you about him. I Michael Neville's memorial stonegot to know from a man who has been home from the Front … I am going to take his place and I will kill the first man I come across...’” At least on that occasion the news was ill-founded; three years later it was not to be so as the press noted: “Private Michael Neville (25), K.O.Y.L.I., whose father lives at Haigh Street, Westtown, has been killed in action. After serving with the Territorial’s for four years he joined the Special Reserve in 1913, and when war broke out was immediately called upon. He went to France on August 5th 1914 and in April 1915 was wounded in the right arm and wrist. Later in the year he went to Egypt, and about twelve months ago landed in France again. Private Neville was an old boy of Westtown Catholic Schools and in civil life was employed by Messrs. J. Kaye and Co., Savile Town.”

376960 Private Michael Neville, 1st/10th Battalion, Manchester Regiment, died 11th December 1917 and is buried in Gorre British and Indian Cemetery, Beuvry, Pas-De-Calais, France.

By Mr Peter Bennett