From Ralph (12th May 2022)

AGM and then talk from Dr John Sneddon

7pm  Doors open

7.30pm Short AGM and we need you to vote on proposals!

7.50pm We introduce speaker. A talk by Dr John M Sneddon

WW1 - The Supply of Trench Warfare Munitions.

The armies of Europe went to war in 1914 not expecting, and therefore unprepared, for trench warfare which first made its appearance in September 1914 and became, by late November, the only form of warfare waged on the Western Front. It was to last for almost four years growing in complexity and tactical innovation and one of the understudied areas relating to its development is the provision of infantry munitions, and the myriad of other items, such as trench furniture, periscopes, flares for illumination and signalling, etc., required to make a soldier in his trench more militarily effective and perhaps even a little bit safer and more comfortable.

This talk will discuss the provision of trench warfare munitions to the BEF, as typified by grenades and mortars, from the first six "jam-tin" grenades manufactured for the 2nd Division on the Aisne battlefield in September 1914, to the growth of manufacturing under the control of the Trench Warfare Department which, by September 1916, was capable of delivering 1,500,000 Mills bombs a week.

We will start the story with the over-looked major innovators of 1914, the Sappers and Miners of the Indian Corps, who introduced the BEF to the trench mortar, followed by the development the ordnance factories created by the Royal Engineers in France, the First and Second Army bomb factories, that sustaining the BEF throughout most of 1915.

At home we will visit the failure of the Royal Ordnance Factories to meet the needs for trench warfare munitions, their efforts retarded by blinkered traditional thinking and lack of imagination on the part of senior staff, the antagonism of a powerful artillery lobby who believed that such munitions were a waste of resources, and rapacious private companies that saw War Office contracts as a cash-cow to be plundered with impunity.

Finally, and definitely not least, the provision of emergency munitions by the War Office independent of the Royal Arsenal that would, when transferred to the Ministry of Munitions in June 1915, blossom into the Trench Warfare Department responsible for the manufacture of the majority of trench warfare equipment required by the army, completed the development of the 3-inch Stokes and the French heavy mortar and co-ordinated the supply of chemicals and equipment essential for chemical warfare.

As Chairman I'm happy to advise that  Eric Hunter has agreed to take on this important role.

Andy Mcveety, Treasurer and Joan Tomlinson, Raffle have both advised they are standing down so we need replacements.

I invite any other members to step forward and assist on our committee in the continuance of our branch.

Anyone interested please speak to myself asap! My mobile is 07849 425114.

Best wishes to all!


Hawthorn Ridge Crater Association               

28 January 2022 Update

Despite the difficulties of the last two years, the team continue to move ahead with research and maintenance on the site and look forward to getting out to the Somme regularly throughout 2022.

The team managed a trip out in early November to undertake maintenance on the ground and boundary fences and are happy to report the site is looking excellent. We also held commemorations on 11th and 13th November, with fabulous attendance, especially from the locals of Beaumont Hamel. Along with 1st July, these will be annual events and all are welcome.

The website is now up and running - – and will continue to be updated with information, updates and news. There is also the facility to donate to the charity, your donations are very important to the upkeep and running of the site and all gratefully received.

Finally, our Twitter page is proving a huge success - @HawthornRidgeCA - please do follow us for regular updates on our visits out to the site. If you are on the Somme and would like a free tour, please contact us and if we are over we will happily oblige.

Richard Smith

Newsletter for March 2022

The latest newsletter is here!

Book Review

There is a review of Paul Halpern's book A Naval History of World War One available here.  This book is the reference work on the war at sea, which was a lot more than the Battle of Jutland.
Egyptian Expeditionary Force

There are a series of talks on various aspects of the EEF scheduled for the next few months.  You will need to email Stuart at at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for the login details.


 Article by Terry
 There is a new article by Terry on Isle of Man ships in WWI and where they got to - here.

Ken Smallwood

We have learned that longtime branch member Ken Smallwood has passed away after a fall.

Branch Treasurer Andy McVeety summarises Ken's involvement.

"Ken was an early member of the Western Front Association and was approached by John Giles to form a local branch in the Manchester area.
Ken was far too modest a man to put himself forward but he did make contact with other members of the WFA in the locality and through his efforts a branch was born! Ken knew and had many in-depth conversations with surviving WW1 veterans including Paddy Kennedy and George Ashurst, whose book may well not have been published without Ken.
He told me of an early branch meeting where a speaker on the 1918 German offensive was constantly being interrupted by an old gentleman. When challenged the heckler just said "That was not how he remembered it".
Ken was a true Gentleman and never had a bad word to say about anyone, but more than that he was a true friend. I will miss Ken terribly and trips to and from the WFA meetings will never be the same for me."

  More articles from Terry

Terry has written two further articles, on the French Adrian helmet, here, and on the Italian Farina helmet, here.

New Articles on the Website

Terry has written four new articles on the neutrals in WWI: one on the Dutch, click here, one on the Swiss Red Cross and PoWs, click here, one on Switzerland itself  in WWI, click here annd finally one on tracing PoWs, click here

And there are now more - on Norway, click here, German helmets, click here, and on the "Black Tom" explosion in New York, click here.


Talbot house


Alan Kennedy
It is with deep sadness that I have learned of the death of Alan Kennedy. Alan was most helpful whenever the Branch held its monthly meetings at the TA. I have known Alan for 40 years as I used to referee in the Stockport Sunday Football League, also being on the committee for some time and Alan ran Norris Albion FC.
I was able to renew my acquaintance with him as he and his platoon hosted our meetings. Ann also became friendly with him. I am sure the Branch will miss him as much as I will. 
Terry Jackson
First tranche of pension records released
Ancestry has been digitising the WWI pension records which the WFA rescued from being pulped. The first 50% have now been done and are available on Ancestry or by going through the WFA main site, the latter method being free for WFA national members.The total number of records to be digitised in this process is eight million.
Buxton Hospitals in the Great War

We have an article from Jackie and Roger Berry on their exploration of Buxton looking for traces of the wartime hospitals - see here.

 Search for Relatives of Soldier, John William Beverley

A book wrapped in brown paper found in a cupboard in a house in Milnrow has led to a family history search by two ladies from Huddersfield. The book, ‘To Pay the Price’ by Silas K. Hocking, was a present to a John William Beverley given to him by his cousins, Clara Bell Matthews and May Matthews on his twelfth birthday in December 1900. Even more intriguing was a letter found inside the book from John William Beverley to his mother dated 26 September 1917 from the battlefields of France where he was a soldier.

The discovery of the book and letter led to Oldham where John William Beverley was born on 4 December 1888. A property repairer by trade, he lived with his mother, Martha and Stepfather, Albert Whiteley, until he married Annie Smith (dob circa 1889) at the beginning of 1912. They subsequently had a son, John Beverley, born Jan/Feb/March 1912.

John Wm Beverley joined the 2/10th Manchester Regiment of the Oldham Territorials at Whitsuntide 1915, and was sent to Egypt early in 1917. He was later sent to France where he was wounded in the knee with shrapnel on 5 April 1918. Transferred to the Lord Derby Hospital, Warrington he died on 20th May 1918, aged 29 and was buried in a war grave in Chadderton cemetery on 24th May 1918.

The researchers are trying to trace relatives of the above to return the book and letter to them. It is especially important as this year (1918) is the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI.

If you have any information please contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Mike O'Brien's new book

There is a review of Mike's new book on Americans in the British forces, here.

Medals of Private George William Shaw

We were contacted recently through the website by Mark Shaw who is searching for information about his great uncle, Private George William Shaw, 12364 of 9th battalion Cheshire Regiment.  Mark's email reads as follows:


I hope you may be able to help me, as I am currently researching my Family Tree. I have identified George William Shaw as my Great Uncle. He served in A Company 9th Battalion Cheshire Regiment, from 01/09/1914 until his death 22/06/1917. His service number was 12364.

I have found that his medals (with the exception of his BWM), death plaque and associated certificates were sold on Ebay in 2014. I am unable to identify the seller or the purchaser.

I would like to find who it was that bought the items, if only to ask for copies of the documentation and, maybe provide a little background information in regard of my Uncle. Ideally, I would love to buy the items.

I know it is a long shot but I thought that it may be possible that one of your members may be the purchaser. I would be obliged if you could see your way clear to circulating the details to your membership.

Mark Shaw

If anyone does perchance know anything about Private Shaw could you please contact Mark at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Terry?


There is an account of the visit to Ypres by Martin and Winifrid Logan to honour the memory of those Manchester Corporation Tramways who fell in WWI - Tramways workers

Manchester Military History Society

The Society meet at:

East Manchester History and Gaming Centre, 
Knivton Street, Godley, Hyde, SK14 2PU

More details on their website - Manchester Military History Society

A new memorial to Manchester railwaymen killed in WWI

A new memorial to Manchester railwymen has been unveiled in Manchester Piccadilly Station by Michael Portillo.  The research for the memorial was undertaken by two Virgin Trains managers - see Local History page
 The Lost Tommies
A collection of photos of Tommies billeted in the village of Vignacourt has come to light and is on the BBC "One Show" site - One Show photos Can you help identify any of them?