December Update Lancs. & Cheshire WFA
Thanks to Tim Cockitt, last months speaker ,for organising a guided tour around Southern Cemetery, Manchester and opening it up to our branch.. The tour had a Gallipoli theme and was very informative in revealing Manchester’s involvement during and after the campaign.
Tonight’s speaker is Tim Coltman speaking about his relative: Lance Corporal (LCpl) William ( Bill) Harold Coltman VC , DCM and Bar, MM and Bar .
I’m sure it will be a very enthralling story of an incredible man.
The 12th January meeting will be our annual social. Two speakers will be giving 30 minute presentations. A sale of books and memorabilia will take place alongside an extensive buffet.
Come along and enjoy.
We have the opportunity next year to try something a bit different a zoom presentation at our usual second Friday of the month meeting. We have to liaise with the Army for the equipment before we can proceed. Anybody with any objections or misgivings please speak to me.
Harold Coltman the most decorated soldier of the Great war.
12 January 2024
Two guest speakers:
Ann Jackson Art and War
Martin Purdy The Willis Brothers
Buffett ,Memorabilia and book sale
Medical Students in the First World War
Andrew Gill. TBC
The footballers of Gallipoli
Last Month’s Talk (October 2023)
The Branch welcomed back Peter Hart, one of the Branch’s most popular speakers. In his own innovative style ‘Laugh or Cry’ considered how soldiers adapted to life in trenches. Humour (often black) was a prime source for dealing with the strain of living in a war zone, where death or injury was a constant threat.
It was also not a new aspect of war. However, this conflict meant that units spent longer periods in the same geographical position than had been the case in previous wars.
Contrary to popular belief, soldiers did not spend endless hours in the same dirty and sodden trench. ‘Out of Line’ was a way of varying the ordeal. Men might serve 3 continuous days in a front-line trench then have a similar period in a rest area. Other periods might be given to the necessity of repairing damages to the trench or wire. Briefings for the frontline units would be held and a constant watch over No Man’s Land was required.
Much of the reserve areas were in the open, in poor condition and pure rest was relatively short. (The Aussies would often mimic the bleating of sheep, reflecting their positions to places back home). Periodically, rest was allowed further away from the front line. Officers would get better accommodation - damaged farmhouses etc (and have a man servant). The average Tommy had to accept poorer areas for resting.
Civilians who had not evacuated from the frontline had to put up with some of the soldiers’ more unpleasant behaviour. They were also worried about soldiers ransacking their homes, pollution of wells and the threat to their female offspring and livestock.
The basic needs of soldiers were good food, alcohol and sex. Out of the frontline, estaminets would offer a basic menu of egg and chips, and inevitably alcohol. Sex was not freely available and disease was a constant threat.
Training was constantly reviewed as the enemy changed tactics. Route marches were intended to increase stamina. Rest was at a premium as the enemy might introduce a new scheme to surprise its enemy, for example, gas. The soldier had to be alert at all times.
Equipment was introduced for protection, e.g., helmets. Aeroplanes were initially used for reconnaissance, but eventually began to fight each other and bomb important targets. The development of the tank was to change war, not only in this conflict, but was the infant of the modern vehicles we see today.
An excellent talk, enlightened by Peter’s engaging style of presentation.
October 2023 Update, Lancashire & Cheshire WFA
The December meeting will now be held on Friday 1st December not as previously advertised. This is the first Friday of the month. The speaker remains the same.
The national committee of the WFA is again offering travel expenses to London on Saturday 11th November to attend the ceremony at the Cenotaph. Anybody interested in attending please contact me, ideally by e-mail,
Our web page, landcwfa.org.uk, has had a few problems but is now back on line.
A welcome return to the branch of Peter Hart.
Laugh or cry, Rest? Nothing but working, working, bloody working.
Peter will talk about the lot of the infantry man. When not fighting invariably hard at work on other duties.
All meetings commence at 7.45pm at the Armoury , Greek Street. Stockport.
Remembrance Ceremony attended by Mayor & Mayoress of Stockport.
Manchester’s Experience of WW1
1st December (note new date)
Harold Coltman the most decorated soldier of the Great War.
12 January 2024
Two guest speakers
Medical Students in the First World War
Remembering newly discovered casualties of the Great War in Macclesfield
Picture: Harry Carlisle (R) and Eric Hunter Chair Lancs. & Cheshire WFA (L)
On Sunday 2nd July 2023 an unveiling ceremony took place at the Cenotaph , Park Green , Macclesfield. Fifty additional casualties of the Great War had been discovered by a group of local historians who had painstakingly researched local war memorials and achieves. Following a short service wreathes were laid to honour the fallen and the Mayor of Macclesfield Cllr. Wilock gave an speech which emphasised that honouring the fallen is not determined by time limits.
Harry Carlisle has been instrumental in bringing this project together His initial research on all the names on the Macclesfield Memorial catalogued in his book, Not Just a Name , revealed many omissions .As he recounts the personal histories which may have excluded names being placed on the original memorial, he finds it had to explain why ;
Men already displayed in the war garden but their brothers are not, it was suggested that perhaps the relatives were still hanging on to the hope that they were still alive somewhere, and didn’t want the trauma of adding another name of remembrance.
There were no fixed rule on who was or not recorded on the memorial. The original citation honoured;
“This Memorial was erected in honour of Macclesfield men who gave their lives for their King & Empire in the Great War 1914 – 1918.”
As we now appreciate the casualties of war did not end on November 11th 1918 and many of the deaths recorded were 1919 the latest been 1921 all however had seen war service.
The additional names include the first women to be honoured on the memorial. The tragic events that ended in sisters Lily and Maggie Gaskell dying shortly after the end of the war from the effects of Spanish flu. They served with 2nd Western General Hospital, Territorial Force Nursing Service , Manchester. Descendent members of the same unit, now named 206 Multi- role Medical regiment (MMR) come to pay their respects at the service.
Perhaps the most unusual was Pte William Doody Wallace who enlisted into the Cheshire regiment in 1916 . Wounded in 1917 and after a period of convalescence transferred to the Army Pay Corps for whom he was still employed when he died in a boating accident in Arnside on 11th September 1920.
Many of the men were honoured on local memorials, many of which have now vanished . Local historian Geoffrey Archer painstakingly recorded many of these before they were lost. It is appropriate and fitting that after a hundred years ,finally all the known names of the casualties of the Great War, men and women, are honoured together on their local memorial.
Harry Carlisle’s books Not Just another name and the Supplement of additional names are available from Harry. Email
Annual General Meeting, The Armoury , Stockport, 12th May 2023
The meeting commenced at 19.45 following the exhortation.
The Chairperson open the meeting giving an overview of the last year.
Attendances at the monthly meeting have been consistent ranging between 20 – 30 depending on the speaker.
It was put to the floor if any else wanted to be the next Chair. No interested parties. Eric Hunter was re-elected.
Ralph Lomas as Treasure and Sectary gave a financial resume . “We are solvent” but have issues accessing our Royal Bank of Scotland account due to how it was initially set up.
The signatures are two ex-chair persons and the bank will not change this mandate without certain assurances which the Treasurer is trying to resolve. Andy McVitte, former Treasurer provided further information in that the mandate could not be changed due to us not having an AGM during the “lockdown period”.
The treasurer informed the meeting that expenses at present are generally covered by takings at the door and the raffle.
It was put to the floor if anybody else wished to take on the role of either Sectary or Treasurer, no interested parties. Ralph Lomas was re-elected to both posts.
The Chair also thanked the regular helpers at the meetings who are non-elected.
Maureen Holbrooke – on the door.
Diane Bailey – the raffle
Richard Haley – the gate
And also Trevor Adams for his support with our web page.
The AGM closed at 20.00.
22 in attendance.
The speaker of the night, Don Rustage, continued the meeting
12th May 2023
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 - www.hawthornridgeca.com – 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.
Newsletter for March 2022
The latest newsletter is here!
We have learned that longtime branch member Ken Smallwood has passed away after a fall.
"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."
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.
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:
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.
If anyone does perchance know anything about Private Shaw could you please contact Mark at
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