Author Topic: Major Fletcher : 5th Bn. Manchester Regt.  (Read 527 times)

Offline PhilipG

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Major Fletcher : 5th Bn. Manchester Regt.
« on: April 02, 2020, 11:03:17 AM »
This officer had apparently and at some time in the past been 2 i/c of the 5th battalion.    I know very little about him, except that he was Mess President at Scarborough when Wilfred Owen was Mess Secretary.

In August 1918, Owen was on a draft to France, ultimately to reach Etaples and from which he was then posted to the 2nd battalion.   Having bid farewell to the Major as Owen left Scarborough for France, Owen was astonished to meet up with Fletcher later at the EFC Officers Rest & Mess.    It seems that a week after Owen left Scarborough, the Major had similarly received draft instructions.    Is anything known about Major Fletcher - a man held in high regard by Wilfred Owen?                PhilipG.

Offline mack

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Re: Major Fletcher : 5th Bn. Manchester Regt.
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2020, 01:21:41 PM »
hiya Philip
there were two major fletchers in the 5th manchesters,but I don't want to play guessing games with your research in case I get it wrong,this is all I have Philip

major ernest fletcher
2nd in command at Gallipoli when the battalion landed on the peninsular
son of ralph+fanny fletcher,the hindles,atherton
died 4-1-1937
he was part of the mining dynasty of fletcher,burrows of Atherton
his brother capt clement fletcher was also in the 5th battalion,landed at Gallipoli on 10-9-1915
took temp command on 21-10-15
awarded MC

major basil,lindley fletcher
briarcroft,howe bridge,atherton
also 5th battalion as a lieutenant at gallipol.D.coy,posted to B.coy 7-5-15
embarked for Egypt 10-9-14
wounded 4th june 1915
rejoined the battalion from England 8-12-15
awarded MC
son of colonel Philip fletcher.VD.1st volunteer battalion and Phyllis fletcher
at xmas 1917 he was at home on leave from france
died Worthing hospital 5-11-1960
his brother Lt Philip fletcher also 5th battalion was the battalion signals officer until april 1915,he then transferred to the RE signal coy 42nd division
wounded at gallipoli 1915
assistant master at charterhouse

from your description,it sounds llke major ernest fletcher
their fathers were brothers who had large mining interests in the Atherton areas and beyond,very wealthy families

mack

« Last Edit: April 19, 2020, 03:05:58 PM by mack »

Offline PhilipG

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Re: Major Fletcher : 5th Bn. Manchester Regt.
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2020, 04:31:10 PM »
Mack,

Many thanks.    Major Ernest Fletcher sounds like Owen's PMC at Scarborough.    A bit more for my files.    PhilipG.

Offline mack

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Re: Major Fletcher : 5th Bn. Manchester Regt.
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2020, 10:34:41 PM »
hiya Philip
if you google wiganworld,theres a photo of the officers of the 5th manchesters just before the war began,major fletcher and his brother capt clement fletcher are both in the photo,type in Manchester regiment in the search box,that will bring it up

mack

Offline mack

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Re: Major Fletcher : 5th Bn. Manchester Regt.
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2020, 12:34:59 AM »
hello Philip
I made a error,capt clement fletcher took temp command of the battalion on 21-10-15 not major fletcher,i mistook the initial as a E

theres a bit of a mystery about major fletcher,according to the list of commanding officers of all the Manchester battalions,major fletcher was the CO of the 5th reserve battalion from 15-5-15 till he was replaced on 31st august 1916,yet his name appears in the list of officers who landed with the battalion at Gallipoli  ??? ???

mack

Offline PhilipG

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Re: Major Fletcher : 5th Bn. Manchester Regt.
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2020, 11:52:44 AM »
Mack,

I have looked up Owen's letter to his mother dated 31st August 1918.    He writes re the Major - " he used to be 2nd in command of the 5th in France."          PhilipG.

Offline FuManchu18

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Re: Major Fletcher : 5th Bn. Manchester Regt.
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2020, 02:56:38 PM »
Just noticed this - it's very interesting to me, as the Fletchers in the 5th Manchesters were my ancestors and I'm currently researching their WWI service. Fascinating to think one of them met Wilfred Owen!

Considering all the evidence, I think it was probably Major Basil Lindley Fletcher, for the following reasons:

1. Wilfred Owen mentions that 'Major Fletcher' was President of the Mess Committee at Scarborough; Basil had been PMC of the 5th Manchesters in Egypt (and possibly France) and so would fit into that role quite easily.

2. Owen met 'Major Fletcher' on the way back to France on 31st August 1918; the 5th Manchesters' war diary records that Basil returned to the battalion on 3rd September, which fits exactly.

3. Basil had been in the UK recuperating after being wounded for the second time during the Spring Offensive. It is reasonable to assume that he would, after recovering, have been sent to the 3/5th Manchesters' depot at Scarborough before being posted back to France.

4. Owen mentioned that 'Major Fletcher' had been surprised to be sent back to France when he was. This makes sense if it is Basil since the 5th Manchesters were just about to launch an attack on the German lines and heavy casualties were expected; they probably recalled every officer they could. In the event ten officers were casualties on 2nd September when they captured Villers-au-Flos, and Basil arrived the following day at exactly the right time to bolster their officer numbers.

5. While Basil was never second in command of the 5th Manchesters in France, the battalion wasn't exactly brimming over with Majors either, so by virtue of his rank Basil had quite possibly done the job informally at various points; Owen had never served with the 1/5th in France so he wouldn't have known the exact position.


Against the above is the fact that only Major Ernest Fletcher, Basil's cousin, was definitely second in command of the 5th Manchesters in France. However, Ernest Fletcher was no longer in that role, or even with the front line troops, by 1918; in early 1917 his illness (dysentery contracted on Gallipoli) rendered him unfit for front line duties soon after they arrived in France from Egypt. From his obituaries he appears to have spent the rest of the War in roles like transport officer and POW camp commander, so it doesn't seem likely that Owen could have seriously thought they would get a posting together ('But here he is, & I am very glad & shall try to keep with him' he writes).

Offline PhilipG

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Re: Major Fletcher : 5th Bn. Manchester Regt.
« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2020, 10:53:59 AM »
FuManchu18,

Welcome, and thank you for your interesting contribution.    You have obviously carried out considerable research.   In this connection, I presume you have visited the Clifton Hotel in Scarborough, the location of the Officers' Mess whose PMC was one of your ancestors?  Wilfred Owen's favourite accommodation was apparently one of the upper turret rooms from which a wonderful view was available.    I should think a PMC with the rank of Major would surely have insisted upon being allocated a room in the same location.   PhilipG.