The Manchester Regiment 1758 - 1958

The Nineteenth (Service) Battalion


19th (Service) (4th City Pals) Battalion.

Raised at Manchester 8.11.14. by the Lord Mayor & City. At Heaton Park. April 1915 to Belton Park, Grantham in 90th Bde, 30th Div. 29.8.15 taken over by the War Office. Sept 1915 to Larkhill.

6.11.15 landed at Boulogne then on 21st Bde 30th Div. 6.2.18 disbanded in France.

We are very lucky for have been given permission to reprint Elaine Speakman's transcrition of her Grandfathers diary

19th June 1915 to 12th February 1918

Manchester Regiment
19th Battalion
12489 Labour Corps
D Company, XIV Platoon
261305 HSE Coy 274
70th Teritorial Reserve Brigade

Enlisted 12th September 1914

Served in France
7th November 1915 to 10th July 1916

Recommended discharged 7th February 1917
No longer fit for war service

Put on police duty 14th March 1917
Discharged Mid January 1917


(names of places and people have been corrected where possible – those in red have not yet been confirmed by research}

19th June 1915

Transferred to new brigade – for line of trenches at Carnoy
  taken over from the French

2nd Wilts
2nd Yorks
18th Liverpools
19th Liverpools

Brigadier Sackville West
21st Brigade
30th Division

November 7th 1915 Sunday  
Left Salisbury Plain 10.30am – entrained 12 noon – arrived Southampton 2pm – embarked 5pm – arrived Le Havre 12.30am after smooth passage

8th November
Disembarked 7am – arrived rest camp 9am – canvas tents – left camp 5.30pm – entrained 8pm for all night journey – cattle trucks

9th November
Arrived Pont Remy 9am – left train – on March all day – arrived at our billet at Beaumetz 7pm – poor peasant folk – slept in hovel – beastly hole

10th November
Still in billet – rained all day – moved to better billet

11th November
better billet – on guard all day at billet – wet - nothing doing

12th November
Still in same spot and still rough – wet

13th November Saturday
Had short march – troops in every village – 1 letter from K

14th November Sunday
Nice day – received cigs and tobacco – nothing doing

15th November
Woke up to find 2 inches of snow – had route march – letter from Ma

16th November
Snow – very cold

17th November
Left Beaumetz 8am – on March all day – arriving Flesselles – stayed the night – had good time

18th November
Left Flesselles 10.30am on march to another village a few miles away which we reached about 2pm – a poor place called Coisy – not cosy at all

19th November
Nothing doing – only a few miles to Amiens – about 3

20th November Saturday
Oven building – letter from K – nothing doing

21st November Sunday
Nothing doing

22nd November
Cigs from Tommy. Letter from K

23rd November
Went through room of German gas to test helmets

24th November
Route march

25th November
Route march

26th November
Parcel from K

27th November Saturday
Nothing doing

28th November Sunday
Left Coisy 9am march to Canaples – arrived 1pm – big village – better billet – sore foot

29th November
Confined to billet

30th November
Foot worse – confined to billet – letter from ma

1st December
In billet – wet – dirty hole

2nd December
Wet – letter from ma

3rd December
Guard – wet

4th December Saturday
Hot bath – first time clothes off for a month – letter from K – 50 cigs – T – like photo – leather coat

5th December Sunday
Nothing doing - new boots

6th December
Route march – letter from ma

7th December
Route march

8th December
Battalion moved up to trenches – I remain behind to look after billet with 50 more - wet

9th December
Wood cutting - wet

10th December

11th December
Carpenting – guard – dump

12th, December Sunday

13th December

14th December

15th December
Packing up for moving

16th December
Left Canaples for trenches – arrived at village of Puchevillers for the night – about 12 miles away – met L

17th December
Left Puchevillers – attached 16th platoon Kings Liverpools for trenches. Arrived Englebelmer – our base for the trenches – attached RI rifles

19th December Sunday
Entered trenches at dusk – bright moonlight – few snipers about – nothing exciting – up to knees in mud

20th December
Entered trenches at dusk – bright moonlight – snipers busy

21st December
Wet – resting

22nd December

23rd December
Shell fire - stopped work on trenches – very wet – German post blown up

24th December
Liverpools come out of trenches at dusk

25th December – Sunday
Left Englebelmer for Puchevillers – stayed night – wet

26th December
Left Puchevillers and Liverpools to join our own battalion at Boisbegues – 14 miles march

27th December
Joined the bombers – received three letter from K – 2 papers, 1 from ma, one from WS

28th December
Letter from ma

29th December

30th December
Bath – bombing

31st December
Witnessed a bombing display by the Wilts

January 1st 1916 Saturday
Ordered to be ready to move at a minutes notice on account of big German attack

January 2nd
Wet – nothing doing

3rd January
Moved up towards the trenches – reached Naours for the night – 12 miles

4th January
Left Naours on journey for trenches – arrived Pont Noyelles for the night

5th January
Left Pont Noyelles – arrived Sailly Laurette

6th January
Left Sailly Laurette for billet – 1 mile behind the trenches – arrived BillonWood after terrible march owing to the state of the road – under canvas until entering trenches – things seem lively here

7th January
Road repairing – awful mess through shells and rain

8th January Saturday
Entered trenches at dusk – took long time to get to our support trenches – where we passed the night in very fair conditions. A sniper at work on our dug out all night, but had a good night

9th January Sunday
Working on mine shaft – on duty all night – rather lively night

10th January
On duty day and night – snipers busy

11th January
On duty day and night – snipers busy

12th January
On duty all day – only about 3 hours sleep during our 4 days in the trenches – relieved by the Liverpools at night – marched to Bray – about 3 miles for four days

13th January
Had wash and shave – the first for over a week and glad of a good nights sleep. Parcel from K – over a month on the way

14th January
Had a nice bath which we badly needed – battalion concert – having a fairly good time

15th January Saturday
Building dug outs just outside Bray – concert

16th January
Letter and photo from K – went up to the trenches at dusk in reserve – for fatigues work – jolly hard work

17th January
On six hours mining shift under German lines – heard them at work

18th January
Another six hours mining – entering firing line at dusk – lively doings

19th January
On sentry duty all day – on patrol all night along the trench

20th January
On trench work – relieved by Liverpools at dusk – under canvas in wood a mile behind the firing line

21st January
Resting – went sick - LD

22nd January
118 shells in wood 2 RFA killed

23rd January
Sick – LD – many more shells about wood – buried the 2 RFA lads killed yesterday

24th January
Road making in wood – entered trenches at dusk relieving Liverpools

25th January
Sentry duty all day and night – rather lively day

26th January
Orderly in support at night. Thirlwell wounded with 5 more by shell at Carnoy village

27th January
Trench work in firing line – had gas alarm

28th January
Great bombardment by Germans. Stood to twice for expected attack by gas shells. Could not be relieved by Liverpools - on sentry duty all night

29th January Saturday
Stood to with gas helmets for expected gas shell attack – great attack along the line – Liverpools used bayonets – captured a few Germans and their officers – relieved by Liverpools

30th January Sunday
Had good nights sleep – also wash and shave after a fortnight

31st January
Sanitary duty – emptying latrines around Bray. Ordered to help French guarding a bridge and putting place in a state of defence – this side of River Somme

1st February
Fortifying houses near bridge – shells dropped in Bray – 1 man killed

2nd February
On wiring party putting up entanglements – entered trenches at dusk – on patrol all night

3rd February
On sentry duty all day and patrol at night

4th February
Woke the Germans up a bit – on sentry duty all day – Germans dropped a few shells around me – came out of the trenches in support – S Massey had his head blown off by a shell coming out – we just escaped

5th February
Took ammo boxes up the trenches – general fatigue work

6th February Sunday
3 from C coy killed by rifle grenade – 1 wounded – relieved by Liverpools but had to go sapping all night and carry explosives up the trenches – awful work – got out to the wood 8.30 next morning

7th February
Glad to get a bit of a rest – parcel from K – very welcome

8th February
Cannot get water for a shave – under canvas – snow – frost – working at night digging trenches with Wilts

9th February
Mostly resting

10th February
Terrible shelling at wood about 4 o’clock – quite suddenly – a great rush for dug outs but impossible for all to get under cover in time – result – 1 killed, 8 wounded including our Sergeant and Dilworth who was badly knocked about. The next tent was riddled – a very narrow escape for us.

11th February
Getting ready for the trenches again – very wet – got shelled as we arrived at communication trenches – a bit exciting but not much damage – rested at night

12th February
On duty all day – also at night – not much doing

13th February Sunday
Resting – a few of C Coy wounded – on sentry duty at night – a few sausages came over

14th February
Getting ready for expected attacked – news given by German POW – terrible weather

15th February
Expected attack did not come off – shocking in trenches – relieved by Liverpools late at night – most awful experience getting out of trench. On way to Bray for four hours – reached Bray at 3 in morning

16th February
Had a good rest – was glad of it

17th February
Still resting

18th February
RE Resting, mending – wet – had bath

19th February Saturday
Entered trenches at dusk – I was at HQ at Carnoy for 4 days – hard work in trenches owing to wet

20th February
In communications trenches all day – rough work

21st February
Same as Sunday

22nd February
Snowing and frosty – big battle on our left – Germans repulsed

23rd February
Up trenches at work – still more snow and frost – relieved by Liverpools

24th February
Cold – frosty – bright

25th February
On guard all day – terrible snow storms – relieved by Liverpools

26th February Saturday
Dug out sentry – at work in trenches clearing snow

27th February
In support on sentry duty on officers dug out all night – relieved by 22nd Manchesters at noon – go to Bray

28th February
At work at Bray on dug outs

1st March
On duty all day and night – enemy quiet

2nd March
On duty all day and night – snowing – had awful time

3rd March
Had to sit in dug out up to our knees in mud – relieved by Wilts – had a bad time getting out to wood where we went under canvas – go down at 3.15am – had to be up at 4.30am for mining – had our gum boots taken off us so got an awful doing – over our knees in mud and water – what an awful experience

4th March
Finished mining at 1pm – in an awful mess when we got back

5th March
Clearing Carnoy Avenue up to 12.30 – country covered with snow

6th March

7th March
On ammo guard – fine time. Relieved by Royal Fusiliers – on march through Bray to a wood about 3 miles from Bray – under new tents – 15 or more to a tent

8th March
Orderly – Coy on fatigues near Maricourt

9th March
Went to Maricourt – in the trenches after dark – awful way

10th March
Had day off

11th March
Drills etc

12th March
On fatigue work at Maricourt all day – done up

13th March
Lovely day – getting ready for move

14th March
Up at 3am – going with motor – arrived at Corbie for the night – fine place – sorry to leave

15th March
Up at 5am – going with motor – arrived at Frenchencourt for 10 days – old village – nice but nothing in it.

16th March
Platoon orderly – Coy at work on railway

17th March
Saturday 18th March to 23rd March
At work on new railway track

24th March

25th March

26th March

27th March
On railway track

28th March
On railway track

29th March
On track till noon and then left Frenchencourt for Coisy – 1 night only - snow

30th March
Left Coisy for Breilly – nice day – nice village – good billet

31st March
Started 10 days training – hot

1st April Saturday
Hot – heavy work

2nd April Sunday
Brigade day – heavy work – hot

3rd and 4th April

5th April
Brigade attack through smoke – very good

6th April

7th April
Inspection by General West

8th April
Attack from the trenches – practice

9th April Sunday
Leave started – big brigade attack through smoke

10th April
First days holiday in France – sports - boating on river – drew 2 for leave

11th April
Left Breilly for Coisy – at this place one night

12th April
Left Coisy for Frenchencourt – rough – wet – in reserve for brigade for line – leave cancelled

13th April

14th April
On the railway

15th April
Company training

16th April Sunday
On the railway

17th April
Another holiday – what is going to happen? – wet

18th April
Started training on Lewis machine gun

19th and 20th April

21st April Good Friday

22nd April

23rd April Easter Sunday
Church service – hot

24th April
Filling trenches at Corbie – hot

25th – 26th – 27th April
Machine gun firing – hot

28th April
Inoculated – day off

29th April
Day off

30th April Sunday
Church service

1st May Monday
Left Battalion on leave until 11th May – reached Havre and boat left midnight – arrived Southampton 8am Tuesday

11th May 1916
Finished leave. Left home for London 8.15 am. Left London 4pm – left Southampton 8pm

12th May
Arrived Havre after a rather rough crossing 2.30am - arrived Amiens 3.30pm – arrived at Maricourt 5.30pm – had to walk to Bray – arrived there 9pm. Had night there – had alarm 2am – Coope killed.

13th May Saturday
Went up to trenches – old Wilts line. Rowe , Briggs , Blundell wounded. Blundell died – rifle grenade. On sentry duty.

14th May Sunday
Wet – not much doing, sentry all night

15th May
On sentry all day – wet – relieved by the Wilts 10 o’clock – got to Bray 1am

16th May
Beautiful day – went to work on top of trenches near Billon Wood from 7 to 1am

17th May
Hot – rested

18th May
Hot – working barges

19th May
Hot – working barges and dug outs until 8.30pm

20th May Saturday
Hot up at 5 o’clock for work on dug outs – entered trenches at dusk to relieve Wilts - we are on support – Bray shelled – a few wounded

21st May Sunday
Hot – repairing fire steps

22nd May
Hot – repairing fire steps in line

23rd May
Warm – rest – Culley wounded over the top

24th May
Warm – rest – went over the top on scouting patrol. Relieved by the Suffolk

25th May
Canteen fatigue at Maricourt. Village battered to pieces – lot of 1st Battalion buried here

26th May
RE fatigue – had to stand to – was the line here

27th May Saturday
RE fatigue – up the line

28th May Sunday
Joined the Lewis gun team for the line

29th May
Relieved the Wilts – in support – no dug outs. Heavy bombardment of new line – 18 casualties – Owen and Armsbey killed - awful
31st May
Nice day – rather quiet at night – on duty all day

1st June
Warm day – not much doing

2nd June
Great bombardment on our right – had some sport with top gun

3rd June
Nice day – terrific duel on our right at night

4th June
Got ready for bombing raid which was cancelled at last minute

5th June Monday
Wet – relieved by Wilts – go to Maricourt

6th June
Another great duel on our left – getting lively around here

7th June
Wet – iron rations – fatigues

8th June
Wet – iron rations – fatigues

9th June
Iron rations – fatigues

10th June Saturday
Wet – rejoined Company – relieved

11th June Sunday
Relieved by 17 Manchesters at night. Left for 10 days Divi training. Marched to Heilly Station – took train for Picquigny then had 5 mile march to our billet

12th June
Wet started our work at the village of Brequimesnal – village no bar – wet

13th June
Wet – a lot of attacking on German lines

14th June
Same as before

15th June
Ditto – then had to march 5 miles to Brettany (?) – got here to find place full of  SA, had to sleep out – time put on

16th June
Left again for a tiring Brigade day on trenches – then had to march 4 miles to Riencourt
A very nice village,

17th June Saturday
Another day on the attack

18th June

19th June
Brigade attack on enemy

20th June
Brigade day attack on enemy

21st June
Left Riencourt for Corbie 5am via Beilly and Amiens – arrived Corbie 7pm

22nd June
Left Corbie for Etineham

23rd June
Left Etineham for Bray at dusk. The march from Riencourt to Corbie was about 25 miles in hot weather – well done to stick it

24th June Saturday
Inspected by General at Divi – who made a speech about the attack

25th June
Sunday – attacked – Lewis gun – to rest

26th June
Rest – terrible bombardment at night continued

27th June
A few shells dropped in Bray – bombardment all round

28th June
Bray shelled – a few killed – getting ready for the line

29th June
Went up the line to get ready for the great attack – great bombardment going on

30th June
Go into advanced line to await the attack next morning

1st July 1916 Saturday
Bombardment goes well – a terrible day – we go over the top at 7.30am – a glorious sight. German lines soon taken – also Gaily Wood (? probably Glatz Redoubt) in record time – the 90th Brigade then came and took Montauban, they have stiff time, but do well. The Germans plug the 89th Brigade to our right. Terrible job holding the new ground taken. The huns lose a good number of prisoners. Jolly glad when the next morning came.

2nd July Sunday
Shelled all day. Narrow escape for me. A great number killed and wounded. Get relieved at dusk and make our way to Trones Wood (?). Job to find it in the dark. Glad to get there.

5th July
Day of inspections and getting ready for next affair

6th July
Had orders to be ready to move up the line again at 4pm. Started at that time – had got a mile on the way then called back to Divi - all smiles – the other Divi is on its way up

7th July
Hard luck – our trip only postponed 24 hours, So up we went, spent a few hours in our old trenches, then made our way up to the German lines we took July 1st. Spent the night watching the wood.

8th July
We had to attack next morning – no sleep that night – got over our knees in mud and water so felt nice! Saw the Yorks go up for the attack followed by the Wilts. Heard soon after the Yorks had been repulsed and Wilts had gone in and gained a footing in the wood at great loss. We were soon after sent up and ordered to get ready for a bayonet charge. Had a great job to get to our position which was heavily shelled – so heavy that after a long time we were withdrawn and sent another way over the open for several hundred yards – but succeeded in entering a wood and what a wood, had a job to make our way through it, but managed to make a line right across and joined up with the Wilts. We dug in and prepared to hold the wood at all costs – in the afternoon about 100 of the 3rd Batt join up with us. Moved our gun to another position in a big shell hole, where we had to work jolly hard for cover etc. What a night we had, about five times the Huns attacked and each time knocked back with heavy losses

9th July
And so they started shelling us like hell and kept at it all day. They managed to drop one right in our hole and buried me and poor Ramsbottom and wounded a few others. Poor Ramsbottom was knocked right out. I was only bruised. We had 10 more after that.

Three of us got into an old German trench which seemed to be just in the line of fire, but we stick it for several hours. Shells dropping close around us, expecting every minute to get blown up, but only managed to get slightly wounded and buried again – old Rowe to the rescue, but I did not know that until weeks after, as I was nearly done for at the time.

My steel hat was strafed and badly dented – I quite think that saved my life. Well of course after being got out of the hole, I had to make my way to the dressing station the best way I could. What an awful journey, I had never expected to get away alive, I passed some awful sights, I shall never forget them, but I managed to get to the main dressing station about 3 miles away. At last I was attended to and had a nice hot drink of coffee and cake… after that I had a motor ride to the next station on the way to Heilly, where I had another feed and inoculated, then on again to Heilly where we passed the night in a field hospital.

10th July
Next day we were put on hospital train for the base, which we reached at night after a long journey. I spent today at Etaples and was then put on a train again for Calais, which place we reached alright and was put on the hospital ship for the night, due to sail the next morning as it was too rough that night.

11th July
Sailed this morning – still rough so had a bad voyage – were all sick after having a fine breakfast. Arrived at Dover – how glad to be back in Blighty once again. Was soon put on the hospital train for Charing Cross where we arrived and then put in ambulance for hospital – as we came out of gates had heaps of flowers and roses thrown to us. Well we had a nice ride and soon arrived at Lewisham Military Hospital – and very glad I was to get in bed again.
12th July
Nothing doing now… for three weeks as I was in bed with trench fever – only that we were treated very well and had as good a time as we could. This brings us to …

12th August
Was allowed to get up for one hour each day, but found I did not want to get up for long as I was very weak, but managed to go for a nice outing by motor a week later which I enjoyed. After that I was allowed out a few hours each day until it is now August 21st and I am still here

22nd August
Still waiting to go to Streatham

23rd August
Went to Streatham Home for Incurables for convalescence – found it a fine place – grand food, bed and everything we could wish for – out 10am to7.30pm, plenty of outings, had a glorious time, also saw two Zepps being brought down – a fine sight. Had Harry to see me after 11 years. Well I had nine weeks here and sorry to leave it – much improved in health. I returned to Lewisham to await discharge on sick leave.

October 24th
I had a rotten time – seemed an awful hole after the good time I had, but got my leave from Saturday 27th October.

I arrived home after 12 months absence and they were all thrilled to see me and I had a most glorious time for 10 days when I got my orders to report to Ripon Camp on November 7th.
November 8th
I journeyed there and had two days pay stopped for doing so – also leave for two months – nearly broke my heart going back to camp life after the good time I had. Food seemed awful and I was put A3 by doctor which means gradual training until fit. Well I was soon going through all my training again from start and finished my course – finished up getting marksman on range which means another 6d a day – adding 3d a day from September making my pay 8s 9d a week.

December 5th
Well I though I should get home this Christmas, but no such luck. I had to spend Christmas in camp and made best of it considering, but missed home and New Year

1st January 1917
Found us on business as usual and all leave stopped from here – told we should get our embarkation leave from Cleethorpes, but I am still A3 – no signs if I have, until I heard that Harry was dangerously ill in King Georges Hospital, so I asked for leave but had to get the tale confirmed, so wired the hospital and got a reply, which I took up next day and got four days leave, which I had to agree to being my embarkation leave.
14th January
Went to see Harry in London, arrive 10am Sunday, went to see him in the afternoon, found him a little better – found Albert who I ad not seen for 12 years – I hardly knew him – a proper little Yankee. Went to see Harry Monday – found him still improving so decided to take the midnight train for Manchester where I arrived Tuesday morning

17th January
All pleased to see me – had a good time until Wednesday night when I journeyed back to Ripon – arrived there in good time – saw Doc next morning – put on D3 light duty for a week from January 19th – not much light duty about it, but still alright

25th January
Still D3 so doing well – making the best of things around here – better than France

2nd February
D3 TUB light duty indoors

7th February
E7 MB recommended for discharge, doing hut orderly since – a fine job – suit me for the duration

28th February
Still waiting for board

12th March
Notice arrived, so I went before them and got C2 instead of ticket, not I suppose, I should grumble now and I have been found a nice job

14th March
They made a policeman of me, so I am watching other people work now

14th April
Still on police duty. I was inoculated on this date

May 10th
On police duty still, applied for service leave having been here for six months, would not grant it until I have been here nine months – a jolly shame, but after a lot of trouble managed to get 4 days special – had to pay half fare – did not mind that so went home
10am until Monday 1pm

29th May
TNB arrived for our Battalion – I go before them and get C2 – still suppose I remain on police duty – good enough.

25th June
Got transferred to HSE Coy 479 – also new number 261305 – still attached to 70th TRB on police so that’s alright – what they intend doing with us I don’t yet know

1st August
Still on police until I go before another board and get C2 again. I then put in for my service leave having been here nine months – I am told I cannot have it as I have had a free pass to go to London, so I have another 8 weeks to wait. Managed an escort to Stafford – two days off

10th August
Got a weekend from Friday 3.30 until Monday 1pm 13th – so I have not done so bad after all

24th October
Go on alright until today – go before another board and get passed C2 again for another 6 months

22nd November
Go to Stafford with a prisoner – have a night at home

Go on until just before Christmas when the Battalion breaks up and we all go over to the 67th TRB, but the police still carry on with the 70th until the New Year when we all go on leave and go back to find move to the labour centre where I go sick and get marked C – which results in my discharge a fortnight after going up there – and jolly glad to get home again after putting in 3 years and 5 months – not bad – had a month at home.

Got a pension of 8s.3d with 3s.9d for kiddies making 12s.0d for 48 weeks with 4 full weeks 27s.6d to start with. Got silver badge and £6.5s.9d arrears – not bad

I then started work with Manchester Tramways Division and passed out as a driver after 3 and ½ weeks – got £3.4s.0d whilst learning

12th February 1918
Started work proper