Author Topic: Pommereuil : The Forester's House (& 2nd,20th and 21st Manchesters)  (Read 5360 times)

Offline PhilipG

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Two coach loads of passengers very recently visited  this military landmark of the Battle of the Selle, in which on the 31st October 1918 troops of "D" Coy. of the 2nd Manchesters were billeted.   Thereafter, the visitors followed the "Walk" recently designed by the villagers in nearby Ors to replicate the line of advance to the bank of the Sambre-Oise canal which the battalion undertook in respect of their attack over the canal on 4th November 1918.

I think it quite likely that the exploits of the regular battalion and its connection with a war poet (Wilfred Owen)  have clouded the efforts and sacrifices of the 21st and 20th Manchesters in the fighting to capture Pommereuil on the 23rd October 1918, for their casualties were by no means light.   Reference to the "Official History of the War" gives a very brief insight into the capture of the village and the Manchesters' part in that enterprise and may clarify how the the 2nd battalion came to be readying itself for the forthcoming attack of the 4th November 1918.

The German defences were without a continuous trench pattern, relying on a defence in depth system, but on the outskirts of Pommereuil there were groups of practice trenches available to them.  Two companies of the 21st Manchesters attacked along the Bazuel-Pommereuil road (D86), but were held up by enemy fire which necessitated the attendance of a tank which "did great execution amongst the enemy".

Meanwhile, the 20th Manchesters waded the swollen brook - the Richemont - whilst waiting for the bridges needed - a brook reputedly 4 feet deep in places and normally bridged by the D959 Le Cateau to Pommereuil road.    In the early hours of the 23rd October, they fought their way forward and entered the southern part of Pommereuil, capturing 70 prisoners in doing so.

Wilfred Owen was one of the occupants of the cellar at the Forester's House.   He remarks that his "D" Coy. Cmdr. (possibly a senior Lieutenant), "snores on a bench" and also refers to his "delightful servant", an "old soldier" by the name of Kellett, who once served with Owen in the battalion's "A" Coy.  It would be great if these two men could be traced in the battalion records.
PhilipG.

Offline PhilipG

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Re: Pommereuil : The Forester's House (& 2nd,20th and 21st Manchesters)
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2014, 10:06:26 AM »

I note that the number of men of the 20th Manchesters buried in Pommereuil British Cemetery who were killed in action on the 23rd October 1918 amounts to eighteen.  Three men of the 21st battalion who also fell on the same date are also buried in this cemetery.

Apparently, the cemetery originally contained a wooden memorial which was erected in memory of All Ranks of the 20th Manchesters who died on the 23rd October 1918, surely a symbol of regimental pride?        PhilipG.
 

Offline PhilipG

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Re: Pommereuil : The Forester's House (& 2nd,20th and 21st Manchesters)
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2014, 05:01:08 PM »
During research into the fighting in the Pommereuil region, I found the following to be of interest:-

No. 76381 Pte. Walter Bentley 20th Manchesters. Age 29. KIA 23.10.18
(Killed within 3 weeks of his arrival in France).

Captain Walter Henry Bowsher 20th Manchesters. Age 39. KIA 25.10,18.
(Awarded Military Cross?).

2nd Lieutenant A.Hulme 20th Manchesters. Age 29. KIA 23.10.18.
(Ex ranker?)

Captain Gwynedd William Llewelyn Pritchard MC.,MID. 20th Manchesters.  Age 25. KIA 23.10.18.
(Commanded the Coys. attacking Pommereuil.)

ALL THE ABOVE ARE BURIED IN POMMEREUIL BRITISH CEMETERY

Major Donald Murray DSO & Bar. 21st Manchesters.
(Awarded Bar to DSO in connection with the battalion's attack at Pommereuil on 23rd Oct. 1918.
".....did excellent work in command of the battalion and when units got mixed up re-organised the attack with complete success.")

Brigadier-General C.J.Hickie, 7th Brigade, 25th Division.
(There were isolated enemy groups and "riding with his groom into the village of Pommereuil himself captured several Germans.")

           ....................................................................

The following were killed in action 7.11.18. i.e. 4 days before the end of the war.  They are both buried in the north corner of the Dompierre-sur-Helpe Communal Cemetery.

Captain James William Bell MC. 21st Manchesters.  Age 32.
( Reputed to be the last officer casualty of the 25th Division)

No. 51646 Pte. Ralph Clegram. 21st Manchesters. Age 21.

PhilipG.


Offline Bob.NB

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Re: Pommereuil : The Forester's House (& 2nd,20th and 21st Manchesters)
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2014, 09:10:11 AM »
Philip,
This could be your "old soldier":
A.L/CPL  40403 WILLIAM  KELLET
20th Battalion Manchester Regiment.
Died of wounds  2nd November 1918
Born Crewe – previously served in the Cheshire Yeomanry (no. 2034).

Bob B

timberman

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Re: Pommereuil : The Forester's House (& 2nd,20th and 21st Manchesters)
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2014, 11:56:26 AM »

Philip
These are the causalities I have found for the 20th and 21st Bn for the 23rd of Oct 1918
they are in four cemeteries and 3 remembered on the memorial at
VIS-EN-ARTOIS MEMORIAL, Pas de Calais, France.


BAZUEL COMMUNAL CEMETERY, Nord, France

WOOD, Private, HENRY, 52964, 21st Bn., Manchester Regiment. 23 October 1918. Age
20. Son of Henry and Janet Wood, of 14, Wren St., West Gorton, Manchester. Grave
Ref. South East corner.

HONNECHY BRITISH CEMETERY, Nord, France

HOLLING, Private, JOHN, 76405, "C" Coy. 20th Bn., Manchester Regiment. Killed in
action 23 October 1918. Age 22. Son of John and Isabella Holling, of Edmondthorpe,
Oakham, Rutland. Grave Ref. I. B. 69/71.

HART, Private, B, 76407, 20th Bn., Manchester Regiment. 23 October 1918. Age 23. Son
of John William and Mary Hart; husband of Charlotte Ann Hart, of Tanyard,
Measham, Burton-on-Trent. Grave Ref. I. B. 68.

RUSSELL, Private, J, 39960, 20th Bn., Manchester Regiment. 23 October 1918. Grave
Ref. I. B. 69/71.

THORPE, Private, F, 245441, 20th Bn., Manchester Regiment. 23 October 1918. Grave
Ref. I. B. 69/71.

POMMEREUIL BRITISH CEMETERY, Nord, France

ATKINSON, Private, J W H, 40002, 20th Bn., Manchester Regiment. 23 October 1918.
Grave Ref. B. 13.

AUSTIN, Private, L, 28719, 20th Bn., Manchester Regiment. 23 October 1918. Grave
Ref. D. 56.

BAGLEY, Private, C H, 54635, 20th Bn., Manchester Regiment. 23 October 1918. Age
25. Husband of Ethel May Bagley, of 35, Tennyson St., Gainsborough, Lincs. Grave Ref.
B. 9.
BENTLEY, Private, W, 76381, 20th Bn., Manchester Regiment. 23 October 1918. Age
29. Son of Joseph and the late Sarah Bentley, of Swepstone, Leicester. Grave Ref. B. 21.

BOWEY, Private, F, 76528, M C, 20th Bn., Manchester Regiment. 23 October 1918. Age
23. Son of Mrs. E. J. Rutherford, of West Simonside Farm, Tyne Dock, South Shields.
Grave Ref. B. 8.

BOWSHER, Captain, WILLIAM HENRY, 20th Bn., Manchester Regiment. 25 October
1918. Age 39. Husband of Elizabeth Lilian Bowsher, of 84, St. Andrew's Rd., Exmouth,
Devon. Grave Ref. D. 5.

BRADBURN, Lance Corporal, H M, 51694, 20th Bn., Manchester Regiment. Killed in
action 23 October 1918. Age 31. Son of Richard and Amy Bradburn, of Tanworth-in-
Arden, Birmingham. Grave Ref. B. 20.

DARBYSHIRE, Private, E F, 54617, 21st Bn., Manchester Regiment. 23 October 1918.
Grave Ref. E. 27.

DICKINSON, Private, GEORGE, 76451, 20th Bn, Manchester Regiment. 23 October
1918. Age 19. Son of John William and Harriet Ann Dickinson, of Burton Lazars,
Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. Grave Ref. D. 38.

DOLING, Private, A A, 44432, 20th Bn., Manchester Regiment. 23 October 1918. Grave
Ref. D. 23.

ENGLISH, Private, J W, 76284, 20th Bn., Manchester Regiment. 23 October 1918. Age
19. Son of Richard C. and A. B. English, of Beckside, Beverley, Yorks. Grave Ref. D. 41.

FELL, Private, GEORGE SIDNEY, 245439, "A" Coy. 20th Bn., Manchester Regiment.
23 October 1918. Age 20. Son of Stephen and Mary Fell, of 46, Whixley Rd., Darnall,
Sheffield. Grave Ref. B. 11.

GRIFFIN, Private, EDWARD, 76288, 20th Bn., Manchester Regiment. 23 October 1918.
Age 20. Son of Wilson and Lizzie Griffin, of Hall Farm, Bawtry, Doncaster. Grave Ref.
D. 37.

HEADLEY, Private, H, 76290, 20th Bn., Manchester Regiment. 23 October 1918. Grave
Ref. D. 55.

HULME, Second Lieutenant, A, 20th Bn., Manchester Regiment. 23 October 1918. Age
29. Husband of Emily Hulme, of 53, Half Edge Lane, Eccles, Manchester. Grave Ref. E.
4.

LAWSON, Private, TOM, 51739, 21st Bn., Manchester Regiment. 23 October 1918. Age
28. Son of William and Hannah Lawson, of Greasborough; husband of May Hall
(formerly Lawson), of Campbell St., Greasborough, Rotherham, Yorks. Grave Ref. E.
26.

OLDFIELD, Private, R H, 12923, 20th Bn., Manchester Regiment. 23 October 1918. Age
29. Son of Eliza Oldfield, of 96, Cross St., Bradford, Manchester. Grave Ref. D. 54.

PRITCHARD, Captain, GWYNEDD WILLIAM LLEWELYN, M C, Mentioned in
Despatches, 20th Bn., Manchester Regiment. Killed in action 23 October 1918. Age 25.
Son of William Jones Pritchard and Emily Caroline Pritchard, of 1, St. Clement's
Avenue, Bloxwich, Walsall, Staffs. Grave Ref. E. 2.

SPECK, Private, W, 76515, 21st Bn., Manchester Regiment. 23 October 1918. Grave
Ref. E. 28

STUBBS, Corporal, ALBERT, 40327, 20th Bn., Manchester Regiment. 23 October 1918.
Age 29. Husband of M. E. Stubbs, of 12, Thomas St., Upper Medlock St., Hulme,
Manchester. Grave Ref. E. 1.

WALKER, Second Lieutenant, GEORGE STANLEY, 20th Bn., Manchester Regiment.
Killed in action 23 October 1918. Age 20. Son of Arthur William and Rebecca Walker,
of 20, Spring Bridge Rd., Alexandra Park, Manchester. Grave Ref. E. 3.

WATSON, Private, E H, 51793, 20th Bn., Manchester Regiment. 23 October 1918. Age
20. Son of John Joseph and Grace Watson, of 124, Main St., Hensingham, Whitehaven.
Grave Ref. B. 10.

WHATMOUGH, Private, J, 28139, 20th Bn., Manchester Regiment. 23 October 1918.
Grave Ref. E. 6.

PREMONT BRITISH CEMETERY, Aisne, France

FISHWICK, Lance Corporal, THOMAS, 245463, 20th Bn., Manchester Regiment. 23
October 1918. Age 29. Son of John and Alice Fishwick, of I, Plover St., Preston. Grave
Ref. I. A. 17.

VIS-EN-ARTOIS MEMORIAL, Pas de Calais, France

FOSTER, Corporal, WILLIAM, 351180, 21st Bn., Manchester Regiment. 23 October
1918. Age 28. Son of Mrs. M. E. Foster, of 12, King St., Hyde, Cheshire. Panel 9.

HERRICK, Private, FREDERICK JAMES, 76301, 20th Bn., Manchester Regiment. 23
October 1918. Panel 9.

NEAVES, Private, FRANCIS, 40234, 20th Bn., Manchester Regiment. 23 October 1918.
Panel 9.

SCHOLES, Serjeant, PETER, 14258, 21st Bn., Manchester Regiment. 23 October 1918.
Husband of Elizabeth H. Wheldrich (formerly Scholes), of 26, Peel St., Chadderton,
Oldham. Panel 9.


Timberman

John W

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Re: Pommereuil : The Forester's House (& 2nd,20th and 21st Manchesters)
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2014, 12:52:02 PM »
Here are a few pics of the canal - taken in Aug 2014.

John W

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Re: Pommereuil : The Forester's House (& 2nd,20th and 21st Manchesters)
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2014, 12:53:04 PM »
looking back to the bridge from where 1st pic was taken

John W

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Re: Pommereuil : The Forester's House (& 2nd,20th and 21st Manchesters)
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2014, 12:59:16 PM »
Forester's House and cellar in Aug 14

John W

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Re: Pommereuil : The Forester's House (& 2nd,20th and 21st Manchesters)
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2014, 12:59:55 PM »
House

Offline mack

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Re: Pommereuil : The Forester's House (& 2nd,20th and 21st Manchesters)
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2014, 03:45:23 PM »
2/Lt Arthur Hulme[ex ranker]he originally was CSM 300497 Arthur Hulme,1/8th manchesters,he married miss Emily warmisham at st.marys church eccles on 2-1-1915,he was already serving at the time,son of Samuel+francis Hulme,his wifes brother sgt 300495 Robert warminsham enlisted at the same time,robert was a veteran of the Gallipoli campaign,he survived the war,the address given on the CWGC,53 half edge lane,eccles,was emilys parents address,where she went to live after he was killed

mack ;D

Offline wendyg

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Re: Pommereuil : The Forester's House (& 2nd,20th and 21st Manchesters)
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2014, 06:07:08 PM »
In my research I came across 41480 Pte James Kellett of the 2nd Battalion, Manchester Regiment who survived the war.

Wendyg

Offline PhilipG

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Re: Pommereuil : The Forester's House (& 2nd,20th and 21st Manchesters)
« Reply #11 on: November 16, 2014, 11:29:10 AM »
First of all thanks to all who have contributed.

To Bob B. I would say "thank you" for your prompt research efforts, but I think the surname spelling precludes him from being my man.  Perhaps wendyg's submission is a likely candidate?

Timberman's extensive input confirms and emphasises that the battle for Pommereuil must indeed have been a terrible one.  Thanks for that.

John W's excellent photographs took me back a goodly number of years when I was following in the footsteps of the 2nd Manchesters, particularly in respect of Owen's "Smoky Cellar".  I trust he looked south from the Ors bridge and beyond the lock to the nearby spot where the Manchesters eventually crossed the canal by courtesy of the 206 Field Coy. RE?   Thank you.

To Mack, I thank him for his research and for confirming my inexperienced guess that 2nd Lt. Hulme had previously served with distinction in the ranks.

PhilipG.

Offline PhilipG

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Re: Pommereuil : The Forester's House (& 2nd,20th and 21st Manchesters)
« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2014, 11:29:26 AM »
On the 31st October 1918 Wilfred Owen wrote to his mother from the "Smoky Cellar of the Forester's House", a photograph of which JohnW has kindly placed upon this thread.   Ignoring the personal matters covered in the letter, it also gives a brief insight into the scene in a Company Officers' billet during the war of movement which took place in the period  of "The Advance to Victory".

Owen refers to his Company Commander being asleep on a nearby bench and also to other officers who are resting on the wire beds close to him.   Soldiers are at work in the cellar, for it must surely be time for the officers' evening meal.   The Duty Signaller is listening on his headset, (presumably a Field Telephone?), at the same time appearing to be listening to a NCO who I suspect will be the Post Corporal.

An old soldier with a walrus moustache is dropping peeled potatoes into a pot, the water from which splashes on Owen's hand.  Another soldier is feeding chopped wood into a fire and as the wood is damp, it gives off a plentiful supply of smoke which clearly is the reason for Owen's description of the cellar.  The servant chopping wood is Owen's "cook" - the letter gives his name as "Keyes", which I think is wrong and it must be Private "Keys", whose details I give below.   I should be grateful for any help in this connetion.

59612 Pte. Percy Arthur Keys : 2nd Bn. Manchester Regt. and formerly  of the 1/6th battalion.

PhilipG.

Offline PhilipG

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Re: Pommereuil : The Forester's House (& 2nd,20th and 21st Manchesters)
« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2014, 10:26:59 AM »
Further research indicates that this soldier's details are:

59612 Pte. Arthur Percy Keys.

PhilipG.



Offline PhilipG

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Re: Pommereuil : The Forester's House (& 2nd,20th and 21st Manchesters)
« Reply #14 on: November 28, 2014, 11:45:39 AM »
Over the years, the Mayor of Ors - Jacky Duminy - has taken a great interest in the war poet Wilfrid Owen of the 2nd Manchesters.   The Mayor has also ensured that the part played by the battalion in November 1918 is always remembered.   For instance, he introduced "A Walk" which follows the route taken by the Manchesters when advancing from the Forester's House to the location on the Sambre-Oise canal near Ors where they went into action on the 4th November 1918.

The Forester's House that Owen and his Company knew so well in 1918 has, with the Mayor's involvement, been re-furbished and attractively transformed enabling visitors to see "Owen's Smoky Cellar" more easily.

So it is with some pleasure that I learn today, that the Mayor is to attend at the British Embassy in Paris where he will be awarded the British Empire Medal for his role in keeping the memory of Wilfred Owen alive.       PhilipG.