Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Great Wave Of Patriotism

In December 1915 the Group Scheme for recruitment came to a close. This had been introduced in order to bolster the dwindling numbers of volunteer recruits, and it is at this time that William Britton stepped forward for military service.

4 Dowry Place, Hotwells,
is the fourth property from the right
William Edward Britton was born on 11 June 1895 at 4 Dowry Place, Hotwells, Bristol. He was the son of Thomas John Britton (1869-1939) and Georgina Eliza Vale (c1869-1947). In 1911, aged 15 William was a postmasters errand boy.

The National Registration Act of July 1915 required men aged between of 15 and 65 and not already in the military to register, giving details of their employment. Subsequent to this, Lord Derby, Director-General of Recruiting, brought forward the Group Scheme (often called the Derby Scheme) of recruitment in October 1915.

Bristol newspapers kept the topic of recruitment before their readers and the following article extract explains local arrangements:
The Bristol Recruiting Committee, in company with other recruiting authorities throughout the country, have, during the past few days, been giving serious attention to Lord Derby’s scheme – the final scheme as it is thought – for securing by voluntary means the men needed to keep our armies in the field up to strength. Briefly it means that all men of military age not starred, i.e., not engaged on munitions, aeroplane, or other Government work, are to be personally canvassed and urged to join the colours. Also, that the canvass is to be carried out by civilians under the auspices the Local Parliamentary Recruiting Committees, or where such does not exist, the political agents of the district.

As is well known the Bristol Recruiting Committee has been in existence since August, 1914, to deal with schemes of this description, and they have delegated their duties connected with the carrying out of Lord Derby’s scheme to a sub-committee consisting of the various political agents who are already members of the Committee, and also representatives of the Labour party. We understand that steps have been taken to put the canvass into operation at once.

Western Daily Press - Wednesday 20 October 1915
Under the Group Scheme, men aged 18 to 40 were informed that they could continue to enlist voluntarily or attest with an obligation to come if called up later on. A period of notice would be given to all such men before they were called up to join, so that they might wind up business affairs.

Voluntary enlistment under the scheme was to have ceased at midnight on Saturday 11 December 1915. As this date approached so there was a great rush of recruits.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

The Best Parade Of The Day

Two postcards written by Thomas Minshall to his wife, Eva, and sent from Aldershot in October 1915 are shown below. At this time Thomas was a Lance Corporal with the Cheshire Yeomanry and throughout 1915 the Regiment was stationed in Norfolk on coastal defence duties and undergoing training.

Headquarters Office. Aldershot

Aldershot, 8 October 1915
Dear Eva,
I have come into the town this evening to buy a few things, so not time for letter. I received yours this morning; and will send long letter tomorrow. Keeping tip top, hope all are well.
Your loving husband x.
Aldershot Gymnasium

Aldershot, 17 October 1915
Dear Eva,
I am just going for a short walk with Sgt. Childes. It is a lovely afternoon, so we are going to the flying grounds. I will write letter after tea, before I go into the Gym. I thought you might like pic of the Gym. I hope your cold is better, & Ma & Pa are quite well.
Your loving husband x.

So, why was Thomas detached from his Regiment and what was he doing in Aldershot? He was likely to have been undergoing a course of physical and bayonet training there preparatory to becoming an instructor.

The Army School of Physical and Bayonet Training was based at Aldershot. This school and later others modelled upon it were not for soldiers. Their purpose was to instruct officers and non-commissioned officers in physical drill and bayonet work sufficiently so that they could teach essentials to the rank and file.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Sunshine and Tears

Frank Moore enlisted with the Cheshire Yeomanry in August 1914. Moving from camp at Eccleston near Chester, the Yeomanry arrived in Norfolk in September 1914 to take up coastal defence duties. This time was also occupied with training and Frank unfortunately had a fall from his horse, which hospitalised him for a short time. Whilst recuperating he was interviewed by the Chester Chronicle who published on 24 October 1914 Frank's description of life in camp in Norfolk. In a follow-up letter he wrote somewhat graphically about his experience in the Eastern General Hospital at Cambridge.

Chester Chronicle - Saturday 07 November 1914




Trooper F. B. Moore, of the Crescent, Northwich, who is attached to the Cheshire Yeomanry, and has been invalided home consequent upon accident sustained under circumstances described in a recent issue of "The Chronicle," has written for us the following interesting impressions of life in a present-day military hospital. He says;

"At 7 a.m. breakfast is served, consisting two eggs per man, with bread and butter and tea. Afterwards some of the men make their beds, and the nurses do it for these who are too badly wounded to do their own.

"The hospital orderlies wash up the plates, etc., but are helped considerably by those men who are nearly better. The nurses then begin the dressings. This was my most unpleasant experience. Several men had been so badly hit that they could hardly bear being touched. Yet the nurses had to keep with the good work all the time the poor fellows were screaming. One man had a hole the back of thigh. I saw it myself, and I could have put two fists it easily. He was


bursting behind him. Had to dressed every hour, and it was Iike a murder each time. We ate our meals while it took place. Occasionally some one muttered 'Poor devil,' or 'He’s going through it,' but, as rule, we ate silently.

"After dinner, some of the people of Cambridge who owned cars would call at the hospital and take a number out each day for a drive. Each sister of each ward would select a few, and they paraded at 2-30. It was very amusing see us arrayed in the hospital clothes of saxe blue, with all kinds, of coloured dressing gowns put over them.

"I would like to mention that the doctors are very kind and spare no pains to make each man thoroughly fit and well. I myself saw a man who had the flesh blown from his leg from the knee to the thigh. His life was given up, and for the short time he was expected to live he had everything asked for. His slightest wish was law. The doctors and nurses between them managed to save his life, but thought the limb would have to be amputated because of gangrene. However, this evil was overcome and his life and leg were saved, and the man is doing famously. His name is Conway, ward 3B. This is only one instance of many marvellous cures. I have seen men there wounded in all manner places. One had bullet which had entered


another had a bullet through his left ribs and out at the right shoulder. Many were in the legs, and one man had each lip divided by a piece of shell. I also saw a piece shell casing roughly about 2 inches square taken out man’s back.

"From my own knowledge and asking each man, I know all these cases are doing splendidly. I watched them improving each day. You would notice a man walk better, another would have a little less bandaging on him, and so on.

"I now come to the arrival of 150 wounded Belgians. These poor fellows had been through it from Liege till the fall of Antwerp. I got the hats from two of them, and a prominent Northwich tradesman has them in his window. Several of them could speak French, and I was able to have a little chat with them. One, a gunner, told that he had found his wife and three children murdered. They met their deaths in the burning and sacking of Louvain, and he himself found their mutilated bodies. Another one with tears in his eyes and in the saddest of voices said, "There is


Others had had sleep for days, and told they did not want to sleep. I was struck by the restless look of some of them. They seemed to be at it again their mind’s eye. You could see that their thoughts were miles away. They are mostly very strongly-built men, and I venture to think that when they do get their own back they’ll get it four-fold.

"When the Belgians arrived, we, still in our blue suits, greeted them with a few good old British cheers. We lit cigarettes for them and put them in their mouths, and it was grand to see the look of satisfaction on taking the first whiff. I would that the young fellows who are hanging back could have seen them. It would have stirred their small spark of patriotism into a burning flame, with strong desire to help them to get back what they have lost.

"These Belgians think the world of the British soldier, and it was great to see them fraternising round the beds, laughing at the funny attempts explanation, the gesticulations, etc."

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Salonika Bound

On Wednesday, 1st December 1915, Joseph William Minshall signed his Short Service Attestation form at Northwich, Cheshire.

Joseph was born in 1881 at Winsford, Cheshire, the son of George Minshall and Martha Alice Steen. He had an older brother, Alfred, and three younger sisters, Elizabeth, Florence and Frances. Alfred emigrated to the USA in 1907.

In 1901 Joseph was living at the family home in Northwich where his father George was a blacksmith, and Joseph a watch and clock maker. The 1911 Census records Joseph in lodgings in Sheffield.

The National Registration Act of July 1915 required men aged between of 15 and 65 and not already in the military to register, giving details of their employment. Subsequent to this, Lord Derby, Director-General of Recruiting, brought forward the Group Scheme (often called the Derby Scheme) of recruitment in October 1915.

Under the Group Scheme, men aged 18 to 40 were informed that they could continue to enlist voluntarily or attest with an obligation to come if called up later on. The War Office notified the public that voluntary enlistment would soon cease and that the last day of registration would be 15 December 1915.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

50 Jam Tins

One of the Troopers identified to have been with the Cheshire Yeomanry in Norfolk on coastal defence duties was Frank Blatchford Moore.

He was unlucky enough to have two accidents whilst in camp with the Yeomanry at Langley Park, Norfolk, both falls from a horse. After leaving hospital in Cambridge, and whilst convalescing at home, he discussed camp life with the Chester Chronicle who published the following report.

Chester Chronicle - Saturday 24 October 1914



Trooper F.B. Moore, of No. 5, The Crescent, Northwich, has returned home from the Eastern General Hospital at Cambridge, in the hopes of making a good recovery from injuries sustained while in camp. Trooper Moore, who is well known in the town, is a member of the Cheshire Yeomanry and has been in camp at a place near to Bungay on the East Coast. He had an interesting story of camp life tell our representative, who found him in excellent health after his term of "roughing it."

"The Cheshire Yeomanry," said Trooper Moore, "who are at present on the East Coast, are forming part of the Welsh Mounted Brigade, which comprises the Cheshires, Shropshires and Denbighshires, and the Shropshire Royal Horse Artillery. A detachment of the R.A.M.C. and Army Service Corps are also in the camp. The regiments of Yeomanry are seven miles apart, but it is possible to form a brigade at the shortest notice.”

"To give you an idea of camp life, the day’s programme includes the sounding of reveille at 5.30 a.m., and at 6 o’clock we are in the stables. There we spend one hour, and at 7 o’clock the horses are fed and the men go breakfast. At 8 o’clock we are obliged to saddle-up, and half an hour later we turn out. Some days we get squadron drill, and others it is outpost schemes and tactical exercises with occasional night alarm about an hour after ‘lights out.’ The men return to camp at 1 o’clock, after having watered the horses in the surrounding rivers. Grooming then takes place, and following the feeding of the horses we go down for dinner. It is always the horses before the men. For an hour after dinner the men are allowed to rest, the time being spent in writing letters and reading the daily papers. We fall in for rifle drill on foot, and drilling is proceeded with until about 5 o’clock. The horses are then taken and watered and fed and this done, the men retire for tea. All who are not on night guard are free from 7 till 9.45, when lights out is blown and roll call takes place in each tent. The night guard is posted at 7 o’clock, and consists of nine men from each squadron, who serve terms of two hours on and four hours off, all through the night till reveille. Occasionally you will be detailed for main-guard; that is, guarding all approaches to the camp and patrolling the ammunition carts.

"The night alarm is an exciting time in camp. One squadron with a Maxim gun defend the camp while the remaining two squadrons endeavour to capture the camp, using only recognised roads, lanes and by-passes. A very amusing incident occurred one evening, when the defending company posted a picket about 200 yards down a road which promised a good attack. A string of


were stretched across the path and the picket then lay in waiting. On came the attacking squadron all mounted and unsuspectingly rushed into the tins, which made a terrible clatter. All the horses stopped, and the men were captured before they had time to realise what had happened.

"This is only one the many amusing incidents we see. Another was when a private was in the act of watering a horse. Mounting the horse’s back, he waded right into the centre of the river. Unfortunately, the horse slipped and the man took a lovely dive. What made the occasion more ludicrous was that the Captain came along and uttered an angry threat to the man, who stood in the middle the river wet to the skin, for disturbing the horses during watering.”

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Spirit of the Times

In September 1914 the Welsh Border Mounted Brigade moved to Norfolk for coastal defence purposes. The following letter by a man serving with the Brigade in the Royal Army Medical Corps provides some indication of the 'spirit of the times'.

Chester Chronicle - Saturday, 3 October 1914



We have received an interesting letter from a Runcorn man, Mr. C. Faulkner, of Bold-st., who is serving with the Cheshire Royal Army Medical Corps in Suffolk. That body, he says, attached to the Welsh Border Mounted Brigade, comprising the Shropshire Yeomanry, Shropshire Royal Horse Artillery, Denbighshire Hussars, Cheshire Yeomanry, and the Transport and Supply Column, numbering in all about 3,000 men, “and every one ready and waiting the call to the field of action.”

“We have been here four weeks,” writes Mr. Faulkner, “during which time a great many have gone to the front. Twenty of our men left here a fortnight ago to fill the places of some members of the Royal Army Medical Corps who were cut up while doing their duty to their wounded comrades, and to their country, at the battle of Mons. There were touching scenes when we parted with twenty chums, but most of the sorrow was due the fact that we were not going. Still we hope to meet them at the front some time next month. While we have been here we have chiefly been concerned with accident cases, arising out of ‘preparations,’ and it is interesting to know that we have not had more than an average of 23 sick men, day by day, which is an excellent record, and proves the good health the brigade.

“It was my pleasure to meet Mr. Jersey de Knoop yesterday, and to find him as genial a soldier as is a politician. He was inoculated at our hospital here with amo-toxin (typhoid serum) and has left for abroad to-day (Thursday) to take up his active duties. I could not help being impressed by his kindliness and courtesy.

The Welsh Border Mounted Brigade, which includes many from Cheshire, have volunteered to a main, and have been accepted for the front.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

The Godwin Family and WWI

Brief notes on a Macclesfield family during the First World War

A letter written by George Godwin discussing daily activities with the Cheshire Yeomanry was published by Chester Chronicle on Saturday, 26 September 1914. At the time the Cheshire Yeomanry were encamped at Kirby Cane Hall, near Lowestoft in Norfolk, on home defence duties.

George was the son of John Godwin (1844-1911) and Elizabeth Anne Bagshaw (b.1851). John and Elizabeth were married at Manchester Cathederal in 1872 and had nine children, two of whom died in infancy. The surviving children, all born in Macclesfield, were:

Harry Bagshaw Godwin . . . . . . . (1874-1952)
John Godwin . . . . . . . (b.1877)
Annie Godwin . . . . . . . (b.1881)
Alfred Godwin . . . . . . . (1883-1941)
George Godwin . . . . . . . (1885-1956)
Robert Godwin . . . . . . . (1889-1918)
Frederick Harold Godwin . . . . . . . (b.1895)

John Godwin was an employer and textile designer; he died in November 1911. Census information also identifies his sons Harry and John as textile designers. The 1911 Census shows Alfred as a clerk for a textile designer and George as a bank clerk for Parrs Bank. Harry married Dorothea Mary Woodhouse in 1912 and they had two children: John (b.1914) and Derek (b.1917).

Alfred appears to have moved into farming; his mother, Elizabeth, was living at Ivy Farm, Macclesfield, in 1917 and in 1939 both Alfred and Elizabeth were living at Old Hall Farm, Rainow, Cheshire, where Alfred was a milk and poultry farmer.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

The Likely Lads

Life with the Cheshire Yeomanry in camp at Kirby Cane, Norfolk, September 1914

TB Minshall at bottom
On Thursday 3 September 1914 the Cheshire Yeomanry moved from their camp at Eccleston, near Chester, to Norfolk on the east coast of England. As part of the Welsh Border Mounted Brigade they were bound for Norwich to join the 1st Mounted Division, the division being formed in August for the purpose of home defence.

After a short stay at a camp at Bungay, the Cheshire Yeomanry moved to a new site at Kirby Cane Hall nearby. Two postcards of camp from this time survive, belonging to and featuring Thomas Minshall of “C” Squadron, Cheshire Yeomanry, along with 8 other men. Each card is simply dated “October 1914” on the reverse in Thomas’ handwriting. "C" Squadron drew from an area covering Northwich, Tarporley, Nantwich and Audlem.

On 26 September 1914 the Chester Chronicle published an interesting letter by a trooper of “C” Squadron that detailed daily life in camp.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Well Ordered Bustle and Activity

Cheshire Yeomanry’s Mobilisation and Move to Norfolk, 1914

The Chalmondsbury Flower Show at the beginning of August 1914 included a military tournament. Reportedly great skill was shown by members of the Cheshire Yeomanry and Shropshire Yeomanry in the prize events, which included tent pegging, lemon cutting, potato race and Victoria Cross race. From these genteel times the yeomanry shifted onto a war footing during the month.

On the 4th August 1914 the United Kingdom declared war with Germany and the the next day the Territorial Army was mobilised. Cheshire Yeomanry mobilisation took place at its pre-war training centres:
  • Regimental Headquarters: Chester
  • "A" (Tatton) Squadron: Knutsford
  • "B" (Eaton) Squadron: Chester
  • "C" Squadron: Northwich
  • "D" Squadron: Macclesfield
The Regimental Sports, advertised to take place on 12th August, were cancelled.

Manchester Evening News reported on 10 August that the "C" Squadron of the Cheshire Yeomanry, quartered at Northwich and drawing from an area covering Northwich, Tarporley, Nantwich and Audlem, had practically completed the purchase of horses and were well mounted. It was also noted that the Northwich football field, the Drill Field, had been converted into a camp, the horses being stabled beneath the covered stands.

Within a week "C" Squadron were on the move to a new camp. After several false alarms the men received orders to leave the Drill Field on Saturday 15 August and the Chester Chronicle (22 August) described the departing camp preparation as in a "state of well ordered bustle and activity".

Saturday, 17 October 2015

A Man of the Sea

Frank Burgess Platt appears in a Verdin Technical School gymnastics team portrait of 1908. Also included within the team is Thomas Minshall. On 25 October 1909 Frank married Thomas’ sister Marian Minshall (b.1886) at St.Wilfrid’s Church, Davenham, Cheshire.

Frank was born in Northwich, Cheshire, on 18 May 1886, the son of James Henry and Elizabeth Ada (nee Burgess) Platt. James was a draper. He was as an apprentice with local shipbuilders Yarwoods, the 1901 census identifying his occupation as “Steam Engineer Fitter (Apprentice).” After serving his time with Yarwoods he went to sea. Spells of service in the Royal Navy in both wars were sandwiched in his long career with the Merchant Navy which lasted until he was 66.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Exercise is the means of Health

Thomas Minshall was a keen gymnast, and a member of the Verdin Technical School gymnastics team. He later became a physical instructor at the gymnasium, and was a member of the Lancashire and Cheshire Judges Association.

Verdin Technical School gymnasium team
name? - Professor Cullen - Tom Ward - Frank Platt
name? - Thomas Minshall - name? - name? - name?
name? - what trophy is this? - name?

The Verdin Technical School gymnastics team portrait above is from 1908, the trophy apparently being won at the expense of Winsford. The team was coached by Professor Cullen (the man in the suit on the back row). Standing on the right in the back row is Frank Burgess Platt (1886-1987) and back row, second right, is Tom Ward. Thomas Minshall is seated left of centre. [see footnote]

On a personal letter head Thomas identifies himself as a Bronze Medallist at the Health & Strength Worlds’ Pose and Physical Development Competition, of 1912. Can anyone provide any detail on this competition and where it was held?

In May 1914, and while Thomas was Secretary and Instructor at the Verdin Gymnasium, the Northwich Guardian reported on a display of physical exercises given by the ladies, men and boys of the gymnasium. One of those performing was Eva Cooper, who in 1915 became Thomas’ wife. The report notes “Miss Cooper was responsible for club solo, which was splendidly performed and of which the audience showed their appreciation by a hearty round of applause.”

Friday, 9 October 2015

Grammar School Boy

Thomas Brookes Minshall
Thomas Brookes Minshall was born in Northwich, Cheshire, on 18 August 1888. He was the son of William and Mary Jane (née Brookes) Minshall. William and Mary already had three daughters, Ellen Beatrice, Lilian Mary and Marion, at the time of Thomas’s birth. In 1890 their fifth child, Jane, was born. William, a timber merchant, died in 1894 at the age of 38. Mary Jane lived to the age of 78, and passed away in 1937.

Thomas was educated at Witton Grammar School, in Northwich, and is pictured right and below in the school cricket team in 1904. That year, aged 16, he joined Brunner Mond & Co. and started work in the Goods Received Section.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Yeoman's Wedding

Eva Cooper and Thomas Minshall
Thomas Brookes Minshall married Eva Cooper at St. Wilfrid’s Church, Davenham, Cheshire on Monday 26 April 1915.

The ceremony was conducted by the bride's uncle, the Rev. James Nunn, vicar of Wick, Gloucestershire.

The couple honeymooned in Buxton.

The wedding was reported upon in The Guardian (Northwich) on Friday, 30 April 1915.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Northwich Boys

Northwich Boys, Cheshire Yeomany 1914
Northwich Boys, Cheshire Yeomanry 1914

Pictured are 'Northwich Boys with the Cheshire Yeomanry' at Langley Park. Thomas Brookes Minshall is pictured on the left in the back row. Can anyone identify others in the picture?

Thomas Minshall enlisted with the Cheshire Yeomanry at Chester, on 27 August 1914. The Cheshire, Denbighshire and Shropshire Yeomanry constituted the Welsh Border Mounted Brigade. On 3 September the Brigade moved to Norwich, and the next morning the Cheshire Yeomanry marched 14 miles to the camp allotted to it at Bungay. For some reason this camp was unsuitable and five days later the Regiment moved to Kirby Cane Hall nearby. Sometime in October there was a further move to Langley Park, Loddon, not far from Norwich.