Pte. Percy Wheldon

Percy Wheldon was born on January 4, 1895 in Little Eaton, Derbyshire. In 1911 he was living with his parents and older brother and sister at 34 Mansfield Street, Derby. He was 16 years old and working as an Iron Moulder.

He attested on May 12, 1915 and, after going through basic training, joined the 1/5th Sherwood Foresters with service number 4322.

Pte. Percy Wheldon 1/Sherwoods

He landed in France on March 23, 1916 and spent a month at Rouen before joining the Battalion on April 10th. He was wounded in action on July 1st with a shrapnel wound to the right shoulder. He was admitted to Hospital in Dieppe and discharged to Base Depot at Etaples a week later. Six weeks later he was re-admitted and eventually transferred back to England on September 19, 1916.

He was transferred to the 2/8th Sherwoods on January 24, 1917 and joined them in the field in France in February. He spent 3 weeks in a Field Ambulance in July and August 1917 with septic abrasions on his feet. And a week in a different Field Ambulance with scabies in September. Evidently still unwell after 3 months of hospital treatment a week after he rejoined his unit he was charged with neglect of duty (presumably sleeping) while on duty in the Battalion Signals Office and given 21 days of Field Punishment No. 1.

Field Punishment Number 1 consisted of the convicted man being shackled in irons and secured to a fixed object, often a gun wheel or similar. He could only be thus fixed for up to 2 hours in 24, and not for more than 3 days in 4, or for more than 21 days in his sentence. This punishment was often known as ‘crucifixion’ and due to its humiliating nature was viewed by many as unfair.

He spent another two weeks being treated for bronchitis in November.

The 2/8th Sherwoods were disbanded in France in February and Pte. Wheldon ended his unhappy association with them by transferring to the 1st Sherwoods on January 29, 1918. But his medical troubles were not over and he spent another 12 days in 24 Field Ambulance being treated for scabies.

The 1/Sherwoods were part of the 24th Infantry Brigade of the 8th Division. Pte. Wheldon was one of 260 Other Ranks added to the Battalion in January and February as they reorganized and trained their new additions. The German Spring Offensive interrupted these activities and the 1/Sherwoods fought in the First Battle of the Somme, 1918 in March where Pte. Wheldon was briefly reported missing on March 26th. Evidently he really was just temporarily unaccounted for because he was back with his unit on May 27, 1918 when he was taken prisoner in the Boise de la Miette along with Pte. Arthur Slater and and Pte. Christopher George Zabel in the 3rd Battle of the Aisne.

Pte. Arthur Slater and Pte. Percy Wheldon. Prisoners of War.
Ready to go on the 2pm Shift at SAG Lipine Labour Camp. Oct 1918.

He was repatriated to the UK on January 16, 1919 and was demobed from the Army on March 13, 1919. Shortly after he returned to the UK he sent Arthur Slater the photograph shown at the top of this post and on the back wrote, “From an old Gefangenen” (German for Prisoner).

Pte. Syd Caine

Sydney Caine was born on January 24, 1893 in Ashton-under-Lyne. In 1911 he was a 16 years old Grocer’s Assistant living at 48 Cranbrook St, Ashton.

He joined the 9th Battalion Manchester regiment on October 17, 1914 the same day as his best friend Arthur Slater. His service number was 2680. They underwent basic training with the 2/9th Manchesters at Southport and on July 5, 1915 sailed to Gallipoli arriving on the 23rd. They fought in the Battle of Krithia Vineyard in early August and endured the front line trench warfare that followed.

On September 22nd he was admitted to the Number 11 Casualty Clearing Station with jaundice and evacuated from the peninsula on the Hospital Ship Ausonia, arriving in Malta on September 28. He rejoined the Base Depot at Alexandria on December 7th and was classified fit for active service (Class A). He was then shipped to Mudros where he rejoined the Battalion on January 3, 1916 after they had left Gallipoli for good.

The Battalion sailed to Egypt where he spent the next year with them defending the Suez Canal from attack by the Turks. During this time he served with the Scouts with his old friend Arthur Slater.

Regimental Scouts Bir el Abd October 1916

In November 1916 he injured his left knee and was admitted to 31st General Hospital in Port Said. He spent two months in hospital rejoining the 42nd Division Base Depot in Alexandria on January 8, 1917. Shortly after rejoining the Division he was sent to Signals School for a month subsequently joining the Signals Company. Meanwhile the 42nd Division sailed for France on March 4, 1917 and left Sid in Egypt.

A month later he was admitted to the Citadel Hospital in Cairo with a broken collar bone and was discharged 4 weeks later on April 11th. He spent the next 4 months at Serapeum, Cairo and on August 17, 1917 was officially transferred from the 1/9th Manchesters to the 3rd East Lancs Royal Engineers, Territorial Force with service number 443872. He remained with them in Egypt for the duration of the war sailing back from Port Said on March 18, 1919 aboard the HMT Magdelena.

He was discharged from the Army on April 9, 1919 his papers noting that he was sober, intelligent, reliable and industrious. Back in Ashton-under-Lyne he became a civil servant and is said to have helped his old friend Arthur Slater obtain a job at the Labour Exchange.

Arthur Slater and Sid Caine
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He married Eleanor (Nellie) Knowles, a felt hat trimmer, in October 1921 and they moved to 23 Clarendon St, Dukinfield.

Sid & Nellie Caine1926

Sydney Caine died on March 15, 1968, two months after his best friend Arthur Slater. He was 75 years old.  Syd’s wife, Nellie, lived to be 94 years old.




2nd Lieutenant Walter James Ablitt

Walter James Ablitt was born on August 16, 1891 in Egypt.

He was commissioned into the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment on January 1, 1915 as a Second Lieutenant and his military records indicate that he first served overseas on the same date in Egypt.

The war diary mentions him only once in Gallipoli reporting that 2/Lt. and acting adjutant W.J. Ablitt was admitted to hospital on September 12, 1915. He is next mentioned in the Battalion war diary on June 17, 1916, when the Battalion was in Egypt, reporting that he was attached to the 126th Infantry Brigade. In 1917 he was mentioned in Despatches and again on June 4, 1918 when he was acting Captain serving in the Intelligence Corps.

After the war he returned to Egypt where he served in the Egyptian Police force as an inspector in Cairo. He married Helen Joyce Hart in Egypt and on August 21, 1923 they had a daughter, Joan MacGregor Ablitt. On August 20, 1924 he was awarded the Order of the Nile (4th Class) by the King of Egypt and by this time was serving as the Assistant Commandant of Police at Alexandria. In 1926 he was awarded the Order of the Nile (3rd Class) and is noted as being Assistant Commandant, Cairo City Police. In 1936 he was made a Commander of the Order of the Nile.

During World War II he was involved with the Special Operations Executive (SOE), a secret British World War II organisation, created in July 1940, following the fall of France in June 1940.  Its purpose was to conduct espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance in occupied Europe (and later, also in occupied Southeast Asia) against the Axis powers, and to aid local resistance movements.

Captain Walter James Ablitt died May 24, 1955 at St. Mark’s Hospital, Maidenhead. He was 63 years old.

2nd Lieutenant Arthur William Field Connery

Arthur William Field Connery was born in July 1887 in Ashton-under-Lyne. He was the son of Major Michael Henry Connery.

Educated at the Victoria Street boarding School in Southport he joined the Great Central Railway Company and served for about 12 years in Manchester and London. Around 1913 he resigned his position in order to take up an appointment with the Central Argentine Railways in Buenos Aires.

2/Lt. Arthur William Field Connery, MC

At the outbreak of war he returned to the UK and was awarded a commission on November 14, 1914 with the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment and joined them in Southport for training. He volunteered, along with 2nd Lieut. JOHN MATLEY ROBSON and 2nd Lieut. ALLAN H. HUDSON, for active service with the 1/9th Battalion. On April 1, 1915 the three officers were sent to Egypt, where they joined the Battalion around April 13th. He landed with the 1/9th in Gallipoli on May 9, 1915 as a platoon commander in “C” Company.

He was involved in the bayonet charges of June 7th and June 18th, the latter undertaken by “B” Company but he and 2/Lt. John (Jack) Wade both volounteered to join them. Despite surviving these events, on July 5th 2/Lt. Arthur William Field Connery was badly wounded in the mouth by shrapnel and was evacuated to hospital. He did not return to Gallipoli.

On March 8, 1916 he was seconded to the Machine Gun Corps and promoted to temporary Lieutenant on the 6th of July.

In early 1917 he married Gladys Frances Botwell (ne Salter) a widow but sadly she died 18 months later on October 9, 1918, possibly of the Spanish Flu.

On August 9, 1917 he was promoted to full Lieutenant with precedence as from 1st June 1916, and ordered to remain seconded to the Machine Gun Corps where he remained until November 29, 1918 when he was seconded for service with the Royal Engineers (Railway Troops). On February 1, 1919 he became a Railway Traffic Officer and on June 1st was promoted and awarded the rank of temporary Captain. On November 16, 1919 he was seconded to the British Military Mission to South Russia and was awarded the Military Cross in the 1920 new year’s honours list. On August 13, 1920 he relinquished his position with the Mission and rejoined the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment on October 15th. He continued to serve with the Manchester Regiment until he resigned his commission on February 28, 1925 retaining the rank of Captain.

On leaving the Army he returned to work in Argentina for the Central Argentine Railways. Captain Arthur William Field Connery, M.C. died in Argentina on October 15, 1934. He was 47 years old.



2nd Lieutenant John Matley Robson

John Matley Robson was born on February 16, 1892 in Ashton-under-Lyne. His father, George Hudson, was headmaster of Christ Church (Gatefield) School in Ashton. George Hudson married Mary Dewhurst Matley on March 29, 1891 at St. Peter’s church. Their second son, Frederick Josiah Robson was born on March 23, 1898.

John Matley Robson was educated at Christ Church (Gatefield) School and later at Manchester Grammar School. After leaving school he joined Messrs. Bryce and Sons, chemical importers and shippers, of Manchester and was a member of Ashton Golf Club.

2/Lt. John Matley Robson

He was commissioned into the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment on November 14, 1914 and joined the 2/9th Battalion in Southport for training. He volunteered, along with 2nd Lieut. A.W.F. CONNERY and 2nd Lieut. ALLAN H. HUDSON, for active service with the 1/9th Battalion. On April 1, 1915 the three officers were sent to Egypt, where they joined the Battalion around April 13th.

After special service as Officer in Charge of the Base, at Port Said, El Kantara, and Alexandria, he joined the battalion at the Dardanelles on June 2nd as a platoon commander of “C” Company.

The following day, the 1/9th went into the line and remained there until they were relieved on June 22nd. “C” Company charged the Turkish trenches on June 7th losing two senior Officers and leaving 2/Lt. Robson as second in command. Shortly before the next major frontal assault that occurred on the 18th, 2/Lt. Robson was required to report to headquarters and subsequently attended a course of instruction in the Maxim gun down at the base behind the firing line.

Second Lieutenant John Matley Robson died of enteric fever in the 15th General Hospital, Alexandria, on July 17th, 1915 after leaving the peninsula on July 7th and being admitted to the hospital on July 10th. He was 23 years old. He was buried at the Alexandria (Chatby) Military and War Memorial Cemetery and is commemorated at the following places:

  1. Ashton-Under-Lyne Civic Memorial.
  2. Manchester Grammar School Roll of Honour.

2nd Lieutenant Allan Harrison Hudson

Allan Harrison Hudson was born on December 1, 1894 at Tiviot Dale, Stockport, Cheshire. His father, Jervis Tarbuck Hudson, was a publican and married Ann Harrison on August 2, 1893.  A daughter, Kathleen Louise Hudson, was born on June 19, 1896.

Allan was educated at Denstone College, Staffordshire, where he obtained his colours for both cricket and football, and where he was in the Officers Training Corps (O.T.C.) for two years. Afterwards he was articled to Messrs. Brown, Briggs, and Symonds, solicitors, Stockport, and passed his intermediate examination in March 1914. He was a member of Hyde Golf Club. On the outbreak of the war he joined the Manchester University O.T.C., and was given his commission in the 9th Manchester Battalion on November 14, 1914.

2/Lt. Allan Harrison Hudson

He proceeded with the 2/9th Manchesters to Southport for training, and later he volunteered with 2nd Lieut. A.W.F. CONNERY and 2nd Lieut. ALLAN H. HUDSON, for active service with the 1/9th Battalion. On April 1, 1915 the three officers were sent  to Egypt, where they joined the Battalion around April 13th. He landed with the 1/9th in Gallipoli on May 9, 1915 as a platoon commander in “B” Company.

The following is excerpted from the personal diary of 2/Lt. Charles Earsham Cooke:

June 13. Sunday. HUDSON, poor fellow, went down to base early and was climbing over parapet to get 2 men who were over gathering-up equipment and got badly hit in left side; died a few hours later.

2/Lt. Allan Harrison Hudson died of wounds on Sunday June 13, 1915. He was 20 years old. He was buried at the Lancashire Landing Cemetery and is commemorated at the following places:

  1. Ashton-Under-Lyne Civic Memorial.
  2. St. Stephen’s Church, Flowery Field, Hyde.

The brass plaque at St. Stephen’s read: To the glory of God and in loving memory of their only son, Allan Harrison HUDSON, 2nd Lieutenant 1/9th Manchester Regiment, who was killed in action in Gallipoli, June 13th 1915 aged 20 years. The East Window is erected by his devoted father and mother.

Lancashire Landing Cemetery

2nd Lieutenant Fred Jones

Fred Jones was born in Openshaw in June 1894.  His father, Arthur Jones, was a plumber and married Emily Rogers on 29 May, 1880. In 1901 Fred was six years old and living in Openshaw with his parents and siblings Bertha, Eva and Arthur.

By 1911 Fred was at school and living with his parents in Droylsden, his older sisters and brother having left home. He studied at University in London and Manchester and initially took a position as assistant master at Birley Street School, Manchester later becoming an assistant master at the West End Council School in Ashton-under-Lyne. He was getting ready to take his final University exams when war broke out.

Private 1551 Fred Jones joined the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment on December 15, 1913 when he was 19 years and six months old. He passed a class of Instruction for promotion on April 11, 1914 and was subsequently promoted to Corporal on May 14, 1914. He was promoted to Sergeant on August 4, 1914 when the 1/9th were mobilized. On leaving Bury with the Battalion in September for Egypt he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and gazetted on September 30, 1914.

2/Lt. Fred Jones

He served with the Battalion in Egypt throughout their training and preparations for action and subsequently landed with the 1/9th in Gallipoli on May 9, 1915.

Cpl 243 Thomas Valentine, a 26 year veteran of the 9th Manchesters, stated that he was stood behind Lt. Jones in shrapnel gully. He was at the top of the gully talking to two other officers when he suddenly fell, one of the officers asked, “have you fell over Jones?”, but when he looked he realised he was dead. He was dead before he hit the floor. We carried him away on a stretcher and buried him in the gully.

Second Lieutenant Fred Jones is buried in the Redoubt Cemetery, Helles and commemorated on the Ashton-Under-Lyne Civic Memorial.

Redoubt Cemetery

2nd Lieutenant John Broadbent

John Broadbent was born in Ashton-under-Lyne on September 4, 1872.  His father, Timothy Broadbent, was a Pawnbroker and died when John was just 2 years old.

His mother, Mary Henshaw Broadbent (Wright) took over the Pawnbroker business when his father died and John lived with his mother and his uncle’s family at 243 Stamford St, Ashton-under-Lyne. He was educated at Stamford Academy, Ashton-under-Lyne and commissioned into the 3rd Volounteer Battalion, the Manchester Regiment on May 22, 1895.

In 1897 he married Mary Hannah Marland and they lived in Ashton. He was promoted to Lieutenant on December 16, 1896 and served with the detachment the Battalion sent to South Africa in the Second Boer War being promoted to Captain on June 13, 1900. He was promoted to Major on July 18, 1907 and was subsequently appointed to the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment when it was formed  on April 1, 1908.

By 1911 he and his wife had moved to Bella Vista, Castleton, where he was a large land owner,  and were living there with a servant.  Major John Broadbent resigned his commission with the 9th Battalion on April 20, 1912.

When war broke out he re-enlisted with the 1/9th and was awarded a commission as Second Lieutenant, dated September 5, 1914. This must have been quite a difficult decision for him as he was by now 42 years old and his wife was about to give birth which she did on September 13th when Mary Henshaw Broadbent was born (named after his mother who had died in 1912).

Nevertheless, he joined the Battalion at Chesham Fold Camp, Bury in September 1914 sailing with them to Egypt later that month.  He served with them there throughout their training and preparations for action. He landed with the 1/9th in Gallipoli on May 10, 1915 as Transport Officer arriving one day after the main force.

The Brigade war diary reports that 2/Lt. J Broadbent was sent sick to hospital on October 7, 1915 and he is next mentioned rejoining the Battalion from England on May 1, 1916 in Egypt.  The London Gazette in 1917 notes that he was promoted to Lieutenant with precedence from June 1, 1916. He served with the Battalion in France and is noted proceeding to leave in the UK from October 4 – 18th, 1917. Six weeks later he was sent to hospital sick and remained there from November 27 to December 28, 1917. He left the battalion for good to join the Territorial Force Reserve on January 10, 1918.  He was subsequently awarded the Territorial Decoration (TD) for long service with the Territorials.

After the war he became involved in politics and served as Mayor of Ashton-under-Lyne from 1923 to 1925. In 1931 he became a Member of Parliament for Ashton and remained so until the election of 1935.

Colonel John Broadbent, T.D. died at his home in Castleton on June 9, 1938. He was 65 years old.

John Broadbent Obituary, London Times

2nd Lieutenant Albert Edward Stringer

Albert Edward (Ned) Stringer was born in Ashton-under-Lyne on January 18, 1878. His father Edward Stringer J.P. was headmaster of the Trafalgar Square Day School.

2/Lt Albert Edward Stringer

His father died in 1900 and in 1901 he was living with his mother Ann Stringer and his sisters Bertha and Janet and his younger brother John James. All of his siblings were teachers, his brother being a pupil / teacher. His oldest sister, Elizabeth Ann (Stringer) was married to Ralph Lees and living in Ashton-under-Lyne.

He received his B.Sc. from Victoria University (Manchester University) and by 1911 was living with his sister and her husband. Ralph Lees had been commissioned into the 1/9th battalion Manchester Regiment in 1905 and by 1911 was a Captain.

At the outbreak of the War Albert Edward Stringer was Deputy Headmaster at the Municipal Secondary School, Ashton-under-Lyne. He was commissioned into the 1/9th as Second Lieutenant on September 2, 1914 and joined the Battalion at Chesham Fold Camp, Bury. He sailed with them to Egypt in September 1914 serving with them there throughout their training and preparations for action.  He landed with the 1/9th in Gallipoli on May 9, 1915 as a platoon commander in “C” Company.

The following letter from Captain Okell was published in the Ashton Reporter on June 26, 1915:

“It is my painful duty to inform you that NED (Lieutenant STRINGER) was killed in action on the evening of the 7th inst. On that day our Company was ordered to charge the enemy and clear them out of the trenches in front of the firing line. On the left were other troops not belonging to our battalion, who had a similar task to perform. Captain F. HAMER and Lieutenant WADE were to charge one trench, and NED and I the other trench. I was posted a little to the left to give the signal for the advance. I gave it shortly after 7.30, and with a mighty cheer our boys advanced. Immediately the enemy opened a terrific rifle and maxim fire, but NED and I succeeded in reaching the trench. Unfortunately the enemy were able to open an enfilading fire, which made the trench absolutely untenable. We had to retire, but only about four of us succeeded in doing so safely. HAMER and WADE were subjected to cross fire. Captain HAMER fell before he reached the trench. WADE succeeded in capturing the trench, and held it until about 2 o’clock in the morning. I was of the opinion that the trench would be enfiladed as soon as dawn came, and ordered the troops to evacuate the trench. All the battalion was shocked at the terrible news of NED. NED had made himself a favourite with the men, and also with his brother officers. We all send you our deepest sympathy”

2nd Lieutenant Charles Earsham Cooke

Charles Earsham Cooke was born in Nottingham on June 22, 1896 and named after his paternal grandfather.

Lt. Charles Earsham Cooke, MC

By 1901 the family had moved to Pontefract and Charles’s father, Frederick William Cooke, was running W.J. Robson & Co Ltd, Maltsters. Charles had a younger brother, Philip Brentnall Cooke, and a younger sister, Gladys Muriel Cooke, and they lived with their mother, Emma Louise Cooke (Brentnall), and father in a large house with three servants.

Charles was educated at Marlborough College which he attended from September 1910 to July 1913. He was the 1913 Lightweight boxing champion and represented his house at cricket and rugby.

On the 15th August 1914, on the basis of being a former cadet in the Officer Training Corps at Marlborough, he was awarded a probationary commission of 2nd Lieutenant in the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment. The York and Lancaster Regiment having their headquarters at Pontefract Barracks, Pontefract and therefore his “local” Regiment.  However, in the same edition of the London Gazette it was announced that he had become a 2nd Lieutenant in the 1/9th Battalion Manchester Regiment, effective September 2, 1914.

He joined the Battalion while they were at Chesham Fold Camp, Bury and sailed with them to Egypt in September 1914 serving with them there throughout their training and preparations for action. He landed with the 1/9th in Gallipoli on May 9, 1915 as a platoon commander in “A” Company.

On the 8th August the battalion went into the trenches, “A” and “B” Companies with the (125th) Fusilier Brigade, and “C” and “D” Companies with the (127th) Manchester Brigade. Lt. Oliver Jepson Sutton took two platoons of “A” company up to the firing line and was almost immediately wounded. Reinforcements were called for and so Lt. Forshaw and Lt. Cooke took two platoons of A” Company to the firing line. 40 hours of intense fighting at close quarters followed with the Manchesters separated from the Turks at times by only a parapet.  “A” Company under Lieutenants Forshaw and Cooke held the position thus saving the entire sector from being retaken by the Turks.  Lt. Forshaw stayed at his position for the entire period, killing 3 Turks with his revolver, and personally throwing a large number of the 800 bombs used in the action.

Lt. William Thomas Forshaw was awarded the Victoria Cross and Lieutenant Charles Earsham Cooke was awarded the Military Cross. Both also being mentioned in the despatches of General Sir Ian Hamilton.

In early September, 2nd Lieutenant Cooke fell ill and was evacuated to hospital in Malta. On September 14, 1915 he was embarked upon the Hospital Ship Massilia and repatriated back to the UK suffering from enteric fever. He rejoined the Battalion in Egypt on June 3, 1916 and was promoted to temporary Lieutenant on August 27, 1916. The only other mention of him in Egypt after that is returning from a course of instruction in Cairo, in late October.

He sailed with the 1/9th to France in March 1917 and is noted as being a platoon commander on April 22, 1917 when the Battalion was in Epehy. On the evening of May 6th and into the early morning of May 7th “B” Company, under Major Howorth, was responsible for carrying out the following special order:

Two small posts are to be established on either side of the road running from locality b. to QUENNEMONT FARM, one on either side of the road, and joined up. This should be undertaken as a very minor operation, with only sufficient men to dig a rifle pit on each side and then connect up. The object should be to advance these posts a short distance every night without attracting the enemy’s attention; and connect them up from behind with a communication trench.

Lt. Cooke commanded the party and they were met with heavy resistance from German machine guns resulting in many casualties, prompting several acts of heroism bringing wounded men in under fire.  Lt. Cooke was wounded and evacuated to Hospital in Rouen where he later died from his wounds on May 24, 1917. Lieutenant Charles Earsham Cooke, M.C. was 20 years old.

Commonwealth War Graves St Sever, Rouen

He is buried in the Commonwealth War Grave at St Sever, Rouen and commemorated on the:

  1. Ashton-Under-Lyne Civic Memorial.
  2. Leeds Corn Exchange Memorial.
  3. Marlborough College Roll of Honour.