Oldham Men Who Fell At The Battle of Manchester Hill, 21st March 1918

The Battle of Manchester Hill was fought near Saint Quentin in France.  Of the 79 who died the following were born in the Oldham area or lived there:

Pt. 39652  Ernest Armitage, 16 Beech St., Oldham

Ernest was born on the 22nd March 1891 in Stockport, Cheshire, the only child of Irvin and Eliza Eleanor Armitage (nee Cardwell.)  Irvin was a wallpaper designer and by 1911 the family were living in Austerlands where Ernest was a grocer's assistant.  By the time he joined up in November 1915 Ernest was living at Beech Street, Oldham.

Pt. 36276 Timothy Curtin [Curtain] 10, Maple St., Oldham

Timothy was born in Earlstown in the third quarter of 1878, the son of Timothy, a tailor, and Mary O'Brine.  Sometime after 1881 the family moved to Oldham.  By 1911 his father had died and he was listed as the head of the household at 10, Maple Street, Hollinwood.   Living with him were his mother Mary, his two brothers, John and Cornelius and his mother's sister Ellen.  His occupation was a stove grate fitter. 

Cpl. 28248 John Willie Hall, 126, Chapel Rd., Oldham

John was born in Moorside, Oldham in 1889 the son of Joseph Hall, a coal mine hewer and Hannah Mary Wild.  His occupation in 1911 was a cotton spinner and he was living at home in Moorside with his parents, two brothers and a sister.  In the third quarter of 1917 he married Sarah Ann Chapman at St. Thomas' Church, Moorside and was living in Hollinwood by the time he was killed.  He is commemorated on the Memorial Chapel Screen of St. Thomas' Church, Moorside.

Pt. 48590 Richard Mills, 75, Shaw Rd., Oldham

Richard, a piecer in a spinning room, was born on 4th February 1886 at Wrigley Yard, Heap Street, and was baptised at St. Peter's Church, Oldham, the son of Joseph, a self actor minder, and Catherine (nee Leeming.)   After the death of his mother in 1895 his father married  Mary Hannah Kershaw and by 1901 the family were living in the Waterhead area.  In 1911 the family had moved to Shaw Road.  His stepmother had also died and the family consisted of Richard's father Joseph, his brother John, his half brother Joseph, his paternal Grandmother Sarah and his aunt Sarah Mills.

Pt  46817 (signaller) Alfred Holt Hopkinson M.M. 396 Manchester Rd Oldham

Alfred was born on 19th June 1893 at 81, Abbey Hill Road the son of Charles, a warehouse man, and Alice (nee Holt). He was baptised on August 22nd 1893 at Glodwick Trinity Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Waterloo Street.  His parents had 5 children of whom only 3 were living in 1911 - Alfred, Alice and Samuel.  By now they were living at 491, Manchester Road, Royton.  Alfred's occupation was a cotton mule piecer. 

Alfred joined up in October 1915. and he was awarded the Military Medal for gallantry in action on 6th January 1918.

His military record contains a desperate letter from his mother, Alice, dated the 31st April 1918, a month after the battle, asking if there is any news of her son.  In another part of the record there is a witness account of another soldier dated 19.3.19 in which this soldier states he was with Alfred in the battle and that he was severely wounded in the head and that he believed he died shortly afterwards.

He is commemorated on the Royton Park War Memorial.

Pt. 37648 John Wasley Pickering, 52, Cranbrook St., Oldham

John was born on the 1st December 1895 in Clayton Bridge, the only child of William, a railway porter and Emma Wasley.  He was baptised at the Primitive Methodist Chapel in  Droylsden. The family seemed to move around and were living in Blackpool in 1901.  However by 1911 John was living with his Aunt Amelia Goulden, his mother's sister, and his five cousins at 51, Roundthorn Road.  His occupation at this time was a speed fitter ironworker. .

Pt 302736 Samuel Steel, 3, Joel Place, Oldham

Samuel was born in 1895 in Chadderton, the son of Samuel B Steel, a card room hand, and Hannah Davies.  His parents also had a daughter Alice.  Samuel's occupation was a spinner in a cotton mill.

On the 27th December 1914 he married Alice Egerton at St. Matthew's, Chadderton.  Sister Alice was a witness. The couple had two children - Fred, born in 1915 and daughter Elsie born in 1917.  Sadly Elsie died a year later, a few months after the death of her father.  Samuel's widow Alice continued  living at 3, Joel Place until she married Frank Barlow in August 1923.

Lance Corporal  29617 William Thompson, M.M., 4, Nova Scotia St., Failsworth

William Thompson was born on 15th March 1891 at 4, Starting Chair, off Hollins Road, Hollinwood.  He was the son of Joseph, a coal dealer and Harriet Thompson (nee Barber) who had married at St. Margaret's Hollinwood on the 23rd December 1890.  His parents were living with Joseph's mother Caroline Owen and step-father Joseph Owen at the time of his birth.  He was baptised at St. Margaret's Hollinwood on April 22nd 1891. William was the eldest of 14 children.

By 1901 the family had moved to 4, Nova Scotia Street, Failsworth and they still lived there in 1911 by which time William had a job as a cotton piecer in one of the many cotton mills in the Failsworth area.  By this time two of his siblings, Doris and Albert, had died leaving 4 brothers and 4 sisters still alive.  The youngest was Walter at just one month old.  A further three daughters were born to Joseph and Harriet after 1911.

It is believed that William first enlisted under the Derby Scheme joining the army reserve then, probably sometime in 1916, he was called into service joining the Manchester Regiment with the service number 29617.

Sometime before 1916 he moved to Newton Heath, where he was living at 128, Gaskell Street when he married Emily Greenhouse at All Saints' Church, Newton Heath,  on 9th September.  His occupation on his marriage certificate was a stripper and grinder which meant he maintained the cotton machinery in a cotton mill.  The witnesses were Lavinia Greenhouse and David Cotton.  William and Emily's 

By mid 1917 William was serving with the 16th Battalion in Belgium.  The 31st July, the first day of the battle of  Passchendaele, saw the Regiment in action  attacking the Zillebeke Bund.  The rain turned the ground into a sea of mud. During this attack William displayed an act of gallantary for which he was awarded the Military Medal which was reported in the London Gazette of 28th September.  Probably sometime later that year William returned home on leave.  This is known because he can be seen with his son Frederick in a photograph which is displayed on the Museum of the Manchester Regiment's website.

By 1918 William had been promoted to Lance Corporal and was serving in France.  He was a member of C Company of the 16th Battalion.  On the 21st March he was killed at the Battle of Manchester Hill.

Like most of the fallen of that battle his body was not found.

William is remembered on the Memorial of St. Wilfred's Church, Oldham Road, Newton Heath which is now located at All Saints' Church, Culceth Lane.

His medals, The Military Medal, The British War Medal and The Allied Victory Medal, can be seen at the Museum of the Manchester Regiment.

Emily was left with a small son and was supported by her parents, Frank and Sarah, returning to live with them at 7, Dixon Street.  On the 18th October 1924 she married James Bentley at St. Wilfred's Parish Church, Newton Heath.  Frederick was brought up by James Bentley and all of them lived at 65, Queen Street, Newton Heath where they can be found on the1939 Register, Frederick having a job as a loom overlooker of heavy cotton.


All these fallen soldiers are commemorated on panels 64-67 of the Pozieres Memorial, France.

by Sue Forshaw


http://www.themenbehindthemedals.org.uk/index.asp?page=full&mwsquery=({Person identity}={Thompson, W})






Lancashire BMD http://www.lancashirebmd.org.uk/


Lancashire online parish clerk http://www.lan-opc.org.uk/