THE ASHTON TERRITORIALS.
The 9th BATTALION of the MANCHESTER REGIMENT.
1915 & GALLIPOLI
January 1915 saw an increase in the 9th Battalions training. It was very strenuous, with long marches into the desert in full marching order in the blazing heat of the day. Lt. MAKIN wrote of the men " Our Ashton Lads have made fine soldiers, they swing along and stick at it, you will find none "fall out" by the way. They are a credit to their Town, are high spirited and are ready for fun or danger. This is the situation - We are 1500 and have taken the place of 8000 Regulars, and so we make a brave show in the face of a possible outbreak by Turkey. We are the 9th Manchesters, and that settles the matter!"
The amateurs had now become professional soldiers.
Published in the Reporter 16th January 1915.
WHERE THEY ARE HAVING SUN.
Stalybridge Soldier's Letter From Cairo.
"We are at Abarscar, on the edge of the desert," writes Lance Corporal FRED ARMITAGE to his wife, Mrs. Armitage, of 29, Mount Street, Stalybridge. He is in the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment (Ashton) Territorials. In a previous letter he had told his wife they were going to Abarscar, and he goes on: - " We have just come off our first day's parade. We were out from eight o'clock till four o'clock under a blazing sun, with no shelter, and we marched from our barracks, which is just on the edge of the desert, to about six miles into the desert, where there is nothing in sight but sand. There we started our observations under the General staff at present, and we are under special training. We shall soon be 'going through it.' It is very hard work marching on sand, as it gives way beneath the feet. I happened to be on gate duty the other day when the Australians came in to water their horses. They are a fine body of men. One asked me to post a letter for him, and he gave me an English shilling. They have plenty of money. Three parts of them came out of the bush and off ranches. I have got their twang. It is all 'way down in Sydney and Melbourne.' The Australians are all mounted regiments, and they have some very fine horses. Thousands pass our barracks daily."
The Headlines of the Reporter Published 30th January 1915.
ASHTON TERRITORIALS READY FOR THE TURKS!
Reporter: - The Turkish advance on Egypt has begun. The Ashton Territorials are among the British troops in Egypt, and letters have been published in the Reporter from time to time expressing their readiness to meet the Turks whenever they cared to come. The Territorials are stationed in Cairo, which is about 50 miles on the west side of the Suez Canal. The Turks are on the east side of the canal, and it is extremely unlikely they will get to the canal itself. They will probably be annihilated before they can get near to it.
Published in the Reporter 30th January 1915.
A LETTER FROM A STALYBRIDGE MAN IN CAIRO.
An interesting letter from Egypt has been received by friends in Stalybridge from Private S.E. GARSIDE of "A" Company stationed at Kasr-el-Nil, Cairo. Private GARSIDE resides at Cheetham Hill Road, Stalybridge, and before joining the Army was employed at Messrs Summers' Globe Iron works. He writes: - " I suppose you will be wondering why I joined the Terriers for foreign service. Well, I don't quite know myself. I had been unsettled ever since the war started, and all the time you were playing at the forge, I was up at the Barracks every day, and down at the Drill Hall at night, waiting my turn to be sworn in, and it came at last on the 1st September. I was sworn in on the Tuesday, and on the Wednesday was sent to Bury, and on the Wednesday following, the 9th of September, we left Bury for Southampton, and arrived there on the 10th. We set sail the same night for Egypt. The Barracks we are in at Cairo are a grand building; it is two miles round it, and is composed entirely of granite, and then cement to make it level, and then painted all colours. Inside there are two squares, each one four times as big as the square at Ashton barracks, it is three storeys high, and all around the squares run a veranda to each storey, and there are about 100 rooms to each storey, and I must say they are rooms. There are 16 men to each room, and there is plenty of room for them all. As far as soldiering here is concerned, I have never gone through so much in my life as I am going through now. We are finishing our training. We have four more days to do, and then we shall have to wait and see what will happen. Some of the officers say we shall have to stay here until the war is over. Last night we heard we shall have to go out and have a brush with the Turks. I hope so, for it is very trying here, nothing but hard work from morning till night, day after day. On Thursday we went out at 7am, and never got back until 7 at night. We went 28 miles across the desert, with nothing to eat but half a dozen biscuits and a piece of cheese and cold water to drink. We are going through the mill, I can tell you. It is hard work in the sun marching. We are not at it ten minutes any day before we can wash ourselves in our own sweat. It is a good job I am of a hard nature, or I should not fancy my chances much. I am eating like a horse, as you see there cannot be much the matter with me, in fact, I am in the Pink. I hear the Stalybridge lot have been testing the Germans; good luck to them. I thought we should have been there before them, and I think we should have been but for those Turks. We have had strict orders to remain here, so you see we might have a smack at something after all, and if we can't have a German, well, then we must have a Turk. This place is full of Turks, Germans and Austrians. I was one of the escort to take 240 German and Austrians to Alexandria last week. Oh, I have had some fine times on escort duty, I can tell you, and I suppose we shall have to take the rough with the smooth. I have received the parcel from Summers' all right, and a grand parcel it is, and I have written to the forge thanking all our workmates for such a fine Christmas present, one of the best here."
D Company 1/9th Battalion.
Published in the Reporter 13th February 1915.
DEATH IN CAIRO.
We regret to announce the death, which took place at Cairo on Tuesday 8th February, of Major WILLIAM HENRY ARCHBUTT, of the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment, Ashton Territorials. On Wednesday morning the Mayor of Ashton, Colonel C.R. WAINWRIGHT, T.D.,D.L. received a communication that Major ARCHBUTT had died from heart failure at the age of 54 years. This brief announcement, which was received by cablegram, elicited expressions of regret in military and social circles in Ashton, where Major ARCHBUTT was well known and greatly respected. All admired the splendid patriotism and the spirit of self-sacrifice with which he volunteered for foreign service on behalf of his country's cause when the war broke out, and all admired too, the genial personality and camaraderie of the man in civilian sense, and the cheerful fortitude with which he applied himself to the task in hand. He gave himself up whole heartedly to the cause, and thereby set an example to the rank and file of the battalion and to others which is worthy of emulation. Although not in the best of health when war broke out, he volunteered for foreign service, and readily placed himself at the disposal of the military authorities.
Major ARCHBUTT was Gazetted 2nd Lieut. in the 3rd Battalion, Manchester Regiment on 30th July 1901. He was appointed first Lieutenant on 4th February 1903, Captain on 11th February 1905, and Major on 17th July 1913, on which date he was granted the field officers certificate. He qualified in musketry at Preston on 30th July 1904. He resided in Bramhall Lane, Stockport. For many years he was manager of Bell's Brewery, Stockport. (Major Archbutt was buried with full Military Honours in the Cairo War Memorial Cemetery).
Published in the Reporter 13th February 1915.
Mr. and Mrs. Henry O. Garside, of Whitelands Road, Ashton, have three sons serving in the Army, from one of whom Private T.E. GARSIDE, of the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment stationed at Cairo; a letter has been received during the week, which to some extent indicates the trend of events. He writes: - "You must know we are training for war, and the conditions are quite different than they are in peace times. A hard training it is, I can tell you. We go out of the Barracks every morning at seven, and do not return until seven at night. We never do less than 16 miles a day walking, and we have so many hours skirmishing the same day. The sooner they get us fit and the sooner we shall be able to go to the front. We do not yet know whether we shall have to go to the front or stay here. There is war going on with the Turks. Fighting is taking place 200 miles away from here. The Turks are making a vain effort to cross the desert and to invade Egypt. We are ready for them. We are weary of waiting day after day, and still no orders to move. We are fed-up with waiting, and the sooner they move us the better." Included with the letter is a little poetry, as follows: -
"Just pray for me as night-time falls, One who answered his country's call; His home and country to defend, Then he will know he's one true friend."
Another son, Private WILFRED GARSIDE, of the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Regiment, returned from India over two months ago, and was sent to France. A postcard was received from him a few days ago, stating that he was quite well. The third son, Driver ARTHUR GARSIDE, is serving with the Army Service Corps in France. He joined the Army in September last, prior to which time he worked at the Wellington Mills, Ashton. (Pictured right is Wilfred Garside).
Published in the Reporter 20th February 1915.
That the Territorials are faring very well in the land of the Pharaohs is borne out by the laudable sentiments expressed by several members of the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment who returned to Ashton from Egypt last weekend. Owing to climate changes they have suffered from various ailments, and accordingly they returned to their native heat for a period of recuperation. They have all undergone a course of treatment at the Princess Street Hospital, Manchester, and they are now in a state of convalescence. Otherwise the general health of the battalion has been extremely good. Private BURTON, one of the seven who returned to his home, Church Street, Ashton, said he had been suffering from eye trouble, caused, apparently by the dazzling brightness of the sun's rays reflecting on the burning sands of the Sahara desert, outside Cairo, where the battalion had been in training. Many of the natives, he said, suffer from eye troubles from the same cause. In some cases darkened goggles were worn as a preventive against sun blindness. Questioned in regard to the condition of the battalion generally, he said: - "The health of the men has been grand, and the food splendid. I have been engaged mostly in the stores at Kasr-el-Nil Barracks, and at Abbassia. The Ashton battalion had completed their training when we left at the end of December, and they looked in the pink of condition. All they seemed to be pining for was to have a dust with the Turks, whose designs upon Egypt have so far been thwarted, and who are stated to have retired in order to get their second wind. The Ashton lads have since gone to Heliopolis. They are quite content, and ready for anything, and they still sing the old song, 'The Way the Wind Blows We'll Go,' which was sung when they marched forth from Ashton Armoury after the declaration of war. Since then they have gone through some hard training, and you would hardly know them if you saw them. The officers have treated them splendidly. The treat which was given to us at Christmas will never be forgotten. It was a record breaking event. Many of the men have become a little restless, and have expressed a desire to take part in the fighting in France, and I can tell you they are efficient enough to be sent anywhere. They are inclined to treat with contempt the half-hearted attack of the Turks, and they did not take them very seriously. It'll take a lot of Turks to upset them, and they haven't worried about them in the least. Having completed their training, they were awaiting further orders. Everything was in readiness to move at a moments notice. The natives appear to appreciate the presence of the British troops, and on Proclamation Day, in which ceremony the Ashton Territorials took part, they appeared to be highly delighted at the installation of a new Sultan." The Reporter representative asked, " Are you sorry you went out with the battalion on foreign service?" "Not likely," replied Private BURTON. "It has been a fine experience. Egypt, one of the jewels of the British possessions, is just the place to make the lads into smart soldiers."
Published in the Reporter 20th February 1915.
A WATERLOO YOUTH.
Private HARRY SPEAKMAN, whose home is at 9, Earnshaw Street (off Newmarket Rd), Waterloo, told the Reporter representative that the changes of climate, the constant drill, and the preparation for active service in Egypt had made a wonderful change, and had had a beneficial effect on the physique of the Ashton Territorials. He regretted that owing to weak ankles he had been invalided home. "You would hardly know the Ashton lads if you saw them," he said. "Although the heat is very powerful, and has reduced them somewhat, yet the men are as hard as nails." The Ashton men are now at Heliopolis Barracks, and have nothing to complain of in the way of food and equipment. Of course they have had to have special uniforms to suit the hot climate. He never imagined Egypt to be anything like what it was, and he had revelled in the glorious sunsets and the ancient monuments of a bygone race. "We became quite 'pally' with the Australian troops," he said; "and the Australians fraternised with us just as if we had known them all our lives. They are quite attached to the boys of the 9th. We had a champion time on the boat coming back. There was ample food and fruit provided, and cigarettes ad lib, and we had concerts every night. About 180 Territorials came back altogether on the boat." Private SPEAKMAN joined the Battalion immediately after the mobilisation. His feet are still swollen, and he has not yet got accustomed to the change of climate. There were plenty of rumours about the possibility of fighting before he left, but nothing actually had happened. Other Territorials of the Ashton Battalion who have been invalided home from Egypt are, CHARLES PARKER, J.THORNLEY, W.DOODEY and A.B. HADGETT.
AN ASHTON BOXER. A letter from "An Ashton Boxer" Private SAMUEL BONSALL, was published in the Reporter... Writing under the date March 16th, Private SAMUEL BONSALL, of the 9th Battalion, Ashton Territorials, at Egypt, a well known local boxer gives further interesting particulars of his life in Egypt. His letter is sent from a Prisoner of War Concentration Camp at Media, Cairo, and is addressed to Mr. J. Norris, of the Oddfellows Arms, High St. Stalybridge. In it Private BONSALL says: - "I am at present looking after the Turkish prisoners of war. We have 830 here, and they are looked after well. I have had two fights this week, on Wednesday the 10th, I boxed a man called Driver MACFARLANE, of the Australian Light Horse. I knocked him out in three rounds. The day after, I knocked out CHARLIE BOWERS, Australia. This man has won over 60 fights, 36 by knock outs, and he was never known to have been knocked out before, but he went down."
A letter from "An Ashton Boxer" Private SAMUEL BONSALL, was published in the Reporter... Writing under the date March 16th, Private SAMUEL BONSALL, of the 9th Battalion, Ashton Territorials, at Egypt, a well known local boxer gives further interesting particulars of his life in Egypt. His letter is sent from a Prisoner of War Concentration Camp at Media, Cairo, and is addressed to Mr. J. Norris, of the Oddfellows Arms, High St. Stalybridge. In it Private BONSALL says: - "I am at present looking after the Turkish prisoners of war. We have 830 here, and they are looked after well. I have had two fights this week, on Wednesday the 10th, I boxed a man called Driver MACFARLANE, of the Australian Light Horse. I knocked him out in three rounds. The day after, I knocked out CHARLIE BOWERS, Australia. This man has won over 60 fights, 36 by knock outs, and he was never known to have been knocked out before, but he went down."
COUSINS MEET IN CAIRO.
When the war broke out and the 9th (Ashton) Battalion, Manchester Regiment, Territorials, were sent to Egypt, along with them went two brothers, Lance-Corporal HARRY BYROM and Private THOMAS H. BYROM, sons of Mr. H Byrom, an employee of the cleansing department of the Ashton Corporation, residing in Union Street, Ashton. About the same time two brothers, Private ALFRED and JOHN DICKS - whose mother, nee Eliza Harris, left her home, Hope Street, Ashton, over 30 years ago, for New Zealand, where she married and brought up a family - left their home in New Zealand to take up arms in defence of the Mother country. They were ultimately drafted with the New Zealand contingent to Egypt. Both the Territorials and New Zealanders were brought together in Cairo, and it was there that the brothers BYROM and DICKS were brought in touch with each other for the first time, and discovered their relationship as the sons of two sisters. Naturally there was much jubilation among the quartet, and a group photograph was taken of them.
An Allied attack at the Dardanelles on the 18th March 1915 was unsuccessful in warning off the Turkish enemy. The next decision was to carry out a major assault by ground force, and this would include the 9th Battalion.
On Easter Sunday (March 28th) the East Lancashire Division was reviewed by General Sir Ian Hamilton. He praised them highly saying that it was a great pleasure to him to bear witness that the City of Manchester was being so finely represented in the East.
The 9th Battalion received their orders for mobilisation and they left Kantara on the 1st May, arriving at Port Said on the 4th May. The next day they embarked on the Ausonia bound for the Dardanelles. They landed at V Beach, Sedd-el-Bahr, under heavy gun fire on the 9th May, and moved quickly from the beach to bivouacs.