Cheshire Constabulary remembers fallen heroes of the Battle of the Somme Date published: 30th June 2016 10.26am

 

Friday, July 1, 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme, which took place in France during the First World War.

The Somme is one of history's most infamous battles, for the number of people who died during the four months the battle raged. Cheshire Constabulary remembers those who lost their lives, including four of our colleagues - one of whom was tragically killed on the day the battle broke.

Arthur Phillips

Arthur Phillips was born in 1881 at Edge, Malpas in Cheshire.

He joined Cheshire Constabulary on the 3rd May 1902 as Constable 396 having previously been employed as a 'Potters Pressman'.

His initial posting was to Crewe Division and in 1907 he was promoted Acting Sergeant and posted to Aston, Nantwich Division.

In March 1909 he was promoted to substantive Sergeant and posted to Tarporley followed by a posting in 1911 to New Brighton in the North Wirral Division where he became the resident Sergeant at New Brighton Police Station. On the formation of the Wallasey Borough Police on the 1st April 1913 he opted to transfer his service to that force and was promoted to Inspector.

On 18th November 1914 shortly after the outbreak of war he enlisted as Private Number 22810 with the 20th Battalion Kings Liverpool Regiment and very quickly rose to the rank of CQMS (Company Quarter Master Sergeant) he went to France with the British Expeditionary Force on the 7th November 1915.

On the first day of the Somme battle, 1st July 1916 he was killed in action in what was known as The Battle of Albert (1–13 July 1916) which comprised the first two weeks of Anglo-French offensive operations in the Battle of the Somme.

The Allied preparatory artillery bombardment commenced on 24th June and the Anglo-French infantry attacked on 1st July, on the south bank from Foucaucourt to the Somme and from the Somme north to Gommecourt 2 miles (3.2 km) beyond Serre.

The French Sixth Army and the right wing of the British Fourth Army inflicted a considerable defeat on the German Second Army but from the Albert–Bapaume road to Gommecourt, the British attack was a disaster where most of the 60,000 British casualties on the first day were incurred.

Against General Joffre's wishes, Haig abandoned the offensive north of the road to reinforce the success in the south, where the Anglo-French forces pressed forward towards the German second line, preparatory to a general attack on 14th July.

When Arthur lost his life he was thirty five years of age. He is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial which contains the names of 73,000 British & South African troops who fell on the Somme between July 1916 and March 1918 and who have no known grave.

He left a wife Mary and four children the youngest being only two years of age, Mary would receive a weekly widows pension from the War Department of 26/6d. Sergeant Phillips was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. His family would receive the Memorial Plaque, commonly known as the Death Penny and Memorial Scroll.

Ernest James Thelwell

Ernest James Thelwell was born at Eastham, Cheshire in 1892, he was the son of James Thelwall, a Constable in the Cheshire Constabulary.

He followed in his father's footsteps and joined the force on 22nd March 1913 serving initially at Dukinfield and later at Bramhall near Stockport.

In March 1915 he enlisted in the Grenadier Guards and served on the western front in the Kings Company, 1st Battalion.

He was killed in action on 25th September 1916 at Gommecourt a village 12 miles SW of Arras and at the northern end of the British front. He has no known grave and is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial.

Constable 337 John Pendlebury, Cheshire Constabulary

Constable John Pendlebury was a native of Runcorn and joined the force on 17th October 1914 and posted to Altrincham.

He later enlisted in the 2 Battalion, Coldstream Guards and was killed in action at Gommecourt on the Somme on 16th September 1916 aged 22 years.

He has no known grave and is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial.

William Dunn, Macclesfield Borough Police

William Dunn served as a L/Cpl in the 4 Battalion Grenadier Guards.

He was Killed in Action on 7th October, 1916 at Abbeville, Somme, France and buried at the Abbeville Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery.