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War Memorials

In Memory of
Private 15724
10th Battn/York & Lancashire Regiment
Who was died of wounds on Monday, 30th July 1917
Age 31

No Known Grave - Panel 36 & 55
Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium

Commemorated in Perpetuity
by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Remembered with Honour
Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial

Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium1

Harry Wilson Manley was born in Beeston, Nottinghamshire in 18862, one of nine children of Charles William Wilson Manley and his wife Sarah Jane (née Gregory). The family moved to Beeston from Nottingham in about 1885 and, in 1891, they were living at 24 William Street with Charles working as a cycle fitter, probably at the Humber Company factory3. By 1901, they had moved to 9 Union Street, Beeston. Charles was still working in the cycle trade and Harry, then aged 15, had started work at a local foundry as an iron brusher4. By 1911, they had moved to 15 Upper Regent Street, Beeston and Harry was working as a foundry labourer5. This remained the family home in the years to come6.

When war came in August, 1914, Harry was amongst the first to enlist, signing up on 15 September 1914 with the York & Lancaster Regiment7 and joining its 10th (Service) Battalion, formed at Pontefract in September 1914, one of nine New Army Service battalions, 22 battalions in total, raised by the Regiment at that time. After early training, he embarked with the regiment as reinforcements to the Expeditionary Force in France, arriving in Boulogne on 11 September 1915 as part of 63rd Brigade 21st Division8. Within about two weeks, the battalion took part in the assault at Loos where the 63rd Brigade as a whole suffered 3.800 casualties. It was a terrible introduction to the Western Front.

In the first half of 1916, the Battalion was part of the preparations for what was to be the great Somme offensive against the German held Leipzig Salient. During this time, the German lines were pounded by artillery fire which was so intense at times that it was thought that the enemy defences would be so destroyed as to make the intended major attack possible. Bad weather delayed the attack intended for 28th June and the Battalion was held awaiting orders to move forward for the attack. On 1st July, the Battalion, went into action. As they went over the top they had been told to expect little resistance and the wire destroyed. Instead, they were caught in withering fire from the enemy machine guns and much of the wire was still in place, largely untouched by the bombardment. Casualties were very heavy and, amongst those who were injured was Private Manley. Having been hit by shrapnel and grazed on the arm by a bullet he was taken through the medical evacuation chain and, within two days, was returned to England for treatment and recovery.

It wasn't until May 1917 that Harry was sufficiently recovered to be considered for service abroad again. On top of the original injuries, chest problems had delayed his recovery but now, on 30 May 1917, he embarked for France again to rejoin his battalion in the field. Now part of 37th Division, 63rd Brigade, 10th Battalion had just completed its participation in the Arras offensive and was now preparing for the planned 3rd Battle of Ypres - widely known as the Battle of Passchendaele. When it was launched on July 31 1917, the men - and horses - faced atrocious condition of mud, weather and withering machine gun fire. It has been widely described as 'Hell on Earth'. It appears that Harry was killed at about 3.50am, when the the first wave was launched, or soon afterwards - though we have no details of the circumstances. In fact his body was never found, and with no known grave, his name is listed on Panel 36 & 55 on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in Belgium.

Private Manley was posthumously awarded the Victory and British medals and the 1914/15 Star9. His Army financial effects of 6 3s 1ld were paid to his parents, as his joint legatees, on 3 September 1918 and they received his War Gratuity of 13 10s on 19 November 191910.

His mother, Sarah Jane Manley, died on 2 November 1926, aged 74. His father, Charles William Wilson Manley, died on 28 March 1937. They are buried together in Beeston Cemetery.11.

1The photograph of the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
2His birth was registered, in Basford Registration District (of which Beeston was then part) in Q2/1886 (Ref 7b 172). He was baptised at Beeston Parish Church on 9 January 1889.
31891 Census. Piece 2671 Folio 106.
41901 Census, Piece 3153 Folio 108. Harry's siblings were Walter (b. c1889 - who had by then married and left home), Maud (b. c1881), Charles Edward (b. c1883), Jane Elizabeth (b. c1884), Emily (b. 1888), Minnie (b. c1889), Frederick (b. c1892) and Alfred (b. c1895).
51911 Census, Piece 20426 204301 RD429 SD3 ED6 Sched 276.
6Charles, then a widower, his son Charles and daughter Jane Elizabeth were still living there in 1930 (Electoral roll)
7Details of his enlistment, deployment and injuries are from his Army Service Record which can be seen at ancestry.com
8Details of the battalion deployment are derived from The Long Long Trail website (www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/york-lancaster-regiment). As the battalion war diaries for 1916 and 1917, the battalion's involved at the Somme and its 1917 engagements have been described generically.
9Harry Manley's medal awards are recorded in the Medal Rolls and his medal card available on ancestry.com. Their receipt is acknowledged by his parents in his Service Record
10Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929, available on ancestry.com.
11Transcriptions of memorial inscriptions in Beeston Cemetery (www.beeston-notts.co.uk/explore_beeston/mi_down.php)

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