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Pages from the Past: WW1 and WW2 photos saved from Salford skip

SalfordOnline.com is dipping back into its vast archives to shine a light on feature stories you might have missed.

Many of our thousands of new readers may not have seen these incredible articles, so we’ll re-edit them for our new and growing audience.

Back in 2011 eagle-eyed SalfordOnline.com reader Paul Cooper noticed a skip on his road: Newport Street in Seedley.

It was brimming with household goods, clothing, crockery, furniture, but most importantly, a yellowing packet of photographs hidden among concrete rubble.

Battle of Rhine March 24 1945

It appeared to be a house clearance, but all that was known about the owner was that it was a man called Richard, who was in his 80s, who had no immediate family.

Paul picked up the photographs – which were destined for landfill – and donated them to SalfordOnline.com’s Local History Editor Tony Flynn.

Tank and crew Christmas 1944 somewhere in Belgium

Thumbing through these pictures it quickly became obvious they are of serious historical value.

Of the 20 photographs, many depict what are assumed to be family members, but some show regiments from the First and Second World Wars.

Naval photographs show two men from the HMS Centurion which was attached to the 2nd Battle Squadron, led by sister ship HMS King George V.

HMS Centurion two sailors

The vessel was present at the Battle of Jutland in May 1916 as part of the main body of the British Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet under the command of Captain Michael Culme-Seymour.

She was third in line in the First Division of the Fleet behind HMS King George V and HMS Ajax.

sailor on HMS Centurion

After duty in the North Sea (where she was commanded for a time by Roger Keyes) she was sent to the Eastern Mediterranean in 1918 with HMS Superb to oversee the capitulation of the Ottoman Empire. In 1919 Centurion was dispatched to the Black Sea in the Allied Intervention in the Russian Civil War.

On the back of the card it reads, “My chum a Salford lad by name, W. Rawcliffe from Robert Hall Street, Ordsall.”

reverse of postcard from sailors on HMS Centurion

Other photos from the First World War show troops from an unknown regiment posing outside their huts and on various streets, possibly in Salford.

For me the most important ones are from World War Two, three of them show tanks crossing the River Rhine and are inscribed on the back, “Battle of the Rhine, March 24th 1945” presumably taken by the unknown Richard.

Battle of the Rhine March 24 1945

First World war troops regiment unknown

Battle of the Rhine March 24 1945 2

A large photograph shows a tank in a ditch, on the back it says, “Bogged down in Holland 1944”, another shows a tank regiment and on the back is written, “Our tank and crew, Christmas 1944, Somewhere in Belgium”.

Bogged down in Holland

The photograph with the most information shows men holding a captured Nazi flag (main image), on the back it reads, “3 Troop, 16th Assault Squadron, Royal Engineers, Brakel, Germany, 1945”

Unknown Regiment - The Heart Breakers

At the time five years ago SalfordOnline.com offered to donate the images to the Imperial War Museum North, but their public display could not be guaranteed.

I checked that date for the Battle of the Rhine photographs: 24 March 1945, and it shows that this was the invasion date and that Winston Churchill, Prime Minister actually crossed the Rhine with these troops.

If you can shed any light on any of the names listed, contact tonyflynn@salfordonline.com

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SalfordOnline.com's Local History Editor and Senior Reporter.