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Salford Remembers: More Eccles Pals ‘cut to ribbons’ on first day of The Battle of the Somme


There are some incredible stories from the front line of battle on the Western Front, which would live long through the ages.

The tales of sheer heroism, boredom and terror in the trenches of the Battle of the Somme are some of the most affecting in the whole war.

Salford Remembers: Stories of Eccles Pals ‘ripped to shreds’ at Battle of The Somme

Then, Now, Always, Forever: Salford’s giant town hall tribute to Somme fallen

SalfordOnline.com has tracked down these men’s records to give a sense of the epic scale of the battle, and to tell our readers exactly what these men were leaving behind when they joined their Pals in France.

Sergeant 11691 William Masgrave Royle 6th platoon ‘B’ company 16th battalion Lancashire Fusiliers

William was born in 1894 in Patricroft, a son of Henry and Phoebe Royle who had five children in total, the others being Eleanor (b. 1888), Phoebe (b. 1890) and Eric (b. 1902).

By 1916 the family had moved to Gladstone Road, Eccles and William was employed, by George Everett & Sons wholesale costume manufactures in Manchester, as a salesman.

He was a scholar at St. Andrew’s Day school and was a choirboy at Patricroft Christ Church.

He to enlisted in Captain Tweed’s battalion Lancashire Fusiliers in November 1914, and on the 28 December 1914 they moved to Conway for training.

He became part of the 96th Brigade, 32nd Division and moved in May 1915 to concentrate in Shropshire at Prees Heath. The camp was found to be too wet for training and the Division moved on the 21st June 1915 to Catterick in North Yorkshire, using the firing ranges at Strenshall.

In August 1915 they moved for final training and firing practice at Codford on Salisbury Plain.

They proceeded to France, landing at Boulogne on the 22nd November 1915.

He was promoted from corporal to sergeant since going to France.

They attacked Thiepval Ridge on The Somme on the 1 July 1916, the action resulted in the Eccles Pals being almost wiped out, William among them aged just 22.

William is remembered at the CWGC Memorial at Thiepval, Roll of Honour at St. Catherine’s Church, Eccles Parish Church, St. Andrew’s Church and Peel Green Cemetery.

Corporal 11757 Stephen Sharples 6th platoon ‘B’ company 16th battalion Lancashire Fusiliers

Stephen was born in 1883 in Salford, the only son of Stephen and Amelia Sharples.

In 1881 the family lived at Parsonage Street in Salford and father Stephen is recorded as being a joiner.

By 1891 they had moved to Regent Street, Eccles, were they remained.

On 1911 census Stephen is a joiner working for his dad who is recorded as being a ‘joiner and property repairer’, by 1916 father Stephen was a local councillor.

Stephen also enlisted in Captain Tweed’s battalion Lancashire Fusiliers in November 1914.

He became part of the 96th Brigade, 32nd Division and moved in May 1915 to concentrate in Shropshire at Prees Heath and in August 1915 they moved for final training and firing practice at Codford on Salisbury Plain, before landing at Boulogne on the 22 November 1915.

They attacked Thiepval Ridge on The Somme on the 1 July 1916, Stephen was to sadly lose his life aged 33.

The local paper stated “Corporal Sharples was reported wounded and missing after the advance on July 1st. There appears, unhappily, but small hope of Sharples being alive, as Captain Tweed reports to an Eccles friend that he was shot down in a valiant attempt to run the gauntlet of German machine-gun fire and bring relief to comrades sheltering behind a bank.

Sharples was a single man, 33 years of age and the only son of his father, whose hopes were linked with the son carrying on his business as builder.

Sharples was home on furlough from France about Easter, confident in the growing strength of the Allies and proud of the local company of which he was a unit.

In their great sorrow and trouble Councillor and Mrs Sharples, have received numberless expressions of sympathy and regret”.

His life long bosom pals, Tom Mellor and Joe Routledge plus many of their mates were also killed in this action.

Captain Tweed wrote later: ‘Through the perfect storm of lead, the company went on,ignoring the rain of death that whistled about them, they kept running from shell hole to shell hole, on and on. Pals of years association dropped, others fell, riddled with bullets, never to rise again. The cry was always, ‘On.”

Stephen is remembered at the CWGC Memorial at Thiepval, Roll of Honour at Eccles Parish Church and Peel Green Cemetery.

Sergeant 11287 William Taylor 6th platoon ‘B’ company 16th battalion Lancashire Fusiliers

William was born in Little Lever, a son of William and Ellen Taylor, he had an elder brother Samuel (b.1888).

On the 1901 census the family were at Tipping Street in Eccles, by 1911 they were at Cromwell Road in Eccles.

On the census of that year father William is recorded as being a ‘power house over looker’ and his son William as being a ‘shop assistant’ at the Eccles Co-op grocers.

William was a scholar at Patricroft Higher Grade school and at St. Andrew’s Church Sunday school.

He enlisted in Captain Tweed’s Eccles battalion Lancashire Fusiliers in November 1914 and became
a sergeant in the 6th platoon which was mainly Eccles men and was well liked by the men.

They proceeded to France, landing at Boulogne on the 22 November 1915.

They attacked Thiepval Ridge on The Somme on the 1stJuly 1916, like so many Eccles men, William was to be killed aged 26.

The local paper stated: from being a boy on the milk carts, had risen in the confidence of the Eccles Co-operative Society management as an assistant at the Central Stores he deemed it his duty to forgo his prospects there and answer the call of King and country.

He was quickly promoted along with his mates Ben Broadhurst and Alick Thompson to form a trio of sergeants of whom the Co-op were rightly proud.’

William is remembered at the CWGC Memorial at Thiepval, Roll of Honour at Eccles Provident Industrial Co-operative Society and Peel Green Cemetery.

Private 11270 James Town 5th platoon ‘B’ company 16th battalion Lancashire Regiment

James was born in 1897 in Patricroft, the only son of John and Annie Town

On the 1901 census the family lived at New Lane in Winton and John is recorded as being a ‘dispatcher’ for a printer, and by 1911 the family had moved to Armitage Street in Patricroft.

James was connected with the United Methodist Church and Sunday school and was a keen footballer playing for Enfield F.C. inn the Eccles & District League.

He also enlisted in Captain Tweed’s Eccles battalion Lancashire Fusiliers in November 1914.

They attacked Thiepval Ridge on The Somme on the 1 July 1916, James was to die aged just 19, only a boy.

Private Jack Wilson wrote to the family, Wilson a fellow Patricroft comrade, said

‘All the boys left send you their deepest sympathy in your sad bereavement and hope that you will take it that he died fighting for home, King and freedom.’

James is remembered at the CWGC Memorial at Thiepval, The Roll of Honour at Ebenezer United Methodist Free Church and at Peel Green Cemetery.

Lance Corporal 11276 Leonard Hinde Worsley 7th platoon ‘B’ company 16th battalion Lancashire Fusiliers

Leonard was born in Patricroft in 1896, the youngest of four sons to William and Elizabeth Ann Worsley, the family lived at New Lane, Patricroft.

Leonard was a scholar, first at Barton Wesleyan day school and then at Beech Street Council School, a well liked lad in the district he played lacrosse for the Barton Hall Club.

He to joined the Eccles battalion Lancashire Fusiliers in November 1914.

Leonard was to be yet another casualty on the first day of battle, killed in action aged 20 at Thiepval Ridge.

The local paper stated he ‘fell in the valiant effort of the Fusiliers to pass through the machine gun fire to the German trenches’

Leonard is remembered on the CWGC Memorial at Thiepval and Peel Green Cemetery.

Tragically, Leonards brother William aged just 27 would be killed in action on the 16 July he served in the 11th battalion Lancashire Fusiliers.

It must be almost impossible to understand the grief that the Worsley family must have felt, losing two sons in the space of a fortnight.

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Tony Flynn

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