It sounds like the plot of a Hollywood film, but rest assured, this incredible tale from 100 years ago in Salford is real.
A man from Eccles by the name of George Parkin Hall, from Barlow Street, Patricroft, appeared before Manchester City Magistrates Court on 14 August 1915.
He was accused of masquerading as being the husband of a woman called Mrs Dandy who lived at Clowes Street, Broughton.
Sergeant Dandy was in reality a serving soldier serving in the 1/8 Manchester Regiment and was reported missing at Gallipoli, presumed killed.
The Gallipoli campaign, also known as the Dardanelles campaign, was a famous battle of the First World War which took place in what is now modern day Turkey.
Over 250,000 servicemen supporting the British Empire were killed, and there were heavy losses on the side of the Ottoman Empire.
Trading on this loss, Mr Hall appeared at the Dandy’s home one evening and succeeded in passing himself off as as being her husband.
Somehow, Hall managed to live with her for a full seven days as ‘man and wife’.
Suspicions were aroused as the traumatised widow began to ask questions of Hall that he could not answer.
Police enquiries led to him being arrested where it was discovered that he was actually a deserter from the army, having last been seen at barracks in Penmaenwar, in North Wales on June 4 1915.
The court heard from Mr Hall’s wife who, not unexpectedly was not too amused at her husbands antics or those of Mrs Dandy.
She told the magistrate “heatedly” that: “She ought to have known her own husband, they are as bad as each other, I would recognise my husband from a 100 men.
“As far as I knew he was a Private in the army and still in barracks in North Wales.”
Inspector Thomas from the Salford Police Force, who arrested Hall, told the court that that under questioning the accused claimed amnesia.
Asked to give an account of himself from June 4 to July 17, Hall feebly said: “I can”t give an account, my memory is a complete blank during that time.”
A handwriting expert was called who said that he compared Sgt Dandy’s handwriting with Mr Halls and they were not the same.
However – and you have to give the conman credit for trying – Hall persisted that he was Sgt Handy.
When he was initially arrested and charged, he said: “This is a nice thing after a man has been and fought for his country and after what I have gone through to be locked up.
“What’s it got to do with you?
“If it has anybody who has anything to do with me it’s the military authorities.”
Sergeant John Edwin Hursthouse from the 1/8 Manchester Regiment was called to give evidence and he stated that the prisoner was categorically not Sergeant Dandy.
The Magistrate clearly didn’t believe Mr Hall and remanded him in custody to the next Manchester Assizes for sentencing.
This unusual case does throw up a few questions.
How did Mr Hall know about Sergeant Dandy and the fact that he had gone missing at Gallipoli?
Surey Mrs Dandy must have known that Hall wasn’t her husband after all they were together for a week as ‘man and wife’? Perhaps she preferred Mr Hall?
The likeliest explanation is that Mr and Mrs Dandy were ‘friends’ before her husband went missing and she was happy to keep up the pretence, hoping that they wouldn’t get caught.
Sadly, SalfordOnline.com have been unable to find out what happened to Mr Hall.
It’s likely he would have been imprisoned not only for desertion from the army but also deserting his wife and masquerading as Sergeant Hall: all in all a very strange but funny story.