(1st Public works Pioneer Battalion)
Died Thursday 9th December 1915
Attached to the 33rd Division, XV Corps 4th Army
At the time of the 1891 census Samuel was a coal miner living at 87 Worth clough with his parents James, and Elizabeth. He had 5 sisters Hannah, Eliza, Mary Ellen, Edith, and Martha, and 3 brothers William and James, and Allen.
In 1899 Samuel married Martha Warburton at Poynton parish church. By 1904 they had made there home at 261 Fitzroy street Ashton Under lyne. and had 4 children. Marion, James, Eliza and Martha. By 1911 they had moved to Mexborough Yorkshire.
Samuel was still working as a miner when he attested into the Middlesex regiment on the 3rd of April 1915
Samuel is recorded on the Poynton memorial as serving in the Royal Engineers. But he had no pre-war military experience so his entire but short service in the war was with the Middlesex Regiment.
Authorised in December 1914, the Division was renumbered 33rd, part of K4. The Division began to assemble at Clipstone Camp near Mansfield in Nottinghamshire on 1 July 1915, It was not until 3rd August that the Division moved for final training and firing practice at Salisbury Plain. In November 1915 they received a warning order to prepare to sail for France,
"An early solution to the vast demand for labour was to create in each infantry Division a battalion that would be trained and capable of fighting as infantry, but that would normally be engaged on labouring work. They were given the name of Pioneers. They differed from normal infantry in that they would be composed of a mixture of men who were experienced with picks and shovels (i.e. miners, road men, etc) and some who had skilled trades (smiths, carpenters, joiners, bricklayers, masons, tinsmiths, engine drivers and fitters). A Pioneer battalion would also carry a range of technical stores that infantry would not. These Pioneer Battalions were capable of fighting as Infantry if necessary but their main role was civil engineering support for the Division to which they were assigned. Although they seldom got to engage the enemy they endured frequent shellfire and sniping while working on roads, duck-boarding tracks and digging communication trenches etc.
18th Middlesex war diaries. 1915
PERHAM DOWN 10th November 1915
Order received to entrain at LUDGERSHALL in 3 trains on the morning of the 12th.
12th November, 1915 2 am
First train load under command of Lt Col Storr marched to LUDGERSHALL station and entrained, followed at intervals of an hour by another 2 train loads. First train left for Southampton at 4.25am, second at 5.25, third at 6.25 and arrived at SOUTHAMPTON Docks at 6.00am, 7.10am and 8 am respectively. Transport and baggage with 6 officers and 108 men embarked on SS MAIDAN. Remainder of Battalion bivouacked in a shed in the Docks. Wet and stormy day. SS MAIDAN proceeded down Southampton water on the afternoon.
13th November 1915
Battalion (less party embarked on SS MAIDAN) remained bivouacked in shed. Went for a march of 9 miles in fatigue dress for exercise
14th November 1915
Battalion embarked on SS QUEEN ALEXANDRA between 4.30pm and 5.30pm and sailed for HAVRE arriving about midnight.
15th November 1915
Disembarked at 7am and marched to No 5 Rest Camp. Melting snow on the ground. Party for SS MAIDAN disembarked during day and joined Battalion in camp. Strength 29 Officers 1 MO 1 Chaplain 977 OR.
17th November 1915
Battalion detrained at STEENBECQUE commencing at 9.30am and marched into the field..
At 4pm the Battalion moved into billets scattered along 3 miles of road. A
stormy day with cold showers.
18th November 1915
Battalion marched via ST VENANT to GUARBECQUE and went into billets.
20th November 1915
Battalion marched via ROBECQ to BETHUNE and was billeted in THE ORPHANAGE. 25 men unable to march sent ahead in a motor lorry. 14 men fell out but rejoined during the day. In the evening 600 pairs of ‘boots, gum, thigh’ were issued to the Battalion and distributed 150 to each company. The Battalion was attached to 7th Division.
21st November 1915
12 officers and 300 men proceeded on motor buses to CAMBRIN Marched then to PONT FIXE and worked at clearing a drain known as SUEZ CANAL..
23rd November 1915
Battalion marched to GORRE and went into billets, one company at LE TOURET Blankets were carried on motor lorries. The billets taken over had been left in a very dirty and bad condition. An inhabitant was accidentally shot by a man cleaning a revolver and died the same night.
24th to 30th November 1915
Battalion continued to work in the drain and on the trenches of the neighbourhood of GIVENCHY-LEZ-LE-BASSEE which had been allowed to get into a bad state. Work was continued both by day and night,
It was ascertained that 297 NCOs and men were over 40 years of age and 58 of these were passed as fit only for Permanent Base duty on 28th November.
1st to 10th December 1915
The frost broke and the state of the trenches become very bad and in many places they were practically blocked. The Battalion continued to work on them, various section of trench being allotted to companies, who worked in 2 reliefs (from daylight to 11.30am, and from then till dusk) by day only, except where it was necessary to send small parties to work above ground. Work could not be profitably done by night in the absence of a moon. The trenches tackled were COVENTRY STREET, PICCADILLY, HATFIELD ROAD, KINGS ROAD, QUEENS ROAD, HERTS AVENUE, THE AVENUE. Good work was done, and much of the water was got away and trenches re-boarded on the bottom, and a quantity of revetting carried out.
A small party of ‘water-bailiffs’ was organised to patrol and look after the SUEZ CANAL and its tributaries.
1 man killed (Thomas Kennedy the 1st casualty from the battalion)
7th December 1915
2 men killed, 2 men wounded.
8th December 1915
2 men killed, Captain Kennedy, 2nd Lieutenant Baxter and 5 men wounded. Hit by a shell whilst out on a working party repairing trenches near Givenchy
Samuel died of his wounds received on either the 7th or 8th . There were no casualties recorded for the 9th
The 18th Middlesex only lost 6 men from for the period 15th November to 10th December .
Cheshire County Memorial Project would like to thank Phil Underwood for compiling this page on Samuel