Manchester City Battalions
Here you can search approximately 11,000 records of men, by platoon, who served with the so-called 'Manchester Pals' battalions: the 16th (Service) Battalion, The Manchester Regiment to the 23rd (Service) Battalion, The Manchester Regiment (inclusive). These battalions formed part of the 90th and 91st Infantry Brigades.
The formation of the two brigades was recorded in a series of platoon photographs and lists. These were published in book form in 1916 under the title 'Manchester City Battalions Book of Honour'. This set of records consists of an index of the names taken from these lists. Each name is linked to the platoon list in which it appears and to the corresponding platoon photograph.
Please note that the compilers did not provide a key to the photographs to identify the individual soldiers. The lists and photographs do, however, place the individual in the context of the group of men alongside whom he fought and all too often died.
It should also be noted that the names of officers, NCOs and buglers may be linked to two, or occasionally three, lists and photographs, since each was photographed in more than one context.
It's extremely rare to have such a complete list of men serving in Kitchener battalions and the photos of these men make these records even more compelling. Many of the men saw their blooding on The Somme battlefields in July 1916 and for many, it would be their first and last experience of the trenches.
Background to the records
A suggestion was made at a meeting of the Home Trade Association on 24 August 1914 that '...many recruits would be found in the warehouses and offices of Manchester.' Four days later, a resolution was agreed to raise and equip a battalion from this source. Response to the appeal for volunteers was so great that, within days, the single battalion became the 90th Brigade consisting of four battalions, subsequently designated the 16th to 19th.
The flood of recruits continued and three further battalions, the 20th to 22nd were soon assembled. The 91st Brigade was completed by a 'bantam' battalion, the 23rd, made up of men who, otherwise fit for service, failed to meet the minimum height requirement of 5' 3". The two brigades left for France in November 1915 (the 23rd Battalion in January 1916).
The Manchester and Lancashire Family History Society provided us with these records.
Begin with the basics
The name of the person you are searching for may not be recorded in the way you expect. Henry John Davies, for example, may have been recorded as Henry Davies, Henry J Davies, H Davies, or even H J Davies. We would therefore suggest that you initially search using their last name only. If you receive too many results, you can then add a first name to narrow them down.
First name variations
If you don’t find the result you want first time, it is worth trying every possible variation in the first name field.
Your ancestor might have used a different first name in everyday life from the one that appears on official records. For example, your great-uncle Jack’s birth name might have been John. If you can’t find someone recorded under the name you expect, try variations of that name. And if you still can’t find your ancestor using their full first name, try entering their first initial instead.
Last name variations
We’ve added an ‘Include variants’ tickbox next to the ‘Last name’ field to allow for common differences in spelling or incorrect spelling. For example, if you search for the name ‘Foakes’ while ticking the variants option, you may also get results for ‘Folks’, ‘Fookes’, ‘Forkes’, ‘Foukes’, ‘Foulkes’ and ‘Fowkes’.