Oldham Historical Research Group



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We know that John Leonard Binns is one of the men in this photograph, from the book, 'The Oldham Battalion of Comrades' (read complete book HERE). Unfortunately, however, we don't know which soldier is John Leonard.

Medal rolls Index Card
Medal Rolls Index Card

John Leonard volunteered to serve with the newly formed 24th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment, known as the Oldham Comrades, one of the many 'Pals' regiments formed in 1915. He is somewhere in the photograph above, number 15,500.

At some time, whilst John Leonard was serving with the Manchester Regiment, he transferred to the Military Foot Police Regiment, number P14064.

*Notes on MFP

A family member recalls that John Leonard might have been injured ... even reported as .missing in action. and this could possibly account for his transfer to the Military Foot Police, if he was considered unfit for front-line duty.

When John Leonard was posted overseas, in late 1915, with the Manchester Regiment he, like the other soldiers at the front, wrote his will. His was short and to the point:

"In the event of anything happening to me I leave all my property and all my belongings to my wife Esther Binns."


John Leonard survived the war, came home to his family, and continued to live in Oldham until his death in 1960.

Will of John Leonard Binns
Will of John Leonard Binns

Notes on the Military Foot Police ... gleaned from a number of on-line sites:

~ Referencing John Leonard's MFP number (army service numbers Link - opens in new tab)
It appears that he was probably transferrred in January 1918

~ From message board on Ancestry Link - opens in new tab)
"The Military Foot Police were one of two units available to the Provost Martial[sic] and operated generally within the Divisional Command area ensuring lines of communication and a wide number of key tasks necessary to ensure the free flow through it. Traffic control escort to walking wounded to and from aid stations and their units, close protection for headquarters and so on the list would be massive, and so the existence of such units and their mounted counter parts would ensure combat troops would not be taken from their principle role to staff these. There would also be the more obvious role of general discipline out side the troops own units control or area too."

~ From 1914-1918 forum Link - opens in new tab) :
"Gary Sheffield wrote a chapter entitled 'The Operational Role of British Military Police'. It was published in Griffith's book 'British Fighting Methods in the Great War' (ISBN 0714634956). The Military Foot Police were part of the Corps of Military Police. 'Broadly speaking, the MFP (many of whom were not fit for front-line duty) performed duties on the lines of communication, while the [Military Mounted Police] served just behind the front lines'. The latter were involved in rounding up stragglers and form the focus for Sheffield's article. MFPs would have been involved in traffic control and other military police activities in the rear areas."

~ From Wikipedia Link - opens in new tab) :
The Provost Marshal is a post which goes back to the 13th century and was originally an under-officer of the Earl Marshal. In 1685 the role of Provost Marshal General became a permanent post. The Military Mounted Police was formed in 1877 and the Military Foot Police was formed in 1885.
During the First World War the Military Police grew from 508 all ranks to over 25,000 all ranks by the end of the War. During the Battle of Neuve Chapelle in March 1915 the Military Police served the Army as a whole rather than just individual units.

JOHN LEONARD BINNS, born in early 1886 in Lees, was the son of Loftus and Lucy (née Thomas) Binns. Loftus and Lucy had married at the Parish Church in Leesfield, on the 14th June 1876. The marriage record shows that Loftus' father was called Joseph and was a tinplate worker. Lucy's father was called Thomas and was a 'foreman at a forge'. Lucy was shown as a domestic servant living on Ashton New Road, Leesfield.

Going back to the 1851 census we can find 37 year old Joseph Binns, born in Halifax, was living with his wife Betsy, and their growing family, in Springhead, Oldham. The children were: Elizabeth age 16, Rufus age 12, Rowena age 10, Ancora age 7 and 2 year old Leonora, Joseph was shown as an Inn-Keeper and tin plate worker. Betsy, age 37, is shown as having been born in Denby, Yorkshire.

By the time of the 1861 census, Loftus had been born and was age 9. Also with their parents are Rowena, Ancora, Leonora, Osmond and Mary. They are living next door to the Dog & Partridge Public House in Springhead. Joseph is a tin plate worker. The older children are shown as working in the cotton factory.

In 1871, 57 year old Joseph and wife Betsy were still living in Springhead ... Joseph was still shown as a 'tin plate worker'. Widowed son Rufus is living with them along with four of their unmarried children (including Loftus) and three grandchildren.

On the 18th June, 1876 Loftus and Lucy were married ...
and on the 1881 census, were living at Birch Villa in Leesfield. With them was their young daughter Agnes, and their 11 year old niece, Rachel Foxall, who had been born in Worcestershire.

By the time of the 1891 census, John Leonard is recorded as living with his parents and siblings at 23 Station Street, Ashes Lane (in Springhead). Loftus was a 37 year old tin plate worker, born in Saddleworth. Lucy was age 40 and recorded as born in Stourbridge, Worcestershire. John Leonard's elder siblings were Agnes Gertrude age 11 and Rowland William age 7; his younger brother, Herbert Wilfred, was age 2.

By 1901 the family was living in Stonesbreaks [Road] in Springhead. Loftus was now working as a tin-plate worker 'on his own account', Agnes was an assistant school mistress, Rowland worked in the cotton mill and John Leonard was a railway clerk. Herbert was age 12.

In the last quarter of 1906 John Leonard married Esther Taylor, from Salford (marriage registered in Oldham).

On the 1911 census John Leonard is recorded, with his wife Esther, living at 28, Clyde Street, in Oldham. He is now shown as a 'cop packer' in a cotton mill. With them are two infant children, Edith Eleanor and Harry.

Also on the 1911 census we can find 56 year old Loftus, now widowed and living at 5 Stonesbreaks [Road], Springhead.


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