Oldham Historical Research Group

'What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
- Only the monstrous anger of the guns.'
from 'Anthem for Doomed Youth' by Wilfred Owen

1914 - 1918

Memorial to the men of the 3rd Manchester Regiment
who died in a Zeppelin raid on 1st April 1916

Cleethorpes great war memorial

Cleethorpes Memorial erected in 1918
Nine Oldham men are included on the panels.

The 24 coffins were laid in two long graves adjoining each other. Almost two years later, on March 9th 1918 a stone memorial, paid for by public subscription, was unveiled in the cemetery.
The inscription on the centre panel reads:

In Memoriam
N.C.O.s and Men 3rd Battalion The Manchester Regiment
Who lost their lives whilst serving their country on April 1st 1916.

Oldham itself never actually suffered a bombing raid, although Zeppelins passed overhead and bombs were dropped not so many miles away, as in Bolton. However, a group of Oldham soldiers was killed in an airship attack on another town. They were in the Regular Army's 3rd Battalion (Reserve) of the Manchester Regiment.

In March 1916, a number of the regiment were sent to Cleethorpes, on the East Coast, to strengthen the Humber Defences in that locality. On arrival, and unaware that danger was already approaching through the air, the men unpacked their kit and settled down for the night in their billet in a church hall.

The approaching Zeppelins were intending to bomb London and East Anglia but one, finding it had engine trouble, decided to make the best of a bad job and bomb Grimsby. Catastrophically, it mistook the seaside town of Cleethorpes for the port of Grimsby.

Its first bombing run missed the target but on its second run, despite anti-aircraft gunfire, it dropped 3 more bombs.
This time, the result was devastating ...two bombs fell into local streets but the third fell directly onto the sleeping soldiers in their billet.

Of the 84 men in the building, 32 died immediately or as a result of their injuries (at a later date), and 48 were injured. Just 4 men, playing a game of cards in the cellar, were unharmed.

13 of the dead soldiers were Oldham men.
Some men were taken home, to be buried by family but, for the others, there was a full military funeral in Cleethorpes.

Samuel Bell, 27 years old, with a wife and 3 children.
Previously worked at the Vine Mill, Royton.

Thomas Brierley, 26 years old, with a wife and 2 children.
Previously worked for the Oldham and Lees Spinning Company.
Buried in Greenacres Cemetery.

Robert Wood, 32 years old, with a wife and child.
Previously worked at the Mersey Mill, Failsworth.

Ernest Budding, 19 years old.
Previously worked at Stott's Vernon Works.
When they arrived in Cleethorpes he had written a letter home saying that he was enjoying the army .. this letter arrived home after the news of his death.

William Wild, 34, years old.
Previously worked at Platt Brothers' Werneth Works.

William Brown, 19 years old.
Previously worked at the Ridgefield Mill.
Had only been called up 2 weeks previously.

Louis Beaumont, 34 years old.
Belonged to a family well known in the local theatre and music scene.
After a number of unsuccessful attempts to enlist, he had finally been accepted by the army, just 5 days before he was killed.

Job Clowes, 18 years old and lived in Failsworth.
He had been mobilised from the army reserve only two days before he was sent to Cleethorpes.

Robert Fox, 19 years old.
Previously worked at the Albion Mill.
He was officially on 48 hours leave, after being vaccinated but decided it wasn't worth travelling home for such a short visit.

Frank Chandler, officially 19 years old when he died but, in fact,he was only 17.
With an older brother on active service, he had enlisted two months previously.
Buried in St. Michael's Churchyard, Middleton.

Thomas Diviney, 37 years old.

John Corfield, 19 years old.
Previously worked as a storekeeper for the Chamber Colliery Company.
From Hollinwood, he died six days after the attack without regaining consciousness.
Buried in Hollinwood Cemetery.

Thomas Stott, 19 years old.
Previously worked at the Heron Mill.
Although he survived the attack his injuries were serious and he died two months after the attack, on June 2nd.
Buried in Hollinwood Cemetery.

Memorial Panels - Cleethorpes

Memorial Panels

Thumbnail link to larger

Memorial Panel - left - Cleethorpes
Memorial Panel - centre - Cleethorpes
Memorial Panel - right - Cleethorpes
Memorial Plaque Cleethorpes

RETURN to Memorials menu

Information contributed by Dorothy Bintley
Photographs by David Harding

link to home page
WW1 menu page
WW1 links page