Alderley -World War 1. December 1917

We will remember them December 1917

December 1917 was a ‘thankful’ month for Alderley Edge.  None of its men serving on the various battle fronts died, though the local paper did report on 7th December that one, Captain Archer Gillies, Machine Gun Corps, had been wounded. He was the elder son of the chairman of the Urban District Council; his younger brother, Captain Percivale Gillies, had been killed on the western front in May 1916.

But it was a sad month for a widow living on Duke Street. Sarah Brocklehurst had lost her eldest son, John William, in October 1915, and in this month her other son, Thomas Henry, died.  Thomas Henry Brocklehurst  had been invalided out of the army in July 1916.  Born in 1894, he attended the local school, leaving in 1908.  The 1911 census lists him as a telegraph messenger for the Post Office. 

He enlisted in May 1915 and went to France in October, serving in the Army Service Corps.   His name appears in the Silver War Badge Roll. 

Silver War Badges were issued to service personnel who had been honourably discharged from military service due to wounds or sickness.  One reason for their issue was that some former soldiers who had been honourably discharged were being publicly harassed by women who took it upon themselves to give white feathers, as a sign of cowardice, to apparently fit men who had not joined the forces.

  The badges, worn on civilian dress, protected the wearers from this. Brocklehurst’s entry in the Roll says the reason for his discharge was pulmonary tuberculosis, though the report of his funeral says he was gassed. Quite probably both explanations are true, as the report goes on to say,

‘This brought on a recurrence of a complaint that had been troubling him for years’. 

In the wider world, on December 17th ,six weeks after the Bolsheviks seized power, Russia signed an armistice with Germany.  This, together with the entry of the USA into the war in April made 1917 a year in which the shape of the war changed dramatically.


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