Alderley -World War 1. June 1916
We will remember them, June 1916
June 1916 was another “thankful” month, when no men from Alderley Edge lost their lives. But it was the lull before the storm. At the beginning of 1916 the French Commander in Chief, Joffre, proposed a joint Franco-British attack on the German trenches on the Somme battlefront. However, in February the Germans began an assault on the French fortress of Verdun. As Verdun was vital to the defence of France against German invasion from the east, the French had to reduce their participation in the planned offensive to a supporting role, leaving the British to bear the main burden of the operation. To relieve the pressure on Verdun, a massive attack on the German lines on the Somme was scheduled for 1st July. Four men from Alderley Edge lost their lives on that day – notorious as the worst day in the history of the British army - and they will be commemorated next month.
There was one engagement in June in which we know that at least one local man was involved. On 9th June the Advertiser told readers that Private John Bebbington was reported missing since May 21st. On that day the Germans had launched an attack on Vimy, where the 10th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, was entrenched. The following week the paper amended this to ‘missing, believed killed’, quoting from a letter of sympathy received by his wife from his platoon commander. But the next edition had better news: “Happily he is alive but a prisoner in the hands of the Germans. During last weekend a letter was received from him, written apparently while in the German lines awaiting escort into the interior”. German records show that he was held in a POW camp at Dülmen, near Münster. A turbulent month for his wife and parents in Alderley Edge!
If you know of Alderley Edge men who served in the war and returned home afterwards, we should be glad to hear of them.