Browse through this collection of stories drawn from many sources including the Society's archive, newspapers and online sources. The catalyst to begin research varies from an inquiry that comes to Society, a document that arrives at the archive, or another trigger that sets the delving off.
THEY ALSO SERVE
Forewoman Sarah E Maddocks 9904 QMAAC
During the 18th and 19th centuries, soldiers’ wives often accompanied their husbands to the battlefield. A handful of women even disguised themselves as men to join up.
At the outbreak of WWI, women were eager to prove that they too could support the war effort. Initially, the British government was reluctant to involve women; the prevailing attitude was that they were not skilled or resilient enough for traditional military work.
The turning point came in 1916, when the Department of National Service considered calling up men in their 50s to release more soldiers for the front line. They soon realised this would not raise the number of men needed and so, in 1917, the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) was set up, with Dr Mona Chalmers Watson as its first Chief Controller. A noted suffragette, she was the first woman to receive an MD from the University of Edinburgh and she had been instrumental in proposing this corps.
More Than a Dance
When searching the Archives, I occasionally come across something unusual and seemingly unconnected to the Society, such as this invitation. Why is it there, and what is its connection to Marple? It is unlikely we will ever know for sure, but perhaps a clue is handwritten on the back: ‘Edmund Buckley Esq MP’. I shall come back to Mr Buckley but first, let’s consider this invitation from The Athenaeum Society of Manchester to attend a grand soireé in the Free Trade Hall under the chairmanship of Mr Benjamin Disraeli, MP.
A while back I was reading through some online resources of local history and archaeology, and came across the diary of a certain George Booth of Chisworth, which contained entries dated between 1832 and 1834. The diary is not perhaps what you would describe as the most riveting record of life in a small village; typical entries are very short, personal, and along the lines of “Today and yesterday I have been building a wall as a spur against the weir” (April 11th 1832) and “Daniel Thorneley’s wife died today” (April 28 1832), but these are recorded history, and for this it is invaluable. And whilst it is largely Charlesworth and Chisworth based, Mr Booth wanders all over the area, to Glossop, Gamesley, Chinley, Marple Bridge, Broadbottom, and beyond. It was one of these entries that caught my eye:
“I am not fond at all of writing…..”: The Letters of Petty Officer Thomas Leach, R.N., 1911-1916
On the 5th June,1916 the armoured cruiser H.M.S. Hampshire sailed from Scapa Flow bound for Archangel in Russia, carrying a high-level diplomatic team led by the Secretary for War, Horatio Lord Kitchener. The conditions were stormy and the sea so rough that Hampshire’s captain sent the two accompanying destroyers back to base as they could not keep up with cruiser. A little later the captain decided that the Hampshire should also return to port but on that fateful return journey the ship ran into a minefield, previously laid by a German submarine, and was sunk off the coast of Orkney. Kitchener and all his aides were drowned. Indeed, the loss of the Hampshire has been mainly remembered for this fact, attracting many legends and conspiracy theories around the death of a man who was still a national hero. It is sometimes overlooked that the sinking caused a huge loss of life amongst the Hampshire’s crew with only twelve survivors from a complement of some 750 men. Amongst those who lost their life was one of the ship’s Petty Officers, Thomas Leach, then aged 39, who had been serving in the Hampshire since January 1914.
Fascinating stories from our past can come to light completely by happenstance. A lady called Eileen Pearson posted an old press cutting on the Friends of Brabyns Park Facebook page. By happy chance our member Jackie Collins came across it and drew it to our attention. It was a photo of a veteran car crossing over the Iron Bridge in Brabyns Park but fortunately the press cutting gave a little more detail. It was one of the first cars built by Henry Royce and the picture was taken in 1905. There are four people in the car, two ladies in the front and a lady and a man in the back. The cutting describes them as members of the Hallam family and the man is Bill Hallam who worked for Royce at his Hulme factory. Not a lot to go on but certainly worth investigating.