SMALLSHAW FAMILY (LIVERPOOL) – THE GREAT WAR(The Fate of 4 Great / Grand Uncles from Everton)
GEORGE JAMES WILLIAM ERNIE
Background this is work in progress and as yet not been proofread,
The Smallshaws are of a single-line family first recorded in the 13th century in an entry of the Court Rolls of Wakefield in Holne (now Holme) in the West Riding, Yorkshire, England under William de Smalschaghe (1277) and Robert de Smaleschawe (1298). In a Yorkshire Deed (1322) is mentioned the vaccary (a cow-pasture, of Lancashire origin) of Smaleshagh. The Smallshaw name is of 7th century origin Smael-sceaga, meaning a small wood (shaw). This homestead was to become a hamlet and is now a suburb of Ashton-Under-Lyne, Greater Manchester (née Lancashire). In the 14th century the Smallshaws left their homestead and settled in the ancient priory village of Upholland, Lancashire. The family are mentioned in various documents throughout and beyond the 17th century, particularly in the period of the English Civil War, they were Royalists. It is here they would remain and the family origins would be traced to and then through the 19th century. It is at this time (1830s) during advent of Industrial Revolution when the nearby city of Liverpool expanded due to its thriving port. Like many families in this region during that time, some would relocate from their farming village communities in search of regular work in that city and internationally.
William Smallshaw (Wills) (DOB 9th July 1886)
Eldest son of 12 of William John and Margret Ellen Smallshaw (née Gilroy) born in Liverpool (the parental family home was at 119, Gwladys Street, Everton in Liverpool next to Everton F.C.). Husband to Alice (née Graham ) 11th May 1912 and father to William, Nora and Alice. He was described by my Great Aunt Hannah as a very responsible, mature family man of smaller stature, 5’ 3” (1m 60cm) with a tattoo on his left forearm of Buffalo Bill. Prior to the advent of the Great War in August 1914 he had served for 4 1/2 years with the 1st West Lancashire Division, Liverpool which had since been disbanded. In November 1915 the War Office authorised its reformation (now designated 55th (West Lancashire) Division. In December 1915 he was reenlisted as a driver 696033 for the 57th (2nd/1st West Lancashire) Divisional Ammunition Column (DAC), Royal Field Artillery (RFA) which was a 2nd- line unit for the Territorial Force (TF). They were based at the Drill Hall on Stanley Street in Liverpool. In May 1916 as part of the Great War on-going massive expansion of the British Army they became the 276th (CCLXXXVI) Brigade RFA DAC, commanded by Brigadier General N.H. Bray. After completing further training in Aldershot they moved to France in February 1917 and disembarked at Le Havre. On 25th February it took over a section of the Western Front under the command of the II ANZAC Corps.. On 6th July 1917 near Estaires in France William, another younger driver Bartholomew Dodding 695980 (whose parents lived close by) plus others were severely injured by heavy enemy shelling. William and Bartholomew died from wounds on / around 8th July 1917, sadly on his 31st birthday. Both are buried at Merville Communal Cemetery Extension (B.I.37 and B.I.35 respectively) in France. Buried in between them at B.I.36. is a Pte. H.P. Moore 335857, 2nd/10th Bn. Liverpool Scottish (The King’s Regiment).
George Smallshaw (Georgie) (DOB 24th June 1891).
Younger brother of William and James, husband to Dorothy (née Mercedes Forrest) April 1910 and father to George Frederick and Dorothy Leah. My Great Aunts, Florence (Flo.) and Hannah described George as a true Liverpool character with a great sense of humour. InIt ststes in the 1911 Census that he had been in between jobs after previously working at the Ogdens Tobacco Factory in Boundary Lane, Liverpool. On 31st August 1914 the War Office authorised the formation of a reserve / 2nd-Line unit for each TF unit. In September the 2nd/1st South Lancashire Brigade came into existence in November 1914. It was composed of 2nd-Line duplicates of the battalions of the peacetime South Lancashire Brigade that were due to be sent overseas. George 359246 later enlisted in the 2nd/10th Battalion King’s Liverpool Regiment (KLR) (Liverpool Scottish). The Liverpool Scottish, known diminutively as "the Scottish", is a unit of the British Territorial Army, raised in 1900 as an infantry battalion of the KLR. This was the battalion Noel Godfrey Chavasse, battalion Surgeon-Captain between 1916 to 1917 was the only soldier during the Great War to be awarded 2 Victoria Crosses (VCs), the King awarding him an award of a bar to the second VC. The battalion was a second line feeder battalion having to undertake a lot of continued training for their significant lack of practical soldiering experience. In August 1915 these formations were assigned numbers, 172nd (2nd/1st South Lancashire) Brigade and 57th (2nd West Lancashire) Division respectively. On 20th February 1917 they left Southampton to France for Le Havre arriving the following day, eventually reaching Estaires 3 days later. On 26th February 1917 they took over the trenches at Bois Grenier, Rue du Bois, on the Western Front, France serving on a 8 days on, 8 days off shift rota commended by the temporary Brigadier General G.C.B. Paynter. In August 1917 there was heavy enemy shelling and aircraft activity in this region. The records are unclear but it is believed that George and another were severely wounded on /around 21st August 1917 but died of wounds on 24th August 2017, age 26. A Cairn memorial for the battalion has since been laid for those who served in Bois Grenier region in 1917. George is remembered 2 km across the border in Belgium at the Ploegsteert Memorial, Panel 3, Hainaut. 2nd Lt.. He is mentioned on the same page in the 2nd/10th battalion Liverpool Scottish beautifully bound decorative Roll of Honour Book, Section Sm. It is currently held in St George’s Hall in Liverpool (I’d like mention Major Ian Riley from the Regimental Museum for various communications and his valued help with this). Lancelot Slocock (killed at Guillemont in August 1916) was one of England’s finest rugby union players before he left to do business in the US. , a little below but one to George’s inscription. During the Great War there was an on-going close interaction between George, the Scottish and the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders Regiment (see the regiment Great War cap badge and piece of kilt tartan sent to the family after George died). In the final year of the war, what was left of the 2nd/10th Bn. were transferred to 1st/10th Bn. and eventually transferred to the 55th (West Lancashire) Division on 21th April 1918. The Liverpool Scottish formalised its relationship with the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders and transferred in 1937 to become the regiment's second territorial battalion. The sailor in the picture with George is Ernest (Ernie) another brother (DOB 1893), Married Hilda Stewart in 1948, son Gilroy (Grandmother Mothers maiden name) who served with HMS Dove and some merchant ships and the only brother to survive the Great War.
George is mentioned in the Roll of Honour at Liverpool Town Hall.
James Smallshaw (Jim) (DOB 17th October 1889)
Younger brother to William, husband to Edith (née Bamber) 1912 and father to Ellen, Edith and James William. He had worked at the Ogdens Tobacco factory, Liverpool prior to the war. He probably had helped his brother George to get a job there. The Liverpool of the 1914s of early summer was prosperous, proud, alive with trading and bustling with people engaged in all types of commerce. James 38140 enlisted in the Pals Kitchener’s New Army, 20th (Service) Battalion (4th City) KLR TF. Formed in Liverpool on 16th October 1914 by Lord Derby, in the old watch factory, Prescot Watches, Liverpool. By the time the last battalion (20th Bn.) of the Pals was formed they were quartered at the Tournament Hall, Knotty Ash and trained each day in Knowsley Park, Liverpool. On 30th April 1915 came under orders of 89th Brigade, 30th Division. The idea of the Liverpool Pals battalions is associated with the 17th Earl of Derby (Lord Derby), Stanley family seat nearby at Knowsley Hall at the on-set of war, August 1914. In fact 4 Liverpool Pals battalions cap badge is in the image of the Family Crest of the Derby Family, Eagle and Child and Motto, Sans Changer (Latin: Without Changing) which was worn by the Pals with distinction from the standard cap badge worn by of the other battalions of the KLR, Horse of Hanover. The Pals badge had many nicknames not all reverent, ‘the duck and illegitimate’, or words to that effect etc. They were commanded by the Lord Derby’s brother Brigadier General F.C. Stanley. Landed at Boulogne, France on 8th November 1915. They stayed one night at Ostrehove Camp and the next day James arrived for training at Pont Remy. On 18th December he moved to the Western Front to be deployed at Bienvillers, split into platoons attached to the 6th Bn. and 8th Bn. of The Leicestershire Regiment. They came out of line for an uneventful Christmas Eve 1915 and moved to Louvencourt for Christmas Day, where temporarily where they came under the Command of Brigadier-General C.J. Sackville-West’s 21st Brigade. In fact during this time the 20th Bn. were recognised by Brigadier-General E.G.T. Bainbridge, commanding the 110th Infantry Brigade, ‘This is certainly the best Bn. which has been sent to this Brigade for the instruction.’ By 23rd June 1916 James was in the front line N. of Maricourt, Somme Valley. 24th June, 20th Bn. in the front line trenches suffered quite serious bombardment losses. So the Somme Big Push Offensive had begun. On 1st July 2016 the 20th Bn., zero hour was 07.30hr, No Man’s Land was about 450 yards ( 411m) wide. After heavy allied bombardment they went over. When they reached the front line trenches the shelling had been so effective, there was very little resistance. Next, Moutauban, the debacle of Trone Woods. 30th July, Guillemont where from the 20th Bn. 9 officers and 130 other ranks were KIA or DOW On 2nd August they got some R&R at Abbeville. By August 1916, people at home were beginning to feel uneasy about the euphoric way in which the press were reporting the war, and realizing that the breakthrough that had been promise by the Somme offensive was not going to realised. The spirit that had bound the Pals Bn.’s together at their inception in 1914 was now to bind them together in sorrow and mourning. The 20th Bn. being left with only 8 sergeants and 12 Lieutenants,
On 26th August they left for Givenchy sector. The fighting here, although not quiet wasn’t at all like the Somme, this sector had been involved in mining detonation warfare tactics since 1915. It was a different experience for the Pals which they didn’t find too comfortable as trenches were very close to each other in places and where they entered into a new world of close trench warfare tactics. By mid-October 1916 the 20th Bn. KLR had just moved from Moutauban - Bazentin le Grand Rd. and were situated at Eaucourt l'Abbaye (Eaucourt), which is NW. of Martinpuich, SE. of Le Sars, S. of the Butte de Warlencourt, W. of Gueudecourt and NW. of Flers, in support of the capture of the Ridges above Thiepval, Le Sars and le Transloy, the Battle of Ligny-Thilloy. A sudden inclement change in the weather, due to heavy rain fall made battle logistics matters very difficult, hindering the artillery advancement, making it virtually useless and the Royal Flying Corps. spotter planes could rarely fly due to total cloud, so the assault faltered and some impetus was lost. It was at this point that General Douglas Haig intervened and insisted that the main attack should continue with an offensive on 12th October in the area south of Ligny-Thilloy. During the night of 10th/11th October, the 17th Bn. moved into assembly trenches which ran north of Flers, NE. of the ruins of the village of Eaucourt l'Abbaye. At mid-day on 11th October the British artillery bombardment began and there was also an exchange of artillery and the 11th and 20th Bn., James moved up and dug 2 deep assembly trenches behind the 17th Bn. for the attack the following day and the 19th Bn. moved in a reserve position, Flers Trench. Zero hour was 2.05pm on 12th October 1916, The Pals 17th Bn. left the trenches, both Companies of the Pals 20th Bn. moved forward and occupied those trenches before going over the top then other companies advancing intgo the newly vacated trenches behind them. As soon as the Bn.’s left the trenches they were faced with incoming artillery bombardment from the Brandenburgers of 4., Brandenburgisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr.24, from Nueruppin, and Bavarians of 16, Bayerisches Reserve Infantrie-Regiment from Passau, and 21, Bayerisches Infanterie-Regiment from Furth. These were very experienced soldiers compared to the Pals Bn.’s, well dug in on high ground. The allied bombardment hadn’t cut their barbed wire. The 17th Bn. were badly cut down in the planned cross fire as the they had become silhouetted against the sky due to slight rise in the ground in No Man’s Land as they advance. Those on the left were trapped by the uncut barbed wire and were also easy targets. Seeing first waves being moaned down some turned back blocking and slowing causing congestion of the advancing British troops and so again they became easy prey as well. Due to the inclement weather the day before the allied artillery had been unable to advance sufficiently and as a consequence British shells friendly fire began falling short onto the Pals Bn.’. A British plane was shot down at 2.40pm both occupants were killed. Some ground had been taken, about 150 yards (137m). Daylight turned to darkness at 4pm as the 17th Bn., who took the brunt it were relieved by the 1st/2nd Company of the 20th Bn. Sadly during the battle James was reported as being killed in action. During the day battle, 31 were killed from the 20th Bn. and total of 152 from all the 4 Pals Bn.’s. Throughout the month of October1916, Liverpool Pals Bn.’s had 226 KIAs, 567 were either wounded or missing. During the first 2 years of the Great War, the Liverpool Pals Bn.’s had lost almost 1750 soldiers. James is listed at the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France, Pier and Face 1 D 8 B and 8 C. A short obituary in the Liverpool Echo dated 2nd November 2016 simply states:
SMALLSHAW-October 12, killed in action, aged 28 years, James (Jim), K.L.R., dearly beloved husband
of Edith Smallshaw, 8 Lampeter-road, Anfield. – Sadly missed by his sorrowing wife and family.
James is mentioned in the Roll of Honour at Liverpool Town Hall and on the Ogdens Tobacco Memorial, St. John the Baptist’s CoE Church, Tuebrook, Liverpool.
This work has been in progress for some 20+ years and I find that just now I have been able to document it properly on-behalf of the family.
Personal Note: Like many parents during the Great War, Margret Ellen, my Great Grandmother was so overcome with grief of the loss of my 3 Great Uncles in such a short space of time she reacted by stripping the house of all their belongings, nobody was allowed to discuss them as in some way to try to move on in her / family life. I won’t ever truly understand the pain she must have gone through with their loss but I do truly believe it is now the right time to share this information to respectfully remember them as I feel we should do.
Lance Smallshaw (Great / Grand Nephew), October 2017.