So far I have told you about the members of the Bealey family who died in WWI but now I’m going to tell you a bit about some of the men from the Bealey’s bleach and chemical works who also fought, some returned but sadly, some never came home again.
At the outbreak of the war in 1914, Prime Minister Asquith appointed Kitchener as Secretary for War. He was the first member of the military to hold the post and was given the task of recruiting a large army to fight Germany.
With the help of the war poster that featured his mustachioed face, pointing finger, and the words: ‘Join Your Country’s Army’, over 2,000,000 men volunteered in the first two years of the war.
We know how many men from the bleachworks responded to this call to arms from four battered black books which have survived and are among the Bealey Papers collection [reference number BBY/1/1/4/9].
These books start on 21 August 1914 and finish with the last entry of 14 November 1919 and are entitled “War allowance paid in respect of …” with the name of the employee at the top and a list of dates and signatures for payment from their next of kin or dependant. I’m not sure whether this was an official type of payment which all businesses paid or whether it was something which the Bealey’s did for the families of the men they employed.
From these books, it seems that there were initially 54 men who joined up in 1914-1915. Some of them did not stay in the army for very long. Robert Anderton who joined on 11 September 1914 was discharged on 16 October and resumed work on 13 November of the same year.
Sadly, the first casualty from the Bealey’s works seems to be of Fred Hough who was killed in the Dardanelles on 5 Jun 1915.
We have been able to find out more about Fred from the Sailors’ and Soldiers’ Memorial Book for August 1914 to December 1915. This and the one for 1916 are available in the main library at Bury [reference A 67.8 (P) SAI which are shelved in the basement].
On the 7 August 1915, Robert Lomas went missing in action, and William H. Holland was killed in the Dardanelles on the same day. Thomas Hayes was also killed in the Dardanelles on 12 November 1915.
Details from a war memorial plaque which was erected at the bleachworks in Dummers Lane show that there were 160 men from Bealey’s who served in the Great War. 133 of them returned home but sadly 27 men, including Fred, Robert, William and Thomas, lost their lives in “the war to end all wars”.
We found this information about the plaque on the United Kingdom National Inventory of War Memorials website which can be found at http://www.ukniwm.org.uk/
Men working at Bealey’s were exempt from being called-up as this document from the Bleachers’ Association collection which is at Quarry Bank Mill shows.
As the letter also explains, some men on the list of Certified Occupations were erroneously called up for medical examination which seems to have happened at Bealey’s. In these cases, the medical examination was to stand but the men were, in all other respects, to be treated as though they had not been called up for a medical at all.
The following pages are documents from the same Bleachers’ Association collection, which give the name, year of birth, occupation and medical grading of 80 men working at Bealey’s in 1918.
Finally, for anyone wondering whether one of their relatives from the Radcliffe area died in WWI, they are all listed on the Radcliffe War Memorial and some further information is available on the “Roll of Honour” website at http://sites.google.com/site/unsworthpolewarmemorial/unsworth-war-memorial/Home/radcliffe-war-memorial-lancashire
Special thanks need to go to Kirsty Riley who kindly volunteered to photograph the documents for me and to Donna Hardman who found the United Kingdom National Inventory of War Memorials website and the Sailors’ and Soldiers’ Memorial Book. Gilly Paxton, Project Archivist.