1/8th (Ardwick) Battalion
The War Diaries for the battalion are located under Private McLeans personal diary or by download in Pdf format here :- 8th Batalion WDs
On the 4th August 1914 the battalion received it's orders for mobilisation
at their HQ at Ardwick Green, Ardwick, Manchester, as part of the Manchester
Brigade, East Lancs Div. Manchester, Bde. East Lancs Div. At the End August
they moved into camp at Hollingworth Lake, Littleborough near Rochdale.
On the 10th Septenber 1914 they sailed from Southampton for Egypt arriving
Alexandria, 25th September.
On the 6th May 1915 they landed at Gallipoli,
We are very lucky to have, by courtesy of his great grandson Paul Taylor, a transcription of Private Joseph McLean, Service No: 300080 diary covering his war experience until the 4th june 1915, a very emotive day in the 42nd division history.
Diary of Private Joseph McLean, Service No: 300080
8th Ardwicks - Manchester Battalion
Embodied on the 5th Aug 1914 with the Territorial Force at Headquarters, Ardwick, Manchester, where we
remained about three weeks. Afterwards paraded every morning at six o'clock at school each man billeting
at his own home. Later going to Littleborough with the Manchester Brigade where we camped until Sept
9th 1914 about 4:30pm, when we left Littleborough about midnight by train, arriving Southampton Sept
10th 1914 about 4:30pm.
When we embarked on the transport (Corsican) setting sail the same night about 9 o'clock. Arriving
Gibralter on Thursday Sept 17th 1914 about 8 o'clock am where we anchored for a few hours, setting sail
again about 5 o'clock the same day. Passing Malta about midnight Monday Sept 21st 1914. The next day
we passed the Indian troopship about 3:30 in the afternoon.
On entering Alexandria we passed a group of American battleships and the salute was given by both as we
passed. It was a grand conclusion to a very pleasent voyage. Anchoring in the harbour about 8 o'clock
Friday Sept 25th 1914.
Disembarked on Sunday morning about 6 o'clock when we marched to Mastapha fresh air camp where we
were told off for detachment duty at Cyprus. One detachment going to Limesal and the other party going
to Nicosia. LeavingAlexandria about 4 o'clock in the afternoon on October 19th 1914, arriving Limesal the
next day, October 20th 1914, where the party for that place disembarked about 9 o'clock. And at midnight
the same day we set sail again for Cyprus, arriving Famaguster Harbour, Oct 21st 1914, about 7 o'clock in
After disembarking we were entrained and after travelling about 2½ hours by rail, we arrived at Nicosia
about mid-day and on Nov 5th 1914 we took part in the Annexation of Cyprus.
While at Nicosia an interesting event took place. One of our Officers was getting married to an English lady
who resided there and I was one of the Guard of Honour. This event took place on Jan 12th 1915.
After doing duty at Nicosia where we were very popular with the natives for very nearly four months we
were ordered to go to Abbissiea, Egypt and were relieved by a detachment of the Malta Milita on Jan 20th
1915 when we entrained at Nicosia railway station for Limosel Harbour at about 3:30 in the afternoon.
Arriving Limosel Harbour about six o'clock the same evening where we embarked aboard the transport
Malda, setting sail the same night about 9 o'clock for Alexandria, Egypt, arriving there the next day, Jan
21st at about 1 o'clock am.
Entraining for Abbassiea at 4:20 pm and arriving Cairo about 10:30pm the same day when we marched to
Abbassiea Barracks. Arriving there about midnight where we had a very good supper.
We commenced duty at Cairo on Jan 23rd 1915 where we went through our paces on the sands of the
desert for just over three months when we were ordered to go to the Dardanelles.
After being inspected as a Division on the march by Sir Ian Hamilton and on Sunday May the 2nd 1915 at
midnight we left for Cairo railway station where we entrained at 1:30 am for Alexandria where we arrived
the same morning about 9 o'clock.
Embarking onboard the transport Ionian, setting sail the same night as the last post was sounded, arriving at
the Dardanelles on May 6th 1915. After landing we had about 2 or 3 hours rest in dugouts when we got
orders to carry on where we went to another lot of dugouts for a few days which were about 2 miles behind
the firing line where we had to make dugouts under fire as once you landed at the Dards you was always
After making dugouts we had about 4 days in them when we moved again, this time into the first line of
trenches which was the firing line.
We took our position on the left of the British lines. We were in this position for five days and during that
five days we lost a few men, killed and wounded. Adjt Collins was wounded, Lt Johnson died of wounds and
Capt Mandly wounded.
We were relieved by the Essex 2nd Batt and was under the impression that we were going for a rest in the
dugouts but were sadly mistaken as we had to take a position about the centre of the line, on the left of the
French. We held this position for about 7 days, making in all about 12 days in the firing line, not bad for a
Well after being relieved we were supposed to go for a well earned rest in the dugouts. O yes we got to the
dugouts all right and after getting nicely settled down for the night we were pulled out to go road making.
And we were road making for about 4 days when we got orders we were ready for the firing line again after
our good rest. Well we obliged them by going into the firing line and when we got there we got orders that
we had to get a bit nearer Mr Turk and it was decided that the Manchesters were the people for this kind of
work, more so after their good rest (roadmaking).
All we had to do was go over the top of our trench, advance 50 yards with full pack of 3 days rations, water
bottle full, 1 full sand bag, 2 empty sandbags and as much ammunition as you could carry. I don't know
what other companys carried but our company carried 300 rounds. But we had not enough to carry so we
were given a pick and spade to carry as well.
At midnight we commenced operations, getting over the top alright and advancing 50 yards when the moon
came out full and then the fun started, what with the full sand bag weighing about 30 pounds, the pick and
shovel and ammunition it was not bad enough the Turks would not give us time to dig ourselves in and
make ourselves comfortable but started to train ther maxim guns, rifles and big guns on to us.
Of course this made things very hot for us I can tell you. First one man went west and then another would
get about half his face blown away, or his arm or leg blown away. The result was he would start praying or
shouting for his mother or father or else his tart.
But the best hero's I ever seen in this engagement were them that went west as they went off without a
grumble. It must have been a good dugout they went to as they never came back.
Well to get on with my story, I had just dug myself in and was telling a Corporal that was with me that I
was as safe as a row of houses when I got a nice surprise.
I could not explain how I felt at the time but I knew there was something wrong. I could not speak, I could
see nothing only stars so I examined where I felt the clout, in the throttle. I thought it was blown away
when my Sergeant came to me and bandaged me up. I thought it was about time I retired as it was still
raining (bullets) I can tell you.
I surprised myself as I retired in very quick time as I had to go along my stomach on account of the drops of
rain I would have not cared if it had been water but the worse of it was these rain drops were made of lead
and they weighed 2oz each, so I was out of the rain in quick time and sheltering in our trench from where
we had made the advance.
And after having a short rest to get over the shock I was sent down to our Batallion Aid post where our
Med. Sergeant dressed the wound and told me to carry on to Div. Dressing Station. From there I was put in
a red cross van and we did look a rum lot of blokes, some with bandaged arms, legs. I think this is the first
time I seen a few chaps without arms or legs at the time.
I thought about the Black Maria in England but I thought this was a Bloody Red Maria and was very glad
when we reached our destination which was on the sea beach close to what our boys in blue left of Sedd-el-
Bahr fort where we were all made as comfortable as could be after being examined and wounds dressed by
the doctors who did their work very well indeed.
Well the next item on the map was we had to be attended too by the R.A.M.C orderlys for a good feed and
some good hot tea, but the orderly who attended to me must have been an Irishman as I was having a good
sleep as I had had very little for three weeks when I felt someone tugging at my shoulder.
It was a good job I had no rifle or bayonet with me or that orderly would have been star gazing now as it
was I had him by the throat when I came to myself which caused a great deal of amusement in the tent.
I had my leg pulled about it many a time afterwards. I found out he had brought me a pint of tea and a plate
full of bread and cheese. I might say the bread was about 2 inches thick and the cheese, well I can't say
what it was but the cheese made the sandwich about four and a half inches thick, but here is where the Irish
comes in, I had been shot in the throat. I was hungry enough but fancy a man being hit there and then to put
a feed before him like that. I might tell you it was the last time I ever seen that orderly.
That same day we were sent onboard a mine sweeper and taken to Lemnos, a Greek Island about 60 miles
away but I did not think much of the treatment there as we had to have our meals in condensed milk or jam
tins. In the morning you had tea in it and at dinnertime you had soup in it and then again at tea time you had
your tea in it again, so you can guess how things were. And more so there was two hundred beds in this
place and there were between 700 and 800 wounded and sick there so that itself was another disgrace.
I seen above 100 cases that should have been cot cases lying on the bare sand inside a tent and I often
wondered did the Government know anything about this as there was another Hospital only a cock stride
from ours, if I may call ours a hospital. I think myself it was not, by a long way.
But this other hospital I have wrote about above was a splended thing. It belonged to the Australians and
there was a bed for every man and descent utensils for every use and also lit up by electric lights all round
the camp and inside every tent or hut.
This hospital, I might say they brought with them so you can see what was thought about the Englishmen
that got wounded at the Dards.
Well the outcome was I got fed up with it so I volunteered to go back to the firing line.
I went back alright by request. They did not want asking twice and I was glad to get back with my
I was reported killed so you can guess how things were when I walked to the part of the line our company
were holding. My own officer, Captain Herbert Rose, who was I believe 64 years of age could not believe his own
eyes when he seen me and I thought he would never let go of my hand and wanted to know why I was sent
back with bandages still on, and I explained to him. So he said he would report it but he did not report it
because he went and reported at another place the next day. I never heard which place he reported at but I
do know that he became a landowner out there six feet as is the custom it was in the same charge that I
got my second present from Enva Pashas on Mr.Turk.
It was Thursday June 3rd when we arrived back to the trenches after my first wound and was told I was just
in time for a bayonet charge the next day, Friday, and Friday being a very unlucky day I thought my number
was up this time.
I was born on a Friday you know, and that put the wind up me more so. I could see there was no way out
of it so I decided to make the best of it. So the first thing I did was to inspect my bayonet to see if it was
sound and then gave it a good oiling, then turning mt attention to my old friend the rifle and did likewise
with it. Then wondering what sort of a birthday I would have anyway I lay down after doing guard at
midnight and remembering nothing more until I was raused the next morning, Friday June 4th 1915 by one
of my chums.
I felt sorry for him as he did not sleep a wink, and he had the wind up him fairly as he could not eat any
breakfast and there were plenty more too I might tell you, but I could not see letting trifles like that upset
me so much so I set too and had a very good breakfast but I was wondering at the time where I would be
having breakfast the next morning.
So ends the diary.
Courtesy of Keith Brannen and in rememberance of Sgt James Brannen 35507, we have the transcribed war diaries for the 1/8th Battalion
the history of the 8th battalion is a work in progress, we look forward to Captain Bonners book
Feb 1918 and then 19.2.18 to 126th Bde, 42nd Div. 11.11.18. 126th Bde,
42nd Div, France, Hautmont, S.W. of Maubeuge.