Raymond Grimshaw was the son of Raymond & Mary of Laburnum Cottage, Wilmslow Road, Handforth. The couple are believed to have married in the mid-1890s. It was Mary's second marriage and she already had five children. The future soldier is thought to have ebe the old child of the new marriage. They had moved to Handforth from Wilmslow, where Raymond had been landlord of the Bulls Head.
Young Raymond was a committed Christian and a member of the church choir. He worked at the warehouse of J & N Philips Ltd, 35 Church Street, Manchester. Raymond is commemorated in the Company's entry in the Manchester City Battalions Book of Honour and was included on the Company's Memorial at the warehouse. The warehouse was demolished some years ago but the Memorial was saved and is now fixed to the wall of a nearby multi-storey car park. He was also a keen sportsman in his spare time, playing for local Cricket, tennis and football clubs.
He enlisted in Manchester into the fourth of the "Pals" Battalions recruited during September 1914 and was assigned to No. 6 Platoon in "B" Company. Some details of the recruitment and training period can be found here. They went overseas on 7 November 1915, arriving at Le Havre the following day. They continued to train and receive instruction in trench warfare and took over a section of the front line, on their own account, for the first time on 8 January 1916.
Over the next few months, Raymond spent tours of duty in the front line for two or three days, alternating with similar periods in reserve. Occasionally, the Battalion was withdrawn further into reserve, when the men would be engaged on road building or the movement of stores.
During the night of 30 June, battalions moved into the assault positions for an attack the next day that was to become known as the First Day of the Battle of the Somme. The 19th Manchesters were in the front line of the attack on the part of the battlefield that was to capture the village of Montauban. Their task was to capture an enemy stronghold called the "Glatz Redoubt", roughly halfway between the German front line and the village. Its capture was key to the success of the whole of 30th Division's attack on the village. They had spent days away from the front line training in every detail of the attack. At 5am, the men were given a breakfast of dry bread, cheese and water and were told to fill their water bottles. At 6.45, they were given the daily tot of rum.
For days, the enemy positions had been constantly shelled and this intensified in the final minutes before the whistles blew. Raymond and his "Pals" left the protection of their trenches at 7.30am on a front some 300 yards wide. "A" and "C" Companies led the way, with "B" and "D" companies following about 100 yards behind. Almost immediately, the troops were subjected to fire from a machine gun on their left. This single gun would account for many hundreds of deaths and injuries that day.
They advanced slowly, keeping behind the British artillery barrage which was creeping forward in front of them and by 8.26am, they were starting to enter the Redoubt. With a few minutes, it had been captured. "B" Company had been lucky and had only suffered about 15 casualties. It is probable that Raymond was one of them. The Battalion now turned its attention to defence and the men started deepening the trenches and sandbagging the parapets. Other battalions now leap-frogged them to capture the village in one of the few successes along the 17 mile battle front that day. 61 members of the 4th Pals had been killed. Included in the roll call of the dead were two other local men, Percy Harper and Wilfred Larmour.
His pal, Private Rigby, wrote to the family saying that Raymond had been killed instantly. Reporting his death, the Alderley and Wilmslow Advertiser (edition of 15 July 1916), noted that he had three brothers undertaking munitions work and another who was expecting to go on active service very soon. This brother was serving with what was described as the "heavy motor gun section". This was, actually, the tank section -still a very top secret and the tanks would not make their first appearance on the battlefield until mid-September 1916.