Herbert HOOLE
Rank: Private
Number: 4357
Unit: 1/6th Battalion CHESHIRE REGIMENT
Date of Death: 8 September 1916
Age: 20
Cemetery: Guards’ Cemetery, Lesboeufs, Somme, France

Herbert was born in Heaton Mersey, the son of Thomas and Mary Hoole. At the time of the 1901 Census, the family was living at 38 Waston Street.  Thomas worked as a doubler at a local cotton mill. The children were listed as Samuel (9), Emma (7), Herbert (5), Thomas (3), Mary (1) and Lily (1 month).

The family later lived at 5 Kendall Street, South Reddish. By the time of the Great War, it would seem that Samuel Hoole had married and was living down the road at No. 34. When he left school, Herbert went to work at the Reddish Vale printworks and stayed there until he enlisted into the army on 1 September 1915.

He originally joined the 6th Cheshires - Stockport's Territorial Battalion - and trained with them, going overseas in early July 1916. He was part of a large group of re-enforcements. However, the Battalion had not seen major action and was virtually at full strength. Many of the men were re-assigned to other battalions and regiments. It can be said with certainty that Herbert was one of those re-assigned as his place of burial is very many miles away from where the 6th Cheshires were on the day he was killed.

It is not, however, possible to absolutely certain which unit he was assigned to, but it is known that a group of 87 men, many of them from Stockport, was assigned to the 1/5th Battalion, King's Own (Royal Lancaster) Regiment, on 24 July. Research indicates that this is the most probable unit and the Battalion's War Diary fits the recorded facts as follows:-

After he was killed, his Captain wrote saying Herbert was part of a group who had been working on the front line trenches. He had been hit by the fuse cap from an artillery shell and had died immediately. The War Diary confirms that the Battalion was in the southern sector of the Somme battlefield, near the captured village of Montauban and that they were, indeed, working to improve their front line trench system. The commander of "B" Company reported that, during the morning, a British artillery shell had fallen short killing one man. This was probably Herbert. He would have been 21 the next day. Two other men were buried by the shell and one is believed to have been Herbert Grundy.

The officer's letter continued "I am sorry to have lost such a good soldier as your son. He was out here only a short time but in that time a good many of his comrades in the Cheshires who joined the Battalion have been killed or wounded. On behalf of all the officers and men, I offer you and all his relations our sincere sympathy."

Herbert was buried, the same night, just behind the front line position and a small cross was placed on the grave. Many of these small burial areas were closed after the war, as the land was returned to civilian use. Herbert's body, like many others, was exhumed and moved to "concentration" cemeteries like the one at Lesboeufs, where his grave is now tended by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

The official paperwork for many of the men in Herbert's group of 87 re-enforcements seems never to have been properly processed. Perhaps this is no surprise in the chaos of the first weeks of the Battle of the Somme. Herbert therefore officially remains a soldier of the Cheshire Regiment. Herbert's name is inscribed on the South Reddish and Stockport war memorials. In fact, it would seem that his names is inscribed twice on the Stockport Memorial - once as a Cheshire and, again, as a soldier serving with one of the Lancashire regiments.

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