Martin KNAVESEY
Rank: Private
Number: 40215
Unit: 1/5th Battalion South Lancashire Regiment
Date of Death: 30 August 1918
Age: 25
Cemetery: Houchin British Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France

Patrick Knavesey and Margaret Dempsey had married in the late 1880s at Stockport. They were probably Roman Catholics and, at that time, Catholic churches were not licensed for marriages, so they had been obliged to go through a civil ceremony as well, no doubt, as having a service in church. Not long after, they went to live in Rhode Island, USA, but did not take up American citizenship. Martin was born there, but the family had returned to Stockport by 1901, when the Census records them living at 16 Port Street. Patrick worked as bricklayer's labourer. He and Margaret were then both aged 31.

By the time of the Great War, Martin was living at 86 Great Egerton Street with his father. The local newspaper, reporting his death, makes no mention of his mother. The family history website, CheshireBMD, records the death of a woman of the right age in 1905. He was working as a labourer in the Permanent Way Department of the London & North Western Railway Company, at Longsight. He is commemorated on the Company's Roll of Honour.

Martin's army service number is consistent with him enlisting, possibly as a conscript, in 1916 and he is known to have travelled to Chester to join up. The number is also one of those issued to soldiers in one of the Regiment's "New Army" battalions, formed for the duration of the War only. The 7th and 8th Battalions were disbanded in February 1918, with many soldiers being transferred to the 1/5th Territorial Battalion.

At the beginning of August 1918, Allied forces launched an attack on the German positions at Amiens that would spell the end of the War three months later. Although there would be weeks of hard fighting left, there would be no more defeats.

On 24 August, the South Lancashires were brought into the advance for the first time. They formed part of a successful attack east of the French village of Givenchy (about 8 kilometres east of the town of Bethune). A few days later, they had pushed forward to near Calloux (? spelling).

The Battalion's War Diary records that, at 3pm, two large fighting patrols from "B" and "D" Companies went out into No Man's Land to try and establish exactly where the enemy positions were. They found the Germans holding an advanced line of posts, probably in shell craters. The Germans immediately opened machine gun fire and there were also casualties from snipers. Martin was one of three men to be killed.

   
           
   
     
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