Albert MINSHALL
Rank: Private
Number: 49533
Unit: 11th Battalion CHESHIRE Regiment
Date of Death: 16 February 1917
Age: 32
Cemetery: Pont-de-Nieppe Communal Cemetery, Nord, France

Albert had been born in Gatley and still lived in the village, most probably with his parents at 76 Church Road. He worked in Old Trafford.

He enlisted, at Chester, in April 1916.

On the day he died, Albert was in the front line trenches at Bizet. This is a small village just across the border into Belgium, north of Armentieres. There had been a long period of frost, but it was now starting to thaw, causing conditions in the trenches to become very bad.

There was a common belief amongst the high command of the opposing armies that the stagnation of trench warfare led to a "laissez faire" attitude amongst the men. In order to maintain an aggressive posture, the trench raid became a regular feature. Small groups of soldiers would be ordered across No Man's Land to the enemy trench with the intent of capturing some prisoners (to gain intelligence) and to kill anyone else they found. Not only was this thought to improve the morale of the raiders, but it also meant the enemy could never completely relax.

At 3am on 16 February, the Germans fired a heavy barrage of trench mortar shells onto the sector occupied by the 11th Cheshires. Under cover of this, the enemy succeeded in raiding the trench. The Battalion's War Diary notes that "they did not remain more than five minutes, but succeeded in capturing three men of a post which was isolated."

It would seem Albert was seriously wounded by the mortars. After his death, Private Pimblott wrote to the family saying that he had carried Albert out of the firing line, under heavy fire. However, he had died a few hours later in an ambulance.

One of the three men captured in the raid was William Mitchell.

(NB: Original research by John Hartley for the Cheadle & Gatley War Memorials website)

   
           
   
     
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