Rank: Private
Number: 27811
Unit: 2nd Battalion South Lancashire Regiment
Date of Death: 21 October 1916
Age: 20
Cemetery: Grandcourt Road Cemetery, Grandcourt, Somme, France

Edward was born in Compstall, the son of James Alfred Mycock and Mary Ellen Mycock. James died in the first few months of 1900, aged 29. The following year, when a census was taken, Mary, then 32, was living at 184 George Street with her six children. Edward, then 4, was the youngest son. His other siblings were William (10), Hananh (9), Thomas (7), Lena (6) and Clara (2).

Edward travelled to Hyde to enlist in the army in early 1916 and his service number suggests he was one of a batch of new recruits who, after training, joined the Battalion in France in the July.

After a period in reserve, the Battalion went back into the front line on 15 October, north of the village of Courcellette on the Somme. The British Army had advanced very slowly since the start of the battle on 1 July and there had been many thousands of casualties. The day was spent cleaning and improving the trenches. It was reported that they found many German dead in these captured positions - most wearing gas masks. On the 17th, they were withdrawn to the support trenches.

On Thursday, 19 October, they again moved forward to a position known as Stuff Redoubt ready for an attack the following day. On arrival in the front line, they were told the attack had been cancelled due to the heavy rain. The day was spent again clearing trenches but also digging graves in expectation of the coming casualties. The War Diary notes that everyone was very wet and covered in mud. The condition of the tracks and trenches leading to the front line meant it was very difficult to bring up the evening's rations. The next day, the operation was again postponed due to the vile weather.

Just after midday on Saturday, 21st October, the British artillery opened a barrage and this was answered by the German guns a few minutes later. Orders were given for Edward and his mates to attack immediately. They rushed the 400 yards to the enemy trench. The War Diary reports that the "spirit of all ranks was wonderful and men went over the parapet in very fine style arriving in the enemy's trench about 12.15." There had been few casualties in the attack and most of these had been caused by men becoming intermingled with the British artillery shelling.

A few Germans were found in the trench with many other coming up from "dug-outs". About 50 were killed in the further fighting with others being forced back into their communication trenches where about 400 surrendered. The Battalion started to consolidate its position almost immediately but, throughout the day, a considerable number of casualties were suffered from shell and sniper fire. During the afternoon, groups of the Lancashires pushed forward into the German trench system, capturing one machine gun and destroying several others.

The attack had been a success, with the units either side also capturing their objectives. During the night the new front line was quiet, but their starting position at Stuff Redoubt was obliterated by German shelling. Edward had been one of 45 soldiers killed during the day's fighting. He was, however, only posted as being missing at the time. It would be nearly another year before the War Office made an official presumption that he must have been killed. On Sunday, 2 September 1917, a Memorial service was held for him at Compstall Wesleyan Chapel.

Grandcourt Road Cemetery was created in the spring of 1917, when the British advance had made the original No Man's Land safe enough to recover bodies. Edward's body must have been found even later than this, perhaps, even after the Armistice when the battlefields were being cleared prior to the land returning to civilian use. Also buried in the Cemetery is another local man, Arthur Brown, killed the same day.

In the early 1920s, when the War Graves Commission collated its casualty information, Mary Mycock had moved from Compstall and was living at 106 Hilldrop Terrace, Stockport Road, Marple. Edward is commemorated on both village memorials.

Further information about Edward, including a photograph, can be found in the book "Remembered" by P Clarke, A Cook and J Bintliff.

(Note: Original research into the Battalion's actions by John Hartley for the Cheadle & Gatley War Memorials website)

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