Herbert Nidd was the son of John George NIdd of Queen's Gate, Manchester Road, Wilmslow, Cheshire and nephew of Mr & Mrs W Cooke, The Thorns, 103 Cheadle Road Cheadle Hulme. Herbert was born on 16 July 1877 in Higher Broughton, Salford. His mother, Sophie, died when he was 15, but she may have been divorced from George sometime before this as he remarried on September 1892. At some point, whilst he was a boy, he went to live with the Cookes and was regarded as a son. His sister, Annie Nidd continued to live with their father and stepmother in Wilmslow. Herbert's cousin, John Cooke, is also remembered on the Cheadle Hulme memorial.
Herbert had attended Warehousemen & Clerks School, Cheadle Hulme. He had spent some time living in London, moving back to this area in 1900. In 1914, was working for Manchester textile merchants, Sparrow, Hardwick & Co, as a mantle buyer. On 2 September 1914, he enlisted, as a private, in the 16th Battalion, Manchester Regiment (the first of the Manchester Pals). As with many middle class recruits, he was quickly commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on 27 October 1914. He was promoted to Lieutenant with effect from 1 June 1916. Around this time, Herbert took command of "B" Company and these new responsibilities were noted with the award of a temporary rank of Captain. This was made permanent with effect from 27 March 1917.
Herbert's service papers describe him well. He was 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighed 136 pounds. He had brown hair, blue eyes and a fresh complexion.
He saw service at Gallipoli and in France. After three and a half years continuous service, he had been offered six months leave at home, but only took 10 days.
On 21 March 1918, the Germans launched a massive offensive driving the British back across many miles of the hard-won gains of the previous years. It was not until the 25th that the Manchesters found themselves under attack and had to withdraw. The next day found them at the outskirts of the village of Bucquoy. This had a certain irony with the troops as they had been "at rest" here eight months previously. There were no prepared trenches and the men had to find whatever cover they could. For Herbert and the rest of "B" Company, there was precious little to be found. They held this position all day under frequent artillery shelling. Over the next two days, the enemy continually shelled the British front line and the German infantry made gallant attempts to advance, but without real success. The Battalion's War Diary, for the 27th, records that, at 11.30am, the shelling increases to a bombardment which continues until dusk. There was constant enemy movement during the day. "Lines of them advance, apparently to attack, but attack is not pushed home on our front. Enemy is apparently endeavouring to secure an assembly position in shallow dead ground about 200 yards from our own front. Our rifles and Lewis Guns do a lot of execution. Our casualties considerable."
For his actions during this time, Herbert was awarded the Military Cross. His citation reads "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty under an intense hostile bombardment. At a critical moment, when the enemy appeared to be working round his flank, he quickly rallied his men and counter-attacked, driving them back. He continually walked about under heavy fire, encouraging his men and showing a total disregard for his personal safety."
Herbert had also received a minor wound but he continued to be "at duty". After this, the Battalion went into "rest" during May. Not long after this, Herbert's health deteriorated and, on 18 July, he was hospitalised, first in France and then in Leicester. He was subsequently invalided out of the army and returned to live in Cheadle Hulme with his aunt and uncle. The history of the Battalion records "We had always known that his grit and determination exceeded his physical capacity, but his splendid sense of duty led him to ignore this fact, although it was common knowledge that had he so wished he could have been invalided out of the army long before. After severe trials at Gallipoli, a campaign he went through from June to evacuation (he was one of the very few men to whom the evacuation was irksome), he had a relapse in hospital in Egypt for some weeks. The Bucquoy fight, however, had proved too much for him and he never really recovered from the ill effects of it. This was accentuated by the death of two of his near and dear friends..............His name can be added to the long list of victim of the great German offensive in March."
After a long period of continued illness, Herbert died at home in Cheadle Hulme. His death certificate records cause of death as acute endocarditis and epileptiform convulsions. His family, including his stepmother, were with him when he died. Herbert is not commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. This is, presumably, because it was not considered that his illness was attributable to his military service. The family appears to have tried to get recognition and, on 29 June 1919, his GP had written to the War Office "He had dysentery and rheumatism whilst in Egypt on service and was invalided home on account of the heart condition which became progressively worse."
With thanks, for family information, to Mel Morris, Burlington, Ontario, Canada. It is not known where Herbert is buried, although it is presumably in the Cheadle Hulme or Wilmslow area. Any information would be most welcome.
(UPDATE.......February 2008......Two fellow members of the Great War Forum have recently discovered Herbert's burial records and confirm that he lies in a family plot at Willow Grove Cemetery. My thanks to both Pals. JH)
(Original research by John Hartley for the Cheadle & Gatley War Memorials website)