Samuel Tunstall had been born in Cheadle Hulme. According to the 1901 Census, he was then living at 6 Market Place, Cheadle Hulme with his father, also called Samuel and three older sisters, Laura, Louisa and Minnie. His mother is not recorded and, presumably, had died by this time.
Nothing else is known if his life until he joined the army. This was at the beginning of September 1914 when, with the War just a month old, he enlisted into third of the "Pals" battalions of the Manchester Regiment. He was assigned to No. 11 Platoon in "C" Company. Some details of the men's recruitment and training can be found here.
After training, the Battalion left to go on active service in France on 8 November 1915 and, on 6 January 1916, took over front line trenches for the first time near the village of Vaux, near to the River Somme.
The Battalion was in support of the leading troops on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, on 1 July and Samuel would have been in a major attack for the first time on 9 July.
On 29 July, the Battalion started a three mile march towards its assembly trenches just outside the recently captured Trones Wood, only a few hundred yards from the ground captured at the beginning of the month. The march was undertaken in the greatest discomfort as the men had to wear gas masks as an enemy attack was constantly feared.
At 5am, the next day, the Battalion slowly advanced through the morning mist towards the village of Guillemont. "C" Company, under Captain Blythe's leadership, quickly captured houses on the western edge of the village. By 5.45, the Company had captured about 100 Germans belonging to the 22nd Bavarian Regiment, but, also, had come under heavy machine gun fire from a nearby quarry. There were reports of hand-to-hand fighting with the German garrison. "A" Company now moved up to support their comrades in "C" and joined the fight.
"B" and "D" Companies had also advanced. As they did so, "D" lost its direction and came across thick German barbed wire which held them and made them easy targets for the enemy machine guns. There were very many casualties.
At the same time, the enemy had started to shell the area between Trones Wood and the village. This was preventing reinforcements moving up but, more importantly, meant that the Manchesters could not be resupplied with ammunition.
Casualties continued throughout the morning and, by 2.30pm, the Battalion had, effectively, ceased to exist. Some 450 men had been killed, wounded, taken prisoner or were missing. Samuel was one of 102 who were dead - most had not reached the village and were lying in No Man's Land. Among them were two other local men, James Lunt and Arthur Dunn. It would be some six weeks before the area was fully secured and the bodies could be recovered and buried. It is no surprise that, by this time, it was not possible to identify many of the men.
(Original research by John Hartley for the Cheadle & Gatley War Memorials website)