Samuel Spencer WHALLEY
Rank: Lance Corporal
Number: 200082
Unit: 1/5th Battalion LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS
Date of Death: 15 September 1917
Age: 26 (based on 1901 Census)
Cemetery: Ypres Reservoir Cemetery, Ieper, Belgium

Samuel was born in Whitefield and was living in nearby Heywood when the national census was taken in 1901. His father was John Whalley and he had a much older brother, 25 year old Holmes Whalley. John was married to 37 year old Betsy and, bearing in mind Holmes' age, she was, presumably, his second wife. It's not known if she was mother to 10 year old Samuel, but certainly was to young John, then aged only 1.

At some point, Samuel got married. This may have been in 1909, when the family history website, FreeBMD, records that a man of that name married in the Prestwich area. By the time of the Great War, the couple were living at 86 Stockport Road, Romiley and had a daughter.

Reporting his death, the local newspaper said that he had enlisted in August 1914 and went to Egypt with a Territorial Battalion. It was reported that his contracted time as a Territorial expired in June 1917 and he had a month's leave before rejoining the army. His above service number dates to 1917. The newspaper also reported that during his time on active service, his right eye had become infected and he had to use his left eye and shoulder to shoot his rifle. This would have been an uncomfortable process as the cartridge case would be ejected across his face.

On 13 September, the Battalion relieved the 1/7th Battalion, Manchester Regiment in the support trenches behind the front line. The position was known as Ibex Reserve trench and was near to "Cambridge Road" - a major trench about 3 kilometres east of the town of Ypres (now Ieper).

Sergeant H Robinson wrote to Samuel's wife "He had just left his dug-out on the morning of 15th September when he was hit by a fragment of a shell and was killed instantaneously. It has upset all his pals for a truer friend never walked and I don't think he had an enemy in the Battalion. He was respected by all who knew him."

Samuel had been one of the Battalion's signallers and his comrade S Sims also wrote "Only half an hour before his death, I was talking to him on the telephone. All the lads are broken-hearted as he was liked by all of us. The lads who saw him say he was hit in three places and died instantly. Accept my sympathy will you all."

A final letter came from another mate, George T Marshall "Your husband was killed at 9.45am on Saturday, September 15th. No doubt it will be some comfort to you to know he suffered no pain, for he died before he touched the ground, having been struck through the head by a piece of shrapnel. We were like brothers, having fought side by side since the commencement of the War."

   
           
   
     
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