Sam suffers the indignity of having his name inscribed incorrectly, as Carnoll, on the Stockport War Memorial.
Sam's family originated in the Leicester area. His father, William Carnall, married Catherine Elizabeth Orton between October and December 1891. The following spring, their first child was born and he was named William. By 1894, the family had moved to the Stockport area and their next child, Edith, was born between January and March of that year. Samuel was born during the summer of 1896 and, two years later, his brother, John Henry, was born.
He was educated at North Reddish Council School and was a member of the Old Scholars' Association (and was, reportedly, its first member to be killed). Before he enlisted, Sam had worked as a tinsmith for T Gibson of Reddish.
It's not known if the family had any connections with Scotland and it is, therefore, not possible to determine why Sam should have chosen to join a Scottish Territorial Army battalion, but he joined up soon after War was declared (The 8th Argylls recruited nearly 250 men from the Manchester area). Perhaps he had friends who joined or it was a simple matter that he was taken with the idea of wearing a kilt.
It is known, from information supplied by the Regimental Museum, that Sam joined the 1/8 Battalion on active service, on 18 April 1915, as part of draft of replacement troops. The following January, he was provisionally promoted to Lance Corporal and he started to be paid at this rank with effect from 16 February 1916. On 27 July, he was given the acting rank of Corporal and this was made permanent (but unpaid), the following month.
By mid November 1916, the Battle of the Somme was drawing to a close. The village of Beaumont Hamel - an objective for the first day on 1 July - still lay in German hands On the night of 12/13 November, the Battalion moved into assembly positions in Hunters Trench and were ready by 3.20am to take part in a final "big push" to force the Germans out. They had all had hot soup before assembling. They would have needed it. The History of the 51st Division records the conditions they had come through. "The men floundered in the dark in mud over their ankles; the weight they carried was enormously augmented by the moisture that their clothing had absorbed and by the mud which glued itself to their kilts and which clung to their boots; the ground was ploughed up into a sea of shell holes, half filled with water. Forward movement of any kind called for considerable physical effort; to charge was out of the question. In some places men even became bogged up to their waists and were unable to extricate themselves from the morass, until parties of German prisoners could be organised to dig them out."
Just before zero hour, "A" Company moved into No Man's Land, ready to follow closely behind the protection of the creeping artillery barrage which would work its way towards the German positions. As the attack started, "B" company, which included Sam, left the trenches, followed by "C" and "D" Companies.
The artillery barrage allowed "A" Company to get within 15 yards of the German front line trench before they had to rush it. They were so quick that the Germans had no time to get out of their dug-outs and many were killed by British grenades.
Meanwhile, "B" Company had carried on the attack, capturing the German second line of trenches, and taking 50 prisoners. At 7am, "B" Company moved forward again, with the intent of re-enforcing the troops who, by now, were into the German fourth line. But as they started, they came under fire from a party of the enemy who had taken cover in nearby shell holes. This party had to be dealt with before the advance could re-start. By 9.20, the troops occupying the fourth line came under heavy artillery fire and it was necessary to withdraw back to the third line. Across the whole sector, the attack had been successful and, later in the day, the Battalion was able to move forward to new positions which it held until relieved.
Although the attack had been successful, the cost in casualties had been heavy. The mud and the churned up nature of the ground had meant that many men had been unable to keep up with the artillery barrage and, as such, had been unprotected. The Argylls lost 96 men killed or missing, including Samuel, and another 176 wounded.
It's understood that his younger brother, John, also served in the War and, afterwards, suffered fits as a result of his experiences. He died soon after.