Albert CLAYTON
Rank: Corporal
Number: 12760
Unit: 19th Battalion MANCHESTER REGIMENT
Date of Death: 2 April 1917
Age:
Cemetery: Henin Crucifix Cemetery, Henin-sur-Cojeul, Pas de Calais, France

Almost nothing is known of Albert's life. Regimental records published after the War indicate he had been born in the Stockport area and was still living in town when he enlisted into the army at Manchester.

He was married to Alice. Her maiden name isn't known, nor is the date of their marriage. Albert Clayton is not an uncommon name and Alice was a very common first name. Family history websites show a number of men of this name married women called Alice in the pre-War period in Stockport.

The 19th Battalion was the fourth of the "Pals" units raised by the Manchester Regiment, in September 1914. The men were organised into four companies: A, B, C & D. In the following January, approval was given to raise a fifth Company, of about 250 men. This is when Albert joined up and he was assigned to No. 17 Platoon in "E" Company. Some details of the recruitment and training period are here. Before the Battalion went overseas, in the November, they reduced back down to four companies having "weeded out" a number of unfit men.

In the middle of March 1917, the German Army started to withdraw to its prepared defences known the Allies as the Hindenberg Line. The British troops followed them closely, harrying wherever possible. One of these engagements would take place on 2 April around the village of Henin-sur-Cojeul, near the French town of Arras. For the 19th Battalion, only two companies Nos. 1 & 2 (originally A & B) would be involved and Albert was probably amongst them.

However, it cannot be discounted that Albert was attached to either No. 3 or 4 Company and, if so, may have been killed by shellfire. But this half of the battalion did not directly engage with the enemy.

Nos. 1 & 2 Companies had orders to support the 2nd Yorkshires and would follow closely behind them to "mop up" any pockets of German resistance. They were in their assembly positions by 4.40am and advanced at 5.15am.

As No. 1 Company entered Henin, it came under fire from snipers and one platoon had to withdraw some distance. They then fired rifle grenades onto the snipers. They also brought their light machine gun to bear on the enemy. The other three companies had an easier time of it and cleared their objectives quite quickly. The Company then held its position until relieved at 11.45pm.

On the left, No. 2 Company had also advanced. They also came under sniper fire as well as machine gun fire from the east of the village before securing the position which they held until 11.45pm.

In 1919, Alice Clayton married David Kelso in a civil ceremony registered at Stockport. In the early 1920s, she was known to be living at 22 Randolph Street, Shaw Heath.

   
           
   
     
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