One Month on From our Visit to Belgium...
18 April 2018
Amazed, inspired, grateful were the emotions which I felt during the service that took place at Manchester Cathedral on Sunday 15th April to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Manchester Hill.
On 21st March 1918, the 16th Battalion, Manchester Regiment (part of the Manchester Pals) was destroyed in battle. Exactly 100 years ago on Sunday, the city and regiment came together to mourn their loss in Manchester Cathedral. The battalion was the regiment's and city's first Pals Battalion and was raised in the city's heart. Members of the battalion would no doubt have worshipped in the cathedral with their friends and families. That to me was very surreal... members of the Manchester Pals had sat in this very cathedral praying with their families for victory in the war.
The service itself was very insightful as it had a mix of prayers and information. On the morning of the battle, the colonel, The Duke of Lancaster Regiment Brigadier PS Rafferty MBE, read to the men a passage from the Gospel of St John. "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you to go to prepare a place for you?" This particular Gospel passage was used as the men about to fight could really relate to it. Jesus is explaining in the Gospel to his disciples that there will be a place for them in Heaven and not to be troubled about the idea of dying. I think that would have been the surreal moment when they realised that they would fight and maybe die.
During the service, a letter written by Captain John Guest, aged 24, from Orrell Mount near Wigan was read out.
"Dear Mother and Father,
We have now settled down in the line so I am now going to write everyday if possible; of course it is not always possible as you know.
It is very quiet here but of course it started raining this morning, the first day in the line, and it has not made things very cheerful for the men. It is fearfully muddy and having to walk round the line, one is caked with mud up to the knees.
This last 36 hours I have had one and a half hours sleep, so you will guess what I feel like, especially as most work comes at night. Two more officers have proceeded to England, so things are looking fairly bright.
Well I must close now close in order to get as much work done before I get to bed.
Love to all, your affectionate son
This letter was written just one day before John tragically died in the battle of Manchester Hill. This letter really surprised me as John was from Orrell Mount which is very near to my house. My dad, Martin, had this to say about the letter "It gives you an insight to life in the trenches as it says 'in the last 36 hours I have had one and a half hours sleep'. This letter made me feel grateful that these men fought for our country. It also make me feel sad that boys as young as 15 died for the future generation."
While we look back to remember their willingness and sacrifice, we can all be inspired by their courage today and in the future. May the Battle of Manchester Hill always be remembered.
by Niamh, 9C