PETER HENRY 

Rank: Private
Service Number: 49621.
Regiment: 10th Bn. Cheshire Regiment Killed In Action Sunday 24th March 1918 Age 33County Memorial Congleton
Commemorated\Buried ARRAS MEMORIAL
Grave\Panel Ref: Bay 5 and 6.
France

Son of Mr. Phillip Henry and Mrs. Bridget Henry of 13 Cloonierin, Kilmore. Mayo, Ireland and husband of Mrs. Jane Henry (nee McGarry) of 18 and then 22 Dane Street, Congleton. They were married in a Civil Ceremony at Congleton in May 1915.

He had two children Catherine and Margaret. He had four sisters, Mary, Bridget, Winnie and Margaret along with two brothers, Michael and Phillip. In 1911 Peter was living in Hulme Walfield, Somerford Booths ,working as a farm labourer for a Mr. Charles Thomas Sproston.

Private Peter Henry enlisted into the 2/7th Battalion, the Cheshire Regiment at Macclesfield on the 25th of May 1915 at the age of 30. He was posted to the 3/7th Battalion on the 26th of June 1915. On the 7th of June 1916 the Battalion embarked from Southampton arriving in Rouen the following day. He joined the No 4 Infantry Base Depot in Rouen where he was posted to the 13th Battalion and issued with a new number. He was granted leave in England from the 15th to the 28th of December 1917. On the 6th of February 1918 he was transferred to the 10th Battalion, followed on the 27th of August with a move to the 9th Battalion. He later returned to the 10th Battalion.

The Kaiser's Battle is the name given by the Germans to a planned massive assault on the British positions in Picardy. The intent was to drive a wedge between the British and French armies and capture Amiens. It was believed that this would result in victory at last, and it nearly worked. Frontline positions would be overrun, with thousands killed or taken prisoner. All the gains of the previous two years were lost within a week. As a consequence of the confusion, the official War Diary records maintained by battalions are poor and the events, for many units, were pieced together after the battle from different sources. The story of the Cheshire's comes from the Regimental History. An attack had been expected for some time and preparations had been made. However, the swiftness and ferocity of the initial onslaught was totally unexpected. The Cheshire Battalions were in reserve when the attack started at dawn on the 21st of March 1918. On the 21st March, the 10th Battalion, who were attached to the 7th Brigade, 25th Division were at Achiet le Grand, 12 miles north west of the French town of Bapaume. At 06:00 hours, they were ordered forward to occupy 1000 yards of trench at Fremicourt, about 10 kilometres to the east. The trench was immediately deepened, and a series of holes 100 yards apart was dug as a support line. The 22nd was a quiet day and all the men could do was wait. At about 09:30 hours, on the 23rd the enemy tried to rush the trenches with a surprise attack on the left, but this was beaten off with rifle and machine gun fire at only 200 yards range. In the early afternoon, the Cheshire's positions were heavily shelled and then at 15:15 hours, the Germans attacked in four waves. This attack was again broken up by small arms fire. Later in the afternoon, a third attack met with similar results. During the night the Germans dug in about 150 yards in front of the Cheshire's trenches. On the morning of the 24th, there were signs that the enemy was about to attack again, and artillery support was requested. Unfortunately, the bombardment was inaccurate and many of the early shells fell short on the Cheshire's positions, causing many casualties. By the middle of the afternoon, a further withdrawal of the British line was ordered, and the Cheshire's were supposed to take up a position at Beugnatre. However, before they could occupy the position, the enemy came on in force and the Battalion was forced to fall back to Favreuil. They did this firing all the time and retiring slowly in an organised manner even though by now, all the company commanders and many other officers had become casualties. Although the Battalion War Diary does not mention casualty figures, it is known that Private Peter Henry was killed on the 24th of March, Lance Corporal Harry Horton M.M. was killed on the 23rd and another two Congleton soldiers were killed Lance Corporal Arthur Ball on the 22nd of March and Lance Corporal John McGarry M.M, on the 24th of March 1918.

Extract from the Congleton Chronicle 1918.

Official news has been received by Mrs. Jane Henry, of 22, Dane Street, Congleton, to the effect that her husband, Private Peter Henry, of the Cheshire Regiment was posted as missing on 24th of March 1918. Of course, it is generally known that the War Office, before notifying the nearest relatives of missing men, make an endeavour to cover broadly the whole field of possible witnesses of the missing soldiers fate and if he has unfortunately met his death upon the battlefield to place his relatives in position of definite information upon the subject. Mrs. Henry was aware of this, but she also realised that a report that a man is missing does not necessarily mean that he has been killed, as he may be in the hands of the enemy. Official reports that men are prisoners of war take some time to reach this country and it is probable that news from an unofficial source may prove more tangible. Therefore Mrs. Henry in her search for news of her husband, enlisted the services of Miss. Reade, who has done such good service in tracing, through the instrumentality of the Red Cross Society, missing local soldiers. The representatives of this body are given facilities at the hospitals and camps at home and overseas to collect information from wounded soldiers and Miss. Reade has received the following letter relative to Private Henry, which Mrs. Henry has handed to us for publication.

1/ 7th Cheshire Regiment                         Private Peter Henry, 49621                                   March 24th, 1918.

The last time I saw Henry was at about 16:00 hours on Palm Sunday. He was then lying in our front line, badly wounded. This was at ???, Heavy shelling was going on and the Germans had got up to the wire and we had to fall back.

Informant Private F. Parfelt,                   The Cheshire Regiment,                                        Tooting Hospital.

His friends in Congleton will hope that good news will yet be forthcoming of Private Henry.

He saw a good deal of fighting in France and was with the late Lance Corporal John McGarry (a Contemptible whose record of service was second to none) for 15 months. The latter died gloriously on the very day that Private Henry was posted as missing. His brother's in law Privates William and George McGarry, are still fighting for the cause in France.


Cheshire County Memorial Project would like to thank John and Christopher Pullen for this information on Peter.