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Remembered Today:

Pte E. H. Carter, 19th Manchesters, KIA 31/07/17 on 21st Birthday


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I thought I’d share this short write up covering a 1914 star trio to Emmanuel Harry Carter as today marks 100 years since his death on his 21st birthday. Harry was killed in action on the 31st July 1917 while serving with the 19th Battalion (4th City Pals) Manchester Regiment. For many years his death was missed by the CWGC and he was only added to the Menin Gate in 2004.

I don't have a photo of the chap, so if (by chance) any member do have a photo, a copy of would be fantastic.

Emmanuel Harry Carter was born on the 31st July 1896 to Emmanuel and Harriett Carter of 13 Bounder Street, Stepney. He was baptised on the 13th September 1896, and the records list his father as a carter. By the 1901 census he was living at 60 Dale Road with his parents as well as his older sister Emily, and younger siblings William and Clara. By the 1911 censes the family had moved again and were now living in 22 Condor Street, Limehouse, and the family had also grown with the addition of two more girls (Amy and Minnie) and two further boys (George and Ernest).

Harry, he seems to have used his middle rather than his first name, was listed as working as a van boy when the 1911 census was taken. This trade seems to have been the reason he joined the Remounts section of the Army Service Corps on the 24th September 1914, and the newly appointed Private Harry Carter was given the number RTS/2392, before being posted to the 2nd Base Remount Depot. His papers describe him as being 5’ 6½” tall, with a fresh complexion, brown eyes, brown hair and a mole on his right cheek.

The men who formed the Remounts seem to have found themselves serving overseas very quickly and Harry was no exception to the rule. There is a little confusion as to when Harry first arrived in France as his MIC suggested he landed in France on the 26th September 1914 while his service file states 3rd October 1914. Either way, within a maximum of nine days Harry had gone from being a civilian in London to a member of the BEF in France.

Although Harrys service papers survive, they do not provide a great deal of information regarding his early career. They have also been damaged as they are part of the ‘burnt series’. However, they do suggest that he may not have always been the most disciplined soldier, and on the 18th July 1915 he was charged with disobeying a Depot Order. Even a spell back in the UK, lasting from the 6th January 1916 to the 31st March 1916, does not seem to have helped as he was back in trouble on the 4th March 1916 for being absent without leave and was confined to barracks for 7 days. This doesn’t seem to have been very effective as on the 10th March 1916 he broke out of the barracks and was again absent, this time for five days. On return he was sentenced to another 14 days confined to barracks. Perhaps the draw of home was too much temptation! Whatever the story, he was sent back to France on the 31st march 1916 to rejoin his unit.

Harry was again back in the UK from the 16th September, but the absences seem to have continued and Harry was again absent from the 16th September 1916 to the 22nd September which resulted in him being fined seven days pay. He was then reported as ‘absent from tattoo’ on the 4th October 1916 resulting in 3 days confined to camp, and he overstayed his leave over Christmas 1916 which resulted in 20 days confined to barracks. This latter offence was also followed by a new posting, and on the 1st January 1917 Harry was given the new number 47577, sent back to France, and transferred to the Manchester Regiment. A few weeks later, possibly after he had ‘served his time’ for his last offence, he joined the 19th Battalion, 4th City Pals, (part of 30th Division) on the 20th January 1917.

Harry’s first couple of months with the 19th Battalion seems to have been relatively quiet with spells in and out of the trenches, but in the 28th March the Battalion was ordered up to Madeleiene Redoubt to supply carrying parties. From here the Battalion was moved up to the front line and over the following days the men were involved in the attacks on Henin-sur-Cojeul ebfore being relieved on the 3rd April.

By the 23rd the Battalion were back in the front line where they were tasked with crossing the Cojeul River and occupying the old British lines south east of Heninel, and late in the afternoon of the 23rd the Battalion was ordered to attack a line overlooking Cherisy with the 18th Manchester Regiment, another Pals battalion. The attack was supposed to be launched with A, B and C Companies attacking, and D Company acting as support. However, the D Company Commander had been killed before he gave the orders which resulted in D Company remaining in the trenches. Unfortunately the attack was not a great success with many of the attacking force being shelled by their own artillery, while the trenches were found to be strongly manned by the German garrison. By the following morning all of the officers in the attacking companies had become casualties, and many other casualties were suffered before the Battalion were relieved on the 28th April.

After a brief spell in Arras, Harry and the 19th Battalion found themselves in the Ypres Sector where they were to spend most of June and July. By late July the Battalion were near Dickebusch and were preparing for a large new offensive which would become known as Passchendaele. The start date for this attack would be the 31st July 1917, Harrys 21st birthday.

On the 30th July, the eve of the attack and Harrys birthday, the men of the 19th Battalion moved up to the area around Crab Crawl Tunnel to prepare for an attack on the German line east of Ypres. The Battalion was split with HQ, A and B Companies in Crab Crawl Tunnel, and C and D Companies in Maple Copse.

The Manchester Regiment Forum website provides the following overview of the action that followed (http://www.themanchesters.org):

At 3.50am A and B Companies began to file out of the tunnel. Almost immediately after the advance started the entrances to the tunnel began to fill up with wounded men and others trying to get into the Tunnel. This hampered the men trying to get out – not helped by the darkness and a heavy barrage from the German artillery. The men tried to regroup in the no-mans land in front of the German defences, but momentum and cohesion was lost from the start. Half the Officers of both Companies became casualties before even crossing the British front line.

C and D Companies began to move up from Maple copse and along the Observatory ridge road. A heavy German barrage on this route was put down and the two Companies suffered many casualties. D Company lost two of its Officers and lost its formation. On reaching the firing line it was not in sufficient strength to push the attack any further.

C Company, although suffering heavy losses, remained under the Command of the Company Commander and on passing through the enemy barrage shook out into extended line in Platoon formation. They pressed on, but lost direction, veering too far to the left of their objective. An attempt was made to continue the advance, but the enemy barrage and machine gun fire intensified and swept the ground in front of Company. The men started to consolidate the position they occupied, digging in and attempting to hold what they had against increasing artillery and machine gun fire. The rain fell heavily for the rest of the day and by the middle of the third day, the men were standing waist deep on the shattered and flooded battlefield. On the Evening of the 2nd July, the Company withdrew and rejoined the rest of the Battalion.

Casualties for the above action were:

16 Officers and 283 other ranks killed, wounded or missing

Emmanuel Harry Carter was one of the men killed in action on the 31st July 1917, his 21st birthday. His body was not recovered or identified.

In the months that followed no news came forward about Harry, and he was eventually declared as dead. In late October 1917 his effects form was returned stating that any personal belongings should be despatched to his mother, Harriet Carter, who was now living at 186 Rhodeswell Road, Limehouse. Interestingly the form, and the personal effects record, also noted that his estate should be divided equally between his mother and Miss Rose Dadem. Was she a sweetheart? Was this the reason he had been absent so often during his postings back in the UK?

Although it was clear that Harry had been killed in action on the 31st July 1917, a fact coveted by his service records, he was sadly missed from early rolls and his death was not initially commemorated the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Indeed, it seems he was not remembered until early 2004 when his name was added to the Menin Gate at Ypres, some 87 years after his death on his 21st birthday, and the opening day of the battle that would become known as Passchendaele.

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I enjoyed reading this.  I'm a bit surprised Emanuel is commemorated on the Menin Gate, rather than Tyne Cot Memorial.  Do you know why?


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  • 3 months later...


Thankyou so much for taking the time to post this, what a wonderful thing to find this information about my maternal Great Uncle 'Sonny' after all these years.

It took us 100 years to find him as my Nan (Clara) and her sisters (Amy & Min) always referred to him as Sonny & we had no other information to go on, we also always assumed that, being from London, he would be in a London Regiment or, at least a Regiment based in the South East.

The fact that he is called Emmanuel, listed as Harry and known as Sonny may explain why he wasn't commemorated.

Earlier this year we found the bronze memorial plaque (in the name of Harry) and a couple of letters written by Sonny to my Nan where his Regiment is listed as The Manchesters - Bingo! The guys at their website managed to find some more information for me and here I am.

Along with the memorial plaque we also have a couple of letters written (we think) from the trenches. If anyone is interested I'll try to get legible copies made? Sadly I don't think we have any photographs but I haven't been through everything yet........

Once again, thanks for posting this, I really do think it would have meant the world to my Nan & her sisters that Sonny wasn't forgotten.

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  • 8 months later...

I was responsible for presenting the evidence required to have Harry properly commemorated on the Menin Gate. The small amount of money I spent on his death certificate was the least I could do to make it happen. It was a real pleasure to visit and see his name included on the Addenda Panel in Ypres. I had bought his 1914 Trio a few years previously from Philip Burman. The medals are no longer in my possession but at least you know (bomber) that they're out there somewhere.



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Glassblower, what else can I say but thankyou.

To see Sonny commemorated on the Menin Gate was something I'll never forget.



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  • 1 month later...

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