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Remembered Today:

Sgt. Henry Atherton MM, 12906, B Battery, 77 Brigade, RFA - 1917


Ivor Anderson

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Sgt. Henry Atherton MM, 12906, B Battery, 77 Brigade, RFA

 

Parents: John Atherton & Mary Ellen Rowbottom married 11 August 1888, Pemberton Parish.

Birth: Pemberton, Lancashire Q4 1894.

Baptised: Pemberton Parish Church 7 October 1894. Parents John & Ellen living 10 Fleet Street, Pemberton, Wigan. Father a ‘collier’.

1901 Census - aged 6, living with parents John & Ellen and siblings John (13), Eliza (12), William (5) and James (1) at 65 Loch Street, Lamberhead Green, Orrell, Lancashire.

1911 Census: Living with parents and siblings William (14), James (11), Elizabeth (7) and Peter (3) at 65 Loch Street, Orrell, Lancashire. Henry an ‘underground colliery labourer’.

 

War Service

Entered France 28 August 1915. Served with 77th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. No service record found. MM & WW1 medal trio.

 

Wigan Observer 17 March 1917.

Sjt 12906 H. Atherton RFA (Wigan).

Mr & Mrs Atherton of 65 Loch Street, Lamberhead Green have received news that their son Sgt H. Atherton has received congratulations from his officer for the honour due to him from HM the King in awarding him the Military Medal for his gallant conduct on the field last month. Sgt Atherton enlisted in September 1914 in the RFA. During his stay in France he has been gassed twice and wounded once. Before enlisting he worked as a drawer at the Orrell colliery.

 

MM in LG supplement 30001, p.2990, 26 March 1917. Schedule no. 70549 (for action near Poperinghe).

 

Died of Wounds 13 July 1917 aged 23.

 

A report in the Wigan Observer 25 August 1917 records that he was wounded in action on the night of the 11th July 1917, a day after he returned from 10 days leave. He died two days later from wounds received. His Captain wrote to his parents:

"It is hard to write bad news, but however bad it may be it is more than made up by the splendid was in which your son met his death. He is a great loss to the Battery, and in any hot corner we could rely on his setting a fine example of coolness and courage.  He met his end putting out a dump of ammunition while the enemy were still shelling and it was his splendid devotion to duty that cost him his life. He was struck in the head with a piece of shell, and was instantly unconscious. He died in hospital two days later, but can have suffered little or no pain. The officers of the battery join in sending you their heartfelt condolences."

 

Also included within his Captain's letter:

"Sergt. Atherton was killed whilst putting out an ammunition dump that had been lit by the enemy.  Before he went he said, "Come on boys, we'll show them how to win medals", when over came another shell and a piece hit him in the head, making him unconscious.  He died later in hospital. He was a fine fellow, and was praised by the whole of the battery."

 

Buried: Mendinghem Military Cemetery, Belgium (10 miles west of Ypres) I.F.27

 

Photo from the Wigan Observer 25 August 1917

 

Screen Shot 2020-09-09 at 12.12.23 2.jpg

Edited by Ivor Anderson
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Action & MMs recorded in war diary of 77 Brigade RFA on 8th February 1917 (TNA WO-95-203-5). Awards listed in LG 26 March 1917.

 

Atherton 8-2-17.png

Edited by Ivor Anderson
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The MC citation for 2nd Lt. John Francis Hagarty was in the same London Gazette supplement (30001) of 26 March 1917 - (for action near Poperinghe).

The 5 MMs awarded (all from B Company, 77 Brigade RFA) were:

Schedule no. 70547 Sgt. W. J. Stiles 52213

Schedule no. 70548 Sgt. H. R. King 52092

Schedule no. 70549 Sgt. Henry Atherton 12906

Schedule no. 70550 Bdr. T, F. Ryan 49468

Schedule no. 70551 Gnr. H. E. Thorton L/39251

Screen Shot 2020-09-10 at 09.23.33.png

Edited by Ivor Anderson
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Brilliant! Great to have these. Thanks again Chris.

I'm not on FMP. It amazes me that so many different documents are spread over so many sites!

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  • 3 weeks later...

The CWGC site states that Henry Atherton is buried in Mendinghem Military Cemetery, Belgium (c.10 miles west of Ypres) in grave I.F.27 with the text 'May He Rest in Peace' inscribed under his personal details. In the absence of a photo of his grave I note that this record states 'one cross' beside him and Gunner Mumford in F.28?

Does this mean that they share a headstone? Like others in the same cemetery: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mendinghem_Military_Cemetery-5206.JPG  Clips from his grave record on the CWGC site:

 

Atherton Grave.png

Atherton Grave Text.png

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  • 3 months later...
Ivor Anderson

Thank you. Here is Henry's baptism entry from the Pemberton church (off Ancestry):

 

Bap 1894.png

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  • 5 weeks later...
Ivor Anderson

Thanks to a helpful tip from a GWF member I have been able to purchase Henry Atherton's Victory Medal.

The vendor had bought it from a boot sale in Wigan, Lancashire just before the lock downs. Wonder where his star & war medal are? :)

 

Screen Shot 2021-02-17 at 10.35.40.png

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