Tuesday, 24 November 2015

More from Tony Goulding ...............Another War Memorial Anomaly in Chorlton-cum-Hardy

I recently wrote about the curious double entry on one of Chorlton-cum-Hardy's War Memorials, the one at Manchester Road, Methodist's and it is with a certain amount of trepidation that I now refer to a possible anomaly on another at St.Werburghs Church.

Included in the roll of 40 names are two "Blaydon’s" "C" and "E".
"C" has remained a bit of an enigma, however, "E" I have been able to trace viz.

Eric Blaydon
(K.i.A. 1/7/1916 France)

Eric was a private in the Manchester Regiment, 19th.Battalion and like so many others his name is memorialized on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme Battlefield.

He has a very interesting family background. Eric was born, in April 1891, in Earlsfield, Middlesex to Avey Blaydon, a commercial clerk, and his wife, a divorcee, Caroline Augusta Page(1) (nee. Rhind).

The family moved to Manchester sometime in 1894, initially at 16, Church (now Chequers) Road and then at 20, Hartington Road. Soon after their arrival in Chorlton-cum-Hardy came the arrival of Eric's brother Charles Caple Boyd Blaydon wrongly, assumed that this person would turn out to be the C.Blaydon on the memorial.

This is definitely not the case as Charles C.B.'s story before, after and during the 1914-1918 war is exceptionally well covered in the available documents as follows:
1901 Census

Living with family at Hartington Road Father, mother, three brothers (Richard Avey, Lionel Eric and Harold Jack) and four sisters (4year old twins Enid Mabel and Edna Isabel plus Kathleen Augusta and Helen Gertrude).

Following the death of their mother in October 1904 the family broke up ---- by the time of the:-

1911 Census
Charles C.B., by then an apprentice tinsmith, was living at 177, Moss Lane East as the adopted son of John Statham, a joiner/builder and Mary Ann, his wife.

Richard A. had immigrated to Canada where he joined the Canadian Army - reaching the rank of Sergeant-Major before the outbreak of the War which saw him land in France as a member of the 6th.Battalion, 2cnd. Infantry Brigade in the first Canadian contingent.

Following four months on the Western Front he was ordered back to Winnipeg, Manitoba where he had attained the rank of Captain before receiving there, as named next of kin, notification of his brother’s death.
He later lived in North Hollywood Los Angeles where he became an American citizen and married at least twice.

Kathleen A.H. was residing in a "rescue home" at 7,Boniface St. Lambeth, London She married in Portsmouth the following year and had a daughter and a son , christened Avey, there during the war before returning to Manchester giving birth to another boy, Robert J.B. , in 1922
Lionel Eric was working as a clerk in a shipping office and boarding with a Mrs. Elizabeth Gresty at 2, Randolph Street, Higher Crumpsall.

There is some evidence to suggest that, in the aftermath of his wife's untimely death, Avey moved to his home area of East Anglia taking some of his younger children with him.

Certainly the twins Edna and Enid Isabel appear in the 1911 census living as boarders of George Theedam, a retired Farm labourer on Stanway Street, London Road, Nr.Colchester, and Essex. Both girls later returned to Manchester to live.

Unfortunately I could not trace either Avey or his two youngest children Helen Gertrude and Harold Jack in the 1911 census.

However Harold Jack reappears in the records of the Royal Navy. He saw active service towards the end of the hostilities, joining the fleet on 13th. May 1918 (less than 4 months after his 18th. birthday) signing up for a 5 year engagement. He was "invalided" out on the 15th. May, 1923 when his option for a 7 year extension was not taken up.

A year into his service Harold married Evelyn Cook in 1919 at Stockport. The couple named their first child, born the following year, Eric in memory of the brother killed on the Somme. (3)
 Charles C.B.'s War Record

These documents cleanly indicate that this soldier survived the conflict and returned to civilian life. Despite being less than 3 months married to a Margaret Mason at the outbreak of the War Charles evidently was determined to "do his bit”.

He initially enlisted into The (Kings) Liverpool Regiment just a month after the declaration of war on 4th.September, 1914. Having been discharged as being medically unfit for service (due to a rupture), he was not deterred and successfully re-joined the colours with the Manchester Regiment from the 12th. January, 1915, serving in the 16th. and 17th Battalions until getting a discharge on de-mobilization on 27th February, 1919

Returning to Salford he settled down  with his wife Margaret ,the couple producing two sons the first born in 1931 also being named in memory of his "fallen" brother(3)

All of this poses the question who then is the C Blaydon on the memorial? A trawl through several databases including that of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and "Soldiers Died in the Great War" on Find

My Past has produced no obvious answers; neither did perusing the 1901 and 1911 censuses of the environs of the church.

I can only postulate that amid the devastation and disruption of the immediate post-war years, together with his move to Salford and with the absence of any other family in the area to refute it, Charles's death was presumed and his name added to the memorial next to his brother's. Otherwise it remains a mystery!

Pictures; St Warburgh’s Church, 2015 from Tony Golding, interior date unknown, courtesy of Miss Templer from the Lloyd Collection


1) Avery Blaydon was "cited" in the divorce case of Philip Homer Page vs. Caroline Augusta Page 1889

2) Charles Caple Boyd was born on 7th September and christened at St. Clements on the 27th. October, 1894)

3) Very sadly both these young Eric’s were to die in infancy

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