Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

Cyril Houghton Barnes

Cyril Houghton Barnes :

Cyril Houghton Barnes : (L to R) British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal; Special Constabulary Long Service Medal

(L to R) British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal; Special Constabulary Long Service Medal

Cyril was born on the 15th December 1896 in Lostock Gralam near Northwich in Cheshire. His father was called Herbert and his mother was Matilda. He was their oldest child, there was also a younger brother, Frederick. In 1891 Herbert ran a greengrocer's shop and the family lived at 8 Woodman Street in Stockport near Manchester.

Cyril followed his father into the grocery trade. By 1913 Herbert lived at 44 Stockport Road in Longsight, Manchester, and it is likely Cyril lived with him. He joined the 8th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment on the 22nd January 1914 and was given the service number 1926. Cyril trained as a soldier as well as continuing to work as a grocer. He was 5 feet 9 inches tall.

When the First World War broke out in August 1914 soldiers in the Territorial Force were embodied, or called permanently into the Army. Most of the soldiers in the 8th Battalion were sent to Egypt in September but Cyril did not go with them. This may have been because he was not yet 19 years old, or it may have been because he did not sign his voluntary agreement to serve outside the United Kingdom until the 31st October. Cyril joined the 8th Battalion Reserve that was taking in new recruits and forming a second 8th Battalion (2/8th).

We don't know what Cyril did during the early part of the War. In March 1917 soldiers in the Territorial Force were given new service numbers and Cyril's became 300211. He went overseas on the 13th March 1917, most likely as a member of the 2/8th Battalion. Cyril was promoted to Lance Corporal on the 28th September 1917. He returned to the UK on the 6th December 1917, and was graded as only fit for service at a Command Depot. We don't know whether Cyril had been wounded or taken ill.

Cyril was granted leave between the 8th and the 18th January 1918. He went to 40 Talbot Street in Southport. We don't know who lived there.

We know that Cyril spent time as a signaller in Headquarters Company of the 2/8th Battalion. He obtained a 1st Class Certificate of Proficiency at the 4th Army School of Signalling in France on the 14th August 1917 and completed a refresher course on the 15th June 1918.

This course may have rekindled Cyril's interest in signalling, as on the 20th June 1918 he applied to transfer to the Signal Service of the Royal Engineers because 'I wish to further my interests in this subject'. At the time Cyril was serving in No 5 Squad of the 8th Reserve Battalion of the Manchester Regiment.

Cyril's request was granted and he was transferred on the 1st September 1918. He dropped down one rank, becoming a Pioneer (the equivalent of Private), and was given the service number 442841.

Cyril was assigned to the Signal Section of the 4th Cyclist Brigade. This was part of the Cyclist Division that had been formed in September 1917 to defend the UK from invasion. It was responsible for patrolling the Norfolk coastline. The war ended on the 11th November 1918 and Cyril was transferred to the Class Z Army Reserve on the 27th February 1919. This meant he was a civilian again, but could have been called back to the Army if fighting with Germany had restarted.

We don't know what Cyril did after the war. We know he married and had at least one son. Cyril served in the Special Constabulary of the Manchester City Police at some point between 1937 and 1952. Under normal circumstances Cyril would have earned his Special Constabulary Long Service Medal after 9 years, but if he served during the Second World War his service was counted three times.

Cyril died in Manchester between July and August 1970. He was 73 years old. His medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in 1995.

Museum of the Manchester Regiment
c/o Portland Basin Museum
Portland Place
Heritage Wharf
Ashton-under-Lyne
OL7 0QA

Telephone: 0161 343 2878
Email: Portland.Basin@tameside.gov.uk
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Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council