Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

Rupert Dennerley

Rupert Dennerley :

Rupert Dennerley : (L to R) Distinguished Conduct Medal; 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal; 1939-45 Defence Medal; 1939-45 War Medal; Special Constabulary Long Service Medal

(L to R) Distinguished Conduct Medal; 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal; 1939-45 Defence Medal; 1939-45 War Medal; Special Constabulary Long Service Medal

Rupert was born between April and June 1897 in Clayton Bridge, Manchester. His father was named Joel and his mother was Mary Anne. He had 3 older siblings: Minnie, Alice and Joel and a younger brother called Eric. The family had lost one other child by 1911.

In 1901 Joel senior worked as a warehouseman and the family lived at 39 Union Street in Stalybridge, then a part of Cheshire. Ten years later he was a salesman in the rag and waste trade. The family now lived on Doveston Road in Ashton on Mersey, near Sale in south west Manchester.

When the First World War broke out in August 1914 Rupert was working as an order clerk in the paper stock trade. We don't know the company he worked for, but they were based at Collyhurst Mill in Miles Platting, Manchester.

Rupert left them to join the 6th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment on the 8th September. He was accepted and given the service number 2628.

The 6th Battalion had gone overseas at around the same time Rupert had enlisted and had been renamed the 1/6th Battalion. Rupert was kept in the UK training until July 1915, shortly after the 1/6th Battalion landed in Gallipoli. He joined them on the 23rd July. He served for 2 months in Gallipoli before he fell ill with typhoid fever and had to be evacuated to the UK.

Rupert was treated in hospital at Netley, near Southampton between the 19th September and the 12th October before being transferred to Addington Park War Hospital in Croydon, London. He stayed there recovering until the 17th November.

The 1/6th Battalion had been evacuated from Gallipoli in January 1916. They were now in Egypt defending the Suez Canal from a Turkish attack. Rupert set sail to rejoin them on the 8th July 1916. He arrived in Alexandria on the 17th and had joined the Battalion by the 22nd.

It is likely that Rupert took part in the Battle of Romani on the 4th and 5th August. This was a victory for the British that drove the Turks back into the Sinai. The British began to advance after them, but Rupert would not be part of this campaign.

Rupert and the 1/6th Battalion were transferred to France in early March 1917. At around the same time soldiers serving in units of the Territorial Force were given new service numbers. Rupert's was 250566.

After just 2 months in France, whilst he was stationed around Havrincourt, near Cambrai, Rupert was promoted to Unpaid Lance Corporal. Ten days later, on the 22nd May 1917 he began to be paid in his new rank.

The 1/6th Battalion moved north to the area around Ypres in Belgium during September. They took part in the Passchendaele Offensive that had begun in late July and would continue until November. Rupert was able to take 10 day's leave in the UK between the 8th and the 24th September. He was promoted to Corporal on the same day he went on leave.

At around the same time he returned from leave the 1/6th Battalion moved away from the fighting to Nieuport on the Belgian coast. They moved back to France during November and spent the rest of the winter around Givenchy.

Rupert was promoted again on the 2nd February 1918. He was now a Lance Sergeant. On the 21st March 1918 the German Army launched a huge offensive against the British and French Armies. They hoped to win the war before too many American troops could arrive to fight them. At first the attack was extremely successful. Many Allied units were cut off, and thousands of soldiers were killed or captured. Rupert and the 1/6th Battalion were involved in hard fighting on the 25th around the village of Bihucourt, near Bapaume.

For his gallantry that day Rupert was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. His citation was published in the London Gazette on the 3rd September 1918:

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when, his officers having fallen, he took command of two platoons, and for 18 hours showed the greatest dash and initiative. Later, in a counter-attack, he killed four of the enemy with his own bayonet.

This citation links 2 separate incidents that are recorded on a card given to Rupert.

At Bihucourt, on 25th March 1918, when his officers became casualties, the NCO took charge of his Company Headquarters and 2 platoons for 18 hours, showing great dash and initiative. His daring coolness and resource, were of the greatest use to his company.

The second citation is very difficult to read, but suggests that Rupert used his bayonet to kill the 4 Germans on the 27th March, and that he also helped capture 2 prisoners. On the 12th April he was promoted to Sergeant.

The German advance was eventually stopped, and from August onwards the Allies began their own series of attacks that became known as the Hundred Days Offensive. Rupert fell sick on the 10th, soon after this offensive began. He was treated and returned to the 1/6th Battalion on the 28th. Rupert was then sent to the UK for 14 days leave on the 11th September. He returned to his battalion just in time to take part in the attack on the Hindenburg Line known as the Battle of the Canal du Nord.

Although the Allies were now decisively winning the war, the Germans were still dangerous opponents. Whilst he was taking part in the Battle of the Selle on the 20th October Rupert was wounded in the left thigh.

After treatment at an unknown Field Ambulance unit and the 19th Casualty Clearing Station Rupert was sent to the 2nd Australian General Hospital in Boulogne on the 22nd. They decided he should be returned to the UK for further treatment, so on the 29th Rupert arrived at the 1st Southern General Hospital in Birmingham. He was treated there for what Rupert described as a 'shell wound' and what the doctors believed was a 'gun shot wound' until the 4th March 1919.

As the war was now over Rupert could begin the process of being discharged. He was medically assessed during March and found to have a slight limp. Rupert could 'walk quite well' and insisted that 'it caused him no trouble whatever'. He was discharged on the 2nd April.

We don't know where Rupert lived or what job he had after the war. We do know that he served as a Special Constable and that he had held this job for at least 9 years by 1937, because his Special Constabulary Long Service Medal has the head of King George V, who died in that year.

Rupert married Annie Thomas in Nottingham between October and December 1925. We don't believe they had any children. Rupert died between October and December 1949 in Spilsby, Lincolnshire. He was 52 years old. Joel died on the 26th January 1950 aged 54. Rupert's medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in April 1976.

Museum of the Manchester Regiment
c/o Portland Basin Museum
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Heritage Wharf

Telephone: 0161 342 5480
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Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council