Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

Patrick Duffy

Patrick Duffy :

Patrick Duffy : Distinguished Conduct Medal

Distinguished Conduct Medal

Patrick was born in Salford, Lancashire. We don't know anything else about his early life or family.

The First World War broke out in August 1914 and Patrick joined the Manchester Regiment in around November 1915. Conscription would be introduced at the end of the year so he may have wanted to volunteer, and choose the unit he served in, before this happened. He was accepted into the Manchester Regiment and given the service number 28259.

We don't know when Patrick was sent to France, or what he did when he arrived. We believe he spent some time assigned to a unit of the Lincolnshire Regiment. From his service number, 30390, we can estimate that this happened in early 1917. We don't know why he was transferred or which battalion he served with.

By mid 1917 he was a member of the 17th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. They had fought at Arras in late April, but we don't know whether Patrick had been with them. By the end of July they had been moved north to the area around Ypres (now Ieper) in Belgium. They were to take part in the opening attack of the Passchendaele Offensive in the early morning of the 31st July.

Patrick and the 17th Battalion were ordered to attack Polygon Wood. At first it went well, but as the dawn broke the 17th Battalion came under heavy German fire, which slowed them down. It then began to rain and the battlefield turned to mud. The attack was brought to a halt and the 17th Battalion held on to their increasingly saturated positions until they were relieved the next day.

During this attack Patrick carried out an act of great bravery. He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for it on the 22nd October 1917. This citation was published in the London Gazette on the 26th January 1918:

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in taking charge of a section and rushing an enemy trench, capturing there a machine gun and five trench mortars.

Although wounded in the leg he declined to leave the Battalion until it was relieved. He was conspicuous throughout for his pluck and devotion to duty.

We don't know how serious Patrick's leg wound was.

We don't know what happened to Patrick after this. At some point he was captured by the Germans and became a Prisoner of War (POW). We don't know when this happened although it is quite likely to have been during the Spring Offensive of March and April 1918 which overwhelmed many Allied units, including the 17th Battalion, leading to thousands of soldiers being killed or captured.

After his capture Patrick was moved into Germany rather than being held in France or Belgium. Prisoners were generally treated well although they were often required to work in exhausting jobs such as quarrying or mining. Combined with a poor diet this left them vulnerable to outbreaks of disease. This was the main reason that around 12,000 of the 300,000 Commonwealth POWs died in captivity.

Patrick was one of these 12,000. He died on the 21st October 1918 from an unknown condition. After the war he and 1788 other soldiers buried in over 190 different cemeteries throughout central and southern Germany were brought together in Niederzwehren Cemetery in Kassel. Patrick's modern grave reference is IV. M. 15.

Patrick was married to a woman named Mary. We don't know when they married, where they lived or whether they had any children. Between January and March 1921 she remarried to James Gorman, and they went to live at 6 Broster Street in Greengate, Salford.

Patrick's medal was donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in December 2007. As well as his Distinguished Conduct Medal, Patrick was also awarded the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal for his Army service.

Museum of the Manchester Regiment
c/o Portland Basin Museum
Portland Place
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Telephone: 0161 342 5480
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Army Museums Ogilby Trust logo
Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council