Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

Edward John Eckersall

Edward John Eckersall :

Edward John Eckersall : General Service Medal 1918-62 with clasp 'Iraq'

General Service Medal 1918-62 with clasp 'Iraq'

Edward was born around March 1898 in Prestwich, Manchester. His father was called Isaiah and his mother was Janet Callan. He had an older sister called Edith Callan and 6 younger siblings: Harry, Ethel Callan, Charles Callan, George Callan, Janet Callan and Minnie Callan. Charles was born and died in 1904 and Minnie was born and died in 1910.

The family grew up at 12 Johnson's Square in Crumpsall, Manchester. Isaiah was a railway ticket collector until his death aged 44 in mid 1910. The next year Janet worked in a railway office as an attendant, and Edward had found a job as a stationer's errand boy.

The First World War broke out in August 1914 and once he was old enough Edward was conscripted into the Army. He had been working as a carter when he enlisted. He joined the 2/9th Battalion of the King's (Liverpool Regiment) in around March 1917. We don't know when he was sent overseas but it must have been before February 1918 as the 2/9th Battalion was disbanded then. His service number was 332967.

At some point, most likely in mid 1918, Edward was transferred to the Manchester Regiment and given the new service number 61716. We don't know which battalion he served with during the rest of the war.

On the 17th January 1919 Edward was in the town or village of Mareuil in France when he decided to re-enlist in the Army. There are several Mareuils in France; we don't know which he was stationed in. He returned to the UK during this year and was eventually assigned to the 2nd Battalion.

On the 1st August Edward married Lucy Winifred Mason in Prestwich. She already had a 4 year old daughter, Monica Josephine, and the couple had a child of their own named Winifred Ann on the 15th September 1920. Sadly Lucy died the next month.

The 2nd Battalion moved to Ireland in November 1919, and then left the UK and moved to Mesopotamia, now known as Iraq, in February 1920. Between April and July the Battalion was based in Tikrit, they then moved to Hillah. Many of the soldiers in Iraq were inexperienced and were not fully trained on all the Battalion's weaponry. Many of the men who had served in the First World War had already been demobilised, so Edward's experience will have been invaluable to his comrades.

On the 24th July 1920 the Battalion was around 20 miles outside Hillah when it was attacked by Arab tribesmen. They held off the Arabs until nightfall, and then D Company was ordered to hold position to allow the rest of the Battalion to get away. Edward escaped back to Hillah, but 79 of his comrades were captured by the Arabs. They were released in October.

Edward and the 2nd Battalion left Mesopotamia on Boxing Day 1920 and moved to Kamptee in India. He was still serving with them in June 1923, and he had been given the new service number 3512996. We don't know anything about the rest of Edward's career after this point. He was transferred to the Army Reserve on the 16th January 1926 in Preston, Lancashire. His conduct had been 'exemplary'.

Edward went to live at 3 William Street in Prestwich, and 1 month after his transfer he married again to Annie Johnson. They had at least one child, Alice, who was born on the 31st October 1927.

As a reservist Edward lived as a civilian, but could be called back to the Army in an emergency. No emergency arose, so he was finally discharged on the 16th January 1931.

The rest of Edward's life is a mystery.

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