Photograph of Mark in Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre. Reference: MR3/17/182
(L to R) Distinguished Conduct Medal; Military Medal and Bar; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal
Mark was born in 1884 in Bath, Somerset. His father was called Alfred and his mother was Sarah. He had 2 older brothers: Alfred and George, and a younger brother called Albert.
In 1891 the family lived at 2 Edward's Place in Bath. Alfred worked as a labourer for a mason. Ten years later the family had broken up. Mark and Albert were living with Harry Oborne and his family at 6 Highway Buildings in Bath. Mark worked as an errand boy.
Between then and 1914 Mark moved to the Manchester area. By the time the First World War broke out in August he had enough of a connection to the city to want to join the 8th City Battalion that was being formed by its workers. He enlisted on the 30th December 1914 and was given the service number 22248. This unit became the 23rd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment and Mark was assigned to XII Platoon in C Company.
Mark and the 23rd Battalion arrived in France during January 1916. We don't know much about what he did during his time in France. The 23rd Battalion served in the Somme Offensive between July and November 1916, seeing combat at Guillemont, Trones Wood and Morlancourt. They also fought around Arras during October.
During 1917 they served in Ribecourt and Ponttruet before moving to Belgium and taking part in the Passchendaele Offensive that October. The 23rd Battalion was disbanded in February 1918 due to a reorganisation of the Army that aimed to have more soldiers in fewer battalions, rather than fewer soldiers in more battalions. Mark was one of 150 men sent to join the 2nd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment.
The 2nd Battalion fought to stop the German Spring Offensive of March and April 1918, and then took part in the advance to victory which began that August. By this time Mark held the rank of Sergeant.
During the fighting in August and September Mark carried out 3 acts of bravery that were recognised by the award of gallantry medals. We don't know exactly when or where these acts took place. He was awarded the Military Medal first, during the Battle of Amiens between the 8th and 12th August, although we don't know what he did to earn it. The award was published in the London Gazette on the 24th January 1919.
Later in August Mark was again awarded the Military Medal. He was given a Bar to his original award. This was published in the London Gazette on the 14th May 1919.
Mark's third award was the most prestigious. He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal between then and the end of September. The citation for this award was published in the London Gazette on the 5th December 1918:
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. His platoon was on the flank of his company, which was far in advance of the troops on the right, and was the first to reach the objective, in spite of heavy machine gun and shell fire. His action materially assisted in the capture of a village, and he inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy from the position he had reached. Throughout he displayed high qualities of leadership and tireless energy.
The war ended on the 11th November 1918 and Mark had returned to the UK by May 1919. He had been injured once during his time overseas. He was transferred to the Class Z Reserve on the 16th May and returned to civilian life. If fighting had broken out again he could have been called back to the Army. It never did so the Class Z Reserve was disbanded in March 1920.
The rest of Mark's life remains a mystery. His medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in August 1961, by which time Mark had died.