Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

Charles Herbert Ollerenshaw

Charles Herbert Ollerenshaw :

Charles Herbert Ollerenshaw : (L to R) British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal

(L to R) British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal

Charles was born between April and June 1888 in Macclesfield, Cheshire. He was named after his father and his mother was Jane. He had 2 older brothers, George and John Harold, and a younger sister called Violet Mary.

The family lived at 8 Shaw Street in Macclesfield during Charles' childhood. In 1891 Charles senior worked as a slater, fitting slate tiles to roofs. He died in July 1898, aged 47. In 1901 Jane and John both worked to support the family. Jane was a silk weaver and John was a brick maker. Charles was still at school.

We don't know why, but the family appears to have broken up between 1901 and 1911. In this year Charles lived at 63 Fleet Street in Gorton, Manchester. He was 23 years old and the adopted son of Samuel and Elizabeth Ann Bates. This suggests he had been living with them for some time. Charles worked as a crane driver.

On the 16th September 1911 Charles married Elizabeth Whalley at St George's Parish Church in Abbey Hey, Gorton. She worked as a weaver and lived at 47 Walter Street. They had one child, Elizabeth Irene, who was born on the 25th April 1913.

The First World War broke out in August 1914 and Charles joined the Army almost exactly a year later. By this time he and his family lived at 32 Bowness Street in Openshaw, Manchester. He worked as a crane driver for Armstrong Whitworth, a major manufacturing company.

When Charles enlisted he joined the Manchester Regiment. They gave him the service number 26851. He seems to have joined the Depot Company of the 21st Battalion, but on the 13th August this was merged into the 26th (Reserve) Battalion. In November this moved to Prees Heath in Shropshire, then the next month to Southport in Lancashire.

During his time with the 26th Battalion Charles trained and waited to be sent overseas to a front line unit. He got his chance on the 30th March 1916, when he was sent to France. He spent 2 weeks at the British base at Etaples before joining the 3rd Entrenching Battalion on the 14th April. This unit will have been used to supply labour for digging trenches and dug-outs, but we don't know anything about what Charles did with them. He joined the 19th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment on the 4th May.

Once he joined the 19th Battalion Charles will have spent some time in the front lines near Carnoy as well as in the rear near Bray and Corbie. In late May the battalion moved to the Maricourt area and began training to take part in the Somme Offensive, which was scheduled to begin on the 1st July.

The British offensive began on the 1st July 1916. Charles and the 19th Battalion attacked a German position called the Glatz Redoubt that protected the village of Montauban. They successfully captured the position and held it until they were relieved on the 3rd. Although the attack on the 1st was successful, the battalion still lost 60 men that day. One of them was Charles. He was 28 years old.

At some point after Charles had joined the Army Elizabeth and her daughter had gone to live at 17 Rock Street and it seems that Charles' personal effects were sent here. There was a photograph in a case, and a packet of letters, cards and photographs.

Later they lived at 150 Ackroyd Street for a time, and by September 1918 they had moved to 13 Kirkham Street in Openshaw.

In June 1919 Elizabeth remarried to John Walton Blackwell. They had a child of their own, John Leslie, on the 12th January 1920. John Walton died in 1958 and we believe Elizabeth died in Manchester between April and June 1963. She was 72 years old.

Elizabeth Irene married Frederick Dellow in 1938. We don't believe they had any children. Fred died in 1990 and at the end of her life Elizabeth lived at Brabyns House on Station Road in Marple, Stockport. She died on the 22nd August 1997, aged 84.

Charles' body was never found so along with 72,202 other soldiers his name is now listed on the Thiepval Memorial in France. Charles is on Pier 13 Face A or Pier 14 Face C.

Charles's medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in August 1999.

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

Telephone: 0161 342 5480
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Esmee Fairbairn Collections Fund logo
Army Museums Ogilby Trust logo
Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council