Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

Albert Edward Palmer

Albert Edward Palmer : Photograph of Albert in Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre.  Reference: MRP/5A/018

Photograph of Albert in Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre. Reference: MRP/5A/018

Albert Edward Palmer : (L to R) British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal; 1939-45 Defence Medal; 1939-45 War Medal; Long Service and Good Conduct Medal

(L to R) British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal; 1939-45 Defence Medal; 1939-45 War Medal; Long Service and Good Conduct Medal

Albert was born on the 29th July 1889 in Hulme, Manchester. He had 2 younger brothers called Walter and Joseph and he was a member of the Church of England but we don't know anything else about his early life or family.

In February 1907 he lived with his step-mother, Minnie Whittle, at 150 York Street in Hulme. He worked as a clerk for an engineer's merchants, based at 41 Chapel Street in nearby Salford.

On the 5th February Albert joined the 6th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. This was a unit of the Militia, so he kept his civilian job and home and trained as a soldier for a short period every year. He was given the service number 805. He was already a member of the 3rd Lancashire Royal Engineers Volunteers.

When he joined the 6th Battalion Albert was 5 feet 6 5/8 inches tall and weighed 126 pounds. He had a 'fresh' complexion, grey eyes and light brown hair. He trained for 22 days after he enlisted, and must have taken to military life because he decided to join the Regular Army on the 1st March.

Albert chose to stay in the Manchester Regiment. As a Regular soldier he was given the service number 1024. After 4 months training at the Regimental Depot in Ashton-under-Lyne he joined the 2nd Battalion in the Channel Islands on the 3rd July. Just 3 months later they moved to Portsmouth in Hampshire.

On the 1st January 1908 Albert was promoted to Unpaid Lance Corporal. He began to be paid in his new rank on the 21st February. The 2nd Battalion moved to Mullingar in Ireland during autumn 1909. Albert reverted to the rank of Private on the 4th March 1910, and then was promoted again, unpaid, on the 12th October. He began to be paid 3 months later.

By March 1913 Albert was serving in H Company of the 2nd Battalion, who were based at The Curragh in County Kildare, Ireland. Albert had clearly taken to Army life and had extended his Army service from the usual 7 years to 12. He had been promoted to Corporal on the 24th July 1912.

Albert left the 2nd Battalion to go on a Physical Trainer's course in Aldershot in September 1913 and was posted to the 3rd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment on the 24th February 1914. This was a unit of the Special Reserve based at the Regimental Depot. It was not a front line unit; instead it existed to train Reservists before they were sent to the 1st or 2nd Battalion.

The First World War broke out in early August, and the 3rd Battalion moved to Cleethorpes in Lincolnshire during October. Albert was promoted to Sergeant on the 29th, then to Colour Sergeant on the 9th September and Acting Company Quartermaster Sergeant on the 31st October.

The soldiers assigned to the 3rd Battalion were kept busy training new recruits and retraining the wounded soldiers who had been discharged from hospital. Physical fitness played a major part in this and on the 11th December 1915 Albert was transferred to the Army Gymnastic Staff as a Colour Sergeant Instructor.

Albert served with the Army in France between the 13th November 1916 and the 21st September 1917. We don't know anything about what job he had overseas, or what he did after he returned to the UK.

On the 31st January 1918 Albert married Florence Mary Sizer at the Wesleyan Chapel in Grimsby, near Cleethorpes. They made their home together at 56 Gander Street. They had one child, Doreen on the 1st May 1924. She was born in Grimsby.

Albert served with the Army Gymnastic Staff until the 27th April 1919, when he was 'discharged to re-enlist' the next day. He rejoined the Manchester Regiment in Aldershot, Hampshire on the 3rd October 1919 and was posted to the 1st Battalion.

Albert served with the 1st Battalion until the 7th November 1921. During this time they were stationed in Ireland and took part in the Anglo-Irish War. He was then posted to the Regimental Depot in Ashton-under-Lyne. We don't know his job, but it is likely to have involved training new recruits. He was also an active member of the Sergeant's Mess and served as the Master of Ceremonies at many of their functions.

In October 1925 Albert's 18 years in the Army were recognised when he was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, as well as a gratuity. We don't know how much money he received. By this time he held the rank of Warrant Officer Class II.

In September 1923 Albert was posted to the 1st Battalion, which took him back to the Channel Islands. They moved to Cologne in Germany during 1924.

After qualifying as a Clerk at a Trade Test in Wiesbaden Albert became the Company Sergeant Major (CSM) in charge of the Battalion's Orderly Room on the 16th March 1926. The Orderly Room was the battalion office, so he would be dealing with all the battalion's administration and paperwork.

Albert stayed with the 1st Battalion until he was posted to the 9th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment in early 1928. This was a Territorial Army unit based in Ashton-under-Lyne. Albert was promoted to Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM), which made him the most senior soldier in the unit. He was a member of the Permanent Staff, who ran the unit and organised training for the Territorial soldiers. Albert, Florence and Doreen lived at 7 Poplar Grove in Smallshaw and named their house 'Pendennis'.

He threw himself into his new job, which was to train, organise and inspire the men under his command. In particular Albert encouraged rifle shooting (known as musketry), and his soldiers quickly repaid his efforts by winning several competitions. Albert also joined in the social life of the 9th Battalion, in particular the Sergeant's Mess.

One of the highlights of Albert's time in the 9th Battalion must have been when he was chosen as one of only 5 men from the Battalion to attend an inspection of the Manchester Regiment by their new Colonel in Chief, King George V. This took place at Buckingham Palace on the 16th May 1930.

At some point every soldier must retire, and for Albert this time came in 1931. He left the Army on the 28th February after 24 years service. The Warrant Officers and Sergeants of the 9th Battalion were sorry to see him go and they presented him with an inscribed oak chime clock at a ceremony on the 9th January. Albert was surprised and delighted by the gift, he told them that he had been very happy in the 9th Battalion and would treasure the clock as a reminder of their kindness and respect.

The Sergeants were very pleased to learn that Albert quickly found a civilian job. In the Regimental Gazette they reported that he had 'secured a good appointment with a prominent Manchester warehouse'. We don't know which one, but we believe he was again working as a clerk. He stayed in touch with his comrades by joining the Old Comrade's Association and attended several reunions during the 1930's.

When the Second World War broke out in September 1939 Albert decided to rejoin the Manchester Regiment. He re-enlisted for the Duration of the War on 26th October 1939. He was now 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighed 177 pounds. The Regimental Depot was now a Machine Gun Training Centre. Albert served here as a Company Sergeant Major until August 1941.

Albert's experience and age were both recognised on 24th August 1941 when he was commissioned as a Lieutenant and Quartermaster in the 57th (County of Lancashire) Battalion of the Home Guard, based at the General Post Office building in Spring Gardens, Manchester. The Quartermaster was responsible for the storage, supply and issue of all items of equipment used by the battalion. It was a very responsible job, and usually went to someone like Albert; an experienced senior soldier who had been commissioned.

In November 1943 Albert left the 57th Battalion and was assigned to become Training Officer for the Manchester Home Guard. He was now responsible for maintaining standards across a number of battalions.

After a year in this job Albert became Training Officer for the Army Cadet Force units in Western Command. This covered an area from the Scottish Border to Gloucestershire, including Wales.

In September 1945, soon after the end of the Second World War, Albert returned to Ashton and took command of Number 7 Collecting Unit based in Whittaker's Mill at the junction of Queen's Road and Mossley Road on the edge of the town. His job was to ensure that soldiers being demobilised from the Army had followed the correct procedures and received the money and clothing that they were entitled to.

He was promoted to Major on the 12th April 1946 and finally demobilised out of the army on the 13th August 1947.

At some point before this Albert and his family had moved to 30 Queen's Crescent in Eastbourne, Sussex. They would live in this area for the rest of their lives. Doreen married Frederick Howell there in 1948.

By 1961 Albert and Florence were living at 17 East Close in Polegate, a small town on the edge of Eastbourne. Albert died at home on the 25th July 1964. He was 73 years old.

Florence died aged 82 between January and March 1978. Doreen was 79 when she died in June 2003.

Albert's medals were presented to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment a month after he died, during August 1964.

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