Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

Herbert Alfred Ross

Herbert Alfred Ross :

Herbert Alfred Ross : (L to R) 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal; 1939-45 War Medal

(L to R) 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal; 1939-45 War Medal

Herbert was born on the 22nd October 1892 in Stretford, Manchester. His father was called Arthur and his mother was Matilda. He had 3 older siblings; Laura Matilda, Evelyn A. and Arthur Henderson, and a younger brother called Frank. A daughter had been born in around March 1891, but she had died before 1901. We don't know her name.

Arthur worked as a clerk for an estate agent and in 1891 the family lived at 104 Cornbrook Street in Stretford. Ten years later, in 1901, the family lived at 41 Harper Street, also in Stretford. Arthur was not with them when the Census was taken during April. Matilda said she was 'married' rather than 'widowed', which suggests he was still alive. Matilda was worked from their home as a 'laundress', washing clothes for people.

In 1911 Matilda described herself as 'widowed'. The family now lived at 39 Ayres Road in Stretford, with Laura's husband Squire Lambert. Herbert worked for the Manchester Corporation Tramways as a 'trolley boy'. He later became a tram driver.

The First World War broke out in August 1914 and Herbert joined the Army in early September. He enlisted in the 7th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment and was given the service number 2429. This was a unit of the Territorial Force based on Burlington Street in Manchester. It had been called into service when the war began, and was sent to Egypt on the 10th September.

Herbert went with them and arrived in Alexandria, Egypt on the 25th. The battalion then sailed down the Suez Canal to Khartoum in Sudan. They were based here until April 1915. The battalion had many jobs, mainly based around guarding important points such as the Governor-General's Palace and railway lines.

In April the 7th Battalion returned to Egypt and joined their comrades preparing for the invasion of Gallipoli. The battalion landed on this Turkish territory on the 7th May. We don't know whether Herbert was wounded or taken ill at any point during his time in Gallipoli.

Within days the battalion was in the front line and taking casualties from the Turkish defenders. On the 4th June the British launched a large attack on the village of Krithia. Herbert and the 7th Battalion advanced further than most British units, but this meant when the Turks counter attacked they were cut off and forced to withdraw without capturing the village.

The 7th Battalion lost many men killed and wounded during this fighting. Their next large operation took place on the 6th and 7th August, again in the Krithia area, and again unsuccessfully.

From then on life in Gallipoli was quieter, but no less dangerous. The 7th Battalion took its turn in the front line and in the rear; it took casualties from Turkish snipers and artillery as well as losing men to diseases such as diarrhoea and dysentery. The campaign ended in December 1915 and the battalion was evacuated back to Egypt.

At some point during the war Herbert was transferred to a unit of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. They gave him the service number 31424. We don't know which battalion of this regiment he joined, so we can't say for certain where he served.

Herbert survived the war, and was demobilised back to civilian life. In 1920 Matilda lived at 170 Shrewsbury Road in Brooks Bar, Manchester, and we believe he lived with her. He had also returned to his job as a tram driver.

It is possible that Herbert missed Army life, because on the 16th July 1920 he re-enlisted in a Territorial battalion of the Manchester Regiment (we don't know which). He was given the service number 3511782.

The Territorial Army was now back in its peacetime routine of training during evenings and weekends, as well as an annual training camp lasting around 2 weeks. Herbert was a member of the battalion for 2 years and left on the 15th July 1922. He still lived with Matilda at 170 Shrewsbury Street.

The rest of Herbert's life remains a mystery. The 1939-45 War Medal was awarded to men who served in the Armed Forces for at least 28 days during the Second World War. Herbert has no other Second World War medals, which suggests that whatever he did, he never left the UK during this war.

Herbert died in June 1978 in Trafford, Manchester. He was 85 years old. His medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in August 1997.

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

Telephone: 0161 342 5480
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Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council