Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

Isaac Shaw

Isaac Shaw :

Isaac Shaw : (L to R) Queen's South Africa Medal with clasps 'Defence of Ladysmith', 'Cape Colony', 'Orange Free State', 'Transvaal'; King's South Africa Medal with clasps 'South Africa 1901', 'South Africa 1902'; 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal; Delhi Durbar 1911 Medal

(L to R) Queen's South Africa Medal with clasps 'Defence of Ladysmith', 'Cape Colony', 'Orange Free State', 'Transvaal'; King's South Africa Medal with clasps 'South Africa 1901', 'South Africa 1902'; 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal; Delhi Durbar 1911 Medal

Ike, as he was known to his comrades, was born in around 1876 in Manchester. His father was called Alfred and he was a member of the Church of England but we don't know anything else about his early life or childhood.

By the time he was 18 Ike lived at 24 Manchester Road in Stretford, Manchester. He worked as a plumber for George Drinkwater. As well as this civilian job, on the 10th August 1895 Ike joined the Army.

He enlisted in the 4th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment and was given the service number 5223. This was a unit of the Militia, so Ike kept his civilian home and job and trained as a soldier for a short period every year.

When he enlisted Ike was 5 feet 8 1/2 inches tall and weighed 119 pounds. He had a 'fresh' complexion, grey eyes and dark brown hair. He began his service with 48 days of training.

By the end of this period Ike must have decided that he was suited to military life, as on the 2nd October he joined the Regular Army. He stayed with the Manchester Regiment and was given the service number 4700. He had gained 7 pounds during his Militia training.

After 2 months of training at the Regimental Depot in Ashton-under-Lyne, Ike was posted to the 1st Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. He joined them in Aldershot, Hampshire on the 26th November 1895.

On the 6th January 1897 Ike was promoted to Paid Lance Corporal. After 6 months in the rank he reverted to Private on the 17th June. We don't know why.

At some point Ike deserted. He was either captured or returned on the 7th July and placed in confinement until his Court Martial on the 13th. He was found guilty and sentenced to 140 days imprisonment with hard labour. He was released on the 1st December. By this time the 1st Battalion had left Aldershot and sailed to Gibraltar.

During 1899 tensions between British and Boer settlers in South Africa began to rise, and in August the British Government decided to send the 1st Battalion to South Africa in case war broke out. Ike sailed to Durban and was stationed in the small town of Ladysmith in Natal when war was declared on the 11th October.

The war began badly for the British, and by the end of the month Ladysmith was under siege. Ike and the 1st Battalion fought hard to stop Boer attempts to take the town, and would attack Boer artillery to stop it from shelling their positions. By the end of the siege food was in short supply and disease was widespread. The British relief force reached Ladysmith on the 28th February 1900.

The next 2 months were fairly quiet, as the British built up their strength. In mid May they began to advance northwards into Boer territory.

We don't know exactly what happened to Ike, but he is recorded as being admitted to the Royal Victoria Hospital at Netley near Southampton on the 7th June. He was suffering from jaundice. His doctors believed this had been brought on by the climate.

Ike's condition was mild, and he was fit for duty again by the 18th. After he was discharged from hospital he was posted to the 4th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment in Aldershot on the 20th June 1900.

Ike returned to South Africa in early May 1901. He fought with the 23rd Mounted Infantry Battalion until the end of the war. This was made up of Companies of Mounted Infantrymen from several different units. One was formed by men of the 2nd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment who had been trained to ride horses.

The Boer War ended on the 31st May 1902, and Ike returned to the UK on the 26th August. He served with the 2nd Battalion in Aldershot until January 1904. He was then posted to the Regimental Depot. Whilst he was there Ike extended his service. He had originally agreed to serve for 7 years; he was now willing to be a soldier for 12.

Ike left the Depot on the 1st February 1905 and joined the 2nd Battalion on the Channel Island of Guernsey. He was suffering from gonorrhoea however, and had to go into hospital as soon as he arrived. He had a mild case of the disease, and was discharged on the 16th.

Two days later Ike left the UK again. He was posted to the 1st Battalion, who were stationed at Secunderabad in India. They moved north to Kamptee in October 1908. By this time Ike had extended his service to 21 years. In Kamptee he obtained the 3rd Class Army Certificate of Education on the 4th November 1909.

The 1st Battalion left Kamptee in December 1911 to take part in the Delhi Durbar. At this ceremony King George V, the newly crowned Emperor of India, received his Indian subjects. The 1st Battalion took part in the Durbar itself on the 12th, and the spectacular military parade on the 14th. It also provided many guards of honour for dignitaries. A total of 100 Delhi Durbar 1911 Medals were allocated to the 1st Battalion, and one of them went to Ike.

After the Durbar was over Ike and the 1st Battalion moved to Jullundur in the modern Indian Punjab. He would spend the rest of his time in India here. This time came to an end on the 9th December 1913. Ike returned to the UK and joined the 2nd Battalion at The Curragh Camp in County Kildare, Ireland. Six months later he requested a discharge. He had served 18 years, so he qualified for a pension when he became a civilian again on the 11th June 1914.

Less than 2 months after his discharge the First World War began.

On the 3rd April 1915 Ike married Emily Mulligan. She was a widow with a 16 year old son named Alec. Ike moved into their house at 8 Holden Street in the Hurst area of Ashton-under-Lyne. He was working as a fitter's labourer when he decided to rejoin the Army on the 31st May 1915.

Ike rejoined the Manchester Regiment and was given a new service number: 24733. He had grown an inch and a half since 1895.

After training with the 3rd Battalion at Cleethorpes in Lincolnshire, Ike was drafted to the 11th Battalion on the 28th August. This unit was fighting at Suvla Bay in Gallipoli when he joined them. The campaign here was not going well. The British had suffered many casualties due to inexperience, poor leadership and determined Turkish defenders.

The British were not able to advance; instead they held their trenches under heavy shell and rifle fire. Ike endured months of stifling heat, lack of water and poor health. He developed rheumatism, or joint pain, during September, but seems to have been able to endure it until the 1st December, when he reported sick.

After being treated at the 33rd Field Ambulance and an unknown Casualty Clearing Station Ike was sent to hospital in Giza, Egypt on the 17th. Suvla Bay was evacuated at around the same time. The 11th Battalion returned to Egypt.

Ike left hospital on the 6th January 1916. We don't know what he did for several months after this. He attended a cookery class between the 14th January and the 12th February. On the 16th March he was posted to the 11th Division Depot at Sidi Bishr. The 11th Battalion was based here, but we don't know whether Ike rejoined them.

After 7 months in Egypt Ike was sent to France. He was posted to the 12th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment on the 20th July, and promoted to Corporal the next day.

At this time the 12th Battalion was fighting in the Somme Offensive that had begun on the 1st July. They were based in the town of Long, in Picardy, when he joined them.

The 12th Battalion stayed out of the front line until early August. They were then sent to Delville Wood, which had been the scene of extremely heavy fighting and had been reduced to what was described as a wasteland of shattered trees, mud and shell craters.

After this the battalion stayed on the Somme until the end of the offensive in November. In 1917 they fought in the Battle of Arras during April. That autumn they fought around Ypres in Belgium during the Passchendaele Offensive. Ike was able to go home on leave between the 18th and the 28th June.

He was granted another 14 days leave on the 3rd March. Just days after he returned, on the 21st, the Germans launched their Spring Offensive. The 12th Battalion took part in the desperate defence against this attack during April.

By May the Spring Offensive had been defeated and the front line had stabilised. Ike was promoted to Sergeant on the 3rd July.

The Allies began a counterattack on the 8th August that soon drove the Germans back. Although they were retreating the Germans still put up heavy resistance. Ike was shot in the right leg on the 26th August, probably during the Battle of Bapaume.

The bullet had gone through Ike's calf. He was evacuated back to the UK on the 7th September and sent to Wharncliffe War Hospital in Sheffield, Yorkshire. He was discharged on the 22nd October and was posted to the 4th Battalion in Riby, Lincolnshire.

The war ended on the 11th November. Ike was transferred to the Reserve and returned home on the 19th February 1919. He seems to have recovered well from the gunshot wound and his rheumatism, and in September 1920 he was considered 'sound in all respects'.

Alec had not been so fortunate. He was conscripted in April 1917 and joined the 8th Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment with the service number 35945. He was taken prisoner on the 4th April 1918 and died in hospital in Gottingen, Germany on the 17th October 1918. He was just 19 years old. He is buried in Niederzwehren Cemetery in Kassel.

We don't know much about the rest of Ike's life. He joined the Manchester Regiment Old Comrade's Association in 1927, and became a life member in 1935. By this time he and Emily had moved to number 1 Holden Street.

At some point after this Ike moved to 78 High Street in Barnsley in Yorkshire.

Throughout the early 1950s Ike was a familiar sight at OCA events in Manchester. He would always catch the bus from Barnsley, and he was 'a most loyal supporter' of their many events.

Ike died on the 30th June 1957. He was 82 years old. His medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment the next month.

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