(L to R) Military Medal; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal
Donald was born in around 1890 in Manchester. His father was called Tom and his mother was Eliza. He had 3 older siblings called Frank, Bertie and Ethel Maud, and 4 younger siblings; Jeannie Marguerite, Harold Victor, Jack Eric and Edith Mary.
In 1891 the family lived at 56 Walkley Bank Road in Nether Hallam, Sheffield. Tom worked as an agent for a sewing machine manufacturer, or salesman. He was not with the family ten years later in 1901, but Eliza described herself as 'married', not as a widow, so we believe he was still alive. In this year the family lived at 4 Archer Street in All Saints in South Manchester.
We don't know anything about Donald's civilian life after this. He was not with his family at 15 Bridge Street in Chorlton, Manchester when the 1911 Census was taken. Eliza still described herself as 'married', although again Tom was not living with her or their children.
The First World War broke out in August 1914 and Donald joined the Army in the first few months of 1915. He enlisted in the 8th (Ardwick) Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. This was a unit of the Territorial Force.
The original 8th Battalion had been sent overseas in September 1914, so new recruits such as Donald were assigned to the second 8th Battalion (2/8th).
This unit trained at Crowborough in Sussex until March 1916 when it moved to Colchester in Essex. On the 13th March 1917 it was sent to France. At around this time soldiers serving with units of the Territorial Force were given new service numbers. Donald's became 301837. We don't know his old number.
Donald and the 2/8th Battalion served around Givenchy and La Bassee until late June, when the battalion moved north to Nieuwpoort, on the North Sea coast in Belgium. They guarded the coast until the autumn.
The Passchendaele Offensive began on the 31st July 1917. It was fought around the nearby town of Ypres. The 2/8th Battalion joined this attack on the 9th October, when they took part in an attack on Poelcapelle. Donald held the rank of Corporal by this time.
The battalion attacked over flooded ground that had been turned into a sea of mud by shelling and rain. Their attack began well, and they captured a number of German positions, but the mud slowed them down, and other German soldiers were able to inflict a large number of casualties. By the end of the day the attack was bogged down and could not continue.
The attack had been a failure, and casualties were heavy. We believe, however, that Donald was awarded the Military Medal for carrying out an act of bravery during this battle. The award was published in the London Gazette on the 14th January 1918.
After this attack the 2/8th Battalion worked in the rear areas for the rest of the offensive.
We believe Donald stayed with the 2/8th Battalion until it was disbanded on the 13th February 1918. This happened because of a reorganisation of the Army that aimed to have more soldiers in fewer battalions, rather than fewer soldiers in more battalions.
We don't know which unit he joined after the disbandment, but it was a battalion of the Manchester Regiment. By the end of the war he held the rank of Sergeant.
The rest of Donald's life remains a mystery. His medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in February 1987.