JOHN GLENTON DENT
The first official record to mention this soldier is the 1901 census. It says he was living at Beach House, 28 Albert Road, Whalley Range, Manchester and tells us that he was born in Birkenhead. His parents were Simpson Dent, who was born in Kirby Ravensworth in Yorkshire in about 1860 and Elizabeth Ellen Harding who was born in Hodnet in Shropshire in about 1861. The couple married in Market Drayton in 1893 and went on to have four children, of whom John Glenton was the third.
Simpson Dent was a self-employed house furnisher. He was clearly doing well because the family employed two servants, one of whom was called a “mother’s help”. Sadly, Simpson died not long after the census was compiled on 9th April 1901. He left £1020 to his wife. Sometime before 1911, the widowed Elizabeth and her four children moved to the same premises as had been occupied by Fred Cumpsty’s family in 1901 – 22-24 Market Street, Hoylake and ran them as a confectionary shop. In 1911 John was boarding at Llansantfraid Grammar School in the Welsh county of Montgomeryshire, not far from the Shropshire border, while his mother, siblings and a domestic servant called Priscilla Hopwood were at home in Hoylake.
We do not know John’s movements until 1915, when the London Gazette of 1st July reported that he had been promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in a territorial regiment called the Yorkshire Dragoons. The same publication gave less favourable news on 12th November 1915, when it reported that John had been court-marshalled and cashiered from another territorial regiment called the Scottish Horse on 28th October. It does not say what he had done wrong. John then joined up as a private in the Sherwood Foresters in Great Yarmouth and served with the regiment as a sniper on the Western Front. His battalion was part of 51st Brigade, 17th (Northern) Division, which was heavily engaged in the early days of the battle of the Somme.
The picture shows some unnamed members of his unit with souvenirs they won from the Germans on 3rd July. John was killed two days later at Contalmaison. We have no record of the exact circumstances, but clearly his body was either never recovered or his grave destroyed, because his is one of the names on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing.
Birth: c.1897 in Birkenhead
Death: 5th July 1916, killed in action aged 19
Addresses: Beach House, 28 Albert Road, Whalley Range Manchester (01), Llansantffraid Grammar School, Montgomeryshire (11), 22-24 Market Street, Hoylake (16)
Units: Yorkshire Dragoons (Queen’s Own) Yeomanry, Scottish Horse (Yeomanry), 10th Bn. Sherwood Foresters (Notts. And Derby. Regiment)
Number and Rank: 32985 2nd Lieutenant, Private
Medals: British War and Victory
Commemorated and Buried: GH, H. France: Somme, Thiepval Memorial Pier and Face 10. C. 10. D. and 11. A.
Sources: BR, CWGC, SDGW, MC, LE, LG, GB, Census: 01,11
Thomas is one of the local casualties about whom we know very little. In 1901 he was living in Ironbridge in Shropshire along with his parents, William (born in about 1867 in Bridgenorth) and mother Fanny (born in about 1869, also in Bridgenorth). William was a domestic gardener and groom. Three more children were recorded in addition to Thomas – Charlie, George and Willie. In 1911, the family was living at Walker Street in Hoylake. William senior was a jobbing gardener and William junior a golf caddy. Thomas was not living at home and cannot be traced. All we know is that, for some reason, he enlisted in Alnwick in Northumberland. He must have died during the allied counter-offensives during the autumn of 1918 which passed over the old Somme battlefields once again.
Birth: c.1899 in Ironbridge, Shropshire
Death: 30th September 1918, Killed in Action aged 19
Address: Brockholes, Ironbridge, Shropshire (01), 31 Walker Street, Hoylake (18)
Unit: “A” Company 2nd Bn. King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
Number and Rank: 37156 Lance Corporal
Medals: Victory and British War
Commemorated and Buried: GH, H. France: Somme, Bellicourt British Cemetery VI. D. 10. Sources: BR, CWGC, SDGW, MC, Census: 01, 11
In addition to his surname, there are several other clues which imply that this soldier’s ancestors originated in Cumberland: his father’s full name was John Lowther Grisdale (1850-1909) and, at one point, the family home was called Whitehaven; it was on Westbourne Road, West Kirby. The Lowthers were a powerful aristocratic Cumbrian family. Amongst other things, they profited from owning slaves in the West Indies and from the export of coal via the port of Whitehaven, which they had founded in 1630. In fact, it was Edward’s grandfather, Jonathan Watson Grisdale, who was born in Whitehaven in 1822 and died in Hoylake in 1874, who was Edward’s first Cumbrian ancestor. He might have been distantly related to the aristocrats, but, more likely, was associating himself with his home area by naming his son after its most famous patron.
Along with his 12 siblings, Edward was born in Hoylake, but they later settled in West Kirby. In 1891 they were living on the Crescent and in 1901 at 4 Deva Road. In 1911, Edward had left home and was lodging with Joseph and Amelia Cheers in Birkenhead whilst working as a butcher. By that time, his father was dead and his mother was living at 48 Grange Road, with most of the other children, three of whom were doing typical West Kirby jobs of the time – draper’s shop assistant, post office clerk and confectioner. Edward joined the Cheshire Regiment on 3rd September 1914 in Birkenhead. He described himself as being a groom. He is recorded as being 5’10½” tall and weighing 144lbs; he had a 36” chest with a 2” expansion and as possessing a fresh complexion, blue eyes and light brown hair; he was a member of the Church of England.
It must have been normal for new recruits to proceed almost immediately to their barracks; an irate message from the Cheshire Regiment’s adjutant, dated 15th December 1914, tells us that Edward did not do so; it contained the peremptory words: “You are hereby ordered to report yourself at the Orderly Room, Chester Castle, AT ONCE. Enclosed you will find a warrant from Rock Ferry to Chester.” However, the poor fellow had not deserted. His mother explained to the adjutant that Edward had been working for Laird’s in Birkenhead and had had an accident, resulting in him being “laid up for some time” in Rock Ferry. Between joining his unit and 18th July 1915, Edward was training in the U.K.. Whist at Prees Heath, he got into trouble for being absent without leave. Unfortunately, the relevant page in his records is unreadable, so we cannot discover the full details.
He sailed for France on board the Folkestone and was on the Western Front by the following day. On 18th February 1916 he reported sick with scabies and was in hospital until the 22nd. He rejoined his unit the next day. By mid 1916 his battalion was on the Somme front and took part in the “Big Push” from 1st July. The Book of Remembrance claims that Edward died near Neuville St. Vaast, just north of Arras. It is hard to see how this could be true when we remember that the 11th Cheshires took part in the Battle of the Somme. Details of their experiences can be found in the biography of Arthur Sefton Bate which appears above. He died on exactly the same day as Edward. Edward Grisdale is buried on the Serre Road, some way from the main focus of his battalion’s action on 3rd July. We can only assume that he, along with many others in the cemetery, was re-buried after the war.
Birth: March 1887 in Hoylake
Death: 3rd July 1916, killed in action aged 29
Addresses: The Crescent, West Kirby (91), 4 Deva Road, West Kirby (11), 14 Alvanley Place, Birkenhead (11), 21 Bold Street, Rock Ferry (14)
Occupations: Shop Boy (01), Butcher (11), Groom (14)
Unit: 11th Bn. Cheshire Regiment
Number(s) and Rank: 14364 Lance Corporal
Medals: 14/15 Star, British War, Victory
Commemorated and Buried: GH, WK. France: Somme, Serre Road Cemetery Number 2 XII. E. 4.
Sources: BR, CWGC, SDGW, MC, SR, FT, Census: 91, 01, 11