Private Archie Leslie VICKERS


Regiment/Service:
Manchester Regiment
Unit:
22nd (7th Manchester Pals) Battalion
Service Number:
20126
Date of Death:
7 December 1916 - Died of wounds
Age:
21
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Reference:
I. G. 59.



Personal History:


Archie was born in the September quarter 1894, the son of Albert Frederick (Lodging house keeper) and Emily (née Woodward) Vickers of "Fairleigh", Marlborough Road, Buxton.  He had five older sisters, Edith Augusta, Ida Gertrude, Emily May, Eva and Florence Beatrice, and four older brothers, Arthur Frederick, Albert, Harry and George. (1881 Census RG 11/3454; 1891 Census RG 12/2778 and 1901 Census RG 13/3270).

In 1911 (Census RG 14/21236) the family were at the same address and Archie was employed as an "Apprentice". The S.D.G.W. database gives Archie's place of residence at the time of his enlistment as Sale, Cheshire.

Military History:
Archie's Service papers have not survived and his Medal Index Card indicates that he was posted to France with his Battalion on the 12th November 1915. He enlisted at Manchester and at the time was living in Sale, Cheshire. As he was with his Battalion when it first landed in France Archie must have enlisted early in the War,

The 22nd (Service) Battalion (7th City) was formed in Manchester on 21st November 1914 by the Lord Mayor and City. It moved to Morecambe in January 1915 and in April 1915 moved to Grantham and placed under command of 91st Brigade in 30th Division. Their last move was to Larkhill in September 1915.

Archie's Battalion, the 22nd, had landed at Boulogne in November 1915 and on the 20th December 1915 the 91st Brigade transferred to the 7th Division. In February 1916 they arrived at the Somme, opposite the German held fortified village of Mametz, east of Fricourt.

On the 1st July, the Battle of the Somme commenced with the 22nd attacking Fricourt in a pincer movement. Harold's Battalion achieved their first objective of Bucket Trench and moved on the Danzig Alley but were driven back as German soldiers emerged unscathed from their underground bunkers. Reinforced by the elements of the South Staffords, the Battalion took Danzig Trench. The brigade pushed forward and Mametz was taken.

Later in the Somme campaign the 7th Division, including Archie's Battalion, fought at The Battle of Bazentin Ridge, 14th - 17th July; The Battle of High Wood, 14th July - 15th September; The Battle of Delville Wood, 15th July - 3rd September; The Battle of Guillemont, 3rd - 6th September, and The Battle of the Ancre, 13th - 18th November.

Without his Service Papers it is not possible to say where Archie received the wounds from which he died on the 7th December 1916. However, only three other men of the 22nd Battalion were lost in the month before Archie died, so it is unlikely he was wounded during one the major actions. More likely, and from the account in 'The Buxton Advertiser' of the 6th January 1917, he was the victim of shell or  machine-gun fire:

"Mrs Bromley, Craiglands, The Park, has received from W. Kerr C.F. [Chaplain to the Forces] Field Ambulance, a letter stating that at the request of one their soldiers, Vickers, who had been wounded, he wrote to say the wounds were rather severe.

He was sent on at once to a Clearing Hospital, so he did not know anything more. He could only say he was very cheerful and hopeful - that was always such a help to recovery. He did hope she would hear better news. Their brave lads were having a bad time.

On the 7th ult. the poor fellow died. He had been admitted to the Casualty Clearing Station Hospital suffering from multiple wounds and in a very collapsed condition. A most sympathetic letter was received from the sister, who said they had done what they cover for the sufferer, who would be buried in the cemetery there, part of which was allocated to English soldiers."

It is strange that Archie asked the Chaplain to write to "Mrs Bromley" rather than his family. [She is probably Mrs Margaret Bromley who, with her husband, John, ran an apartment house at Park Hall Road, Buxton.] The 'Register of Soldier's Effects', however, shows that "Mrs Margaret Bromley" was the Executrix of his final gratuities, amounting to £12 4s 8d [£12.23 - about £760 today - 2017].

Archie now lies in Varennes Cemetery, and from the above account died of his wounds in one of the Casualty Clearing Stations there.

"The cemetery was laid out by the 39th Casualty Clearing Station in August 1916, during the Battle of the Somme, but the first burials were made during August and September by more mobile divisional Field Ambulances. The 4th and 11th Casualty Clearing Stations then used the cemetery from October 1916, joined by the 47th from December 1916." - CWGC


Footnote:
· L/Cpl. Harold Brookes DAWSON of the same Battalion, also commemorated on the Buxton Memorial, was killed in action on 2 June 1916
· 2/Lt William Edward BRUNT, also of the same Battalion, also commemorated on the Buxton Memorial, was killed in action the day before Harold.
Sources:
· "The Buxton Advertiser" - 6 January 1917
· The Manchester Regiment 1899 - 1958 - The Twentysecond (Service) Battalion

Link to CWGC Record
Pt Archie Vickers' grave
poppy
Pt Archie Vickers