World War One memorial wrecked and forgotten is to be recreated

A suburb of Manchester in Salford had 100 years ago commemorated those who left the area to fight in World War One and never returned. Today, the memorial has been left to ruin and was in fact lost until it was investigated by the local council who now hope to replace it. The Greengate memorial started off as a granite slab built into the Greengate Dispensary building in Salford. In 1919, it was said to be a ‘roll of honour’ for all those who died from the local area. 156 names were included on the plaque, which was to be an everlasting remembrance.

Many of the men were only in their late teenage years, and were all from a small area of old Salford, with rows of terraced houses, mills, the railway line and bordering the River Irwell.

It is believed that the memorial was moved in the late 1960s when the building it built into was demolished to make way for a dual carriageway. It was moved to Weaste council offices, and then relocated to a council works depot, and then moved to another council yard. By this time in around 2000, reports suggested it was broken and left outside the local RAF Lancaster Club. When the club was sold in 2004 it was just shifted next door to a tyre repair shop yard. Two years later it was moved to a warehouse at Salford Quays and is now said to be discarded since it is impossible to repair.

Some of those honoured on the memorial include Thomas and Felix Battersby. Their descendants and other families are calling for the memorial to be resurrected. Thomas, 19, joined the Royal Navy in 1912, and Felix, 17, joined the Lancashire Fusiliers in 1914, the Manchester Evening News reports.

Thomas Gibbons, 22, is another servicemen honoured on the plaque. He served with the Manchester Regiment 20th Battalion.He died in 1916 when he was severely wounded from a shell explosion in his trench. His mother even travelled to France to the hospital where he was being treated. But she arrived too late, as he had died and been buried just the day before she arrived.

Wilfred Owen, a war poet and from the Salford area,was also honoured on the memorial. He was killed in action only one week before war ended.

Council and government representatives have all shared their concern over the lost memorial. In the 100th anniversary year, it is now a priority for them to return a memorial to the Salford area so that the men who gave their lives can be honoured.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE