Did two Chorley railway station workers catch the train to Manchester to join their ‘Pals’ instead of the local unit?
An article spotted by our Chairman, local WW1 historian Steve Williams in the Chorley Guardian of October 1931 leads him to believe that two Chorley men chose the ‘Manchester Pals’ over the Chorley unit back in September 1914.
Stanley and Frederick Wheatcroft both worked at Chorley railway station, living at 18 Railway Street in the town where their parents ran a newsagents.
On the 8th September 1914, Stanley enlisted in the 19th (Service) Battalion of the Manchester Regiment (4th City Pals) as Private 1954, whilst his brother Fred was given the service number 1981.
When the Battalion went to France on the 8th November 1915, Fred was with them but Stanley was transferred as an Officer Cadet to the 26th (Reserve) Battalion based in Southport.
Fred saw action on the Somme on the 1st July 1916 attacking and taking the village of Montauban. He was also involved in the attack at Guillemont on the Somme on the 11th July, being awarded a Military Medal (per The London Gazette, 21st September 1916). It is more than likely that Fred was wounded in action as he was transferred to the Royal Engineers (Railway Unit) as Sapper WR276846 and then number 309133.
After the war he returned to his employment on the railway and in 1931 was promoted to Station Master at Langho, nr. Blackburn; he died in Knutsford in 1983, aged 90.
As for Stanley Wheatcroft, the 1919 Army List recorded him as being a 2nd. Lt. with the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.
There were two other boys from the Wheatcroft family eligible to serve in the First World War. Herbert (born 1898) was not recorded as joining up, whilst Harold (born 1899) was killed in action in France on the 25th August 1918 serving as Private 93676 in the 19th Bn., Royal Welch Fusiliers [pictured] and is buried in Adanac Military Cemetery at Miraumont, north-east of Arras.