Amanda Mason
Tuesday 26 June 2018
Kenneth Macardle fought on the Battle of the Somme's opening day, but was killed a week later while attempting to continue his battalion's advance.

Kenneth Callan Macardle was born in Dundalk, Louth, Ireland in 1890.  When the First World War broke out he was working on his ranch in California, but he returned home to enlist and was commissioned as an officer in the Manchester Regiment. In February 1916 he was sent to France with a reinforcement draft. He was posted to the 17th Battalion, the Manchester Regiment, known as the 2nd Manchester Pals, part of the 30th Division.

Photographs

Second Lieutenant Kenneth Macardle, 1916

Photographs

Second Lieutenant Kenneth Macardle, 1916

Lieutenant Kenneth C Macardle, 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment, killed in action on the Somme, 9 July 1916.

Lieutenant Kenneth C Macardle, 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment, killed in action on the Somme, 9 July 1916.
© IWM (HU 35936)

Throughout the first half of 1916, the 17th Manchesters held the line around Maricourt and on 1 July their objective was the nearby village of Montauban. Despite having missed much of the intensive training for the battle, Macardle was chosen by his company commander for the assault.

After the first wave of the 30th Division advanced at 7.30am, the 17th Manchesters followed an hour later, moving through the captured German first line. Macardle described  B Company's advance in his journal:

'A' Coy was in front of us, advancing in sections with about 20 paces between blobs in perfect order at a slow walk; a carrying party of Scots came next and then our Coy. Montauban was a mile and a quarter away and in between us and that heavily wooded village every inch of the ground was churned up and pitted with shell holes. It was impossible even to locate the German front line, his second was a great irregular ditch full of craters and fresh earth. We advanced in artillery formation at a slow walk. We led our sections in and out of the stricken men who were beyond help or whom we could not stop to help; it seemed callous but it was splendid war. Men crawling back smiled ruefully or tried to keep back blood with leaky fingers. We would call a cheery word or fix our eyes on Montauban – some were not good to see'.

Private papers

Journal of Lieutenant K C Macardle

Private papers

Journal of Lieutenant K C Macardle

Journal kept by Second Lieutenant Kenneth Macardle from February 1916 until his death on 10 July, during the Battle of the Somme.

Ms diary (150pp) of his service with the 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment (90th Brigade, 30th Division) in France, from February 1916 until his death in July 1916 during the Battle of the Somme, describing his arrival at Etaples and posting to the trenches in the Maricourt sector, occupying positions in the front line at Royal Dragon's Wood, Vaux Wood and Battle Dugouts , winter conditions in the trenches, night patrols, French soldiers and civilians.

Macardle and B Company entered Montauban at around 10am. His men took up a position on the east of the village and remained there, despite intensive shelling and heavy casualties, for 48 hours. Writing in his journal, Macardle noted that he had had no sleep for 60 hours and only 'two biscuits and a handful of prunes' to eat.

The battalion was relieved early on 3 July. Five days later it went forward again and around midnight on 8-9 July it was ordered to attack Trônes Wood. Now in command of A Company, Macardle led his men to the top of the wood, where he was killed in the confused fighting towards late afternoon.

His body was never recovered and today he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

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