It’s that time of year when thoughts turn to Christmas presents, whether for others or yourself. My thanks go to SCS Editor Tim Mole, for alerting me to this book which is unusual among the plethora of First Word War books published during the centenary in that Salonika gets more than a passing mention!
Chapel Street: ‘The Bravest Little Street in England’
Author: Sheila Brady
Publisher: The History Press, 20 November 2017
Paperback: 256 pages
ISBN-10: 0750970421 / 13: 978-0750970426
Chapel Street was a row of old Georgian terraced lodging houses in Altrincham, home to some 400 Irish, English, Welsh and Italian lodgers. From this tight-knit community of just sixty houses, 161 men volunteered for the First World War. They fought in all the campaigns of the war, with twenty-nine men killed in action and twenty dying from injuries soon after the war; more men were lost in action from Chapel Street than any other street in England. As a result, King George V called Chapel Street ‘the Bravest Little Street in England’.
The men that came home returned to a society unfamiliar with the processes of rehabilitation. Fiercely proud, they organised their own Roll of Honour, which recorded all the names of those brave men who volunteered. This book highlights their journeys through war and peace.
Royalties from the sale of this book will help support the vital work of the charity Walking With the Wounded and its housing, health, employment and training programmes for ex-service personnel.
I couldn’t wait until Christmas so I ordered myself a copy, although I’ve not read it yet so I can’t tell you much about it. What I can say is that it is heartening to see a chapter on the 28th Division. This focuses on 11222 Pte James Riley MM of 2/Cheshire. Originally a New Army volunteer with 8/Cheshire, after being wounded at Gallipoli he found himself with the regular 2nd Battalion until captured by the Bulgarians in April 1918. Another Salonika soldier is profiled in the next chapter, 6047 Cpl John Rowan of 13/Manchester (66 Brigade, 22nd Division) which mainly looks at the 1917 and 1918 Battles of Doiran.
The book contains lots of background material on the various theatres and actions covered and looks to be a useful resource for those researching family members who served in the war. It has comprehensive lists of references and resources, regimental museums, and societies and associations in which, I am pleased to say, the SCS has an honourable mention.