Harry Rutherford's
Festival of Britain Mural

Monday, 25 October 2010

Hyde In War Time (1914-16) Page 38-39

“ Forty gang” Heroes.

Miraculous Escapes From Death.

For many years there has existed in Hyde an institution known as the “Forty Gang,” the leader of which is Mr. Herbert Shaw, of Clarendon Street. It comprises a large body on men who have no particular headquarters, but who are banded together in a spirit of genuine fellowship, and who, whenever there has been a deserving cause requiring support, have been among the foremost in helping it. Many a charitable movement in the town has been assisted by the “Forty Gang,” whose members have never failed to take a prominent part in public parades, mostly figuring in comic get-up. These young men have proved themselves as useful in war as they did in peace. The opening of hostilities was the greatest opportunity they ever had of showing themselves worthy of the town. In a very short time many of them had enlisted, and by the end of 1915 the “Forty Gang” had close upon a hundred members… an overwhelming proportion of past and present members… serving with the colours. All these had left their civil vocations for military service, voluntarily, and several have given their lives for King and Country, while others have been wounded, and many were in the fighting line.  Two of the earliest heroes of the “Forty Gang” were Private Joseph Broadhurst, of Elizabeth Street, and Private Tucker, of Foundry Street, who went through some terrific fighting together in the first few months of war. It was not until March, 1915, that Private Broadhurst attained his 18th year, though he had been in the Army since he was fourteen, and on attainment of his 18th birthday he was almost six feet in height. Both these young men took part in many fights following the Mons retreat, and each had been wounded in three places. 


Private TUCKER.
A Gallant fighter, wounded in three places

During this fighting, Private Broadhurst had a miraculous escape from instant death, a French watch that he had found, and wore in his coat pocket, preventing a bullet from piercing his heart. It was during the battle of the Marne that Private Tucker joined his pal, who had already been “in the thick of it.” Broadhurst was agreeably surprised at the meeting of his mate, after so many had been killed. Whilst on observation in one of the trenches, Broadhurst bobbed his head up to “see what the world was like,” when a bullet from a German sniper’s rifle grazed his nose. On the following day Tucker was hit while hurriedly proceeding to warn the supports that the Germans were attacking. Whilst at home in March, 1915, Broadhurst relate how on another occasion, he took a German officer prisoner; while later, when in charge of another German whom he had captured, he was shot in the hand, but held on to his captive. He had made these captures during a charge, which he himself led, his officer, Lieutenant Anderson, having being shot in the head. Privates Broadhurst and Tucker had a spell of seventeen days’ more of less severe fighting in the neighbourhood of La Bassee. The two also fought near Ypres. Private Broadhurst was once in the trenches 25 consecutive days, and he had no change of shirt for two months. He relates this experience with typical humour. “ It walked off my back then,” he  remarks. When we were firing, I was killing Germans with one hand and germs with the other. We killed thousands of German ‘spies’ in this way. They are as clever as the Germans in entrenching themselves. They entrench under cover of the seams of your tunic.


Experiences miraculous escapes from death.

1 comment:

Hydonian said...

Wonderfully brave young men.