Basil Armitage Carver
Killed in Action 21st August 1916
Born in 1987 in Marple he was the son of William Oswald and Kate Carver. The family owned Hollins Mill at Marple and also had offices and warehousing in central Manchester's "cotton district". By 1901 the family had moved into Cranage Hall, Cranage, with Basil aged 4. In 1911 he was a pupil at Charterhouse School, Godalming, Surrey, aged 14. He went on to Sandhurst and had only spent a short time there when war broke out and he obtained a commission a few weeks after his 18th birthday.
He enlisted in October 1914 with the 6th (Iniskilling) Dragoons and was subsequently posted as 2nd Lieut, to the Devon Regiment. Basil left Southampton on 11 December 1914 to join his Battalion at Marseilles on the 15th. By the middle of 1916, Royal Engineers were digging tunnels towards enemy lines around the Messines Ridge.
Eventually, these would be packed with explosive and exploded on 7 June 1917, immediately before an infantry attack. It was hard and dangerous work for the specialist tunnellers. When not in the front line trenches, other troops would be kept active by undertaking less specialist work such as carrying the spoil from the tunnels away from the digging area. On 21 August, Basil was supervising his men in one of the tunnels near the village of Neuville St Vaast, doing that sort of work.
Four of the Royal Engineers were overcome by toxic fumes and Basil and several of his troop went deeper into the tunnel to try to rescue them. They failed and he and four men were also overcome and died. It was probably a build up of carbon monoxide that caused the deaths. One of the men who tried to rescue him was Sergeant William Fletcher. For his bravery, William was awarded the Military Medal. Mr & Mrs Carver later presented him with a gold half hunter watch inscribed with their thanks for his efforts.
Basil is buried in the Ecoivres Military Cemetery. Mont-St Eloi, Grave III.E.9 and he is also commemorated on the Roll of Honour of Hollins Mill Co, Manchester.
Oswald A Carver
Died of Wounds 7th June 1915
Oswald didn’t live in Church Hulme but he would have visited the home of his parents when they came and occupied Cranage Hall. As with all the Carvers he would have been known in the village. He was born in Stockport Feb 1887 and was living in1891 at Rosefield House, Marple, aged 4. In 1901 he was 14 and a pupil at Charterhouse School. Oswald was further educated at Trinity College Cambridge, and rowed for Cambridge and also for Varsity at the Olympic Games in 1908. In 1911 He married Ada Noel Hobart and was living at 2 Manor Hill Marple in 1912, and at The Hollies, Marple in 1914. As well as being in the Holmes Chapel Roll of Honour he is included on the Roll of Honour at Hollins Mill Co., Manchester. His widow Betty married General Montgomery.
On 3 September 1914, Oswald’s application to serve overseas with the East Lancashire Company of the Engineers (part of the Territorial Force Company) was rejected by an army medical board at Bury. He was suffering from deafness and it was decided that his hearing would be checked again a month later and, if found to be the same, then it would be considered to be a permanent disability disbarring him from service. However, by 31 December, Oswald had been promoted to Captain responsible for one of the Company's four Sections and in May 1915 was sent into action at Gallipoli. A major attack was scheduled for 4 June (it would later be officially designated as the Third Battle of Krithia). Territorial Battalions of the Manchester Regiment would lead the infantry attack on the Turkish positions. The role of the Engineers would be to follow behind the Manchesters and help to secure the captured Turkish trenches and then start to dig communication trenches back to the original British line and build strongpoints to be used in case of counter attack.
As planned, the Engineers were quick to get on with their work. Sometime during the day, Oswald was wounded in his back. He was evacuated down to the landing beach where he received attention from the military surgeons at 11th Casualty Clearing Station. The fact that Oswald was still there when he died three days later, perhaps suggests that the army triage system had determined his condition as hopeless. In such circumstances, he will have been made as comfortable as possible until he passed away.
'They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.'
Extract from 'For the Fallen' by Laurence Binyon