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'We Will Remember Them' - Wilfred Norbury & Willoughby Emil Reiss

Wilfred Norbury

Killed in Action 7th July 1916

Wilfred's Story

Wilfred was born on 18th July 1896 to Henry and Harriet Norbury in Sproston and in 1901, aged 5 he was living at Back Lane Farm. In 1911 he was working for his father at the same location which was a market garden.

Wilfred enlisted into the army at Middlewich and joined the 13th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment with number 27438. He gained the rank of Lance corporal.

The Parish Magazine states that In September 1916 he was reported missing some weeks ago and had not been heard of since. In June 1917 it was reported that he had died in action.

In fact his military record shows he was killed in action on the 7 July 1916. There is no known grave but he is remembered on Panel and Face 3C and 4A of the Thiepval Memorial. The memorial is in France close to the Somme and the village of Thiepval.


Willoughby Emil Reiss

Died of Wounds 8th August 1915

Willoughby's Story

Willoughby Emil Reiss was born 24 June 1890, son of Henry and Constance Reiss, of "The Hermitage," Holmes Chapel, Cheshire and christened at Church Hulme. He was named after his grandmother’s family,as the Victorians often re-used surnames in this way.

The family moved from the outskirts of Manchester to Holmes Chapel about 1900, but Willoughby spent term time away from home at boarding school. In 1901 he was at Bilton School, Rugby, and then went to Charterhouse School in Surrey.

By 1911 he was back at the Hermitage aged 20,and working as an assistant shipping merchant for the family firm Reiss Bros who specialised in importing cotton from China.

His career was cut short by the war; he never came home, having been killed in action at Gallipoli in Turkey. He is buried there and the grave is cared for by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Letters from colleagues still survive, describing his last days in great detail.

Willoughby joined the Territorials in 1910 and the Public School Corps in October 1914. He was in the 6th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment in December of that year. The poet Wilfred Owen would later become an officer in this unit (June 1916.)

The 6th Manchesters were sent to Gallipoli and attacked Turkish trenches on 7th August. The attack became known as the Battle of the Vineyard. The troops were in position by 7a.m. The Turkish Army was obviously prepared for the assault and shelled the British position. At 9.40, they left the trench and reached the Turkish front line, but the Turkish positions were strongly held and were being reinforced still further and by 11.15 the troops were driven out of the trenches they had captured. After a further attempt it was quickly realised that it was an impossible task and the orders were cancelled.

Over 140 men of the 6th Manchester’s were dead, wounded or missing (later records confirm that over 75 had been killed). Willoughby was one of these. He was hit and died next morning at base hospital. He had only been on active service for a few weeks.


'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

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