Allan KILDING
Rank: Private
Number: 6517
Unit: B Company, 16th Battalion MANCHESTER REGIMENT
Date of Death: 9 July 1916
Age: 24
Cemetery: Bernafray Wood British Cemetery, Montauban, Somme, France

Allan's name is inscribed on the Heaton Moor and Stockport War Memorials, although in the latter case it is wrongly written as "P Kilding". All available online records have been consulted and there appears to have been no-one with the initial "P" who served during the War, so it is almost certain that an error has occurred.

Other than these commemorations, Allan's precise connection with the local area is unknown. He was born in Ripon and his parents lived there at 39 Market Place. When he enlisted into the Army, Allan gave a home address in Ripon although he was, presumably, living in the Stockport area as he worked in the city centre of Manchester. His employer was George Peak & Co. The Company manufactured linings for clothing and had premises at Portland Street. Allan is included in its entry in the Manchester City Battalions Book of Honour. His service number is very low confirming that he was an original member of the Manchester Pals. He was assigned to No. 6 Platoon of "B" Company which suggests he enlisted on the first full day of recruitment for the Battalion. Click here for details the Battalion's early months of training.

Allan had been fortunate to come through the opening day of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July and after a few days rest, the 16th Manchesters were back in the front line area. The next objective was the German trench system in Trones Wood. In the early hours of the 9th, the 17th and 18th Battalions had made a determined attack which was originally successful. However, as they strated to consolidate their gains, they came under the most intense artillery fire and, by mid-afternoon, those who could do so were forced to withdraw back to their starting point in nearby Bernafray Wood.

As they started to withdraw, the German infantry counter-attacked, ensuring the retreat was complete. Capturing the Wood was of vital strategic importance to the continued British success in the south of the battlefield so the fresh troops of the 16th Battalion were ordered forward.

By 6.40pm, Allan and his mates were in position in a sunken road which ran from a brickworks towards the village of Hardecourt. The Battalion's History recounts "The advance was carried out under heavy shrapnel, high explosive and machine gun fire. The rapidity of the advance, however, enabled the Battalion to avoid the barrage without serious loss."

When they reached their objective - the original German trench known as Trones Alley, at the south western edge of the Wood - they found a company of 18th Manchesters still holding on. The new troops worked their way along the Alley, clearing the way by throwing grenades in front of them. After clearing enough of the trench for safety, they built a blockade and then pulled back to the edge of the Wood. They now started to consolidate their position where they spent the remainder of the night. Allan was one of 39 of the Pals who had been killed.

   
           
   
     
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