Reginald Edward BLACKHAM
Rank: Private
Number: 26230
Unit: 2/7th Battalion MANCHESTER REGIMENT
Date of Death: 9 October 1917
Age: 25
Cemetery: Tyne Cot Cemetery, Zonnebeke, Belgium

When the 1901 census was taken, eight year old Reginald was living at 100 Manchester Road, Heaton Chapel. His father, Henry, was a cashier for a land agent. His mother, Sophie was not at home at the time. Reginald's siblings were Edith (then 19), Cissy (15), Henry (12), Dorothy (11), and Eric (7).

He enlisted into the army at Manchester in August 1915, joining one of the "Pals" Battalions of the Regiment. It is possible that he was more usually known as Edward as the Manchester City Battalions Book of Honour lists an E Blackham as being an employee of Barlow & Jones Ltd, cotton spinners, Portland Street, Manchester. Many workers at city centre premises did indeed join the Pals but there is nothing to confirm that this is Reginald.

He was reported to have been wounded on 1 July 1916 on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. It was, no doubt, when he had recovered that he was transferred to the 2/7th Battalion. The Battalion did not go overseas until March 1917 and it would certainly have been of benefit to the new recruits to have had some experienced men amongst them.

On 1 October, Reginald and his comrades were in reserve camp near the Channel coast. They were preparing for a move to Eecke but, on the 4th, the orders were changed and the Battalion moved by bus to Caestre and then by train to Brandhoek (near the Belgian town of Ypres). They marched to the town and bivouacked overnight prior to taking over a section of the front line from Australian troops. This was near a position known as Beecham Dugout on the Passchendale Ridge.

The relief was completed by 1pm on the 6th, even though an enemy attack was underway. The Battalion's War Diary records that they were shelled throughout the day and the intensity increased at night. At 5pm on the 5th, Battalion Headquarters was blown up by the German shelling and, half an hour later, another enemy attack was delivered. The attack was driven off but with heavy casualties.

9 October would later be officially designated as the Battle of Poelcapelle. Other units of 66th Division would lead the attack and Reginald and his comrades would be held in reserve. They were not called on to go into action and it must be assumed that Reginald was killed by enemy shellfire.

At the time, the Blackham family were living at 376 Wellington Road North. Mr Blackham died in 1919, aged 76 and, shortly after, Mrs Blackham was known to be living at 4 Cedar Grove, Heaton Chapel.

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