First World War Articles/Papers

A Family at War
The Effects of the First World War on the family of John and Elizabeth Royden of Liverpool (1872-1920)

The First World War had a devastating effect on the Royden family, and for those at home their lives would never be the same again. Three husbands lost their lives and twelve children would no longer see their fathers walk through the door of the family home again. This biography covers the family in their original home, close to the bustling port of ninteenth century Liverpool, before looking at each of the children in turn to see how their lives were changed by the war. There are surprises when a link to cousins in New York is finally confirmed, plus the discovery of cousins whose link was previously unknown - all descended from John and Elizabeth - who were all able to add to this fascinating, sad story.
Bombardier Charles Royden D Battery, 18th Brigade R.F.A. (1881-1918)
A Biography - by Mike Royden

When I first began reseaching the history of my family as a school project in the early 1970s, I could only get a far as my Great Grandfather, Charles Royden. He had died in the Great War and all family memories of him seemed to have died with him. Over the years I have researched his life and movements during the First World War, which have also included numerous visits to the battlefields of Belgium and France to discover more about his war experience and finally where he was killed in action.
Second Lieutenant Thomas Utting Royden
17th Battalion King's Liverpool Regiment/1st Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps.
A Biography - by Mike Royden

From the farming stock of Wirral, to the Somme battlefield, this is a sad story, full of tragedy and loss, but also of the bravery of a teenage officer who had lied about his age to get into the Liverpool Pals in the first week of volunteering. To the horrors of Delville Wood and Beaumont Hamel, this grandson of a Liverpool Mayor left his mark in more ways than one. A family secret kept for a century, this story also features a street named after the family, a neighbour of Everton FC, the first club doctor for Liverpool FC and a relative who played against Brazil in their first national game. Not to mention bringing Clark Gable home for tea.
Blackie the War Horse - Grave receives Grade II Listed Status

In December 2017, the grave of 'Blackie' the war horse at Halewood Horse's Rest was granted Grade II Listed Status to protect the site. This came after a local campaign and application to Historic England after fears it may have been removed by developers. This is the only site of its kind in the country with such status. Read about how Blackie came to be in Halewood and the story of his master Lieutenant Leonard Comer Wall.
Farndon War Memorial

Detailed biographies of all soldiers on this memorial and Churton village memorial researched and written by Mike Royden
The Parting of the Caldicott Brothers

William and John Caldicott were originally from Bilston in the Black Country, and had moved to Ellesmere Port with hundreds of others before the war in order to take up employment with the Wolverhampton Iron Works which had recently relocated there. They had the chance to avoid signing up for military service as they were in exempted occupations, but both men wouldn't hear of it, and went together to enlist for the Liverpool Pals. Their story is heartbreaking, regarding both their battlefield experiences and life at home.
Sergeant Joe Mercer - Prisoner of War

Joe Mercer was Ellesmere Port's most famous son at the start of the war, having been signed by First Division club Nottingham Forest F.C. after a scout spotted him playing for the local works team, Burnell's Iron Works (a.k.a. Ellesmere Port Town F.C.). He signed on for the footballer's regiment in late 1914, was wounded and later taken prisoner. This is his story. (He is the father of Joe Mercer junior who later captained Everton, Arsenal, England, and managed Manchester City to the League Championship, before having a short term as England manager).
Henry Bowen - fireman on the Lusitania

The sinking of the Lusitania in May 1915 remains one of the most controversial events of the First World War, or indeed any war. On board among many of crew from Liverpool was Henry Bowen, helping to keep the engines going on her crossing from New York to Liverpool. This is a full account of the events and the aftermath, and what became of Henry Bowen.
(Published in Village at War: A Cheshire Village During the First World War)
Lance Corporal Frank E Moscate
4th Battalion Tank Corps

Frank Moscate had an eventful time in his tragically short life. He had risen from a difficult childhood to be a manager of a saddlers business in Liverpool, had been called up in the conscription of 1916, served in the Royal Field Artillery, the Royal Engineers and the Tank Corps, and had make quite a mark on those he had met, worked and served with, not least his fiancée back in Liverpool. Read about his tragic story here.
(Published in Village at War: A Cheshire Village During the First World War)
Private Joseph James Stretton 17th Battalion, The King's Liverpool Regiment

Joseph James Stretton was born in Liverpool on 15 August 1895, the son of Albert Stretton and Sarah Ann Cartwright When the war came, Joseph signed on in Liverpool and was enlisted into the 17th Battalion, The King's Liverpool Regiment - one of the Old Pal's regiments. He took part in the action in the Battle of Arras, which is where he lost his life on 26 April 1917, aged twenty-one. The precise circumstances are unknown and his body was not recovered, but he is remembered on the Arras Memorial to the Missing in the centre of the town. The article also includes Joseph's half-brother, James Cartwright.
(Published in Village at War: A Cheshire Village During the First World War)
The Dodd Brothers All Gone to War

The Dodd family of Ellesmere Port was another of those local families that saw practically all of their sons sign up for active service. Either eight or nine passed through the recruiting office – the precise number remains unknown as documents have not survived – but this was a phenomenal commitment to the war effort and the call for volunteers.
Private James Gilbride

James Gilbride wasted little time in volunteering at the end of August 1914, and was assigned to the newly formed 9th Battalion Cheshire Regiment. His brother Thomas went in the Welch Regiment, while his wife's brother was with the Welsh Guards. Originally from Chester, this family of millers were attracted to a move to Ellesmere Port after the opening the new Flour Mills on the dock estate.
The Tragic Case of Private Arthur Williams

Private Arthur Williams had already been a career soldier,serving with the Royal Munster Fusilliers between 1904-7, which included two years on Gibraltar. His service also included signing for an additional 9 years in the Army Reserve. Meanwhile, his family relocated from Wolverhampton to Ellesmere Port following the move made by the Wolverhampton Iron Works. At the start of the war both Arthur and his father were working there, but as a Reservist Arthur was mobilised immediately and was in France within days, fighting in the The Battle of the Mons, the first engagement of the war, He took part in the legendary rear guard action where just three companies of Royal Munster Fusilliers held their ground against the full might of the German Army, allowing the bulk of the British Army (the B.E.F.) to retreat safely. The battalion was decimated, but Arthur's fate was to take a tragic turn.
Seven Sons Gone to War
The Hardwick Brothers

The Hardwicks came from Tipton in Staffordshire, where William Hardwick, was born into a family of iron workers in the industrial heartlands of the Black Country. Like many of his friends and neighbours he saw brighter prospects opening up at the expansion of the canal town in Ellesmere Port, especially once the Wolverhampton Iron Works had led the way, moving their operation north to the Port’s canal side. The family arrived in Ellesmere Port around 1910, moving into 8 Woodfield Road, close to the Iron Works. When the war came all seven sons signed up for military service.
Private William Manford D.C.M.

William Manford was another recent Black Country migrant who came to the Port to work in the Wolverhampton Iron Works. When the war came he returned home to sign on for the 2nd South Staffordshire Regiment. At the age of only seventeen he was awarded the D.C.M., a high ranking award for gallantry in the field, where he made several journeys under fire to recover machine gun equipment despite being wounded twice.
A wife's desperate fight for compensation

Harry Griffiths volunteered for active service on 15 August 1915, in Birkenhead, leaving his wife and two infant children to join the Cameron Highlanders. However, he became ill during training in the severe Scottish winter and was discharged only four months later. Then began the fight for support as home life became a desperate struggle to keep their home and stay out debt.
The Bousfield Brothers

Read about the cruel tragedy that befell the Bousfield family. A father who loses three sons to the war, two of whom were never found.
George Ernest Keates

George Ernest Keates had a difficult short life, losing the care of his mother due to illness before he was ten, which in turn contributed to the break up of the family, together with an unsettled life with his father, moving home to follow his work at sheet metal factories in Wolverhampton, Newport and Ellesmere Port. He joined the Army under age, fought in the horror of Passchendaele and the trenches around the Somme, where was gassed. He returned home seriously ill and passed away at the age of only twenty in 1920. His name was not put forward for the War Memorial and he remained unrecorded, until January 2015 when his name was finally added following a ceremony attended by local dignitaries and family members.
Private James Kettle

Private 18371 James Kettle of the 10th (Service) Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, died on 17 February 1917 aged twenty-nine. This article was written about his life and war service after the discovery of his Memorial Penny and the attempt to repatriate it with his family.

(all articles and photographic reproduction by Mike Royden who retains copyright)

Everton F.C. Heritage

As a member of EFC Heritage Society, Mike Royden has written several articles about the club's history, including matchday programme articles and the WW1/WW2 Player's Remembrance Booklet.

Articles by Mike Royden

Collected articles and papers researched and written by Mike Royden, mainly covering the Liverpool, Merseyside, S.W.Lancs, and Cheshire area. Includes extended and illustrated versions of shorter published articles.

First World War

Articles relating to the Home Front and battlefield experience, including numerous soldier's biographies from various war memorial projects.

Second World War

Articles relating to the Home Front across Merseyside, Wirral and Chester, including the Blitz, evacuation and other wartime experiences.


History papers submitted on past degree accredited courses at the University of Liverpool Centre for Continuing Education (Tutor: Mike Royden)


Articles and papers researched and written by various contributors. (If you would like your work to appear here please submit by email. All work gratefully received.)

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