Fight to the Last Man - Why?

Discussion in 'General' started by Drew5233, Oct 13, 2011.

  1. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Anyway, shouldn't we be 'fighting to the last person' nowadays?
  2. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    There was many occasions of last stand in Yugoslavia during ww2, only the mention one of the most famous, the last stand of the Workers Battalion on Kadinjaca
  3. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    I wouldn't underestimate the factor of people being pissed off in the extreme. There was a strange documentary a couple of years ago on the psychology of killing that wound up with Hollis VC as one of it's subjects. For the life of me I can't remember how they tried to explain away his actions, but I got it into my head that he, as a CSM, was simply provoked into taking a mixture of responsibility and revenge for his men who were getting shot up.
    Interviews with Bill Speakman always gave me the impression that he was quite simply furious for much of his award-winning fight - had 'lost it' to an extent that we may never understand.
    Battlefield heroics do indeed sometimes seem made of pure anger.

    Cain and his apparent abject hatred of Tanks appears to fit the bill for somewhat 'extreme' behaviour too.
  4. John Lawson

    John Lawson Arte et Marte

    I believe that the men at Rorkes Drift at the time of the battle were from the 24th (The 2nd Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot. After the Cardwell-Childers Reforms of the British Armed Forces, the 24th Foot became the South Wales Borderers on 1 July 1881.:sorry:
    Still doesn't take away the reasons why they fought on.

    I believe Tsun Tzu (whatever) said that you should always leave a way out to prevent the enemy fighting to the end if they saw no way of escape.

    Of course you could allow them to think there there was a way out and then catch them in an ambush later in order to obliterate them (could'nt spell annialate, still can't).

    Why do the 'last stand thing:
    • No way out
    • Discipline
    • Consequences of failure
    • Honour
    • Tradition/history
    I also believe that the Tangier Regt (later the Queen's) did a last stand thing in the desert outside of Tangiers. Not quite a fight to last man but what about the Middlesex Regt at Albuhera. They marched out onto a plain against suprior numbers and were cut to pieces (the real Die Hards). also the Huscarls at Hastings. Why did they do that?

    It may not seem romantic, war isn't, but I think the old Chinese general had it right. If you've got nowhere to go you might as well stay and fight, but given a back door you'll use it.
  5. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    Why do the 'last stand thing:
    • No way out
    • Discipline
    • Consequences of failure
    • Honour
    • Tradition/history

    There's one more...

    6. The big "F**K YOU!" , the spit-in-the-eye of the enemy, the last bite at his ankle, the "Do not go gentle into that good night" moment....sheer bloodymindedness.
  6. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Maybe that's just the Irishman in you speaking Phil! But I do think it has something to do with it - the last desperate act of rebellion or pride? But what if you could make a 'tactical withdrawl' and live to fight another day rather than surrender or fight to the death.
    I tend to agree with John's list although perhaps I would swap 2 and 3.
    Depends what you mean by 'consequences of failure' - personal or operational? Surely the latter would fall into the pride or honour category.
    I would like to hear what our esteemed veterans have to say about this.
    I also think Adam has hit a vein there - pure anger in some people could result in heroic actions and that could be contagious in some circumstances.
  7. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    But what if you could make a 'tactical withdrawl' and live to fight another day rather than surrender or fight to the death.

    Well, surely the whole idea of a "fight to the last man" order would be because this option isn't available?

    I know there have been plenty of instances of this happening - Rommel in the last stages of El Alamein, for instance - but that was against orders.

    Here's a counter-question....

    What does something like Camerone actually achieve? ;)

    IMHO....the next time, the enemy doesn't press so hard for fear of the bloody consequences to themselves...that the legend of the enemy they're fighting grows even larger...that if your opponent has no care for their own lives - what will they do to yours if you press them hard? :p

    In a away - it's a little like's creating potential.

    Terrorists have to set the live create the fear....that makes bomb scares so effective at disruption.

    Likewise, that bloody and costly last stand...makes an opponent fear that you'll do it again. And again...
  8. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Phylo, agree with a lot that you say but I don't quite get the terrorist thing.
    Attached the Camerone appendix from Simon Murray's 'Legionnaire'. He's gone on to to quite well for himself in businness since leaving the Legion.

    Attached Files:

  9. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    This Medal of Honor recipient always greatly impressed me. I don't know if it qualifies as fighting to the last man, but he fought where he did not have to.

    Ben L. Salomon, D.M.D.

    Benjamin Salomon was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1940. A dentist by trade, by 1944 he had been promoted to Captain serving as regimental dental officer for the 2nd Battalion, 105th Infantry Regiment, 27th Infantry Division. After the 2nd Battalion's surgeon was wounded, Salomon volunteered to replace him.

    On July 7, 1944 the 2nd Battalion was fighting the Japanese at Saipan on the Marianas Islands. There were high U.S. casualties.

    The enemy began to advance on the aid station where Captain Salomon was treating wounded soldiers. Soon he saw a Japanese soldier bayoneting a wounded U.S. soldier, and with many more crawling under the tent into the aid station Salomon rushed them, "kicked the knife out of the hand of one, shot another, and bayoneted a third. Captain Salomon butted the fourth enemy soldier in the stomach and a wounded comrade then shot and killed the enemy soldier." 1

    Salomon ordered his colleagues to evacuate the wounded soldiers while he went out alone and fought off the Japanese with a rifle taken from one of the wounded soldiers. By commandeering a machine gun, which had two dead soldiers on top of it, he managed to kill 98 Japanese soldiers. After being shot 24 times he finally fell dead and was found slumped over his machine gun.

    He was first recommended for the Medal of Honor by Capt. Edmund G. Love, the 27th Division historian, but it was denied because as medical personnel he was considered ineligible. It wasn't until May 1, 2002, and numerous attempts during the half-century following the war, that he was finally awarded with the honor.
  10. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    Looks like Dr. Salomon provides another reason...............he was really pissed!
  11. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    Attributed to; Simonides of Ceos - The Battle of Thermopylae.

    There are other versions; Go,tell the Spartans though passest by, that faithful to their precepts, here we lay.

    This was one of many that had been considered for the far East campaign. When you go home............was chosen.

    In some battles it was a case of being hacked to death or die fighting!
  12. gunbunnyB/3/75FA

    gunbunnyB/3/75FA Senior Member

    well, to be honest, as a former trooper, if i were in a spot where we knew that our unit was between the enemy and another unit that was falling back or we were guarding civilians then we would have done whatever needed to be done including fighting to the last man, because that's what soldiers do.
  13. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    A sobering thread title and one that only the participants in the battle could truthfully answer.

    Two thoughts on the subject, one personal and one historical and backed by ample evidence.

    As a serviceman I never achieved any high rank, indeed it wasn't until the war had finished that I even rose to any meaningful rank at all :)

    My "fighting" was confined firstly to a fairly passive role as a wireless-op in LAA and then a little more "hairier" in the 4th QOH and it is in the latter role that I feel I can make comment.

    When the 4th QOH were fighting a holding operation in Greece in 1941 (I was not to join them until March 1945) the whole unit was captured, to a man, and all the men were to remain POWs for the rest of the war.

    What if, at the time of this action , they had been given the order from above "You will on no account surrender but must fight to the last man !"

    Would they have fought on ?...... Could they have fought on ? Could I have fought on in similar circumstances ?……………. I will never know, but I am glad I was never put to the test

    One of the few people surviving who could give an answer to that question is Clive Dunn of Dad’s Army fame who was one of the 4th QOH men who were taken prisoner.

    I did say that I would also offer a historical thought.

    I offer you the story of Masada Masada: Desert Fortress Overlooking the Dead Sea
    This, to me, is one of the most heart- rending tales of men who indeed fought to the last man and because of turncoats such as Josephus the story was kept for the generations that were to follow.

    This fascinating thread continues……

  14. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Senior Member

    I know there have been plenty of instances of this happening - Rommel in the last stages of El Alamein, for instance - but that was against orders.

    AFAIK at El Alamein when the situation got desperate the DAK got hold of all available transport and ran westwards as fast as they could leaving the foot infantry units, mostly Italians, to sloww down the pursuit.

    IMO there are 3 main instances of units being destroyed to the last men.
    - The most common is "no quarters", the stronger side is simply not going to take prisoners. AFAIK in WW2 this was common in anti-partisan warfare, not rare on the Eastern Front and PTO and rare on the Western Front. In these instances "no quarters" is not the defender's choice. Not taking prisoners may be a matter of policy or part of the attackers culture. Theotoburger Wald is a typical case.

    - Then there is the case of the attackers getting mad at what they see as "unreasonable resistance". The Napoleonic era practice of surrendering fortified positions once a breach was made is a case of "unwritten agreement" to avoid eccessive bloodshed, in a nutshell if the defenders don't throw the sponge when they have no longer a chance if victory they are not given a second chance to do so. IMO this is very much a grey area from a moral standpoint, the distinction between "hot blood" and "cold blood" killings is very hard to define.

    - The last and rarer case is when the weaker force simply "won't quit" and goes down practically to the last man, Camerrone or Thermopilae are examples. I beleve that there is a point where humans get so "fighting mad" that surrender is no longer a possibility they think of. Sun Tsu and other military thinkers caution the stronger force to do every effort to avoid this sort of situation as it often results in a "Pirric victory".
  15. Jonathan Ball

    Jonathan Ball It's a way of life.

    There are some excellent examples here detailing the fight to the last man and I thought I would add this account of the Manchester Regiment. The information comes courtesy of the fine website The Manchester Regiment Group

    Manchester Hill

    21st March 1918

    In October 1917, the Bolshevik revolution in Russia was to have an impact on the last year of the war in Europe . Freed of it’s commitments on the Eastern front, the German army was free to reinforce its Divisions on the Western Front. Pressure from the French on the British would see them extend their lines further south towards the Town of St Quentin and beyond.

    The areas were to be defended by a zonal system of forward positions defended by a collection of lightly defended localities and incorporating heavily defended redoubts. This was to be protected by a continuous belt of barbed wire and covered by observation posts for Artillery Forward artillery observation officers.

    The purpose of the defences was to break up and disorganise attacks before they reached a battle zone 1 mile in the rear. The battle zones were defended by a series of interlocking and strongly defended positions with counter attack troops available to reinforce where breakthroughs were imminent.

    The 30th Division arrived in the area on the 23rd February 1918 and the Men of the 16th Battalion were given the task of defending a redoubt known as Manchester Hill (So named after its capture by the 2nd Battalion, Manchester Regiment in 1917) and were to have the advantage of preparing the position themselves.

    The redoubt commanded a magnificent field of fire overlooking the Town of St Quentin . It was well protected by thick belts of barbed wire 30 yards deep in places and covered by Lewis and Vickers machine guns with interlocking arcs of fire and trench mortars. The redoubt was backed by Brown quarry on its reverse slope which afforded excellent cover and location for dugouts. The Battalion HQ had a special SOS red smoke which, on release, would bring down an artillery barrage to sweep the area between each redoubt and form a protective box around the redoubt. Telephone cables had been buried to a depth of 8 feet to Brigade HQ and the artillery fire was controlled from a concrete bunker that stood on the summit of the hill.

    The men knew every position on the redoubt and their own part in the defence of it. If they were to be in any doubt about what was expected of them the Divisional Commander explained it thus;

    “It must be impressed upon all troops allotted to the defence of any position, whether in the outpost system or the main battle position, that so far as they are concerned there is only one degree of resistance, and that is to the last round and to the last Man.”

    On the 18th March, Colonel Elstob gathered his Men together and fully explained to them the system of defence. It was known that a great attack was imminent and that they had been selected to bear the brunt of the first onslaught. He warned them to be ready for a bombardment lasting possibly several days, and said that they must stem the enemy advance. Pointing to a blackboard showing the dispositions he said,

    “This is Battalion Headquarters. Here we fight and here we die”

    In the early evening, as the Battalion marched off towards the redoubt, the Platoon singing competition was judged by the Divisional Commander and when the band turned back (for they were not to go into action) the Commanding Officer said :

    “Those are the only fellows that will come out alive”

    Disposition of the Battalion at Manchester Hill.

    Right Front- A Company Commanded by Captain Ashe supported by 2 Platoons of C Company under Captain Heywood.

    Left Front- B Company Commanded by Captain Guest supported by 2 Platoons of C Company under Captain Pritchard.

    The Redoubt-Battalion Headquarters with D Company (O.C Lieutenant Clark) under immediate command of Colonel Elstob.

    Battalion Headquarters consisted mostly of cooks, signallers, batmen and police and all the extra Men that make up an Infantry Battalion. These were the men who ultimately would form the last line of defence in and around the Redoubt and if they were to look anywhere for inspiration it was to their Commanding Officer.

    It was hoped that the Battalion would have time to get accustomed to the ground before the attack began. The first night passed quietly and most of the next day was still. At dawn the next day, a gas attack was projected towards the German lines in St Quentin in anticipation of an attack, which caused many casualties.

    Patrols were sent out on the night of the 20th/21st-but no signs of enemy activity were reported. At 6.30am on the morning of the 21st, a terrific artillery and gas bombardment opened up on the Battalion’s position. The long expected bombardment had begun, but still no enemy movement could be seen, and for good reason, a fog had descended on the valleys in front of the positions and was made worse by the bursting shells. This was disastrous for the Battalion as the wide open arcs of fire were now obscured, and worse, it gave cover for the advancing German infantry to manoeuvre under.

    At 7.30am, the 2 front Companies reported that everything appeared normal on their fronts and that the enemy artillery was falling behind their positions. Colonel Elstob gave orders that Battalion HQ should move from its position in the Brown quarry to its battle position on the hill. He visited all the posts in the redoubt, encouraging the Men and telling them what to do. Shortly after 8.00am, the bombardment became more intense, and the telephone wires to the front Companies failed, though the buried cable to Brigade HQ still held.

    At 8.30am, a runner from A Company reached Battalion HQ bringing information that the Company HQ was surrounded. Within a few minutes similar news came from B Company. Thick fog had made observation impossible and neutralised the machine gun defences which should have proved an impenetrable barrier up the valleys between the redoubts. A scream was heard as one of the sentries was bayoneted. The enemy were closing in.

    At 9.00am, a forward post on the left front of the redoubt sent back word that they were engaged at close quarters with the enemy and the attack developed on the right front post and from then on a desperate struggle raged on.
    Gradually, the fog lifted, and at 11.30am there was a glint of sunshine breaking through, and on all, sides masses of the enemy could be seen advancing in file. The breakthrough was complete on both sides of the redoubt. Special troops were tasked to deal with Manchester Hill.

    Finding that the enemy had entered the redoubt by the trench leading from the Savy-St Quentin road, Colonel Elstob erected a bombing block between the attackers and the HQ dug-out. Although sniped at and bombed by the enemy, he replied by emptying his revolver on an enemy bombing party, accounting for all of them. He continued to hold the bombing post against several successive attempts using bombs and rifle fire. The enemy abandoned their attempts and made an attack over the top in large numbers. They were held back by rifle fire and only a few made it as far as the trench, into which they threw their bombs. Colonel Elstob was wounded for the first time, but after being dressed he returned to the defence, walking about regardless of the fire from every side, and encouraging the Men wherever he went.
    “You are doing magnificently boys! Carry on-keep up a steady fire and they’ll think there’s a Battalion here.”

    According to Sergeant Arrundale, the Battalion Signalling Sergeant: “In the afternoon the Colonel took up a rifle and twice crossed the Quarry, the entrance to which was already occupied by the enemy, to cheer up and encourage Lewis gunners. I saw him blown five yards by a shell which had dropped by his side. He was wounded three times but said to me “Arrundale, they can’t damn well kill me”.

    In spite of His wounds he continued to fight with rifle, revolver and bomb and throughout kept up communications with Brigade.

    By 2.00pm most of the Men on Manchester Hill were either dead or wounded and the final hand to hand fighting was taking place. On the western edge of the quarry Sergeant Archer Hoye, the Lewis Gun Sergeant and an original “Pal”, was killed at his post whilst changing the drum on his gun. At 3.30pm, Colonel Elstob was spoken to on the phone by a Staff Officer and he said that very few were left and that the end was nearly come. His last words on the telephone were “Goodbye”.
    One of the survivors of the battle told of the last words by Elstob to him.
    “Tell the Men not to lose heart. Fight On!”
    He still held his ground, firing up a trench. A last assault was made by the enemy who called on Elstob to surrender. He replied “Never” and was shot dead. The Adjutant, Captain Sharples, was also killed whilst attempting to pull the Colonels Body into the trench. By 4.00pm, it was all over and the battered remnants of the 16th Battalion, wounded and exhausted, surrendered.

    Wilfrith Elstob embodied all that was noblest in the Regiment he loved so well. “If I die,” he wrote to a friend on the eve of the battle, “do not grieve for me, for it is with the sixteenth that I would gladly lay down my life.”

    In a battle where all ranks behaved so splendidly it would be hard to single out names for special mention. However, the following were especially noticeable:-

    Major R Gibbon MC, who went to France with the Battalion in 1915 and remained with it throughout and helped to hold off the enemy until severely wounded by a bomb.

    Captain and Adjutant Sharples was prominent for his encouragement of the Men. Always on the fire step, firing with a quiet confidence, until he was killed.

    The Battalion Medical Officer, Captain Walker. Who behaved fearlessly throughout, frequently leaving the aid post to dress casualties in the battle line. It was entirely due to him that the enemy did not blow up the aid post. Whilst the enemy were throwing bombs down the entrance, he dashed up the dug out steps, at great personal risk, and succeeded in convincing them that it was a Red Cross station.

    Corporal Stenson, the medical Corporal, who showed great courage in dressing the wounded, though badly wounded himself.

    RSM Potter and CSM Brown MC of D Company who maintained the ammunition supply, lead quickly organised bombing parties and encouraged the Men to fight for every inch of ground.

    Sergeant Hoy, the Lewis gun Sergeant, accounted for hundreds of the enemy. With two young soldiers he fought a post on the Western edge of the quarry. He continued firing until overrun by the enemy, and whilst changing the drum on his Lewis gun, was killed with a revolver shot.

    Of the 8 Officers and 160 Men who went into action on the redoubt, just two Officers and fifteen other ranks survived. Most of the men from the rifle Companies not killed were taken prisoner. Those that survived made their way back towards the battle zone. Most of these survivors were collected together by Major Roberts, an original Officer who had been attached to the Brigade School as Commandant. In all, two Officers and seventy Men were collected and the Battalion was reformed.

    The defence of Manchester Hill had delayed and disrupted the German advance and as such, the men had achieved all that was hoped and expected of them.

    On the 15th April 1918, a memorial service was held in Manchester Cathedral to pay tribute and honour the officers and Men killed on Manchester Hill. Canon Elstob, father of Colonel Elstob, and many wounded survivors were present in large numbers.

    At the end of the war, Hubert Worthington, a childhood friend and brother Officer of Colonel Elstob went to France with the hope of finding his body, but despite extensive searches and a further search in May 1919, no identifiable remains could be found. It is likely that Colonel Elstob’s body was stripped of its rank and insignia and is buried in an unmarked grave. He, along with the majority of the men killed on the Hill are commemorated on the Pozieres memorial.

    Later that year, Hubert Worthington was responsible for ensuring that Colonel Elstob received the recognition his bravery deserved, collecting statements from witnesses and survivors and submitting the successful case for the award of a Victoria Cross. On the 24th July 1919, Canon John Elstob, accompanied by Hubert Worthington went to Buckingham Palace where King George V presented him with the Victoria Cross awarded to his Son.

    Lieutenant Colonel Wilfrith Elstob VC, DSO, MC

    VC Citation

    "For most conspicuous bravery, devotion to duty and self-sacrifice during operations at Manchester Redoubt, near St. Quentin, on the 21st March, 1918. During the preliminary bombardment he encouraged his men in the posts in the Redoubt by frequent visits, and when repeated attacks developed controlled the defence at the points threatened, giving personal support with revolver, rifle and bombs. Single-handed he repulsed one bombing assault driving back the enemy and inflicting severe casualties. Later, when ammunition was required, he made several journeys under severe fire in order to replenish the supply. Throughout the day Lieutenant-Colonel Elstob, although twice wounded, showed the most fearless disregard of his own safety, and by his encouragement and noble example inspired his command to the fullest degree. The Manchester Redoubt was surrounded in the first wave of the enemy attack, but by means of the buried cable Lieutenant-Colonel Elstob was able to assure his Brigade Commander that "The Manchester Regiment will defend Manchester Hill to the last." Sometime after this post was overcome by vastly superior forces, and this very gallant officer was killed in the final assault, having maintained to the end the duty which he had impressed on his men - namely, "Here we fight, and here we die." He set throughout the highest example of valour, determination, endurance and fine soldierly bearing."

    The Gallant Dead


    Captain Edward Neville Ashe MC. Only Son of Mr and Mrs Edward Ashe, of “The Coppice” Hale, Cheshire . 8th (Ardwick) Battalion attached 16th Battalion. Officer Commanding A Company.

    Lieutenant Colonel Wilfrith Elstob VC, DSO, MC. Son of the Reverend Canon John and Frances Alice Elstob of, “Fanshawe”, Chelford, Cheshire. Commanding Officer, 16th Battalion.

    Captain and Adjutant Norman Sharples. Son of William and Margaret Ann Sharples, of 7, Palatine Avenue, Withington, Manchester . Adjutant, 16th Battalion.

    Non Commissioned Officers and other Ranks.

    Pte 39652 Ernest Armitage,16 Beech St, Oldham
    Pte 54657 Charles, Joseph Aspley, Whitney on Rye, Herts
    L/Cpl 47541 Frederick, George baker, ,Highbury, London
    Pte 50994 Frederick Bean, West St, Helpston, Peterborough
    Pte 59178 Ernest, Victor Bell, 22 Portland Rd, Sydenham, Kent
    Pte 11472 Thomas Benn,16 Bingley St, Bradford, Manchester
    L/Cpl 7360 Robert Bennett,11 Knowles Sq Pendlebury
    Pte 43101 Lawrence bunting,10 East View, Carcroft, Doncaster
    Pte 54671 john, James Butler, Crewe Rd, Wheelock, Congleton
    Pte 203236 Myles Carrigan, 90 Sherwood St, Collyhurst
    Pte 43208 Samuel Cartwright,117 Old Rd, heat on Norris
    Pte 29462 Henry Clough, 49 Lord St, Ashton
    Pte 27100 Elijah Collinge,101 Hendham Vale, Manchester
    Pte 41783 Harry George Collins, 24 Brownlow Rd, Willesden,
    Pte 41857 William Crimmins,7 Fisherton St, Marylebone, London
    Pte 36276 Timothy Curtin,10 Maple St, Oldham
    Pte 6233 James, Thomas Dawson,16 Park Grove Rusholme
    Pte 252611 Joseph Devon, 68 Edgeware Rd, Edge Hill, Liverpool
    Pte 303305 Edward Donnelly,7 Spring Terrace, Crumpsall
    Pte 54691 Harry Edwards, Brook Farm, Bunbury, Cheshire
    Pte 23960 Daniel Farrell, Salford
    Pte 11543 Tom Fitton(MM). 298 Bury New Rd, Whitefield
    Pte 276724 Harold Frost, 28 Melbourne St, Ardwick
    Pte 377029 Arthur Ivan Gilman,49 Low St, Diss, Norfolk
    Pte 54706 Anthony Glover,101 Oswald St, Accrington
    L/Cpl 27307 Oswald Green, 23 Richmond St, Wigan
    Cpl 28248 John, Willie Hall,126 Chapel Rd, Oldham
    L/Cpl 46701 John Hall Henderson, kelso, Roxburghshire
    Pte 31211 James Hockney,52 Melbourne St, Gorton
    Pte 46817 Alfred Holt Hopkinson,396 Manchester Rd, Oldham
    Sgt 6630 Archer Hoye, 214 Radnor St Hulme
    L/Cpl 35688 Ernest Jackson, Cheetham Hill, Manchester
    Pte 49421 John Joseph Joyce,105 Reather St, Manchester
    Pte 49601 Martin Kay,59 Barlow St, Bradford, Manchester
    Pte 49174 Frederick Kemp,47 Nansen St, Seedley, Salford
    L/Cpl 41040 Frederick Kimpton,21 Blue Boar Lane, Leicester
    L/Cpl 43029 Henry James, Penrith, Carlisle
    Pte 202960 James Leighton, Manchester
    Pte 352937 Tom Lord, Bury
    Pte 59213 Sidney, Bert Martin,157 Owen Rd, Wolverhampton
    Pte 35643 Emmanuel Massey,51 Prince St, Ardwick
    Pte 401042 John Mercer, 55 Oglet Lane, Liverpool
    Pte 48590 Richard Mills,75 Shaw Rd, Oldham
    Pte 377948 Frederick Moran, Salford
    Pte 61113 Edward Murphy, Liverpool
    Pte 352329 Charles O’Neill, Preston
    L/Cpl 9235 Richard Owen, Harpurhey, Manchester
    Cpl 33704 Jesse, Edwin Pemberton, 29 Vernon St, Gorton
    Pte 37648 John Wesley Pickering, 52 Cranbrook St, Oldham
    Sgt 1667 Joseph Quinliven, Burnley
    Pte 401099 George Richardson, Ashton
    Pte 40850 Charles Rick, 21 Long Row, Newark, Notts
    Pte 43783 Thomas Rosewarren, 27 Station Rd, Patricroft
    Pte 2354 Bernard John Rouse, Matlock Rd, Matlock, Derbyshire
    Pte 39442 Leonard Royle,11 Gilmour Terrace, Clough Rd, Blackley
    Pte 44112 Herman Schaefer, 212 Palmerston St, Beswick,
    Pte 36287 Herbert Seddon, 54 Regent St, Salford
    Pte 35696 Frederick Shepherd, Abingdon, Berkshire
    L/Cpl 47540 James Archibald Smith, Middlesex
    Pte 400966 William Smith, Liverpool
    Pte 33847 Abraham Smullen, Belfast
    L/Sgt 40861 Frank Snowdin(DCM) 87 Moorgate, Retford, Notts
    Pte 202875 Bernard Southworth, 30 Hough Lane, Bolton
    L/Sgt 43094 James Stalker, Rose Villa, Kirby Stephen, Penrith
    Pte 302736 Samuel Steel, 3 Joel Place, Oldham
    Pte 303307 Reginald Thomas, 46 Westbourne Grove, Harpurhey
    Pte 29617 William Thompson (MM) 4 Nova Scotia St, Failsworth
    Pte 49405 Frederick Tuffs, London
    L/Cpl 43067 Ephraim Turner,10 Epplestone St, Stockport
    Pte 251339 Henry Valentine, 29 Clifton St, Old Trafford
    Pte 48397 Arthur Williams, Manchester
    L/Cpl 9203 Robert Wilson, Northwich, Cheshire
    Pte 17269 William Henry Withington, 46 Islington St, Altrincham
    Pte 7167 Thomas Yarwood, Heaton Mersey, Stockport
    Pte 203846 Thomas Yates,18 Mill Lane, Leigh

    Pte 46650 John Ryder, Signaller, 38 Ossory St, Moss Side, Manchester . One of only 15 men who were unwounded. He and his small group of men were marched to the German lines. A German turned his machine gun on the group, killing Private Ryder.


    The 16th,17th,18th and 19th Battalions The Manchester Regiment. A Record 1914-1918

    Manchester Pals. Michael Stedman.

    The Signal Section of the 16th Manchesters. T E Pennington DCM.

    Wilfrith Elstob VC,DSO,MC. “Here we fight, Here we die”.
    Robert Bonner.
  16. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    I seem to recall a documentary about this event - I believe they march his remains/or a part of his body out on the parade

    I think you are referring to the wooden hand of Capitaine Danjoux - it was in Mexico when France was supporting Emperor Maximilian during the Mexican Revolution of 1863 the event celebrated is the Battle of Camerone

    Jean Danjou - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  17. Peccavi

    Peccavi Senior Member

    In this non-religious era, it is easy to overlook how important this was to our forbears.

    The belief that you are doing God's work or fighting for some higher ideal is another reason to fight to the last man.

    I seem to remember reading of 30 templar knights surrounded but charged and were cut down to the last man. But must have been true of many other non-recorded actions of the wars of religion too.
  18. urqh

    urqh Senior Member

    In terms of the British Army two of the more well known incidents of fighting to (almost) the last man were at Isandlwana and at Gandamak. Was it not the case that men fought with almost fanatical zeal to defend the Colour and to avoid what was then seen as a disgrace if the Colour was lost?

    Just a thought.

    More likely their life. I don't think the zulu was taking prisoners at that particular place. No choice. Fight, run and or die.
  19. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Why do the 'last stand thing:
    • No way out
    • Discipline
    • Consequences of failure
    • Honour
    • Tradition/history

    There's one more...
    6. The big "F**K YOU!" , the spit-in-the-eye of the enemy, the last bite at his ankle, the "Do not go gentle into that good night" moment....sheer bloodymindedness.

    Fight Another Day, J.M. Langley, 2CG, 1/6/1940
    The firing died away. To our delight Bob Combe and Pop Wyatt, commanding No. 2 Company on our left, suddenly appeared on the excuse of 'seeing if we were all right.' Angus called for his servant who was squatting in the trench nearby. 'Go into the cottage and in the little room on the left you will see two bottles, some glasses and a small table. Bring them all here.'

    'Sherry?' he said to Pop. 'Whisky if you prefer it, though I think we ought to save that as we may need it later.'

    We all accepted sherry and Angus looked over towards the Germans on the road who were sauntering up and down apparently without a care in the world. Even the distant guns were quiet and it seemed just like pre-war manoeuvres.

    Angus raised his glass, 'To a very gallant and competent enemy.'

    We all followed suit and then exchanged news until some big guns a long way back opened up on a farm some way behind us. The shells were landing in the flooded fields and we watched with fascination the great columns of water they sent up, reminding me of pictures I had seen of the Battle of Jutland.

    'Time to go back,' said Angus and off Pop and Bob went.

    Three out of the four of us were to be killed within the next 24 hours.

    It was much later in the afternoon when firing had recommenced that Angus sent me over to see how Evan Gibbs was faring. Evan was grey with fatigue and very worried because one of his Bren guns was unmanned. The gunner had been killed, and he felt that the Germans might capture it. Despite all i could do he insisted on trying to recover it. He did not get very far, and though a guardsman very bravely ran out and brought him in he died soon afterwards.

    I returned to report that the only officer left was Ronnie Speed who had only joined the battalion a few weeks earlier and that he proposed to withdraw on to us. Angus replied quietly, 'Is your flask full?' I told him it was nearly empty. 'Take mine and make Ronnie drink all of it. If he won't or still talks of retiring, shoot him and take command of the Company. They are not to retire.'

    Ronnie was looking miserable, standing in a ditch up to his waist in water and shivering. I offered him Angus' flask and advised him to drink it, which he did. 'You are not to retire. Do you understand?' He nodded, but was killed an hour later when the enemy attacked and drove what was left of No. 1 Company back on to us.

    My memory of the next few hours is disjointed. Someone cooked a delicious chicken stew over a fire behind one of the outhouses and I can remember wolfing it down with white wine. The Germans tried to bring up some guns in front of us but they were knocked out by the Boyes anti-tank rifle. An old woman suddenly appeared asking for shelter and I told her to go to hell. Then I felt deeply ashamed, called her back and apologised, offering her shelter in one of the rooms at the back of the cottage. One of my section commanders asked what he should do with all of the unopened tins and I was engulfed by a wave of hatred for the Germans. Why should these bloody bastards invade other people's countries, destroy their homes, villages and towns, machine-gun and bomb them on the roads, and take what did not belong to them? Well, they were not going to get our food. 'Destroy them.' 'How?' came the query. 'Stick a bayonet into every tin.' We indulged in an orgy of destruction. If the Huns were not going to ear our food they were not going to cook their own. In a rage I smashed the cooking stove with a hammer.

    We got the Brens back in the attic and dealt with the Germans who were advancing along the canal road. We managed to set three lorries on fire, which effectively blocked the road. Later - how much later I do not know - I went down to see how Angus was. He was lying on top of the trench, half curled up, still in 'service dress', Sam Browne breeches, green stockings and brown shoes but he no longer wore his famous papier mache steel helmet. A dead guardsman was lying beside him. I told him I thought we could hold the enemy from the cottage but I am not sure he understood. 'I am tired, so very tired,' he said and then, with a half smile, he rallied and gave me his last order. 'Go back to the cottage, Jimmy, and carry on.'
  20. tangosierra

    tangosierra Junior Member

    I think much of the above is true, but I also believe that when you are in a situation where any hour of a day could mean death, a person accepts the inevitable and therefore fights without so much fear.

    It is difficult to describe the situation, especially so when in peace we value life so much in our modern world.

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