Page 11 - HOT NEWS JULY 2014
P. 11
“Tell Them: For Your Tomorrow, We Gave our Today”
The year 2014 marks the Centenary of the outbreak of the Great War. These are some of the stories of the 106 men of the Liverpool Police Fire Brigade who did not come back.
PC 69 ‘h’ - Bill hoFFman
Bill was one of thousands of Naval Reservists recalled for fleet manoeuvres in late July 1914. But the men were not released back to their civilian jobs after the training.
Bill had joined the Royal Navy at the age of 16 before he joined the Liverpool Fire Police as PC 69 ‘H’ in 1905. He had married in the previous year and the couple’s first child, a daughter, was born in 1906. Two more children would follow. Bill served at the Central Fire station at Hatton Garden.
Bill rescued two wounded Lancashire Fusiliers from the water during beach landings which came under heavy fire on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey, in April 1915. Bill was later awarded the Distinguished Service medal for his bravery that day.
Sadly on July 3, 1916, he was drowned in a boating accident whilst his ship was off Ceylon [now Sri Lanka].
PC 174 ‘h’ - William Johnson
William was the son of a Liverpool Police Sergeant and was born in 1885. He joined the Royal Navy aged 15 and three quarters and in 1908 joined the Liverpool Police Fire Brigade. He remained a Navel Reservist and, when recalled to duty in 1914, he was posted to a battleship.
Later he joined the new destroyer HMS Turbulent. In April 1916 he sailed for what would prove to be the largest naval battle of the war - the Battle of Jutland.
At 12.25am on June 1, following the main battle, four German battleships were returning to their base when they crossed, at high speed, the rear of a mixed flotilla of Royal Navy destroyers. The battleships started firing heavily and one collided with the Turbulent, cutting her in half. All of HMS Turbulent ship’s company of 102 men were killed outright or drowned, including Petty Officer Johnson, aged just 30 and six months.
PC 351 ‘h’ - James BeresFord
James was born in Walton in 1888 and joined the Army as a professional soldier at the age of 17, becoming a Private in the Manchester Regiment. He left after two years and joined the City Police. After five years he transferred to the Fire Police as part of H Division and was posted to Heald Street fire station, Garston.
Following the outbreak of war he resigned from the Police and rejoined the Army. He was posted to 2nd Battalion the Manchester Regiment and, due to the huge casualties the Army suffered, was sent to France after just 10 days’ training.
After fierce fighting for two months trying to stem the invasion of France by over one million German troops the battalion had almost reached its limits. The men were exhausted. On October 26 they were ordered to retire to support trenches near Festubert to rest. The very next day, Beresford is recorded as being killed in action aged 26. He has no known grave.
Charles FrederiCk Gavin
Charles, the son of a horse-keeper, was born in Liverpool in 1887. In November 1909 he joined the Fire Police as PC 173 ‘H’. He married the following year and the couple had two children.
Just one month after war broke out he was released from the Police to join the Army Reserve. After training, Charles was posted to join 1st Battalion Scots Guards in France on December 27.
At 7.30am on January 25, 1915, his battalion were attacked while holding position at Cuinchy, north of Bethuné in Northern France. The Germans exploded a huge mine under the Guards’ trenches and the battalion lost 31 killed, 242 missing and 123 wounded. Only 45 men were left alive for two companies. Charles was reported missing and he has no grave. He survived just 30 days in France.
It was not until March 28, 1916, that his wife received a letter confirming he was officially recorded as assumed to have died on or since January 25, 1915.
Thomas John Cheadle
In 1902, with the introduction of the first petrol engine, Thomas Cheadle was taken on as the first of a number of taxi drivers and chauffeurs to drive for the Brigade. Their status was not as a PC, but a civilian. They were known as Corporation Drivers.
Thomas was born in Poulton, Cheshire, in November 1881. He married the following month and the couple had five children. He was based at Hatton Garden, usually driving the First Turn appliance.
On November 23, 1914, he volunteered to join the Army. After serving in England he was posted to France in July 1915.
In 1916 he was posted to the 335th Mechanical Transport Coy, attached to 26 Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery. This was a siege battery with six 5-inch guns, each hauled by a Holt’s steam tractor which Thomas drove.
On Sunday, August 13, Thomas was standing near to the entrance of a dugout when a German shell exploded overhead and he was killed by shrapnel. He was buried in the Dive Copse Military Cemetery at Sailly-Le-Sec, near the River Somme.
Photos copyright of Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service.
Thomas Cheadle is shown on the left.

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