Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

Ronald Harry Royle

Ronald Harry Royle :

Ronald Harry Royle : Military Cross

Military Cross

Ronald was born on the 27th November 1891 in Cheadle Hulme near Stockport. His father was called Arthur and his mother was Grace. He had an older brother called Douglas Arthur.

When the 1891 Census was taken shortly before Ronald was born his family lived on Park Road in Cheadle. Arthur worked as a cashier for a shipping merchant. Ten years later they had moved to 39 Albert Road in Withington, Manchester. Neither Douglas nor Ronald were with their parents when the 1901 Census was taken. They were both pupils at King Edward VI Grammar School in Retford, Nottinghamshire. This was a boarding school, so the brothers lived there during term time.

In 1911 Ronald had left school and found work as a banker's clerk. He had returned to Manchester and lived with his father at 89 Camp Street in Lower Broughton. They shared the house with Ronald's uncles Harry and Herbert, his aunt Gertrude Marion and a servant named Milly Crosby. Grace had died. At around the same time Ronald became a scoutmaster in the Boy Scouts.

The First World War broke out in early August 1914 and Ronald applied to be commissioned as an officer on the 18th. When he applied he was 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighed 127 pounds. He had 'good' hearing, teeth and vision, and was passed as fit. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on the 26th August and joined the 11th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment.

The 11th Battalion was a new unit being formed by men who had enlisted 'for the duration of the war'. It trained at the Manchester Regiment Depot in Ashton, and then moved to Belton Park near Grantham in Lincolnshire. By April 1915 they had moved to an area of Surrey near the villages of Witley and Frensham. After a final inspection they set sail for Gallipoli on the 30th June.

Ronald and the 11th Battalion took part in the landing at Suvla Bay which began on the 6th August. This was intended to support the British forces already fighting at Cape Helles in Gallipoli by diverting Turkish soldiers to deal with this new threat.

The landings did not go well. Inexperienced soldiers were coming ashore in darkness and under Turkish fire. This was made worse by poor leadership, meaning that the British suffered many casualties. After several days they were still unable to capture the high ground from the Turks.

Ronald endured up to 4 months of stifling heat, lack of water and poor health. The British were not able to advance; instead they held their trenches under heavy shell and rifle fire. The campaign was a failure.

At some point Ronald fell sick and had to be evacuated to Cairo in Egypt. We don't know what was wrong with him.

We believe Ronald later recovered enough to return to the 11th Battalion. They were evacuated to Egypt in mid December 1915 and were then sent to the Western Front in France during July 1916.

Ronald was awarded the Military Cross in the London Gazette of the 3rd June 1916. It was awarded for 'distinguished service in the field'. There was no citation to go with his award, so we don't know exactly what he did.

By November 1916 Ronald had left the 11th Battalion. He was attached to the 32nd Brigade Headquarters. This unit commanded 4 battalions, although not the 11th.

Between the 9th and the 19th November Ronald was able to return to the UK on leave. His address during this time was The Vicarage, at 44 Haverstock Hill in Camden in North West London. We don't know who else lived here.

Ronald was seen by a medical board on the 27th, before he returned to France. He was considered unfit for service by the board. They said that this was because of the length of time he had been unwell. This suggests that he had not been fully fit whilst he served with the 32nd Brigade.

At first it was decided that Ronald should relinquish his commission. A notice stating this had happened was published in the London Gazette on the 23rd February 1917. This was cancelled during June. Instead Ronald left the Manchester Regiment and was transferred to the General List.

In March and April Ronald was based at Ripon in Yorkshire, and we believe he was serving with a unit of the Labour Corps. At some point during this period Private 284555 Alfred Quirie of the Labour Corps had his left ankle crushed by a horse. He would later name Ronald as a witness to this accident.

We don't know when Ronald returned to France, or what jobs he held. By the end of 1917 either Ronald's health had improved or the Army was desperate for more officers. Either way, he rejoined the 11th Battalion on the 17th December.

Ronald held the rank of Temporary Captain during his time with the 11th Battalion. During March and April 1918 they fought to defeat the German Spring Offensive. After this was defeated, they joined the Allied Offensive that began on the 8th August and led to the end of the war on the 11th November. Ronald was promoted to Major at some point during this period, and we believe he also commanded the 11th Battalion for a time.

Ronald was demobilised on the 17th January 1919 and returned to civilian life. He was granted the Honorary Rank of Major. He went back to The Vicarage on Haverstock Hill.

Later that year Ronald he was ordained as a Deacon in the Church of England. He became Curate of the Parish of St Silas Martyr in Kentish Town, London. He was ordained as a Priest in 1920. Ronald stayed at St Silas until 1923, when he moved to Birmingham.

In Birmingham Ronald became the Chaplain of that city's Toc H branch. Toc H was a Christian social organisation that had been founded by soldiers in Belgium during the First World War. It carried out acts of charity and social work in deprived areas, as well as offering former soldiers somewhere to meet and remember old comrades. Ronald was also made a Public Preacher by the Diocese of Birmingham, so that he could lead services anywhere in that area.

In 1925 Ronald returned to Manchester. He became Rector of Our Lady of Mercy and St Thomas of Canterbury in Gorton. He held this post for 12 years until 1937. He then moved south to become Vicar of St Marks in Swindon, Wiltshire. Thomas was also Treasurer of the 11th Battalion Old Comrade's Association during this period.

The Second World War broke out in September 1939. Ronald rejoined the Army on the 8th January 1940. He was commissioned as a Chaplain to the Forces 4th Class in the Royal Army Chaplain's Department (RAChD). He was assigned to 5 Field Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery. This unit was sent to France and fought against the German invasion that May. Ronald was evacuated from Dunkirk with the rest of the Regiment.

As an Army Chaplain Ronald led religious services and provided support to the soldiers. This could be religious or not; often a 'Padre', as Chaplains were known, could just be a source of a cup of tea and a friendly ear for a soldier.

After spending some time in the UK Ronald was sent to North Africa as Chaplain to the 8th Armoured Division. This unit arrived in Egypt in June 1942. In September Ronald became Deputy Assistant Chaplain General to XXX Corps.

This Corps fought in the battle of El Alamein in October and November 1942. They then began to advance west across North Africa. Ronald stayed with them until the German surrender in May 1943.

XXX Corps took part in the invasion of Sicily in early July, and had captured the island by the 17th August. It was then sent back to the UK. They had been assigned to take part in the invasion of France. Ronald left them on the 30th December and became Senior Chaplain to a number of different units in the 21st Army Group. They were all involved in the Lines of Communication, or the rear areas, rather than on the front lines.

The Allies invaded Normandy on the 6th June 1944. Ronald landed on the 9th. We don't know anything about his service in North West Europe until the 30th March 1945. On this day he became Deputy Assistant Chaplain General for all the Allied units in the Netherlands.

The war in Europe ended in May 1945 and Ronald was able to return to Swindon on the 19th June. He had been Mentioned in Despatches twice, once on the 13th January 1944 for service in the Middle East, and once on the 10th May 1945 for service in North West Europe. He was promoted to Chaplain to the Forces 3rd Class, and also served as a Temporary Chaplain to the Forces 2nd Class.

Although he was based in Swindon, Ronald was still involved with Toc H. On the 8th April 1947 he was in Manchester for a 'very successful' festival at that city's Toc H branch.

Ronald left Swindon in 1949 and moved to become Vicar of St Matthews on Great Peter Street in Westminster, London. He relinquished his commission in the RAChD on the 27th November 1951.

In 1968 Ronald lived at St Matthew's Clergy House on Great Peter Street. This suggests he could still have been Vicar at St Matthew's.

Ronald died in the Ealing area of London in June 1974. He was 82 years old.

As well as his Military Cross, Ronald was also awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal for his service during the First World War. For his service in the Second World War he is likely to have received the 1939-45 Star, the Africa Star, the Italy Star, the France and Germany Star and the 1939-45 War Medal with 'Mentioned in Despatches' oak leaf. He may also have received the 1939-45 Defence Medal.

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