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  • Christina Drummond

Private Lionel Brough, 2nd/4th Battalion, the Royal Berkshire Regiment

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1917, Private Lionel Brough, 2nd/4th Battalion, the Royal Berkshire Regiment, was killed in action during the Third Battle of Ypres.

After leaving school he was employed in the silk mill of Messrs. G.H. Heath & Co. in Macclesfield, and was a notably keen footballer playing for a local club. He enlisted in the army at the beginning of 1917, when he joined the Cheshire Regiment, and after training was sent to France. Shortly afterwards he was transferred to the Royal Berkshire Regiment. His territorial force battalion had been raised in November of 1914, at Reading. While serving with them Private Brough saw action in the Operations on the Ancre, The German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line and the Battle of Langemarck.

It was during the Third Battle of Ypres that he was hit in the head by a piece of shrapnel and killed instantly. His commanding officer wrote to his parents to inform them of their son’s death, assuring them that it had been instantaneous, and added “I always found him a painstaking and excellent soldier.” Private Brough’s brother was at the time stationed at Whitchurch with a training reserve, having joined up three months earlier – he served as an Airman 3rd Class with the Royal Flying Corps and survived the war.

Private Brough has no known grave and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing at Zonnebeke, the Ypres Salient Battlefields, in Belgium. He is commemorated in several locations in Macclesfield, including the town hall, St. Michael’s Church, Beech Lane Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, and the Fence United Methodist Sunday School. His employers set up a memorial for their employees who fell in the Great War – it was made of cast bronze on a polished black granite mount, but sadly was lost when the premises were demolished some years later. The inscription read: “This tablet is erected in glorious memory of the members of the firm G.H. Heath & Co. who gave their lives in the Great War” – nine of their employees, including Private Brough, had died in the war, but the plaque listed twenty-eight names to include and honour the nineteen employees who fought and returned home.

Lionel, from Macclesfield, was 21 years old.

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