On 28 June 1915, Co-operative Wholesale Society employee Edward Withers was killed in action as part of the Dardenelles Campaign. Also known as the Gallipoli Campaign, these series of battles were a major failure for the Allies against the Ottomans.
Private Withers had previously been reported missing only for a letter to be later sent to his parents confirming his safety. An article in the Co-operative News describes how he had written to his mother to confirm his good health.
His final letter was dated on the day of his death and it was addressed to Mr J Boyes at the CWS Building Department in Broughton. A CWS memorial plaque originally from this location was discovered in a scrap yard in Salford in 2009. This bore the names of employees who had died in the First World War and included a ‘James Edward Withers.’
Co-operative News, 7 August 1915, page 1052.
WWI co-operative voices
This post is part of ‘WWI co-operative voices’ which shares the stories of co-operative workers and members during the conflict. In order to mark the centenary of the WWI, the Rochdale Pioneers Museum is staging an exhibition entitled ‘From shop floor to front line’ and the accounts of these soldiers, shop workers and conscientious objectors will run alongside it. They are tales of death, duty and of those who chose not to fight.
Through ‘WWI co-operative voices’ we will be releasing new posts about these individuals throughout the duration of the exhibition (due to open mid-May 2015 and run until May 2016). Read about the co-operative movement’s involvement in a war that shook the world by selecting a name from the column on the left. You can also follow us on social media for regular updates.
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We wish to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for supporting the ‘From shop floor to front line’ exhibition and project.