Lewis Midgley was an employee at the Co-operative Wholesale Society at their Balloon Street branch in Manchester. He worked as a greengrocer in the green fruit department. His colleagues described him as being exceedingly pleasant. On the 1911 census Midgley lived in Harpurhey, Manchester with his mother and two siblings. He enlisted with the Rifle Brigade, 8th Battalion in Stockport.
He was dispatched with his unit to France to fight on the Western Front. On 15 September 1916, Midgley was killed in action on the battlefield. When the news of his death broke in the Co-operative News, they reported that he was a good faithful employee who was popular with his colleagues and much loved all around. His name is commemorated at the Thiepval Memorial in France, which is to remember all those who fought and died in The Somme.
The Battle of the Somme, which ran from July to November 1916, was one of the bloodiest and most remembered battles of the First World War. It saw the first use of tanks as part of an offensive campaign. The Allies were only able to advance five miles from their starting point, at a total cost of 1,265,000 lives on both sides.
Co-operative News, date unknown.
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.