Samuel’s birth was registered at Tunstall in 1899, although he was born at the end of November 1898 and baptised at St. James, Newchapel on December 14th 1898. His parents, John and Melinda (née Moores) had married in a civil ceremony in Congleton in 1895. His mother was from Congleton and his father from Burslem but Samuel had been born at Newchapel.
In 1901, Samuel and his siblings lived with their parents at 13, Handley Street, Packmoor. Samuel had two older sisters, Mary E. and Melinda, and his father was described as a coal miner in that year. The family still resided in Handley Street in 1911 but had expanded to include eight children: Mary Ellen, Melinda, Samuel, Grace, Isabella, John, Alice and James Alfred. Samuel was at school and his father John was still a coal miner.
Samuel enlisted in the 2nd battalion Lincolnshire Regiment. Before the war this battalion had served in Bermuda and Nova Scotia, returning to England in October 1914. They left for the Western Front the following month and in February 1915 transferred to the 25th Brigade, 8th Division. No service records have been found and the medal card of Samuel does not show a date of entry into a theatre of war.
In the spring of 1915 the 8th Division fought in the Battles of Aubers Ridge and Neuve Chapelle, and later in September the Battle of Loos. July 1916 found Samuel and his mates fighting in the Albert area during the Battle of the Somme. After the enemy withdrew to the Hindenburg Line the division held the trenches in this area. In July 1917 the 8th Division were ordered to fight in the Third Battle of Ypres, seeing a major action at Langemarck with all the horrors of this terrible battle.
A transfer of divisions took place in early 1918 for the 2nd battalion Lincolnshire Regiment, when they attached to the 21st Division. The German Spring Offensive of March 1918 found the Lincolns in action at St. Quentin and Bapaume until ordered to fall back to Messines and Kemmel. Then the infantry entrained to travel south and join the Third Battle of the Aisne in June. The actions following the turn of the enemy offensive in August brought Samuel to the St. Quentin Canal area and Cambrai. With the fight back in progress the war was moving fast pushing the enemy back, but a heavy loss was inflicted on the division.
In the “Final Advance in Picardy” at the Battle of Selle in October, the division met with strong enemy resistance. In the early morning attacks on October 20th, which secured the high ground, the division then paused for two days in order to bring up their heavy artillery. A renewed attack began on October 23rd. It was during this bitter fighting that sadly Private Samuel Henshall fell and he would not see the outcome of the attack. On the following day it was a significant victory for the 21st Division, taking some 20,000 enemy prisoners. At the age of 19 years Samuel had fallen on October 23rd 1918. He was never recovered from the battlefield and is now remembered on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial.
He is remembered locally on the Brindley Ford and Tunstall memorials.
Elaine Bryan and Michael Turnock.