Salford Pals


I have spent a considerable amount of time this weekend rebuilding the lives of my paternal Great-grandfather John Henry Mcclenan( McLanaghan) and my Great grandmother- his wife Frances Taylor/Skinner. It is a fascinating story of friendship, war, battles and lives lost, and love rising like a phoenix from the ashes to build what was to become a large and strong family. John Henry and his best friend George Skinner were to fight in the Boer War, George was killed and John Henry injured in the hip and returned to Salford to convalesce. On recovering he went to see George’s wife of 4 months Frances Skinner and over time they fell in love and were married on 14 December 1901.

Frances was 27 by this time but they went on to have 8 children, one of whom was my Grandfather Frank born in 1911(the one on the horse), and although getting on in years John Henry served with the Salford Pals 15th regiment from 1914-18, surviving a number of key battles including the Somme in 1916 and the siege of Thiepval July 1st 1916 and was awarded a number of medals. Frances and John’s fourth child was a daughter Hilda and her Great Grandson Christopher Finney went on to earn the George Cross for bravery in the Iraq war 2003. I think great things came from the broken fragments of John Henry’s Boer war broken-ness. He passed away in 1926 from amongst other things TB in the injured hip. I might not have fully complied with nature- but maybe war counts as the impact of human nature…

Bleak Boer War battle

John Henry lost George Skinner

Frail Fall brought Frances.


Alison Jean Hankinson


For d”verse our challenge is to write about finding beauty in the broken pieces or imperfection and/or the process of mending the broken pieces.- kintsugi. A “broken” object, cityscape or landscape, or personal experience of mending and embracing imperfections. Kintsugi means “golden rejoining,” and refers to the Zen philosophy of acknowleding flaws, embracing change, and restoring an object with a newfound beauty.

Author: alisonhankinson

Walking tall whenever I can.

14 thoughts on “Salford Pals”

  1. I love the personal family share and photos Alison ~ What is amazing is the resilience to build a life and family after the war tragecy and injury. The journey of loss is mixed with the newfound opportunity to rebuild a life ~

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  2. What an interesting trail of events that brought you to life. My gran dad died of TB as well in about 1920. The interesting intersections that bring us together are not mere chance. Thanks for a great read

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a fascinating way to spend your weekend, Alison! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your haibun and the history of your great grandparents. You’ve reminded me to re-read the family history written by my mother’s cousin, which is in many ways quite similar to your family’s. Thank you for sharing the story and the photographs. I have a soft spot for old photos.

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  4. The resilience of people in older generations is amazing. Imagine living through the Somme! Broken people come together and by doing so become whole. And by researching and recording their stories you are making them whole again. This was a compelling read.

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  5. Thank you for sharing your family history Alison, illustrating thus how broken parts of us mend and grow and life flourishes even from death. There is often a wonderful richness to our backgrounds.
    Anna :o]

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Having researched my own family tree, I can identify with your excitement at unraveling your family story. An interesting one it is! I agree with you … it always seems the haiku should really be a senyru, and enhance the haibun.

    Liked by 1 person

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