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November 7, 2013 / manxhistory

Private Herbert Wright – Canadian cyclist Company

Herbert Wright was born in Douglas on 30th June 1889. He was the son of the late William and Christian Wright of the Widow’s house in Cambrian Place, Douglas.

Herbert emigrated to Canada and became a Farmer. He was 5 foot 3, with brown hair and blue eyes, unmarried and with a tattoo on his left arm when he enlisted at Valcartier, Canada on 23rd September 1914.

Private Wright joined the Canadian Cyclist Company – this was an intelligence division within the Canadian army, and was solely made up of volunteers. They were sent to Europe in October 1914 after a short period of training.

At the front, the company would spent 4-6 weeks on the Front line at a time – more than other companies, Duties included building and staffing listening posts, despatch duties, mining and reconnaissance. The front line focus of the Cyclist companies earned them nicknames – the gas pipe cavalry and due to the death rate of 23% in these companies in the later years of war “suicide battalions”.

By the end of 1915 Private Wright has been through the Second battle of Ypres, his company was gassed at St Juliaan. He fought at Ploegsteert, then Sanctuary wood in Belgium before the company moved to Thiepval in France, and in April 1917 the battle of Vimy Ridge. The Canadian Cyclists were moved back to Belgium and fought at Passchedaele, and then in 1918 the Battle of Cambrai. Private Wright had experienced some of the fiercest fighting of the First World War for 4 years, on the frontline, in one of the most dangerous jobs. On November 2nd 1918 9 days before the armistice Private Herbert Wright was killed. The Canadian Cyclist Company had captured Mont Houy, and were advancing on Valenciennes when thy encountered “strenuous opposition”when attacking the village of Marly. The Canadians lost 80 men with 300 wounded. Private Herbert Wright was one of them. Private Wright, along with 18 others under the command of Lieut. Wilson attacked an enemy position on the Mons Road. Wright and two others were killed. He was 30 years old. Private Wright is buried in Aulnoy Communal Cemetery in Northern France.

His Commonwealth War grave online record,%20HERBERT

His Canadian Virtual War Memorial

For more information on the Cyclist Battalions

September 16, 2013 / manxhistory

Jimmy Guthrie – TT Legend

Jimmy Guthrie is one of the most legendary TT riders. He was the winner of 6 TT races from 1930-37, 3 North West 200s and 19 GPs and many of us pass his memorial on the Mountain road regularly.




There was much more to Guthrie’s story though. He had served in the Borders Regiment during the First World War as a despatch rider, serving at Gallipolli and Palestine, then with the move of his regiment, the second battle of the Somme and the Battle of Arras.

He died during the 1937 German Grand Prix, in an incident some saw as Nazi foul play to avoid the propaganda of a British winner. Guthrie had a two minute lead when a German back marker moved across path line and Guthrie was thrown into the trees and killed. Stanley Woods, another British rider, stated at the time “I am prepared to take an oath that he was the victim of foul riding.” Guthrie’s team, Norton, believed the crash was caused by a mechanical failure. The German rider Edvald Kluge won. While some at the time stated this was German treachery to avoid a sporting humiliation following the Berlin Olympics there is no evidence remaining after the Nazi’s were in power for a further 8 years.

The Germans gave Guthrie the trophy meant for the fastest rider in the race after his death, and gave him a guard of honour along with a special train to take his  body back to his home town of Hawick.

August 14, 2013 / manxhistory

The Three Legs of Mann


The Three Legs have been the symbol of the island for many many many years. Beginning as a royal symbol in the 13th Century, it has gone on to become the National symbol of the Island. The Triskelion is made up of three armoured legs, and Sicily has a very similar symbol – with naked legs.

It became the flag of the Island in 1931, when the Isle of Man stopping using the Union Jack and designed it’s own flag. The flag is based on that of the Stanleys – the Earls of Derby who were Lords of Mann. The Stanley flag was the three red legs on a white background on land, with their ships reversing the colours.

As to the direction of the legs

“All the early examples of the Manx ‘Legs’ show them as if running sunwise (i.e. clockwise) and to that extent the heraldic symbol of the Island still retained an essential feature of the ancient pagan sun-symbol. Although sometimes drawn anti-clockwise, that is singularly inappropriate.”


There have been cases of people confusing the Flag with the swastika – notably World Cup Football stewards. While this is obviously ridiculous it bears remarking how the familiar symbol must have looked to those Jewish refugees being interned on the Island in 1940.

The symbol was also hijacked by the Belgian Waffen SS during WW2 – wanting to show independence from Germany, they declined to use the Swastika and instead used a three legged symbol.


August 7, 2013 / manxhistory

Was Thomas the Tank Engine Manx?

Thomas the Tank Engine’s routes are on the Isle of Sodor – the title of the Bishop of Mann is officialy Bishop of Sodor and Man – so where is Sodor?
The BBC investigates…

That would make it cheaper on the Steam Packet…7

September 17, 2012 / manxhistory

Cashtal yn Ard | Ancient Monuments | Isle of Man

Cashtal yn Ard | Ancient Monuments | Isle of Man.

July 24, 2012 / manxhistory

Tell Me About Park Road

With Park Road School closing after 118 years we invited past students and teachers in to be interviewed about their memories of the school.

Here are some of the results

May 15, 2012 / manxhistory

Y13 Revision