A newly-built base for Manchester Detachment Royal Marines Reserve (RMR) Merseyside has been formally named after a local hero of the Crimean war during a ceremony attended by two of his great-great-granddaughters and the Commandant General Royal Marines, the most senior Royal Marine in the Service.
The new base, on the site of Haldane Barracks Army Reserve Centre on Eccles New Road, was formally named the Prettyjohns Building after Corporal John Prettyjohns who was awarded the Victoria Cross during the Crimean War and lies buried in Chorlton. During the ceremony a plaque was unveiled by Major General Robert A Magowan CBE, Commandant General Royal Marines, in the presence of Mrs Laura Walsh and Mrs Maria Gibbs, Cpl Prettyjohn’s great-great-granddaughters.
Born in Devon in 1823, John Pethyjohns joined the Marine Light Infantry. Upon enlisting, due to his heavy Devon accent, his name was misunderstood and spelled as Prettyjohns. He remained John Prettyjohns for the rest of his life. During the Crimean War, at the Battle of Inkerman, Cpl Prettyjohns and a party of marines were attacked by a Russian patrol. Low on ammunition, Cpl Prettyjohns seized the leader of the patrol with a ‘West Country wrestling throw’ while his men threw stones at the enemy. As a consequence of his actions he was put forward as the recipient of the Corps’ first Victoria Cross. Cpl Prettyjohns is buried in Chorlton alongside his wife and two daughters.
The Prettyjohns Building is a state-of-the-art training facility which will house Manchester Detachment RMR Merseyside. The project was delivered by the North West of England & the Isle of Man Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association (NW RFCA), the organisation which manages the Reserve and Cadet estate in the region. Begun in August 2015 the project, worth £1.1 million, transformed what was previously a garage into a centre comprising modern office and training facilities across two floors. The detachment also benefit from having dedicated external training facilities including regain and climbing ropes, training wall and troop training shelter. There are currently 39 Royal Marines Reservists from Greater Manchester and seven recruits undergoing training, all of whom will use the facility on a weekly basis.
Maj Gen Robert Magowan said: “It gives me great pleasure to name this new facility in honour of a Corps hero, the first Royal Marine to be awarded the VC, who is buried just a few miles away. It is even more of an honour to do so in the presence of Cpl Prettyjohns’ descendants, Mrs Laura Walsh and Mrs Maria Gibbs.
“The Prettyjohns Building will provide RMR Merseyside with a vital facility, allowing Royal Marines Reservists from across Manchester to train to the exacting standards required of them to deploy alongside their Regular counterparts on operations around the world.”
The Royal Marines Reserve comprises an elite group of some 600 people who combine their civilian jobs with serving as part-time, fully trained Commandos. Just like regular Royal Marines Commandos, they learn to deploy their skills in any location, environment and terrain. RMR Merseyside is based in central Liverpool and draws recruits from the North West, North Wales, the Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber.