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The Greg family and the Great War

A photo of the Greg family siblings, before the war changed everything  (Left to right: Madge, Bobby, Arthur, Helen, Alec)
Photo of the Greg family siblings, before the war changed everything (Left to right: Madge, Bobby, Arthur, Helen, Alec) | © Nick King

Find out more about the wartime roles of both the men and women of Quarry Bank's Greg family from 1914 to 1918: their brave contributions to the war effort and the ultimately tragic consequences for the family.

Arthur, Bobby and Alec Greg

Arthur and Bobby Greg both joined the military and served in the First World War.

Through their letters and photographs we gain a valuable insight into the brutal reality of life in the trenches and the psychological effects of war on their characters.


Arthur, the eldest of the three Greg boys, changed from an optimistic young student during training into a courageous, battle-hardened man whose confidence, dry wit and humour never failed to shine through even in his darkest moments.

Arthur served in the army and the Royal Flying Corps from 1914 until his death in 1917. As the son and heir of Quarry Bank, his passing was a devastating loss for his family and the business.

Arthur is buried at Jussy Communal Cemetery in France.


Younger brother Bobby spent most of the war waiting to join the war effort. He was still at school when the conflict broke out but his eagerness to join his brother in the fighting and match his bravery and achievements was always evident.

Although still seen by the family as a boy, he went to war aged 19, five months after Arthur’s death. Joining the Cheshire Regiment as 2nd Lieutenant he was posted to Belgium in April 1918 and was killed only a month later by a German shell dropping near his trench.

He is buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery in Belgium.


Their younger brother Alec had never expected to inherit the Mill and estate. He had a keen interest in nature and ran a farm near Styal.

In 1939, five years after his father’s death he gifted Quarry Bank Mill, the Apprentice House, Styal village and estate to the National Trust.

Madge, Helen and Marian

It wasn't just the men of the Greg family who went to war. Madge and Helen Greg both served as Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) nurses with the British Red Cross during the First World War in France and England.

They carried out a range of duties in rest and dressing stations, such as providing meals for the servicemen and treating the wounded. Their letters and diaries also provided an insight into the important role women played during the conflict and their desire to do more to help their brothers.


The war had given Madge the opportunity to develop her passion for medicine, and introduced Helen to her husband. For those left at home though, it could be a terrible wait for news. Arthur's fiancée Marian Allen wrote about her experience in her war poetry and suffered very deeply from his loss. She never remarried and remained a close friend of the family.

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