The GREAT War 1914 -
Adlington, Anderton and Heath Charnock remember.
September to December 1915
Trench warfare continued in the Gallipoli peninsula during the hot and disease-
Roland Foster, from Horwich, but formerly of Wilcocks Farm, Rivington, was serving with the 6th (Service) Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, which landed at Anzac Cove 5 August. They went into shallow trenches, but were overwhelmed by the advancing lines of Turks, and fierce hand to hand fighting took place. The remnants of the battalion then dispersed to support other battalions and Private Foster was killed 27 August, having been in Gallipoli for just 22 days.
Private Alexander Brooks of the Farmers’ Arms, Chorley Road, was serving with the 1st Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers which landed at Suvla Bay, 21 September. They were in support and front lines in October and November, when the weather had turned extremely cold. During the great storm of 26 November, water entered the trenches like a tidal wave, filling them to a depth of 4ft. Stretcher bearers worked waist deep in water to attend to the sick and wounded: 20 men drowned, 14 froze to death and 536 officers and men suffered from exposure. The battalion moved into reserve on 28 November and Private Brooks died of exposure on 1 December. He was 19 years of age.
Private Fred Parker, formerly of Rawlinson Bridge, Heath Charnock, was one of Dr Rigby’s ambulance men who enlisted in the Medical Unit, RN Division, Royal Marines, and was drafted to Gallipoli aboard the hospital ship Mauretania. Private Parker contracted a fever from which he died, 5 November, and was buried at sea.
The British Government evacuated troops and brought the Gallipoli campaign to an end formally by the departure from Helles, 9 January 1916.
Trench warfare continued on the Western Front, and if their letters are anything to go by, morale amongst the local Tommies was high.
Chorley Guardian and Leyland Hundred Advertiser 11 September 1915
NOT SORRY HE ENLISTED
Gunner L. Smith, B Battery, 81st Brigade, R.F.A., who is serving in Flanders, writing to a friend at Duxbury says: -
The following letter was sent to Adlington Church Lads’ Brigade by John (Jack) Ellis Harvey, of Babylon Lane, Heath Charnock, and printed in the St Paul’s parish magazine of September 1915.
“You will be glad to know that Ellis [this was Ellis Norris who enlisted with his friends although he was only 15 years of age] is out of hospital again and looking as well as ever; the shrapnel did not do him much harm, thank goodness. It is like a dream to think of the times we had in the Church Lads’ Brigade. What a time will we have when we get back! Tell the lads tents will be out of the question – dug-
The editor [the Curate, the Rev. Swanzy] commented “It is a real pleasure to get such a cheerful and encouraging letter from the front, and we can assure our lads at the front that our lads in the Company at home intend to ‘keep the flag flying’ until the time comes for our brave troops to plant it before the royal palace in Berlin.”
Company Quartermaster Sergeant Harvey was killed in action 25 February 1918.
Chorley Guardian and Leyland Hundred Advertiser 9 October 1915
LIFE IN THE TRENCHES
The following letter has been received by us from 5555 Private W. Weetman, [Private, then Acting Warrant Officer Class 2, Lancashire Fusiliers] who formerly resided at 67 Chorley-
Chorley Guardian and Leyland Hundred Advertiser 16 October 1915
ADLINGTONIANS AT THE FRONT
Signallers J. Ellison and J. Jolly, who are with the Lancashire Fusiliers in France, writing to the Editor of the “Chorley Guardian”, say they want to let us know “how two Adlington lads are going on who receive your paper every week out in France. I and my pal have taken your paper out between our lines and put it and two more for the Allemands to come for, but they are shy and don’t like the idea of coming. There are quite a crowd of Adlington boys in our lot, and we are all still in the ‘pink’, only we should like to see a few more from Chorley and Adlington out here. We have been through the heavy fighting that has come off lately; it’s all right, only it seems to want to rain every time we have to go for them, and it is uncomfortable for a man to go under in the wet, but it’s the ‘keep smiling’ motto out here for everybody, only when we are over the knees in slush, then we have to swear like all British boys. Hoping this finds all in the best of health, as it leaves the Two Jacks; or ‘Happy-
Adlington Parish Church magazine December 1915
Signaller Fred Snape, “somewhere in France” writes [to the Church Lads’ Brigade]: “All the old Brigade lads are well, and under the circumstances I think they are fairly happy. At least it seems so to me, for any time I happen to pass any of them I am always greeted with a smile and a cheery wave or joke. We are having a pretty rough time of it in these trenches at present. We are holding the hottest part of the line, and every day that passes sees a number of the lads ‘put west’. All day long some poor beggar is being taken down to the rear and the dressing station, and every morning a few more small white crosses are raised on the ‘Dump’ (Cemetery).”
There were of course casualties on the Western Front and elsewhere.
Cpl. John Hough, of 119 Chorley Road, Adlington, and serving in the 10th Battalion, Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) was killed in action, 25 September, having been in France and Flanders since July. He was formerly a shop assistant.
Private James Wildman, of 145 Chorley Road, Adlington, and serving in the 11th (Service) Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers, died 25 October.
Chorley Guardian and Leyland Hundred Advertiser 6 November 1915
PRIVATE JAMES WILDMAN
Private Jas. Wildman, 11th Lancashire Fusiliers, whose home address is 145 Chorley-
Private Wildman’s father was in business as a flagger and slater, and he had been an apprentice butcher with W. Marsden, Chorley Road.
Sergeant Thomas Cross, formerly of Heaton’s Houses, Adlington Common, and serving in the 10th Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment died 16 November.
Chorley Guardian and Leyland Hundred Advertiser 4 December 1915
News has been received of the death of Sergeant Thomas Cross, 10th Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, on November 16th. In a letter to the parents of the deceased soldier, who live in Grime-
Lance Cpl. Robert Robinson, of Red House Bridge, Adlington, and serving in the 10th (Service) Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers, was killed in action, shot by a sniper in France, 19 December.
Stoker Herbert Seager, of Park Road, Adlington, and serving on HMS Tiger, was accidentally drowned in the North Sea off the coast of South Shields, 20 December. He was brought home and buried in a Commonwealth War Grave in Adlington Cemetery on Christmas Day.
Private John William Baines, of Babylon Lane, Heath Charnock, and serving in the 8th Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, was killed in action, 22 December. He was one of the Babylon Lane men who enlisted 31 August 1914, and was the first of their number to lose his life. He was reportedly shot in the head by a sniper during fighting at Armentieres.
Up until this time, servicemen were volunteers, or Regular Army and Royal Navy. The Military Service Act, passed in January 1916, applied conscription, bringing a new dimension of reserved occupations, conscientious objection and tribunals.