The second battle of Ypres claimed the lives of three more men of Adlington and district – Jonas Normington (of Farnworth Street, Adlington) and James Smith (Woodville Road, Heath Charnock) on 8 May, and Frank Howard (Farnworth Street) on the 19th. Privates Normington and Smith were workmates at the Standish Bleachworks and they belonged to the same battalion of the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, which had left training camp at Winchester for France, 16 January 1915.
Private Smith was reported officially missing in July, and his mother put an appeal in the Chorley Guardian in April 1916 for any news of him from his comrades. It was only in May 1916 that he was officially reported as killed in action.
Adlington Parish Church magazine June 1916
All hope has now been abandoned that Pte. James Smith, K.O.Ls. (who has been missing for a long time) is now alive. After this long suspense the loss must be very hard to bear by his mother and family.
Private Howard, was 19 years of age, and had been a collier prior to the war. The Chorley Guardian reported that his parents had received a letter from him on 2 May, in which he said that he was all right and that being in the trenches was not as bad as working in the pit. He died in hospital of wounds, 19 May, and this was the first death of a soldier reported in Adlington.
Soldiers were issued with postcards with pre-printed messages, and thanks to a wonderfully efficient postal service, families at home could be regularly kept in touch:
Chorley Guardian and Leyland Hundred Advertiser 15 May 1915
ADLINGTON SOLDIER WOUNDED
Private William Ashurst, of 2, Grafton-street, of the First Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, has written a post card to his wife and family intimating that he is in a hospital, having sustained a slight wound. On Thursday a further post card was received, stating that Ashurst was well and in good health, except for a slight wound, and also adding that he would write further.
HEATH CHARNOCK MAN WOUNDED
James Morris of the 3rd Battalion of the King’s Own Regiment, writing to his wife and family, who reside at Babylon-lane, Heath Charnock, says he has been at the front three weeks. On Wednesday morning information was received that he had sustained a bullet wound in the knee, and it was feared that his knee had been broken, the doctor having put it into splints. Morris also sustained shrapnel wounds in the left foot, but says he is going on all right.
The Home Front
Before conscription the following amounts were paid to private soldiers’ dependants:
Wife only 12s. 6d.
Wife and 1 child 17s. 6d
Wife and 2 children 21s.
Each additional child 2s.
The soldier contributed 3s. 6d. a week from his Army pay towards the amounts listed. In many cases soldiers were better off than they had been before the war, and this assisted recruitment, whilst the idealism of “doing my bit” was still strong.
In the Adlington Parish Church magazine of April 1915, the Rev. Minett wrote:
“Almost daily now we hear of those whom we know so well going to the front…In our hearts there is a strange mixture of joy and sorrow, joy that so many of our village lads and men have not “shirked” sorrow”.
Thanks to the postal system which we have mentioned, parcels, even including perishable items, could be received quickly at the front.
Chorley Guardian and Leyland Hundred Advertiser 8 May 1915
ADLINGTON WORKING PARTY
The Committee of the Adlington Working Party recently decided to devote part of the proceeds made by the teas at the sewing meetings held during the winter, to buying special comforts for the soldiers in the trenches. A parcel was made up of the following and forwarded to the proper quarter: – One 4lb box mixed chocolates, 28 packs milk chocolate, 36 boxes safety matches, 72 tins and packets of ointment, 500 cigarettes, 1 razor, 2 razor strops, 24 pencils, 500 envelopes, 288 sheets of notepaper and 24 pairs of bootlaces. The following communication has been received: “The village of Adlington, near Chorley, has helped our appeal magnificently, and we were glad to receive another very fine parcel yesterday from the Local Working Party that has been formed to help the soldiers.”