Bleak month con­tin­ued for town as WWI ca­su­al­ties mounted up in 1917

Ormskirk Advertiser - - News -

AS FIGHT­ING on Flan­ders Field con­tin­ued, the losses to Orm­skirk wors­ened as Septem­ber went on.

The fam­i­lies would not have been in­formed of their loss un­til weeks later but as the year went on the im­pact would start to hit the town.

When the com­rades roll was put to­gether in the early 1920s, names only were added and hand writ­ten in loose al­pha­bet­i­cal or­der.

From that orig­i­nal me­mo­rial the names were re­searched and then carved into the stone plinths erected in Coro­na­tion Park to mark the cen­te­nary of the war.

Nine­teen names on the me­mo­rial are for men lost in Septem­ber 2017, eight of them were re­mem­bered in last week’s ar­ti­cle.

The four men lost on Septem­ber 20, 1917 were:

Cpl Pa­trick Gib­bons of the 5th Bn King’s Liverpool Reg­i­ment.

Pa­trick, born 1887, was the son of Peter Gib­bons of Elm Place.

Fa­ther and son had both worked in the brick-mak­ing in­dus­try be­fore the war.

Pa­trick is re­mem­bered on the Holy Trin­ity Church Me­mo­rial, Bick­er­staffe.

Cpl Harold Turner, son of Wil­liam and An­nie Turner of No 1 Court, Wi­gan Road, (No 1 Court was just be­fore the hospi­tal), was just 19 years old when he died.

Bap­tised at the Par­ish Church on Box­ing Day 1897, Harold had been with the 9th King’s Liverpool Reg­i­ment ini­tially but was with the 1st Bn, London Reg­i­ment (Royal Fusiliers) by Septem­ber 1917.

He is re­mem­bered on the Ypres, Menin Gate me­mo­rial.

Pte John Woods, G/19763, 11th Bn, Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Reg­i­ment) was also just 19 years old when he was shot dead by a sniper on Septem­ber 20, 1917.

John had en­listed at the age of 16 with the 21st Bn Kings Liverpool Reg­i­ment but was trans­ferred to the 11th Bn West Kent Reg­i­ment, serv­ing with the Bri­tish Ex­pe­di­tionary Force from Au­gust 1917.

He was not on com­bat duty that day, his mis­sion had been to reach his and com­rades with who had “dug in” with food and wa­ter, but which they had not had for al­most two days by the 20th. John had been dodging snipers that morn­ing but was fa­tally hit on one of his runs.

His self­less act of duty is recorded in the De Ru­vi­gny’s Roll of Hon­our.

Cpl Whyte, who was with the same unit as John, wrote to Robert and Mary Woods after their el­dest son, was killed, ex­plain­ing the cir­cum­stances of his death.

The fam­ily lived at Walk­den’s Cot­tages, Sineacre Lane, Bick­er­staffem in a four-room farm labourer’s cot­tage.

John Woods was “buried where he fell”, ac­cord­ing to his cor­po­ral.

The mud of Pass­chen­daele Ridge be­came his grave.

John is com­mem­o­rated on the head­stone for his par­ents in Holy Trin­ity Church yard, Bick­er­staffe.

John is also on the Tyne Cot Me­mo­rial.

The fourth ca­su­alty of Septem­ber 20, 1917 was Wi­gan born Pte Wil­liam Henry Bir­chall, son of John Bir­chall of Stan­ley Gate Farm, Bick­er­staffe.

Prior to en­list­ing, he worked at the Viaduct Lo­co­mo­tive Works in New­ton-le-Wil­lows.

He had en­listed with the Royal Army Ser­vice Corps at War­ring­ton in 1914 and be­came a horse­man­ship in­struc­tor. In July 1917 he was sent to France. He had mar­ried Martha Ros­botham, formerly of Ot­ter­shead Farm, West­head, niece of Sir Stan­ley Thomas Ros­botham MP of Bick­er­staffe.

Wil­liam Henry and Martha lived in Earl­stown where Martha was a school­teacher.

Wil­liam was killed dur­ing an early morn­ing raid on two Ger­man block­houses when his group came un­der heavy ma­chine gun fire.

Wil­liam’s brother, Robert Bir­chall, also served with the 9th Kings Liverpool Reg­i­ment from 1915 through to 1920.

Wil­liam is recorded on the Holy Trin­ity Me­mo­rial, Bick­er­staffe, the New­ton-Le-Wil­lows & Ear­lestown Me­mo­rial and the Tyne Cot Me­mo­rial.

His death was not con­firmed un­til July 1918, when his fam­ily were in­formed.

Two men were also lost on Septem­ber 21, 1917. One was 26 year-old Pte Wil­liam Ashcroft, son of Thomas and Ann Ashcroft, of 14 Mart Lane, Burscough.

Be­fore the war, Wil­liam worked for the Leeds-Liverpool Canal Com­pany. He be­came a stretcher bearer for the 10th Bn, The King’s Liverpool Reg­i­ment.

He is re­mem­bered on The Tyne Cot Me­mo­rial and the St John the Bap­tist Church Me­mo­rial, Burscough.

The sec­ond lo­cal man lost that day was 21 year-old Pte Peter Ec­cle­ston, son of Peter and Su­san­nah Ec­cle­ston, of Ben Lane, Bick­er­staffe.

Peter en­listed in Novem­ber 1914 with the 9th King’s Liverpool Reg­i­ment and was wounded in France in March 1915, re­turn­ing to ac­tive duty with the 64th Brigade, Ma­chine Gun Corps in Septem­ber 1916.

He died of wounds at the third Ca­su­alty Clear­ing sta­tion and is re­mem­bered on the Li­jssen­thoek Mil­i­tary Ceme­tery, Ypres and the Holy Trin­ity Church Me­mo­rial, Bick­er­staffe.

For more in­for­ma­tion on the men from the town and dis­trict lost dur­ing WW1 visit the Orm­skirk and Dis­trict Fam­ily His­tory So­ci­ety web­site at www.odfhs.web­site/pages/in­dex. php or Lathom and Burscough Mil­i­tary Her­itage at:

Wil­liam Henry Bir­chall in his role as a horse­man­ship in­struc­tor

Tyne Cot Ceme­tery and Me­mo­rial in Bel­gium where a num­ber of soldiers are re­mem­bered

No­tice of death for John Woods

Peter Ec­cle­ston, Pa­trick Gib­bons and Wil­liam Bir­chall are re­mem­bered on the Bick­er­staffe Holy Trin­ity Me­mo­rial

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.