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Littleborough Soldiers who fell during December 1917

Date published: 04 December 2017


Gunner John McNamara (MacNamara)

John was born in Todmorden in 1896. By 1901, he was living at 6 Taylor Street, Littleborough with his parents Jerimiah and Margaret and sisters Mary and Hannah, all four of whom were cotton weavers. In the home were also sisters Ellen and Esther as well as his brothers Thomas and Edward.

John McNamara is shown in the Rochdale Observer for 16 January 1915 as having passed his first aid exam.

Subsequently, when it is believed he was stationed on the Frezenberg Ridge in Belgium, 21 year old Gunner John McNamara, Royal Garrison Artillery, 8 Denhurst Street, Littleborough died on Tuesday 11 December 1917 and was interred in Ypres Reservoir Cemetery, Ieper, Belgium, Grave Number IV B 2. His name is also remembered on the Littleborough Cenotaph.

The Rochdale Observer for 29 December 1917 reported that he was late of 8 Denhurst.

Private Robert Chadwick

Robert was born in Rochdale in 1899. In 1901, he was living with his parents James Henry, a head cook at a hotel, and Dora, as well as his brother, sister and uncle at 3 Harrogate St, Weurdle.

The family, less Hilda and his uncle, had moved to 121 New Road with his father, now a wood polisher, Harold, a picker maker and Robert still at school - probably St Andrew’s as he is later recorded as being associated with St Andrew’s Church and school.

In March 1917 Robert Chadwick, 19 White Gate, Dearnley appeared before a tribunal and requested that his conscription be deferred due to personal reasons - the tribunal granted him a deferment of his conscription, but no later than the 30 June 1917.

In October 1917, Private Chadwick was posted to France when two months in, 19 year old Private 362718 Robert Chadwick 74th Labour Group H.Q. Labour Corps was killed later, on Thursday 13 December 1917. He is buried in Grave Number III C 14 in the Hazebrouck Communal Cemetery, Nord France and is remembered on St Andrew's War Memorial and Memorial Card and Littleborough Cenotaph.

A special service in the memory of L/cpl Mews and Pte Chadwick was held in St Andrew's Church, the service conducted by the Rev. Oakley. The St Andrew's magazine for January 1918 recorded his death with sorrow, noting his captain to whom he was a batman wrote “Your boy gave up his life to save others and was in the act of helping to extricate some women and children who had been buried under a fallen house when another shell came and killed him instantly”, “…. May he rest in peace”.

The Rochdale Observer on 3 August 1918 noted St Andrew’s would tomorrow hold a St Andrew’s Guild Anniversary service, including a Memorial service for those Guild members who had fallen in the 4th year of the war.

Lance Corporal John Allen Mews

Whilst John was born in Littleborough (Calliards Terrace, Smithy Bridge), in 1892 his family had moved there from Parsons Drove, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire where his father and four children were born. His mother originated from Merthyr Tydfil.

By 1911, the family (with another daughter) had moved to New Road, Dearnley with his father being employed as a cotton weaver.

Prior to enlisting in Rochdale in November 1915, Lance Corporal Mews was employed by Messrs R Foxcroft & Sons, Whitelees Mill, Featherstall.

The Rochdale Observer of 15 July 1916 recorded that he had written to his parents stating that “he was in hospital in France suffering from an injury to the back caused by a shell”.

In January 1918, his parents now at 4 May Place, Dearnley were officially informed that their 25 year old son Lance Corporal 27033 John Allen Mews, 245th Coy. Machine Gun Corp had been killed in action in France on Monday 17 December 1917.

He is remembered on Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium, St Andrew's War Memorial and Memorial Card, Littleborough Cenotaph and on a tablet in St Andrew's Churchyard subscribed by the employees of Messrs Foxcrofts. The St Andrew’s magazine recorded his death with sorrow and included details from a letter from his captain, the following details – “He was one of the best men he ever had under him”. The article added “Jack was one of our Day and Sunday School boys, a Bible Class member and Confirmation candidate and our deepest sympathy is with his relatives. May he rest in peace”.

A memorial service was planned for him and Bob Chadwick on 6 January. The Rochdale Observer on 3 August 1918 noted it would tomorrow hold a St Andrew’s Guild Anniversary service, including a Memorial service for those Guild members who had fallen in the 4th year of the war.

In the Roll of Honour column of the Rochdale Observer for 12 January 1918, a sentiment was included from his loving father, mother and family. They also had sentiments included within the In-Memoriam column of the 14 December 1918 edition.

Private John William Jennings

John William was born in Littleborough during 1886 and in 1891 lived with his family, father Joseph (a carter), mother Hannah and four sisters at 3 Prospect View.

In 1901, they remained at the same address (now three sisters) and his father was recorded as being a carter at a Sanitary Tubeworks. John was a ring spinner (cotton).

By 1911, he lived with his parents and two sisters at 3 Holme Terrace. He was now a ring frame minder and his father still a carter, Woollen Mill. Prior to enlisting in Rochdale in 1915 he was employed at Sladen Wood Mill and was a member of the Summit Social Club.

32 year old Private John William Jennings 282243 of the 1st/7th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers died of wounds he had received in France on 26 December 1917 whilst he was in the trenches at Givenchy. John William is buried in Choques Military Cemetery, France and his name is on the Cenotaph in Littleborough and on the family grave in St James's Churchyard (Calderbrook).

Private John Alfred Earnshaw

John Alfred was born in Littleborough during 1898 and in 1901 was living at 22 Victoria St with his parents Alfred and Mary Ellen and his four older sisters Mary (13, cotton weaver), Hannah, Beatrice and Emily. His father was a furniture remover. By 1911, the family were at 50 Hare Hill Road.

Prior to enlisting in Bury (February 1917), Private Earnshaw lived at 3 Sale Street and was employed in the grocery department of the Littleborough Co-operative Society.

It was reported on Saturday 5 January 1918 that on 28 December 1917, the only son of Alfred and Mary Ellen Earnshaw, New Barn, Blackstone Edge Road, 19-year-old Littleborough born Private John Alfred Earnshaw, 406254, 25th Kings Liverpool Regiment had died at a base hospital from fatal wounds he had received in Belgium on the first day he went into action.

He is interred in Dozinghem British Cemetery, Belgium.

His name is on the Littleborough Conservative Club and Holy Trinity War Memorial and Littleborough Cenotaph, as well as on the family grave in St James Churchyard. The headstone carries the sentiment ‘’To dearly loved to be forgotten’’. The headstone also provides the information that he died of wounds and was buried in Dozinghem.

The Rochdale Observer for 28 December 1918 included within its In-Memoriam column sentiments from his parents, sisters and brother-in-law.

Lance Sergeant Albert Crossley

Albert was born in Littleborough during 1885 and lived at 2 Lower Newgate in 1891 with his parents Abraham and Naomi and his sister Ada.

By 1901, the family had moved to 5 Clough Road and by this time there were three more sons Harold, Herbert and John Thomas. At this date, Albert was a plating machine minder at a Velvet Dye Works.

By 1911, he lived with the family at 127 Calderbrook Road, Littleborough and was recorded as a velvet dresser.

Prior to enlisting in Rochdale (November 1914) L/Sgt Crossley was a foreman at the Littleborough Dyeing Co. Calderbrook, attended the Zion Primitive Methodist Chapel and played with the 1st and 2nd elevens of the Littleborough Cricket Club. He was also named in the St Barnabas Parish Newsletter for December 1914 as having offered his services to King and Country.

Prior to Wednesday 16 January 1918, his parents had been officially informed that their 32 year old son, Lance Sergeant 630057 Albert Crossley 2nd/20th Batt London Regiment (Formerly R6697 King’s Royal Rifle Corps) had been killed in action in Palestine on Saturday 29 December 1917, when his regiment were defending Jerusalem. His body was interred in Grave Number U. 20. Jerusalem War Cemetery, Israel.

His name can be found on Littleborough Cenotaph, Littleborough Central School Memorial (now in the History Centre), Greenhill Primitive Memorial and on the headstone of the family grave in St James Churchyard.

On 3 February 1918, a service in his memory was held at the Zion Chapel.

The Roll of Honour in the Rochdale Observer 19 June 1918 included sentiments from his father, mother, brothers Herbert, Harold (Italy), Jack (in France), sister Ada and brother-in-law Walter (in France).


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