Littleborough Soldiers who fell during November 1917

Date published: 07 November 2017

Private James Hugh Buckley

James was born in Shaw in 1889 but subsequently moved to 474 Halifax Road, Wardle in 1901 where he lived with his parents, John and Elizabeth, together with his sisters.

By 1911, the family lived at 587 Halifax Road and James was employed as a Cotton Piecer. Prior to enlisting in Rochdale mid-1915, James was formerly a clerk at Messrs Thomas Cook and Sons Office, Drake street and later at Messrs Heap and Sons, Caldershaw.

The 28 year old Private 31349 James Buckley 1st/5th Batt Norfolk Regiment died in hospital from wounds due to being shot in the head whilst in action on 9 November 1917. He is interred in Kantara War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt, but also has his name on the family grave in St Andrew’s Churchyard together with the sentiment: - “Peace Perfect Peace”.

There is also a James Buckley listed on the War Memorial at St John’s Church, Smallbridge and on a list of those connected with the St Andrew’s Church Bible Class and were connected with the parish. The St Andrew’s Roll of Honour includes a John Buckley who died on 9 November 1917. It is believed that the list refers to this soldier.

The St Andrew’s parish magazine for January 1918 records “We are deeply sorry to hear that James Buckley of Hurstead has been killed in action in France. He belonged to Smallbridge Church but in the past attended the Children’s Guild at Dearnley. Our true sympathy is with all those who loved him. May he rest in peace”.

The Littleborough Central School Daybook, covering January 1910 until December 1935 under the entry for Feb 26/21, details of a Memorial Service in Central Hall for the unveiling of a ‘Memorial Clock’. Under the list of 75 brave men was the name James Buckley, one of the ex scholars who gave their lives for this Country in the Great War – 1914 – 1918. It is believed that this record refers to this soldier too.

The Rochdale Observer on 19 January 1918 included sentiments from his family, and that of 3 August 1918 noted that St Andrew’s Church would tomorrow hold a St Andrew’s Guild Memorial service for those Guild members who had fallen in the 4th year of the war.

Private Leonard Stockdale

Leonard was born in Tadcaster, Yorkshire in 1889 and having lived in Kippax and North Brierley, by 1911 the family were living at 5 Lightowlers, Littleborough, with Leonard being a music teacher (pianoforte). Leonard later emigrated to Canada where on 15 December 1915 he joined the 124th Bn Canadian Pioneers as Pte 784980.

As Leonard is buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, grave XXII HH 15, he presumably died of wounds on 11 November 1917. During early November, his Battalion was repairing roads and light railways north of Zonnebeke between Kansas Crossing and Seine. On the 6 November the Battalion came under attack resulting in significant number of other ranks being wounded. More were wounded the following day. It may have been during these attacks that Private Stockdale was wounded.

On the CWGC database he is shown as the son of John William and Ellen of Hamilton, Ontario with his wife, Jane Alice living in Whitworth.

Private Christopher Pilkington

Christopher was born in Padiham in 1898 but by 1911 was living with his parents Abraham and Alice and family at 187 Whitelees Road, Littleborough. Christopher was a Cotton Weaver.

Prior to enlisting in Rochdale during 1915, Christopher worked at Brookfield Mill in Littleborough. In early December 1917 Mrs Pilkington, who by now had moved to 9 Railway Street, received official confirmation that her son - 20-year-old Private 202493 Christopher Pilkington 2nd/5th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers, previously reported as missing - was killed in action on 20 November 1917 whilst the Battalion were in an attack at Lempire, south of Cambrai, France.

Christopher’s name is inscribed on pier and face 3C and 3D Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France and on Littleborough Cenotaph and the Holy Trinity War Memorial.

The Rochdale Observer for 2 January 1918 reported “Memorial Service held in Littleborough Parish Church on Sunday evening for Privates Thos Wild, Charles Fielding (probably Fielden) and Chris Pilkington, three members of the church and schools who had recently been killed with Charles Fielden killed on 30 November. Fielding (Fielden) and Pilkington were former members of the boy scout troop and the Church Lads Brigade.

Rifleman Charles Fielden

Charles was born in Littleborough in 1898 and having lived with his parents in Gale in 1901, by 1911 he was living with his widowed mother, Sarah, his sister and his uncle at Back Hudsons Passage, Littleborough.

Charles was a part time Cotton Doffer operative and was an old boy of the Littleborough Parish church and schools. Prior to enlisting in Rochdale in February 1917, he was employed at Messrs Kershaw’s Sladen Mill.

The Rochdale Observer for 12 December 1917 recorded that Mrs Lovett, 42 Elim Terrace, Todmorden Road had received official confirmation of the death of her Littleborough born son, 19-year-old Rifleman 51456 C. Fielden, 1st/5th Batt The Kings (Liverpool Regiment). Charles had been killed in action on Friday 30 November 1917, with his body interred in grave number I. A. II Villers-Faucon Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France.

Charles is also remembered on Littleborough Cenotaph and the Holy Trinity War Memorial and St. James’s (Calderbrook) Church Roll of Honour and War Memorial.

The Rochdale Observer for 2 January 1918 reported “Memorial Service held in Littleborough Parish Church on Sunday evening for Privates Thos Wild, Charles Fielding (probably this soldier) and Chris Pilkington, three members of the church and schools who have recently been killed (Chris Pilkington killed 20 November). Charles and Chris Pilkington were former members of the boy scout troop and the Church Lads Brigade.

Charles was remembered by his loving mother and stepfather in the Memorial Columns of the Rochdale Observer for Saturday 29 November 1919 in his memory.

Private Fred Holroyd

Fred was born in Littleborough in 1894 and in 1911 the family lived at 17 Turf Terrace, Shore, Littleborough. Fred was employed as a Roving Carrier. Prior to enlisting in Rochdale, he was employed at E. Clegg & Sons Shore Mills and was a member of the Shore Primitive Methodist Church.

Private 28633 Fred Holroyd, 1st Bn Lancashire Fusiliers died of wounds on 24 November 1917 in France as a result of fighting south west of Cambrai, France. Fred is remembered at the Cleggs Mills and Shore Primitive Methodist Church War Memorials, St Barnabas War Memorial and Littleborough Cenotaph. His memory is also commemorated by being inscribed on Panel 5 Cambrai Memorial, Louverval, Nord, France.

On a family grave in Littleborough (Dearnley) Cemetery, an inscription reads ‘Private Fred Holroyd. Fell In Action In France 24 November 1917. 23 Years.’

Private Emmanuel Hamer

Emmanuel was born in Rishworth, 1892 and having lived at Barrett Hill Farm above Ripponden in 1901, by 1911 the family had moved to Lightowlers Farm (off Blackstone Edge Road). His widowed mother was recorded as a farmer with Emmanuel and his brothers working on the farm.

The Rochdale Observer for 22 March 1916 reported that he applied for exemption from service, but his application was refused. Private 26695 Emmanuel Hamer, 3rd (SDGW 4th) Batt. Grenadier Guards, was killed in action on 26 November 1917.

From the 23 until the 28 November 1917, the fighting was concentrated almost entirely around Bourlon Wood, west of Cambrai, France. Emmanuel Hamer is remembered on the Littleborough Cenotaph Cambrai Memorial, Louverval, Nord, France.

Private Michael Griffin

Littleborough born Michael (born 1889) was the son of John and Bridget (or Delia 1901 Census) of 4 Leah Street (off Bare Hill St) Littleborough. By 1911 the family remained at the same address but by this time, Michael was boarding at 121 Church Street and was a Carter Boy.

Private 20355 Michael Griffin, 3rd Bn Grenadier Guards was killed in action, aged 28, in France on Tuesday 27 November 1917. His name is remembered on Panel 2, Cambrai Memorial, Louverval, Nord, France and on Littleborough Cenotaph. His brother, James was also killed in the war.

Driver Thomas Butterworth

Thomas was born in Smithy Bridge, 1880 and lived in the area for many years. This included living at Little Clegg, 1 Butterworth Place, Smithy Bridge and Calliards Mill Yard in 1901 where Elizabeth, his widowed mother was a farmer. Thomas and his brother John were ‘Carters of farmer’.

By 1911, Thomas (now 31 and a Carrier) had been married to Emma (31) for 6 years and the family was living at 6 Whatmough Square, Milnrow. This included his son Thomas (3 years), daughter Hilda (2) (both born in Littleborough) and Laura who was 1 month old (born Milnrow).

Thomas enlisted into the Royal Field Artillery as Driver 29965 and went to France on 19 August 1914. He was discharged from 15th Reserve UK on 19 December 1915 and some two years later died on 30 November 1917 aged 37, presumably from a cause related to his service in the Army being included in the CWGC records. He is buried in Portsmouth (Kingston) Cemetery, Catholic 27. 35.

Private Charles Frederick Chilvers

Charles was born in Saddleworth in 1892 and in 1901 was living at 77 New Hey Road, Milnrow with his elder sister Isabella (19 - head of family) together with their other sisters and his brother. His father, John Thomas Chilvers who married Sarah Ann Woff (or Wolf) in Saddleworth in 1879, later lived at 6 Jerrold St, Barehill. His brothers and sisters later moved to Canada, Australia, Lane Head Farm, Rochdale and Littleborough.

Private 1464 Charles Chilvers, 9th Bn Gordon Highlanders enlisted in Aberdeen on 11 August 1914 and was killed in action, aged 26, on Friday 30 November 1917. Charles is remembered on Bay 8 and 9 Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France and on Littleborough Cenotaph.

On 6 October 1919 the Army authorities wrote to the family member who lived at 2 Bamford St, requesting the address where Private Chilvers medals were to be sent. A reply was sent by Agnes Chilvers advising herself at Harper Rd Farm, Lanehead, Rooley Moor, Spotland. He was granted the following medals: 1914 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.

The Rochdale Observer for 22 December 1917 reported that he enlisted a fortnight after the war broke out and formerly lived with Mrs Briggs (his sister) at 6 Jerrold St, Littleborough. It states 25 years old. A few weeks later the edition of 5 January 1918 included him within its Roll of Honour. Near his anniversary, the Rochdale Observer of 30 November 1918 included family sentiments.

Private William Howarth

William was born in Littleborough, 1887 and lived at 51 Calderbrook Road with his parents James and Mary and his sister Lizzie. On his Attestation papers dated December 1915, Rochdale, he was recorded as a ‘Foreman Steamer’ in a print works. He was mobilised in March 1916.

Previously reported wounded and missing, 30-year-old Private 36077 William Howarth, 1/4th Battalion the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment was killed in action on Friday 30 November 1917 when his Division came under severe German Attack north of Epehy, which lies south of Cambrai.

Private Howarth’s name is remembered on Panel 8, Cambrai Memorial, Louverval, France, Littleborough Cenotaph and Holy Trinity War Memorial.

The Rochdale Observer for 22 May 1918 reported that at evensong, the Rev Gaskell conducted a memorial service to the memory of Privates E H Rigg, W Howarth and Leach.

Private Alfred James Morton

Alfred was born in Burton on Trent in March 1895 to parents Alfred James and Mary Ann and remained in the area in 1911.

By the time of his enlistment in Rochdale in July 1914, 19-year-old Alfred James showed his address as 616, Halifax Road, Hurstead and his employment as a labourer at Starring Pottery.

He enlisted into the 6th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers and served in Gallipoli, being hospitalised from 11 September 1915 until 6 November 1915. He again went into hospital in June 1916. He transferred to Machine Gun Co on 10 August 1916 whilst in Egypt.

During late February 1917, he embarked on HT Maniton for Marseilles but some 9 months later, died of wounds on the 30 November 1917 aged 22. The Private was buried in Bethune Town Cemetery in grave number VI H 21.

He was married to Mary Jane Mason during 1917 in Rochdale. Mary Jane was living with her parents in Littleborough at 5 Brown Street and was employed as a Cotton Weaver. Alfred’s service records show she lived at 8 Brown Street, Littleborough and as a referee she quoted Harold Wilson MA Ministry of Gospel, The Manse, Littleborough, now the funeral directors in Littleborough.

There is a J Morton on the Wardle War Memorial.

Do you have a story for us?

Let us know by emailing
All contact will be treated in confidence.

To contact the Rochdale Online news desk, email or visit our news submission page.

To get the latest news on your desktop or mobile, follow Rochdale Online on Twitter and Facebook.