Littleborough Soldiers - Who fell during January 1918

Date published: 08 January 2018

Private Wilfred Lawson Sager

Wilfred was born in Littleborough in 1887 and in 1911 was living at 35 Halifax Road with his parents Henry and Sarah and family.

At that time, Wilfred was a greengrocer assistant but prior to enlisting in Rochdale he was a salesman for Messrs Ballinger’s, Bare Hill Street. He married Emma Fitzsimmons in 1917.

On or about mid December 1917, 31-year-old Private 33464 Wilfred Sager 56th Coy. Labour Corp. (formerly 35517 Welsh Fusiliers) was admitted to a base hospital suffering from pneumonia, from which he died from on 3 January 1918.

He is buried in Grave Number IX. B. 8. Rocquigny-Equancoart Road British Cemetery, Manacours, Somme, France and is also remembered on Littleborough Cenotaph and on the War Memorial of Littleborough Central School.

On Sunday evening of the 3 February 1918, a memorial service was held in his memory at the Littleborough United Methodist Chapel, as reported in the Rochdale Observer for 6 February 1918. His widow resided at 6 Centre Vale, Todmorden Road.

Lance Corporal Harry Seal

Harry was born in Littleborough in 1898, second quarter, and in 1911 he was living with his parents William George (who emanated from Buckland, Dorsetshire) and Charlotte and family at 116 Todmorden Road, Summit, Littleborough.

Prior to enlisting, Harry was employed at the Grove Dyeing Company, Todmorden Road.

Lance Corporal Seal enlisted in Rochdale on 28 April 1915, whilst only 16 years of age, and saw service in the Dardanelles and Egypt before returning to Europe.

His sisters, who still lived at 116 Todmorden Road, were informed by a letter from his captain that their 19-year-old brother Lance Corporal 241324 Harry Seal, Light Trench Mortar Battery, had been killed in action on Saturday 5 January 1918.

Harry was killed in the Festubert area, as detailed in a letter from the captain: "the enemy unfortunately succeeded in dropping a shell directly in the gun pit where it exploded and caused the explosion of our own ammunition and I am afraid that your brother, with four other men must have been killed instantly".

He is remembered on the Littleborough Cenotaph, Ebenezer Congregational Chapel War Memorial and on the Loos Memorial, France. The Roll of Honour in the Rochdale Observer for 16 February 1918 included sentiments from his sorrowing father and sisters, as well as from his sweetheart Helen.

Private James Schofield

James was born in Smallbridge in 1878 and in 1901 he lived with his parents John and Alice at 18 Wuerdle. His father was a coal miner and James was a labourer in a grease works.

In 1905, James married Alice Ann Allonby and at the time of the 1911 Census, they lived at 81 Church Street, Littleborough with James employed as a filling miller. James later lived in Smithy Bridge and worked for Mr Kilpatrick of Smithy Bridge before he enlisted in Rochdale.

Private Schofield, 47168, 20th Labour Co, died of pleurisy and measles on 16 January 1918, aged 40 and is buried in grave No VIII C 5A, Wimereux Communal Cemetery, France. He is remembered on St Andrew’s and Wardle War Memorials.

Private Henry (Harry) Garstang

Henry Garstang was born in Blackburn in 1886 and in 1911 was living with his wife Jemima of four years at 13 Moorland Street. Both of them worked as cotton weavers and had a one year old son called William.

Prior to enlisting in Rochdale, Henry was the secretary of the Littleborough Trades and Labour Council and lived at 1 Spring Gardens (off Morgan Street).
On 21 January 1918, 31-year-old Private Henry Garstang 34557 of the 1st Bn, Lancashire Fusiliers was killed during normal trench warfare in the Passchendaele area of Belgium. He is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium, the Littleborough Cenotaph and the Holy Trinity War Memorial.

The Rochdale Observer for 2 March 1918 reported that a memorial service was held at Littleborough Parish Church on Sunday Evening in his memory, with members of the Littleborough Trades and Labour Council and the Rochdale Weavers Association in attendance.

He was previously a member of the local Relief Committee.

Private William Raw

William was born in Muker, Swaledale in 1881 but by 1911 was living at 7 Higher Shore with his widowed mother and brothers Francis and John. All three sons were employed as cotton weavers.

Private 241746 William Raw, “B” Coy 11th Bn Cheshire died on Thursday 31 January 1918 in a hospital in France as a result of wounds. He is buried in Grave Number P VI I 10B in the St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, France.

The St Barnabas Parish Magazine for March 1918 recorded: “On Sunday 18 February, a memorial service was held in the parish church for Private Willie Raw of Higher Shore”.

His name is inscribed on the Littleborough Cenotaph and on the Shore Mills War Memorial (where he worked prior to enlisting) and on St Barnabas Church War Memorial.

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