Littleborough’s History

The Battles around Arras from 9th April 1917 to 16th June 1917


The Arras Battlefield lies some 20 to 30 miles north of the Somme Battlefield where so many local soldiers fell between July and November 1916. It stretches from the Vimy Ridge in the north east to Bullecourt in the south east. As elsewhere the British and Commonwealth Troops were called upon to launch an attack in support to a larger French offensive.  The opening Battle of Vimy and the First Battle of the Scarpe were very encouraging with great a great deal of ground gained but as the battles continued attritional fighting led to fewer ground gained but growing casualties with final attempts to outflank the German lines at Bullecourt prove terribly costly. Further details of the Arras offensive can be found online at http://ww1centenary.oucs.ox.ac.uk/battle-of-arras/the-battle-of-arras-an-overview/, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Arras_(1917) and http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/battles/battles-of-the-western-front-in-france-and-flanders/the-arras-offensive-1917-battle-of-arras/ from where the details and dates have been taken. Numerous other websites provide additional information and are easily found. During the battles around Arras, some 25 Littleborough soldiers lost their lives including 13 during April 1917. The stories of those who fell during April are told below and those who fell during May will be added later.


THE VARIOUS BATTLES DURING APRIL 1917

First Battle of the Scarpe – 9th to 14th April 1917


Private Charles Arthur Bamford

Charles Arthur was born in Smallbridge early 1889 but in 1911 he was associated with Littleborough Parish Church employed as a Flannelette Raiser living with his aunt and uncle at 2 Frederick St Littleborough together with another aunt and her son. He enlisted in Rochdale in November 1915 and whilst serving in the forces he was wounded twice and also had an attack of septic poisoning. During weekending 5th May 1917 Mrs Lord, 1 Joseph Street (off Newall Street) Littleborough received a letter from Private McKinley informing her that her brother 28 year old Private 27552 Charles A Bamford of the 11th Bn Royal Scots had been killed in France on May 9th April 1917 whilst his Battalion fought north of the village of St Laurent towards the Lens – Arras railway line. Charles is buried in Grave Number B9 in Bailleul Road West Cemetery, St Laurent-Blangy, France and is remembered on the Holy Trinity War and St Barnabas Church (Shore) Memorial as well as on the Littleborough Cenotaph. Charles was remembered in a Sunday evening service at Littleborough Parish Church family sentiments published in the Rochdale Observer for 13th April 1918.


Lance Corporal William Eastham

William was born in Littleborough in 1895 and by 1911 he lived at 5 Victoria Street, Littleborough with his widowed mother, Mary. Prior to enlisting in Rochdale in January 1915, William was employed as a counterman at Messrs Beatty Bros. The Walk, Rochdale and was associated with Littleborough Parish Church. On week ending 29th April 1917 official confirmation was received by Mrs Eastham now living at 32 Peel Street that her 21 year old son Lance Corporal 3004 William Eastham, 8th Batt Kings Own Royal Lancaster Regiment had been killed in action in France on May 9th April 1917. His Battalion started opposite Tilloy but were held up near Chapel Hill (near Feuchy Chapel) by heavy machine gun fire. William’s name is on the Arras Memorial Pas de Calais France Bay 2, the Holy Trinity War Memorial and on Littleborough Cenotaph as well as on the family grave in St Andrew's Churchyard. His mother, Mary Ann Eastham later moved to 2 Wellington Street. The Rochdale Observer of 16th May 1917 reported that a well-attended service for LCpl Eastham, Ptes J A Woodhead and H Holmes was held at Littleborough Parish Church on Sunday.


Gunner (or Signaller) Walter Lees

Walter was a Littleborough lad born early 1891 and when 20 years old Walter lived with his widowed mother, brother and 4 sisters and uncle at 3 Phoenix Street, Littleborough being employed as a Wool Breaker. Prior to enlisting January in 1915 he was an active member of the Littleborough United Methodist Chapel, Church Street, a member of the Littleborough Fire Brigade and was employed in the warehouse of the Littleborough Co-operative Society, Hare Hill Road. Before going to France Gunner Lees served six months in Salonica. On weekending 28th April 1917, his mother still living at 3 Phoenix Street received a letter from an army chaplain informing her that her 26 year old son Gunner 73927 Walter Lees, “A” Bty. 162nd Bde Royal Field Artillery had been killed on Wednesday 11th April 1917 by the bursting of a shell. Walter is buried in Grave Number XVII J 20 Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, France and is remembered on Littleborough Cenotaph and Central School Memorial. On Sunday 13th May 1917 there was a special service in his memory held in the Littleborough United Methodist chapel.


Private Edward Yeoman

Edward was born in Manchester in 1885 but by 1911 he worked as a Cotton Size House Labourer and lived with Mary Ann, his widowed mother and 2 brothers at 10 Whitelees Road, Littleborough. It is believed that Edward married Mary H Golson in Rochdale in 1916 by which time he was employed at Whitelees Flannelette Co. Whitelees Road and attended Stubley Primitive Methodist Chapel. They lived at Clough Road, Calderbrook. Edward enlisted in 1916 but weekending 30th April 1917 his mother at 1 Whitelees Road, Featherstall was officially informed that 32 year old Private 282251 Edward Yeoman, 1st/7th Batt  Lancashire Fusiliers had died of wounds on Wednesday 11th April 1917. From 8th until 13th of April 1917, the 1st/7th Bn was in the line at Epehy. Edward’s body is buried in Grave III B 15 at Epehy Wood Farm Cemetery, Epehy, Somme, France and he is remembered on St Barnabas Church War Memorial, the Central School Roll of Honour, Littleborough Cenotaph and on a family grave Weekending 16th June 1917 a special service was held at Stubley Primitive Methodist Chapel in memory of Privates Ratcliffe and Yeoman.


Private Clifford Mills

Clifford was born in Littleborough in 1898 and by 1911 was living with his parents Willie (a Loom Tackler) and Emily and his sister Amy at 98 Church St. with Clifford a part time scholar and Woollen Piecer. Prior to enlisting in Rochdale on 28th August 1914, Clifford was a Weaver at Frankfort Mill, Durn being associated with Victoria Street Congregational Chapel. Rifleman Mills whilst only 16 years of age and in the Ypres trenches he received a shrapnel wound to his right leg on May 10th May 1915 and was later transferred to recuperate at City of London Military Hospital. On Thursday 19th April 1917 his parents were officially informed that their 19 year old son, Rifleman Y/197 Clifford Mills, 7th Bn Kings Royal Rifle Corps had died on Friday 13th April 1917 at a clearing station in as a result of gunshot wounds to the back and head. On 10th April his battalion entered the Wancourt – Feuchy position and the next day fought to take Wancourt but were held back due to strong sniper Fire from Hill 90 located SW of  Wancourt. Clifford is likely to have been injured in these attacks and is buried in Warlincourt Halte British Cemetery, Saulty, France Grave Number VIII F 6. His name is on the Victoria Street Congregational Chapel War Memorial, Littleborough Central School Memorial and Cenotaph. The Rochdale Observer Saturday for 28th April 1917 included family sentiments.


Private Walter Rostern - No Picture

Walter was born in Hindley on 13th August, 1893 and in 1911 Walter (17 - a Little Piecer) was boarding at 51 Peel Street, Littleborough with the Cryer family together with his sister Edith (12). It is believed that he married Sarah Elizabeth Stott in Rochdale in 1912. Prior to enlisting in Rochdale during 1915, he was employed at the Shore Mills of E. Clegg and Son. By weekending 28th April Mrs Rostern living in Peel Street, Littleborough was informed by an army chaplain that her 23 year old husband, Private 240728 Walter Rostern, 1st/6th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers had been killed in action on Friday 13th April 1917 by the explosion of a German shell, his body interred in grave number III E 12 Epehy Wood Farm Cemetery, Epehy, Somme, France. His death was confirmed by a short article in the Rochdale Observer for 2nd May 1917 Private Rostern’s name is inscribed on Littleborough Cenotaph. Family sentiment were included in the Rochdale Observer for 13th April 1918.


Also injured at the same time as Private Rostern was Private Fred Mills as both soldiers were “On the 13th April 1917, at Malassise Farm, a large building standing about 1500 yards south-east of Epehy. It was occupied by a platoon of the 1/6th battalion and some men of the 1/7th and was very heavily shelled. The cellar was blown in and a number of the garrison survived. In spite of the continued shelling Pte R Stock 1/6th and Pte J Davies 1/7th and some others volunteered to dig them out. They succeeded in extricating all those who were still alive. Stock and Davies were awarded the MM for their gallantry.


Private Fred Mills – No Picture

Fred was born in Littleborough in 1898 but by 1911 he lived with his parents John (33 a Dyers Labourer - Woollen) and Julia and sisters at 8 Birch Road, Wardle. Fred was by now a Mule. Prior to enlisting in Rochdale before July 1915, he was a member of St Andrew's Guild. 19 year old Private 241534 Fred Mills 1st/6th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers died in a Casualty Clearing Station on Saturday the 14th April 1917 from severe wounds received on the 13th when a shell exploded. Private Mill’s body is interred in Grave Number I B 20 Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension, Ste Radegonde, Somme, France and is remembered on the St Andrew’s War Memorial and Memorial Card and on the Wardle War memorial. The news of Private Rostern’s and Private Mills’ death was forwarded in a letter by Private John Ormandy of the same Bn who died later of wounds he received in September 1918. Fred was a regular member of St Andrew’s Church with a special service being held in his memory and his death was recorded in its magazine of May 1917 The Rochdale Observer for 1st August 1917 reported on an afternoon service for those fallen in the 3rd year of the war whilst the 13th April 1918 edition included sentiments from his family.


The German attack on Lagnicourt, 15 April 1917 involving 62 West Riding & 4th Australian Divisions

 

3.5 Private James Henry Bairstow – No Picture

James was born in Smithy Bridge in 1898 but by 1911 was at living with his family at 6 Bank St, Halifax .When he enlisted in May 1915, he was a mill hand and lived at with his mother Ellen (now shown as Helliwell), brother Fed and sister’s Ethel and Florrie at 3 Chapeltown, Pellon Lane, Halifax. Private 201617 James H Bairstow 2nd/4th Bn Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment) killed in action 15th April 1917 when his battalion was in position on a railway embankment NW of Ecoust St Mary and it was heavily shelled. James’s body was subsequently interred in Grave Number III K 3 H A C Cemetery, Ecoust-St Mein, France.


The Second Battle of the Scarpe, 23 – 24 April 1917


Lance Corporal Trezona Greenwood

Trezona was born in Littleborough in 1888 4th Qtr and 1911 in he lived with parents John & Elizabeth Mary at 160 Fair View, Featherstall. His father was Jobbing They had moved again to Road and by this time. Prior to his enlistment in Rochdale Trezona Greenwood was employed as a cashier at the Yorkshire Penny Bank, Rochdale and was associated with the Stubley Primitive Methodist Chapel.. Lance Corporal 20154 Trezona Greenwood 10th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers was killed in action in France on May 23rd April 1917, during which time his Battalion was in support at Feuchy. Private Greenwood is buried in Grave Number II B 12 Feuchy Chapel British Cemetery, Wancourt, France. On Sunday evening 13th May 1917 a memorial service in his memory was held in the Stubley Primitive Methodist Chapel Featherstall Sunday school. Trezona is remembered on the Littleborough Cenotaph, Central School memorial, St Andrew's War Memorial and Memorial Card and also on the headstone of the family grave in St Andrew's Churchyard.


Private Fred Taylor – No Picture

Fred was born in Littleborough around 1889 and by 1911 he was living at 80 Halifax Road, Todmorden with his parents James, a Railway Porter and Hannah and his brother and sister. Fred was a Fruiterer. Private Taylor (28 years old), 38240 of 2 Bn Princess of Wales’s Own (Yorkshire Regiment) who enlisted in Todmorden died of wounds on 25th April 1917 during the Battle of Arras. Private Taylor is buried in grave X. D. 3 in Warlincourt Halte British Cemetery, Saulty, France. The Leeds Mercury 4th May 1917 reporting his death noted he was a Todmorden Greengrocer who carried on business at 131 Halifax Road, Todmorden and had died from wounds in the arms, legs and back. His parents later moved to 2, West View, The Hollins, Todmorden. Fred is remembered on the Todmorden War Memorial.


Private Thomas Walker

 Thomas was born in Littleborough in 1889 and by 1911 he lived with his parents Thomas and Elizabeth and family at 104 Todmorden Rd, Summit. He was employed as a Bleach Yard Labourer. The family later moved to 96 Todmorden Road (Rochdale Observer 16th August 1916). Prior to enlisting in Rochdale on 13th March 1916, he was employed at the Littleborough Dyeing Co. Calderbrook and was associated with St James (Calderbrook) Church and school. Private Walker who had four brothers in the army was posted to France on 7th June 1916 some 3 months after enlistment. Mr and Mrs Walker later living at 2 Bethel Green, Calderbrook were officially informed week ending 23rd June 1917 that their 28 year old son, Private 31126 Thomas (Tom) Walker 1st Bn Lancashire Fusiliers who had been reported missing since 25th April 1917 had been killed in action on that date.(From the 21st April until the 26th April 1917 the 1st Bn were in the trenches at Munchy-Le-Preaux)  His name is inscribed on St James Roll of Honour and War Memorial, his name also inscribed on Littleborough Cenotaph. and on Bay 5 Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.  Private Thomas Walker and his brother Harold were both killed in action in but the other three brothers survived.


The Battle of Arleux, 28 – 29th April 1917


Private Gordon Holt

Gordon was born in Littleborough on 30th March 1897 and in 1911 he was living with his parents William and Mary at 121 Calderbrook Road. Gordon, who was a former scholar of the Greenhill Primitive Methodist Church, was employed as a Warehouse Boy. Prior to enlisting in Bury he was employed at Shore Mills as a calico Weaver and lived at 125 Croft Bank, Calderbrook Road. By weekending 4th July 1917 it was reported that 20 year old Private 31803 Gordon Holt, C Coy 10th Batt Loyal North Lancashire Regiment had been missing in action since Saturday 28th April 1917 when the allies captured Arleux and were in action NE of Gavrelle. On the week ending 9th January 1918 it was officially confirmed that he had been killed in action on 28th April 1917. His name is recorded on Clegg’s Mills War Memorial, Greenhill Primitive Methodist War Memorial Plaque, Littleborough Central School Memorial, on the Cenotaph at Littleborough and on the Arras Memorial Pas de Calais, France Bay 7. The Rochdale Observer for 9th March 1918 included his picture with his address as 121 Croft Bank, Calderbrook Road and noted that he was missing since 28th April 1917, now presumed dead. Like thousands of other families his family retained the hope that perhaps he was alive and suffering from loss of memory, eventually realizing that he was dead must have gradually been accepted and had a sentiment inserted in the Rochdale Observer in May 1920.


Private Sydney Fielden – No Picture

Sydney was born in Littleborough in 1879 and in 1891 the family was living at 1 Sladen Fold with his father John being a Farmer and Sydney a Cotton Doffer. His father died in 1900 so was absent when Sydney married Agnes Ann Ormerod in 1907. In 1911, Sydney was living with his in-laws at 22 Calderbrook Road with Sidney employed as a Calico Weaver. His mother Frances and Walter now lived at 45 Rock Nook though she later died on 9th December 1911 aged 59. Private 20027 Sydney Fielden, 20th Bn (4th Salford, Bantams) Lancashire Fusiliers who enlisted at Rochdale, died of wounds on 29th April 1917 with his body interred in Grave Number A15 Nesle Communal Cemetery, France. From the 27 April until the 2 May the 20th Battalion were in the lines at Pontru-Vadencourt. He is remembered on the Littleborough Cenotaph and on the War Memorial of St. Barnabas Church, Shore which is likely to refer to Pte Fielden. The Rochdale Observer of 19th May 1917 noted that a Memorial Service would be held Sunday evening in Temple Methodist Church for Privates S Fielden and Ernest Heyworth.



#Bamford #Eastham #Lees #Yeoman #Clifford #Greenwood #Walker #Holt

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