Casualties in 1918
Course of the War
Both sides were on the brink of collapse after Passchendaele, but Cambrai had signalled a shift in tactics and the conduct of the War. The Americans had begun to send troops to France but as yet they had made no significant contribution. In Mesopotamia, the campaign had halted after the fall of Baghdad in March 1917, but the British and Empire advance would resume in February.
21 March - 5 April
The Germans launched their Spring Offensive. The first phase was known as Operation Michael. It began with one of the heaviest artillery bombardments of the War and in the subsequent confusion the Germans made significant advances. More than 21,000 British prisoners were taken on the first day. By early April, the Germans had advanced nearly 40 miles into Allied territory. This attack was a stunning success for the Germans, but the advancing troops moved so far ahead of their supply lines that they ran out of food and ammunition and were unable to press forward and ultimately the advance ran out of steam without achieving its objectives (the towns of Amiens and Arras).
9 - 29 April
Having failed at Amiens and Arras, the Germans launch a second offensive, code named Georgette, near Ypres, easily recapturing Passchendaele, taken by the Allies at such cost only 5 months previously. Again the Germans made significant early gains but the Allies were able to prevent any major breakthrough. By late April 1918, the danger of a German breakthrough had passed. The German Army had suffered heavy casualties and now occupied ground of dubious value which would prove impossible to hold with such depleted units.
In August 1918, the Allies began a counter-offensive with the support of 1–2 million fresh American troops and using new artillery techniques and operational methods. This Hundred Days Offensive resulted in the Germans retreating or being driven from all of the ground taken in the Spring Offensive, the collapse of the Hindenburg Line and the capitulation of the German Empire in November.
8 August Launch of the Hundred Days Offensive
The Germans showed fierce resistance as the Allies gradually forced them to retreat.
October 24 - November 3 The Battle of Vittorio Veneto in northern Italy saw the Italian army defeat the Austro-Hungarians and avenge the disaster of Caporetto a year earlier. The defeat ensured the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and precipitated the end of the War.
Influenza pandemic. Sometimes called 'Spanish flu', the pandemic globally killed 50-100 million people, far more than were killed in the War. Some believe the pandemic originated or was exacerbated by the cramped and crowded conditions at the Étaples military base on the French coast.
It had been clear to the German Army Command since the end of September that the military situation facing Germany was hopeless, nevertheless, fighting, and dying, continued until the very last minute.
Lostock Hall men
There were no large scale infantry attacks but the artillery were very active.
25 January Albert Edward Clayton, a Sapper with 98th Heavy Artillery Group, was killed the day after his 20th birthday near Sorrel-Le-Grand.
31 January Fred Baldwin, serving with the Royal Garrison Artillery near Étricourt, died when a shrapnel wound became infected. He was 25 years old and left a wife and young son.
9 March Edward Gregson landed in France with the Royal Field Artillery in August 1915 but later served as an artillery instructor at Larkhill Camp on Salisbury Plain, where he died of illness, aged 32.
21 March Henry Brundrett, still only 19 years old, was killed whilst serving with 9Bn Loyal North Lancs.
2nd Lt John Rigby, aged 31, an under-foreman with Leyland Rubber before the War, was killed the same day, serving with the 6Bn South Staffs.
Operation Michael was called off on 5 April. On the last day of this campaign, Thomas Benedict Melling, aged 21 and serving with 7Bn Royal Fusiliers was killed in one of the last defensive actions.
Several Lostock Hall men were killed when the Germans attacked south of Ypres.
9 April John Bradley, a 32 year old boot maker serving with 2/5Bn Lancs Fusiliers, was in a defensive position with his battalion near Richebourg St Vaaste, supposedly a quiet part of the Front. But they came under attack and 36 men from his Bn were killed that day. He left a wife and small child.
Two men in 286 Bde, Royal Field Artillery were killed during Georgette at the Battle of the Lys. On 9 April William Molyneux, in C Bty, was killed just south of Ypres. (His brother Richard was killed in Mesopotamia the previous year.) Sgt Francis Schultz, in A Bty, had been awarded the Military Medal for bravery during the Battle of Passchendaele. He died of wounds on 13 April. William was 25, Francis just 21.
25 April Frank Hicklin was killed, just 2 days after his 19th birthday. He had arrived in France only a few weeks before to reinforce 1Bn Sherwood Foresters, at Villers-Bretonneux not far from Amiens.
31 May In the same area near Amiens, Charles Edward Leigh was killed when a shell landed on a barn in which his company was billetted. 18 men were killed and 68 wounded. Charles was in the Australian Infantry. His family had emigrated from Tardy Gate to Australia in 1911. Charles was still only 20 when he died.
23 July Harry Morris was killed during a ground breaking operation. He was serving in the Tank Corps, the first time a British tank battalion was used to support a French infantry attack. The attack achieved its objectives and took nearly 2000 German prisoners but 12 out of 35 tanks were destroyed. Harry was 25.
13 August Lawrence Edwin Walton died of wounds. He was fighting with the East Yorks Regiment near Vieux Berquin. He had enlisted when only 16 and was still only 18 when he died.
2 September Harold Fletcher, serving with the Loyal North Lancs, was killed in action, aged 28, as his Bn captured the village of Riencourt and forced the Germans to retreat beyond the Canal du Nord. He had previously been awarded the Military Medal.
1 October, as the advance continued, Andrew Weaver, also serving with the Loyal North Lancs, died of wounds following heavy fighting to take La Bassée Canal. He was 28 years old and left a widow and two very young children.
4 October, fighting further south at Beaurevoir in Picardy with 21Bn Manchester Rgt, Thomas Taylor was killed by heavy machine gun fire as his Bn advanced 3000 yards and captured 508 German prisoners. Tom was 27 and recently married. Tom's Bn had previously been fighting in Italy and had only arrived in France a few weeks earlier.
11 October 2nd Lt Humphrey Marsden was killed as the allies advanced towards Cambrai. He was 25 years old. He enlisted as a private in the Loyal N Lancs in 1915 but was later commissioned and transferred to the Duke of Wellington's Rgt.
29 October Michael Jackson enlisted in 1915 with the West Lancs RFA but was later transferred to the Army Veterinary Corps. He died at Bulford Camp, possibly of the 'flu, aged 22. He is buried at St Paul's, Farington. He was a cousin of Henry Brundrett (see above, killed 21 March).
5 November William George Bird died of wounds in the very last engagement of his Division. He had enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery in 1915 and was in 75th Battery, in support of the Guards Division. He had fought in all the major engagements of the Western Front - Loos in 1915, the Somme in 1916, Ypres, Passchendaele and Cambrai in 1917, and the Spring Offensive and the 100 Days in 1918. He was wounded on 4 November at the River Sambre and died of his wounds the following day, aged 29. He was the cousin of John Barnish who was killed in 1915.