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John Edward Barnish was born in 1891 in Wesham, son of Alexander Barnish, (b. 1825 and originally from Rochdale) and Mary Ann Thompson (b. 1856 in High Leigh, Cheshire).  Alexander and Mary Ann had 12 children (5 boys and 7 girls) and even managed to adopt an extra son making 13 in all.  By 1911 the family had moved to Lostock Hall, by way of Little Hoole and Longton.  The family lived at 117 Watkin Lane and they all worked in the cotton mill, Alexander as a warehouseman, the children as weavers or tenters.  John Edward was a weaver and by the time he enlisted he was an overlooker.  He was a big man by the standards of the time: very nearly 6 feet tall, a 40” chest, and weighing 154lbs.  He had red hair, brown eyes and a fresh complexion.  He was in excellent physical condition. 


He had served in the Territorials for 4 years before signing up to the 7 Loyal North Lancs (Preston Pals) on 7 September 1914.  He was appointed unpaid Lance Corporal on 4 December 1914 and paid LCpl on 30 January 1915 and posted to France on 17 July 1915.

The late summer and autumn of 1915 were relatively quiet, though there were incessant artillery attacks and casualties continued to mount.  Initially the Battalion was engaged in intensive training in all forms of trench warfare and then took part in the Battle of Loos in September and October, a relatively large scale attack, particularly notable as the first occasion when British forces used poison gas.


The Battalion remained in the area of Richebourg l’Avoué and Festubert, in and out of the trenches, for the remainder of the year.  The Regimental history describes what it was like:

During November the German artillery was very active, while the weather became particularly trying, constant rain being followed by intense cold, the trenches were full of mud, men had sometimes to be hauled out and there were many cases of “trench foot”.

John died of wounds on 5 December 1915, at Richebourg l’Avoué, near Festubert.  He was 24 years old.


His effects, including two whistles, and his medals were returned to his parents in Lostock Hall.


Rank: Lance Corporal
Service No: 13109
Date of Death: 5 December 1915
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 7 Battalion (Preston Pals)
Grave Reference:  II. F. 6



John’s youngest brother Frank Augustus joined the Royal Marines Light Infantry, signing up on 10 December 1917, just one week after his 18th birthday.  He survived the War, married in 1924 and died in 1983.

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