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John Bradley was born in Lostock Hall in the summer of 1886 and baptised at Farington St Paul’s on 25 July that year.  Coincidentally, his wife-to-be, Bessie Cardwell (b. 1886 in Leyland), was baptised at Leyland St Andrew’s on the same date.  John’s father was also John Bradley (b. 1848 in Farington), a stoker in the cotton mill.  His mother was Ann Bamber (b. 1849 in Tarleton).  John and Ann were married in Farington on Christmas Eve, 1867, and they had 13 children, though sadly only 6 survived infancy:  Margaret (1868-1899), Jane (b. 1874), James (b. 1875), Ellen (b. 1882), then John, and finally William (b. 1890).  In 1911, John snr was living with Ann, two of their children and a granddaughter at 22 Black Lane, Lostock Hall (now Brownedge Road), but John jnr had married Bessie Cardwell in 1908; they had a daughter, Lucy (b. 1910), and by 1911 they had moved to Leyland and were living at 4 Starkie Street, Turpin Green, Leyland.  John was a boot maker and repairer.


John enlisted with the Lancashire Fusiliers, probably in 1915, and was assigned service number 48260 and posted to 2/5 Battalion.  From January 1916, 2/5Bn came under orders of 164th Brigade in 51st (Highland) Division.


In early 1918, the Division was near Cambrai when on 21 March 1918, the enemy launched a huge and overwhelming attack on the fronts of Fifth and Third Armies, the Division being in the Third Army, near Flesquières. The defensive front around Flesquières formed a salient and was strongly held by the British.  The enemy decided not to attack it frontally, but instead drenched it with gas while attacking on either side. The pressure grew during the day, and from early evening the Division began a fighting withdrawal that took it over the next few days back several miles, through Beaumetz, towards Bapaume. In fighting a number of critical rearguard actions, Divisional losses built up to a total of over 4,900 men.


On 1 April, the Division entrained for the Béthune area where it was hoped things would be quieter. Unfortunately, the enemy opened a second phase of his offensive on 9 April 1918, and the Highland Division moved into defensive positions behind Richebourg Saint Vaast, where it played a key part in beating off incessant attacks, but again at great cost: another 2,500 men were killed, wounded or missing.  2/5Bn had 36 officers and men killed in action that day, including John Bradley, who was 32 years old.


April 9-29, 1918 - The second offensive in Germany's victory gamble, the Georgette Offensive, begins as 46 divisions from the German 6th Army attack the British 2nd Army around Ypres. The Germans push the British back three miles to the outskirts of Ypres, even taking back the hard-won Passchendaele Ridge. However, the arrival of British, French and Australian reinforcements from the south breaks the German momentum and the offensive halts. Georgette, similar to Michael, is only a partial success. General Ludendorff's goal of first separating the British and French armies via Michael and then destroying the British via Michael and Georgette is not achieved. Additionally, the Germans suffer 330,000 casualties in the two offensives and lack sufficient reserve troops.


Rank:  Private

Service No:  48260

Date of Death:  09/04/1918

Regiment/Service:  Lancashire Fusiliers, 2nd/5th Bn.

Panel Reference:  Panel 45 and 46.



Bessie Cardwell came from a large Leyland family and one of her brothers, Harry, was killed fighting with the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment in Mesopotamia on 9 March 1917.

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