George (b. 1856) and Elizabeth (b. 1858) Buck lived at 10 South View, Lostock Hall. They were both originally from Longton but lived for some time at Dewhurst Road, Cuerden, before moving to South View some time in the 1890s. They had 11 children, 10 of whom survived infancy, 5 girls and 5 boys: Mary (b. 1877), Jane (b. 1880), Margaret (b. 1882), Ada (b. 1884), James (b. 1885), Annie (b. 1888), Robert (b. 1891), Fred (b. 1893), (George b. 1895), and Frank (b. 1897). George snr. was a plate layer for the railway. All the children were weavers in the cotton mill.
James was a Gunner (334654) in the Royal Garrison Artillery. He served in 353 Siege Battery. 353 Bty was formed at Weymouth in January 1917. Siege Batteries RGA were equipped with heavy howitzers, sending large calibre high explosive shells in high trajectory, plunging fire. As British artillery tactics developed, the Siege Batteries were most often employed in destroying or neutralising the enemy artillery, as well as putting destructive fire down on strong-points, dumps, store, roads and railways behind enemy lines. 353 had 6x6inch howitzers. The picture shows a 6” howitzer in action at Gommecourt. Capable of firing a 100lb shell 13,700yds.
James died on 5 June 1917, aged 32, and is buried at Berks Cemetery Extension, near Mesen in Belgium. Little is known abut the precise circumstances of James’ death but CWGC explains that those commemorated here did not die in major offensives, such as those which took place around Ypres to the north, or Loos to the south. Most were killed in the course of the day-to-day trench warfare which characterised this part of the line, or in small-scale set engagements, usually carried out in support of the major attacks taking place elsewhere.
Service No: A/334654
Date of Death: 05/06/1917
Regiment/Service: Royal Garrison Artillery, 353rd Siege Bty.
Grave Reference: II. D. 58.
Cemetery: BERKS CEMETERY EXTENSION
Fred and George both joined the Scots Guards. They almost certainly signed up together as their service numbers are consecutive (10646 and 10647). Fred was posted to 2nd Battalion and his service in France dates from 26 March 1915. He was killed on 16 May 1915, aged 22, during the Battle of Festubert.
On 16 May at 2.45am the artillery commenced their bombardment. The previous night the British wire in front of their lines was removed. The night was warm and all the men got some rest. The bombardment was due to end at 3.15 and 3 minutes before the men were ordered over the top, so they could capture some of the ground before the bombardment of the German trenches ended. Some advanced too quickly and were held up by their own artillery. An officer subsequently visiting the ground found it strewn with Germans and Scots Guards mingled together and 'from appearances they must have fought the battle out there to the finish'. The Germans managed to reinforce their lines and there were massive losses on both sides. The Guards report the loss of entire companies. On 17 May the artillery repeated its assault and many Germans surrendered and were fired on by their own side to prevent them surrendering. Those who surrendered were from Saxon battalions - called in as reinforcements from Armentières - and it was Prussians who fired on them. Among the Guards, 10 officers and 400 other ranks were casualties. Scots Guards were then withdrawn to billets in Festubert.
Fred has no grave but is remembered on Le Touret Memorial.
Service No: 10646
Date of Death: 16/05/1915
Regiment/Service: Scots Guards, 2nd Bn.
Panel Reference: Panel 3 and 4.
Memorial: LE TOURET MEMORIAL
George was in 1st Battalion and went to France on 16 April 1915. That year the Guards Division was engaged in the Battle of Loos (September). In 1916, the Division fought on the Somme at Flers-Courcelette and Morval.
In 1917, the Guards Division was involved in the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line (14 March - 5 April), then various phases of the Third Battle of Ypres: the Battle of Pilkem (31 July - 2 August), the Battle of the Menin Road (20 - 25 September), and the Battle of Poelcapelle (9 October). From 8-10 October, 1Bn Scots Guards were in the line at Broenbeek and at 5.20 on the morning of the 9th they launched their attack over the Broenbeek, meeting little resistance. Having gained their first objective, the Bn paused for other Guards Battalions to pass through to the second objective, which again was taken with little resistance. By 3 in the afternoon, The Guards Division had taken all three of their objectives for the day. The enemy counterattacked at 5.15 and 7.30 but both attacks were repelled. The Bn was then withdrawn and eventually moved to camp near Elverdinghe. On 14 October, four bombs were dropped on the camp, killing 6 men and wounding 12. On the 18th, the Bn was withdrawn further to billets at Houlle and they were engaged in no more action that month. So it seems George must have received the wounds from which he died either at Broenbeek on 9-10 October or during the bombing raid on 14 October. He died of wounds at No. 4 General Hospital at Camiers on 4 November 1917, aged 22, and is buried at Étaples Military Cemetery.
James and George’s deaths were just 5 months apart.
Service No: 10647
Date of Death: 04/11/1917
Regiment/Service: Scots Guards, 1st Bn.
Grave Reference: XXX. J. 10A.
Cemetery: ETAPLES MILITARY CEMETERY
It seems likely that their other brothers Robert and Frank would also have signed up but so far we have no records of their service.