10125 PTE. J. FAIRCLOUGH. SCOTS GUARDS.
James Fairclough was born in Lostock Hall on 2 January 1891 and baptised at Farington St Paul on 1 March. He was one of six brothers from Lostock Hall who all enlisted for service in the War. His father was James Fairclough (b. 1860 in Preston) who was a spinner in the cotton mill. His mother was Alice Ellen Cornwell (b. 1860 in Preston). James and Alice married on Christmas Day 1880 and had 8 children; 7 boys and 1 girl: Thomas (b. 1882), William (b. 1884), Alice (b. 1888), James (b. 1891), Albert (b. 1892), John (b. 1895), George (b. 1897), and Edward (1899-1910). All the boys in the family were cotton spinners, Alice was a card room hand, and they lived at 1 Lostock View, Lostock Hall.
By January 1915, the War had reached its first stalemate. The British and French had managed to halt the initial German advance and begun to force them back, but now both sides were entrenched and conditions during the winter became appalling. On some days it was ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’, but some days were murderous; such a day was 25 January 1915. Recruits had been arriving from England to reinforce the British Expeditionary Force and a group of men from Lostock Hall, Farington and Leyland arrived to join 1st Battalion Scots Guards on 14 January and were immediately sent to the front line. The new draft included William Collinge (who turned 21 on 13 Jan), and Robert Holmes, from Leyland, Harold Southworth from Farington, and James Fairclough from Lostock Hall. 1/Scots Guards had been in France since October 1914, and in January 1915 they were in the trenches near Cuinchy in northern France. This area known as 'The Brickstacks' sat on a flat piece of land between the towns of Béthune and La Bassée and here the front line did not move for most of the War. Both sides were fully entrenched. The trenches by now were knee-deep in mud and water and infested with rats. The Battalion’s War Diary says: At 6.30am (on 25 January) a German deserter reported that an attack was going to be made in half an hour, bombardment first and then our trenches were to be blown in by previously made mines. After an hour all happened as the deserter had said. The Germans first shelled and then got out of their trenches and attacked and then threw bombs in, got to the lip of the parapet and shot down into the trenches. The Germans afterwards swarmed up to the 'keep' where Major Romilly was. There they were checked and held. All four local men were in a trench which was blown up by a German mine. They were either instantly killed or buried alive. Their bodies were not recovered at the time and so they lay ‘in some corner of a foreign field that is forever England’. They had been in France for just 11 days before they were killed. The bodies of Robert Holmes and William Collinge were discovered by a farmer ploughing his fields some time after the War, and they were re-buried side-by-side in the Canadian Cemetery near Arras. The other men’s bodies were never found and they are commemorated on the memorial at Le Touret.
So James had landed in France on 14 January 1915 and he was killed 11 days later on 25 January. He was 24 years old.
Service No: 10125
Date of Death: 25/01/1915
Regiment/Service: Scots Guards, "B" Coy. 1st Bn.
Panel Reference: Panel 3 and 4.
Memorial: LE TOURET MEMORIAL
The Fairclough family and the War
Thomas, the oldest of the boys, was born on 6 December 1882 and baptised at Farington St Paul on Christmas Eve. In 1904, he married Mary Durham, (b. 1877 in Bolton) and they moved to 13 Lostock View where they lodged with Mary’s father Richard. The 1911 Census says that in the interim period they had 4 children 3 of whom died. Although one child is still alive, s/he is not listed as living with the parents at the time of the Census and I have been unable to find any other records. Mary died in the autumn of 1915 and only a few weeks later Tom was sent to France, landing in Le Havre on 3 October. Thomas had enlisted in 9/Cameronians Scottish Rifles. He was promoted to L/Cpl then Cpl. In May 1918, Thomas was engaged in action during which he displayed conspicuous bravery for which he was awarded the Military Medal. The award was reported in the Preston Guardian at the time.
Tom’s first wife Mary died in 1915 and after the War Tom married again, to Jane Alice Walker (b. 1893 in Bamber Bridge). The couple lived at 84 Watkin Lane. Tom died in 1951.
William Fairclough was born on 17 December 1884 and baptised at Farington St Paul on 11 January 1885. In 1912, he married Margaret Hodson and they lived at 18 Lostock View. He enlisted with 12 Battalion King’s Liverpool Regiment at Southport/Seaforth on 5 Sep 1914. From his military records (which have survived) we know that he was 5ft 4in tall and weighed 110lbs (a fraction under 8st). He was initially passed as fit for service but was shortly afterwards (23 Sep) discharged as being ‘not likely to become an efficient soldier’ under King’s Regulations para 392.iii.(c) as a result of a 35% disablement (not specified). He was given a gratuity of £5 for his service. Although he never served abroad, William did nevertheless enlist and was discharged due to sickness and he has a medal card to record his service. He qualified for the King’s Silver War Badge, which was awarded to all of those military personnel who had served at home or overseas during the war, and who had been discharged from the army under King’s Regulations. Although instituted in 1916 the medal was also awarded in retrospect. I think Margaret died in 1932. After the War William worked at Leyland Rubber and died in 1960.
Albert, John and George all also served in the Army.
Albert was born on 16 November 1892. He enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery in 1915 (in the photograph above you can make out his RFA cap badge). His initial service number was 3692 but he was later posted to the Royal Garrison Artillery and given a new service number, 294241. I don’t know where he served during the War. After the War he returned to work as a spinner and lived at 1 Lostock View. He shared the house with his brother George, sister Alice and Alice’s daughter Agnes.
John Fairclough was born on 1 January 1895. I haven’t been able to find definite records of his military service. In the summer of 1918, he married Elizabeth Ellen Bennison (b. 1896 in Bamber Bridge). The couple had two children and lived at 2 Lostock Square, Lostock Hall. John died in 1961.
George Fairclough was born on 21 July 1897. I’m fairly sure he served during the War but again I have been unable to trace any definite records. After the War he was a general labourer and as indicated above, he lived at Lostock View with sister Alice and brother Albert. George died in 1968.
Alice Fairclough was born on 3 July 1888 in Preston (just before the family moved to Lostock Hall) and baptised in Preston on 11 July. In the summer of 1919, Alice married Albert Edward Amer (b. 1892 in Caton, near Lancaster). Albert enlisted in the Royal Navy on 25 February 1915, at which time he gives his address as 14 Fairfield Street, Lostock Hall, just round the corner from where the Faircloughs lived. During the War, Albert served on HMS Zaria which was a mercantile fleet auxiliary used as a squadron supply ship, based at Longhope (Scapa Flow). He was demobilised on 10 May 1919 and he and Alice were married as soon as he got home. Alice was soon expecting, but Albert would never know his daughter. Albert was killed on 1 August 1920 in a road traffic accident when he was knocked off his bicycle by a charabanc. His daughter Agnes was born in December that year.