2246 PTE A. GIDLOW. L.N.LAN.R
Alfred Gidlow was born in the second quarter of 1888 in Much Hoole, Lancashire. His father William b. 1855 was a basket maker originally from Castle Donington, Leicestershire, who had moved to Preston in the late 1870s where he met his wife Catherine (Kate) Sutton (b. 1861 in Much Hoole). In fact, William had been a soldier in the 81st Regiment of Foot and served with this Regiment in Afghanistan, before it was merged with the 2nd Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment in 1881. William and Kate married in 1881 and had 12 children, 9 of whom survived infancy. The family continued to live in the Much Hoole/Longton area at least until 1911, with William continuing to work as a basket maker but all the children worked in the cotton mill. Some time between 1911 and 1914, the family moved to Lostock Hall where Alfred found work as a loomer at Moss & Sons Tardy Gate Mill. The family lived at 121 Watkin Lane.
Alfred signed up at the outbreak of War and joined the 4th (later 1/4) Territorial Battalion. Units were sent out in various contingents between October 1914 and May 1915 and Alfred was in the contingent which arrived in France on 4 May 1915, to be assigned to 51st (Highland) Division. He fought with 1/4Bn through the Battle of Festubert in May and June 1915 during which 431 officers and other ranks were killed, wounded or missing. The article below tells us Alfred got through Festubert ‘without a scratch’. The Battalion was then in reserve during the Battle of Loos and in training for most of the rest of the year, during which time they received reinforcements, and in early 1916 the Battalion was moved to join the 55th (West Lancashire) Division, spending the spring and early summer in training and preparation for the Battle of the Somme. The Division was not engaged in the opening assaults, except to provide artillery support, but was called into action at the end of July at Guillemont. The Battalion lost a further 200 men in late July and early August in the failed attempt to take Guillemont. On 15 August they were withdrawn to rest at Saigneville, where they received drafts of over 200 NCOs and men to reinforce their ranks, and they were called back to the line on 7 September, this time to attempt to complete the capture of Delville Wood. The artillery barrage began at 4pm in the afternoon of 9 September, with the infantry advance commencing at 4.45 and 1/4Bn going ‘over the top’ at 5.25. In the following action, the various battalions took and then lost a few hundred yards of ground, ending the day where they had started. Of 1/4Bn, 24 officers and men were killed, 133 wounded and 79 missing. Alfred’s body was never found. He was 28 years old.
Service No: 2246
Date of Death: 09/09/1916
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment 1st/4th Bn.
Panel Reference: Pier and Face 11 A.
Memorial: THIEPVAL MEMORIAL
Alfred had four brothers and four sisters. The brothers were William (b. 1884), Robert (b. 1889), George (b. 1895) and Thomas (b. 1898). I haven’t found records to show William served, but the other brothers did. Robert Gidlow was 21119 in the 11th Battalion, L.N.LAN.R. but subsequently transferred to the Machine Gun Corps, with service number 7706. George volunteered alongside his brother Alfred on 1 September 1914, initially joining 10Bn L.N.LAN.R. with service number 14198, but was discharged less than 2 months later because of weak eyesight. However, he seems to have re-enlisted in 1/4Bn with service number 3459, as the newspaper article says he was wounded and in hospital in Liverpool in 1915, and his medal records indicate that he was finally discharged on 7 August 1916. The youngest brother Thomas also joined L.N.LAN.R. He was 203652 Pte. T. Gidlow, serving in 4 Bn. He signed up on 10 January 1917, just after he turned 18. He served in France from 20 June to 12 August 1917, returned to England on 13 August and was discharged as medically unfit for further service on 24 April 1918. Unfortunately his discharge documents give no further details about why he was discharged. In August 1917, 4Bn, then attached to 57th (West Lancashire) Division, was in Armentières which was under heavy enemy artillery bombardment, so he may have been wounded here but there is no evidence. He died in 1948, aged 50.
Alfred’s sisters were: Ursula (b. 1882), Ellen (b. 1886), Kate (b. 1893) and Caroline (b. 1905). In 1911, Ellen married Ernest Atkinson Barker, who served with 10Bn L.N.LAN.R. and was killed in action on 28 April 1917. See 25413 PTE. E. A. BARKER.
(I am grateful to Janet Davis for supplying a copy of the newspaper article).