12420 PTE. H. SHAW. E.LAN.R.
Henry Shaw was born on 4 July 1880 in Redditch, near Bromsgrove in Worcestershire. His father was William Shaw, b. 1852 in Sheffield. In the 1860s William’s family moved to Manchester where William worked as a tile cutter and where he met and in 1873 married Eleanor Bowles (b. 1853 in Manchester). They had 11 children, 10 of whom survived infancy: Elizabeth (b. 1873), Eleanor (b. 1876), John William (b. 1879), Henry, Annie May (b. 1883), Nathaniel (b. 1884), Jane Gertrude (b. 1886), William (b. 1889), Grace, b. 1891, and finally Mary Jane (b. 1893). Henry’s family moved around the country quite a bit, from Manchester, briefly to Sheffield then back to Manchester, then to Redditch (where Henry was born), then briefly to London, before finally settling in Preston in the late 1880s. So Henry would have been 7 or 8 when he moved to Preston.
He signed his attestation form at Fleetwood on his 18th birthday, in 1898, and says he was born in Preston (not quite true but it’s where he grew up, went to school and worked) and that prior to enlisting he was a spinner. He was 5’ 4” tall and weighed 116lbs and had a 33” chest, a fresh complexion, grey eyes and light brown hair. He was given service number 5687 and on 20 August 1898 he was posted to 1Bn of the East Lancashire Regiment with whom he served in South Africa during the Boer War from 1900-1902. He then extended his service at various opportunities until he was finally discharged, having completed 16 years’ service, on 3 July 1914 – just one week after the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand!
In 1906, he was in the Army Reserve and back in Preston, when he married Elizabeth Helen Iddon (b. 1878 in Preston). In 1911, the family was living at 25 Bentinct Street, Preston, and Henry and Elizabeth had 2 children: Elizabeth Helen (b. 1906) and Henry Ernest (b. 1910). Henry was a labourer in a rubber works. Shortly after it seems they moved to 3, East View, Farington.
Henry re-enlisted to the Regiment almost immediately after being discharged, being assigned a new service number, 12420, and was posted initially to 6th (Service) Battalion (6Bn was formed in Preston in August 1914). After training, the Battalion was sent to Gallipoli leaving Avonmouth on 16 June 1915 and arriving on 7 July. Henry seems to have been on a slightly later troop ship as his Medal Index Card says his overseas service dates from 1 August 1915. It was in August 1915 that the Allies launched their second (failed) attempt to take the peninsula, at Suvla Bay and Chunuk Bair. The Battalion was evacuated, along with the rest of the British Army, from Gallipoli in December 1915, and then went to Egypt and then on to Mesopotamia, where it arrived in February 1916. However, it seems that at this point, Henry was transferred to 2Bn of the Regular Army which from October 1915 to July 1916 formed part of 24th Brigade in 8th Division. So rather than going to Mesopotamia with 6Bn he was sent to France to join 2Bn.
Henry was killed on 5 June 1916. This was a relatively quiet period in the War as the Allies prepared for the great onslaught which was planned to begin later that month (the Battle of the Somme). He was the only man from his Battalion to be killed that day. He was 35 years old. He is buried at Tranchée de Meknes Cemetery at Aix-Noulette, near Arras. His effects of £6 2s 7d were returned to his wife and after the War she received a War Gratuity of £8.
Service No: 12420
Date of Death: 05/06/1916
Regiment/Service: East Lancashire Regiment, 2nd Bn.
Grave Reference: D. 12.
Cemetery: TRANCHEE DE MECKNES CEMETERY, AIX-NOULETTE
13062 PTE. N. SHAW. S.LAN.R.
Henry’s brother Nathaniel was born in July 1884 when the family was living in London. He married Elizabeth Birkett in Preston in 1906 and they had 5 children, William (b. 1906), Elsie (b. 1907), Nathaniel (b. 1909), John Fryers (b. 1911) and Eleanor (b. 1914). Nathaniel had previously worked as a spinner but in 1911 the family was living in Ashton in Makerfield and Nathaniel was working as a coal miner.
He enlisted at Wigan on 7 September 1914 and was assigned to the South Lancashire Regiment (also known as the Prince of Wales’ Volunteers), with service number 13062. He was 5’ 6½” tall and weighed 121lbs. Initially he was appointed as unpaid Lance Corporal but later busted back to Private after being drunk on parade – probably full of excitement and anticipation for the adventure ahead. He was also deprived of 7 days’ pay. He was posted first to 3rd Battalion and on 19 January 1915 to 2nd Battalion. 2Bn formed part of 7th Brigade in 3rd Division. The Bn had gone to France on 14 August 1914 and after training at Tidworth, Nathaniel joined the Bn in the field on 19 January 1915. In April and May, the 2Bn was engaged in the Second Battle of Ypres, which saw the first German use of poison gas.
Nathaniel died (missing presumed dead) on 25 September 1915. He was 31 years old. That day the 2Bn had launched a brave but costly attack in the area around Bellewaarde, losing heavily to the lethal combination of machine-gun fire and barbed wire. 58 other men from 2Bn were also killed that day and only 2 bodies were recovered for burial, the rest lay where they fell. Although this Allied attack failed, the Germans had failed to capture the Ypres salient (even though the town had been completely destroyed by artillery) and the War returned to stalemate.
In 1917, Elizabeth re-married to William Mason and they lived at 155 West End Road, Haydock. She received his effects, £1 8s 2d, and a War Gratuity of £3 10s.
Service No: 13062
Date of Death: 25/09/1915
Regiment/Service: South Lancashire Regiment, 2nd Bn.
Panel Reference: Panel 37.
Memorial: YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL
11403 PTE. J.W.CARTER. K.O.R.L.R.
It may be that the family had another soldier casualty. The records are a little confusing but it seems that in 1907, in Preston, Jane Gertrude Shaw (known as Gertrude but also as Edith) married John Walter Carter (b. 1885 in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire). John Walter Carter was a housepainter and he and Gertrude/Edith had a son, Walter Stanley (b. 1911). J.W. Carter enlisted at Blackpool at the outbreak of war and served in the King’s Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment). He was given service number 11403 and posted to 1st Battalion. He joined the Battalion in the field on 26 January 1915. He was killed in action on 13 May 1915 during the Second Battle of Ypres along with 3 other members of his Battalion killed that day. He was 30 years old. His body was never recovered and he is commemorated at the Menin Gate in Ypres. His brother-in-law, Nathaniel Shaw, would be killed a little later in the same battle.
His effects, £1 10s 4d, and a War Gratuity of £3 were paid to his widow who after the War lived at 12, Mount Pleasant, Chesterton, Staffs.
Service No: 11403
Date of Death: 13/05/1915
Regiment/Service: King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment), "C" Coy. 1st Bn.
Panel Reference: Panel 12.
Memorial: YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL