24328 PTE. A. WEAVER. L.N.LAN.R.
Andrew Weaver was born in Leyland in the second quarter of 1890 and baptised at Leyland St Andrews on 11 May 1890. His mother was Alice Weaver, b. 1857 in Leyland, his father unknown. In fact, it appears Alice had two children but the other one did not survive. In 1901, Andrew was living with his mother and her father, Jervis Weaver (b. 1818 in Leyland and a retired shoemaker), at 7 Alma Cottages, Leyland Lane. Also in the household were Charles Abram, Jervis’ stepson, and Alice’s sister Susannah. In 1911, Alice, Charles and Andrew were in the same place, both Alice and Andrew working as weavers in the mill.
Andrew married Amelia Hibbert (b. 1892 in Lostock Hall) and they moved to 8 Garfield Terrace, Lostock Hall, where they had two children: Fred (b. 1915) and Mabel (b. 1917). It appears from the newspaper article published after his death, that Andrew left the mill to work for Leyland Motors.
From the same article we learn that Andrew enlisted in May 1916. He was posted to 8 Battalion and probably joined them in the field towards the end of 1916 or early 1917. In late 1916 there was little fighting, but new troops in the trenches would be put to work on drainage and sanitation. Four drafts of NCOs and men arrived in December, 250 men in all, but according to the Regimental history, “the majority of these were noted as ‘untrained’, and were consequently not fitted for employment in the front-line trenches”. A further draft of 147 men and one officer arrived in January, and the Battalion was withdrawn to St Omer for training.
The Battalion was ready to return to the line at Wulverghem, near Ypres, by March 1917. In June, the Battalion was engaged in the Battle of Messines. This action was aimed at capturing the strategic hill area around Messines from which the Allies would be in a more commanding position from which to launch the planned attack on the German lines east of Ypres later in the year. During this battle, between 6-12 June 1917, 8Bn lost 36 NCOs and men killed, four officers and 98 other ranks wounded and seven other ranks missing. Andrew was severely wounded in the left thigh but managed to make it back and was evacuated to the Military Hospital at Orpington in Kent. After he recovered, he returned to France in November 1917 and if he rejoined his Battalion then he would have found them near Givenchy but soon after that they were withdrawn to Quéant near the Somme and they spent Christmas in reserve at Favreuil. The fighting of 1917, and especially the heavy losses incurred during the Battle of Passchendaele, had severely depleted many army divisions and it had become almost impossible to supply adequate reinforcements, so a policy of disbanding certain battalions became inevitable and 8Bn was disbanded at Courcelles on 16 February 1918. So at some stage between November 1917 and February 1918, Andrew was transferred to 1/4Bn, forming part of the 55th (West Lancashire) Division.
During late March and early April 1918, 1/4Bn was engaged in the defence against the German Spring Offensive in the Givenchy-Festubert area. From June to September, under regular bombardment and constant harassment from the enemy, the Battalion first held the line then began to push back and eventually to retake land (now mud and craters) previously lost. On 27 September, the Bn took part in an attack in the area of La Bassée Canal, with two companies from 1/4Bn engaged on 30 September, and suffered severe casualties when the enemy counter-attacked. It seems that this is where Andrew received the wounds from which he later died. He was taken to Casualty Clearing Station 54, which had been at Aire-sur-la-Lys but was now on the move as the Allied army advanced, and he died at CCS54 on 1 October 1918. He was 28 years old and left a widow and two children, Fred aged 3 and Mabel just a year old. He is buried at Choques Cemetery near Béthune.
His effects of £16 14s 3d and the War Gratuity of £10 10s were forwarded to his widow.
Service No: 24328
Date of Death: 01/10/1918
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.
Grave Reference: III. B. 20.
Cemetery: CHOCQUES MILITARY CEMETERY
Andrew Weaver’s widow, Amelia (Hibbert), was related in a complicated way to 20218 PTE. W. HIBBERT. L.N.LAN.R. Amelia’s father was Levi Arbott Hibbert, Amelia’s mother was Levi’s first wife. His second wife had two children by her first marriage before she married Levi. One of these was William Campbell, who adopted his step-father’s surname when he enlisted. The entire extended family were living together in 1911 at 9 Garfield Terrace, Lostock Hall: Levi and Mary (his second wife), 7 of ‘his’ children (including Amelia), 2 of ‘her’ children (including William Campbell/Herbert) and 3 of ‘their’ children; 14 people in all in a house with a total of 7 rooms.