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William Winstanley was born in Euxton in 1894.  His father was Richard Winstanley (b. 1867 in Euxton), previously a collier but in 1911 a ‘retailer of beer’.  His mother was Sarah Bennet (b. 1871, and also from Euxton).  Richard and Sarah were married in 1893 and William was the oldest of their children.  His siblings were Elizabeth (b. 1897), Helen (or Ellen) (b. 1900), George (b. 1903) and Ann (b. 1906).  In 1911, the family was living at 119 Ribbleton Lane in Preston, but soon after this date, they moved to Fairfield Street in Lostock Hall (near Ward Street), and William got a job in the rubber works.


William joined the Lancashire Fusiliers in Preston on 10 December 1915, aged 21yrs and 9mths.  He was a very slight man, only 5’ tall and weighing in at 99lbs (barely 7st!).  Although he was originally posted to the 20th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers with service number 29032, he eventually ended up in the Labour Corps with service number 111882.  William was posted to France on 12 May 1916.  He spent some time in hospital in September 1916 suffering from ‘debility’.


The Labour Corps came into operation in 1917.  Although the army in France and Flanders was able to use some railways, steam engines and tracked vehicles for haulage, the immense effort of building and maintaining the huge network of roads, railways, canals, buildings, camps, stores, dumps, telegraph and telephone systems, etc, and also for moving stores, relied on horse, mule and human labour – the Labour Corps.  This is somewhat ironic given William’s slight stature.  William joined 187 Coy on 14 May 1917.  The Corps could be deployed anywhere along the front and were not allocated to specific Battalions, but given that William was killed in action on 2 September 1917 and is buried at Brandhoek, not far from Ypres in Belgium, it is clear that he was engaged in the fighting north of the town – the Battle of Langemark having taken place from 16-18 August.


William’s records show that there was some confusion about where to send the plaques and scrolls of commemoration, as his address was incorrectly recorded as Fairfield Street in Preston, so these effects were not delivered until the confusion was resolved in 1920, which can only have added to his parents’ distress.


Rank:  Private

Service No:  29032

Date of Death:  02/09/1917

Age:  23

Regiment/Service:  Lancashire Fusiliers, 20th Bn. transf. to (111882) 187th Coy. Labour Corps

Grave Reference:  I. E. 9.


Additional Information:  Son of Richard and Sarah Winstanley, of Euxton nr. Chorley, Lancs

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