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Vincent Stephenson was born in Preston in 1892 the son of William and Elizabeth Stephenson (nee Stephenson).

Vincent`s father had previously been married to Ann Berbeck, the couple were married in 1861 and they had at least eight children. William`s first wife died in 1880 and in 1884 he remarried to Elizabeth who was twenty years his junior.

William started a second family with Elizabeth and they had another twelve children, ten of which survived infancy; William (1885), Charles (1887), Annie (1888), Leopold (1889), Vincent (1892)*, Mary Ellen (1894), Lawrence (1896)**, Joseph (1897), Cecilia (1899) and finally Ernest in 1902.

In 1907 William Stephenson died and when the 1911 Census was taken his widow Elizabeth was living at 28 Vauxhall Road in Preston and she was a shopkeeper (grocers). All the children with the exception of the eldest son William were living with her as well as a chap called Henry who is described as a brother. Vincent`s eldest brother William was a Stoker in the Royal Navy and in 1911 he was recorded as being on board HMS Euryalus in Devon. Vincent and the older children were all employed as either cotton spinners or weavers in a mill. Number 28 Vauxhall Road only had three rooms and with ten people living there it must have been quite a squeeze to fit everyone in.

On the 3 August, 1914 Vincent enlisted at Preston, he was initially allocated the number 119 which later became 200052 and was posted to the 4th Battalion. He was 22 years and 4 months old, unmarried and still living in Vauxhall Road with his mother. He was employed at Horrockses Crewdson & Company as a cotton spinner.

Vincent left England and sailed for France with the 1/4th Battalion on the 4 May, 1915. The following month the 1/4th Battalion were involved in their first major actions of the war in the Battle of Festubert and it was during the evening of the 15 June, 1915 that Vincent received gunshot wounds to his legs. By the 21 June, 1915 he had arrived back in England and was sent to hospital for treatment to his injuries.

Vincent remained in England for six months until he was eventually sent back out to France for the second time on Christmas Eve 1915 and at some point after that he returned to his Battalion.

On the 19 July, 1916 he was appointed Lance Corporal and then two months later promoted to Corporal and posted into `A` Coy of the 1/4th Battalion. He must have been doing well because on the 30 October, 1916 he was appointed Lance Sergeant and then finally promoted to Sergeant on the 1 January, 1917.

Not long after his promotion to Sergeant it seems as though Vincent must have been granted some home leave because he married Ann Ryan back home in Preston in the March quarter of 1917.

On the night of the 18 July, 1917 the Battalion were being bombarded by shells in the trenches to the east of Ypres and sadly this is where Vincent lost his life.

His wife Ann posted the following information in the Preston Guardian not long afterwards.


The Authorities returned a few of Vincent`s personal items to his widow Ann back in Preston which included; books, photos, cards and a steel mirror. Ann acknowledged receipt of them just before Christmas on 22 December, 1917. She was also awarded a pension for herself amounting to 16s/3d with effect from 4 February, 1918.

Vincent was awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals and is buried with honour in Vlamertinghe New Military Cemetery, Belgium.

His widow Ann had the words “Jesus Mercy, Mary Help” inscribed at the bottom of his headstone.

Rank: Serjeant
Service No: 200052
Date of Death: 18/07/1917
Age: 25
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.

Additional family information

3151 Corporal Lawrence Stephenson

The above newspaper article refers to another of Vincent`s brothers who had also been killed, this was one of his younger brothers 3151 Corporal Lawrence Stephenson. He enlisted on 2 November, 1914 and like his brother he too was posted to the 1/4th Battalion.

Lawrence was 19 years and 7 months old when he enlisted and had been working in Messrs. Calvert`s India Mill on New Hall Lane in Preston prior to joining up. He was also a Patrol Leader in the 1st Walton le Dale Boy Scouts. He was unmarried and had no previous military experience.

Lawrence sailed from England together with his brother Vincent and the 1/4th Battalion on the 4 May, 1915. On the 15 June, 1915 during the Battle of Festubert Lawrence`s papers mention that he was reported as “missing in the field” but later the same day was reported as “not being missing”. It may have been just a coincidence but this was the same day that his brother Vincent had been wounded in the legs.

Lawrence was killed on the 28 May, 1916 when the Battalion were in the trenches around Bretencourt. Lawrence was a Signaller and according to the newspaper clipping below he was telephoning to the supports in the rear when he was killed during an attack on the German trenches.

A further bit of information comes from the personal diary of Corporal Thomas Ainscough who it seems was a pal of Lawrence`s. Thomas has noted in his diary that his friend Lawrence was shot through the head just after an attack started.

Lawrence was also awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals and because his body was never recovered from the battlefield he is remembered on the Arras Memorial to the Missing.

The Preston Guardian printed the following article following Lawrence`s death.


Rank: Corporal
Service No: 3151
Date of Death: 28/06/1916
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.

Janet Davis
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