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Wilfred Francis Gentle Lamb was born at 16 Stefano Road in Preston on the 31st June 1889 to a single lady Mary Louisa Lamb. Wilfred`s mother had been born into a military family and was the daughter of soldier Robert Lamb and his wife Isabella. Mary Louisa was born in Jersey in 1858 and had two siblings, Margaret born in Dublin in 1849 and James John born on the Isle of Man in 1855. By 1861 Robert Lamb had died and Mary Louisa, her two siblings and mother Isabella found themselves living in Watling Street Road in Fulwood close to the Barracks in Preston where her mother was working as a laundress. Later that year Mary Louisa`s mother remarried to a retired army pensioner Alexander McKay and by 1881 family was resident at “The Booths” on Watling Street Road, Fulwood in Preston, “The Booths” appears to have been in front of the barracks and the majority of the residents seem to have been either in the Army or Army pensioners.

According to archive records Wilfred`s step grandfather Alexander McKay was admitted to Whittingham Asylum on the 27th April 1889 just a few weeks before Wilfred was born, the family`s home address at the time was 8 Watling Street Road in Fulwood. Not long after he was admitted the rest of the family moved to 16 Stefano Road which is where they were living in 1891. Alexander McKay returned to live with the family at Stefano Road at some point during 1891 but on the 18th February 1892 a second reception order notes that he was re-admitted to the Asylum where he remained until his death, his burial taking place on the 11th April 1893 at St. Mary`s Church in Goosnargh.

In the June quarter of 1896 Wilfred`s mother Mary Louisa gave birth to another illegitimate child, a daughter and she named her Isabella after her own mother whose death was registered in the same quarter. When Mary Louisa had her new baby daughter baptised on the 13th May 1896 she and Wilfred had left Stefano Road and had moved to 32 Mercer Street in Preston.

Wilfred spent his early school years at St. Matthew`s infants school and then on the 13th November 1899 when he was ten years old he was transferred to the junior school at St. Mary`s, however, he only stayed for a day, his record showing that he left the following day on the 14th. A note on his record states that his `master` at St. Matthew`s school had begged him to stay at St. Mary`s.

When the 1901 Census was taken Wilfred and his sister Isabella were still at 32 Mercer Street with their mother who was listed as a dressmaker. Mary Louisa`s niece Margaret Quinn, aged 17, was also living with the family. The census of 1911 records Mary Louise and Wilfred`s sister Isabella living at 6 Catherine Street in Preston but Wilfred was absent. However, later information states that pre-war Wilfred had enlisted into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, joining the 2nd Battalion and so his absence from the Census record in 1911 suggests that he was already with the Battalion when the Census was taken.

The 2nd Battalion LNL was stationed at Bangalore in India and when war was declared they were mobilised and despatched to East Africa, sailing at 5pm on the 16th October 1914 on board the “Karmala” at a strength of 19 Officers and 830 other ranks. They landed on the 31st October, and were soon in action at Tanga;

The Battle of Tanga (A.K.A. The Battle of the Bees)

The Battle of Tanga was an unsuccessful attack by the British Indian Expeditionary Force “B” under Major General A.E. Aitken to capture German East Africa in concert with the invasion Force “C” near Longido on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. It was the first major event of the war in German East Africa and saw the British defeated by a significantly smaller force of German Askaris and colonial volunteers.

At noon on 4th November 1914, Aitken ordered his troops to march on the city. Well concealed defenders quickly broke up their advance. The fighting then turned to jungle skirmishing by the southern contingent and bitter street fighting by the harbour force. The Gurkhas of the 2nd Kashmiri Rifles and the 2nd Loyal North Lancashire Regiment of the harbour contingent made good progress and entered the town, captured the Customs House and Hotel Deutscher Kaiser and ran up the Union Jack. But then the advance was stopped. Less well trained and equipped Indian battalions of the 27th Bangalore Brigade scattered and ran away from the battle. The 98th Infantry were attacked by a swarm of angry bees and broke up. The bees attacked the Germans as well, hence the battle`s nickname.

The Battalion lost 44 men killed in action and a further 5 men died of wounds later the same day.

Sadly, Private Wilfred Lamb was one of the men who lost his life during the battle, his date of death registered as 4th November 1914.

After Mary Louisa Lamb received news of her sons` death, the following article was published in one of the local papers;After the war Mary Louisa would have received her sons` 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals to which he was entitled and would also have received his Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice.

In July 1916 Wilfred`s remains along with other men who had died in the attack were eventually re-buried in Tanga Memorial Cemetery by a Commonwealth Force who were in occupation at the time.

The name of Private Wilfred Lamb is remembered on the Preston Roll of Honour in the Harris Museum and Library in Preston and the original submission form to have his name included is shown below. He is also remembered on the Memorial Plaque in St. Mary`s Church.

Original Submission Form for the Harris Museum RoH

War Memorial Plaque, St. Mary`s Church, Preston

Rank: Private
Service No: 10240
Date of Death: 04/11/1914
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 2nd Bn.

Janet Davis
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