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John Sharples was born in Longridge on the 17th August 1893 the son of John Sharples and Grace Hawley. His parents married in the church of St. Lawrence in Longridge on the 20th May 1893 and they went on to have another ten children between 1893 and 1917, seven of whom survived.

  • John (1893)*
  • Elizabeth (1895)
  • William (1897)
  • Thomas (1899)
  • Isaac (1902-1903)
  • Jane (1904)
  • Maggie (1907)
  • Mabel (1909-1915)
  • Albert (1912)
  • Grace (1914-1915)
  • Agnes (1917)

In both the 1901 and 1911 Census the Sharples family lived at 3 Square Fold in Longridge where John Sharples Snr. was working as a quarryman. By 1911 seventeen year old John had a job as a cotton weaver and his younger siblings, William and Elizabeth were also both employed in a cotton mill as `tenters`.

On the 28th February 1912 John joined the 4th (TF) Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and he went on to complete his annual drill and musketry camps at Kirkham and Denbigh (1913 & 1914). When John joined the Territorial Force he was employed as a weaver but at some point before August 1914 he went to work in Bond`s Belmont Foundry as a block dresser. At the outbreak of war he signed his agreement on the 7th August 1914 which would enable him as a Territorial Soldier to serve abroad in the event of a national emergency.

John was promoted to Corporal on the 21st February 1915 while the 1/4th Battalion was still at home training and then on the 4th May 1915 he embarked for France with the Battalion as a member of “B” Company. A week after landing in France the Battalion came under the command of the 154th Brigade of 51st (Highland Division).

The Battalion had only been in France for a few short weeks when they became involved in their first major action at Festubert. According to John`s papers he was wounded by shrapnel on the 14th June which was the day prior to the famous bayonet charge although later information states that he was wounded on the 15th June. After being wounded he was removed to 4 Casualty Clearing Station and he remained out of action until re-joining his Battalion on the 13th July 1915.

On the 1st April 1916 John was promoted to A/Sergeant and then confirmed in the rank of Sergeant and posted to “A” Coy of the 1/4th Battalion on the same day.

Later information also suggests that John was wounded for a second time in September of 1915 when he was hit by shrapnel resulting in wounds to his legs, unfortunately there is no information recorded about this in his service papers.

By January 1916 after a certain amount of reorganisation the 1/4th Battalion had been transferred to the 164th Brigade of the 55th (West Lancashire) Division. In the middle of July 1916 the 55th Division was sent south to play their part in the Battle of the Somme.

By the 30th July the Division had taken it`s appointed place in the line opposite the village of Guillemont which was a place that had already proved to be a thorn in the British side having already held up more than one attack. The capture of Guillemont became extremely important to the success of the general advance and a further attack entrusted to the 55th Division was scheduled to take place on the morning of the 8th August.

Extract from the Battalion War Diary

30th July – Brigade Church Parade. Sgts. Entwistle and Lancaster presented with Military Medal Ribbons by Brigadier General G.T.G. Edwards C.B. About 5pm word was received that we were to be moved at very short notice. The 1/4th R.Lancs Regiment and 1/8th Liverpool Regiment left the camp in fighting kit at 7pm.

About 11pm the Battalion left for trenches. One guide met us at road junction A 21 B 2.8. The Battalion proceeded to DUBLIN and CASEMENT TRENCHES. These trenches were old German communication trenches and there were no dug-outs. There was nobody to take over from and the Battalion was settled about 5am. The enemy shelled these trenches and battery positions round about in the afternoon very heavily. 5`9” shells were chiefly used but there were also some of heavier calibre.

2 Officers wounded, 1 O.R. killed, 1 O.R. missing, 10 O.R. `s wounded.

1st August – “C” Coy moved from DUBLIN REDOUBT and took over BRICQUETERIE POST. Bn HQ moved to DUBLIN REDOUBT. Enemy kept up a desultory bombardment all day.

1 O.R. killed, 4 O.R. `s wounded and 1 O.R. missing.

2nd August – Relieved the 1/4th Royal Lancaster Regiment in right sub-sector. “A” and “B” Coys in line and “C” and “D” in support. The line extended from MALTZHORN FARM where we joined up with the French on our right to a point on the road 200x S of ARROWHEAD COPSE. The trenches were very narrow and very shallow having only just been dug, and in several parts had not been joined up. Relief was completed about 5am on the 3rd inst.

2 O.R. `s killed and 10 wounded.

Sadly, Sergeant John Sharples was one of the two men killed whilst in the trenches on the 2nd August.

When news of his death reached Longridge, his parents notified the Preston Guardian who later printed the following information;

1140 Sergeant John Sharples “A” Coy 1-4th Battalion

A few of John`s personal possessions were returned to his mother Grace in Longridge, these included; 1 tobacco pouch, 1 metal watch, 1 match box, 1 prayer book, photos and 2 postcards.

John`s body was recovered from the battlefield and he was originally buried in one of the smaller cemeteries on the Somme but according to the CWGC records his body was later exhumed and re-buried, his final resting place being in Peronne Road Cemetery, Maricourt.

After the war John was awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals which his mother signed for.

His name is also remembered on the War Memorial outside St. Wilfred`s R.C. Church in his home town of Longridge.


Rank: Serjeant
Service No: 1140
Date of Death: 02/08/1916
Age: 23
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.
Grave Reference: II. D. 39.

Janet Davis
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