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William Cunliffe enlisted in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on 31st August 1914. He was 30 years and 9 months old and had been working as a spinner.

William had married Agnes May (nee Durham) in Preston in September 1906. They lived together with their five children at 60 Inkerman Street, Preston. The five children were all born between November 1908 and January 1914.


Agnes May Cunliffe with their five young children

At his enlistment medical the officer described William as being 5ft 5in tall and weighing 135lbs. He had grey eyes and brown hair.

William had tried to join the military at an earlier age but had been rejected on medical grounds due to his teeth.

William was posted into ‘A Company’ of the newly raised 7th (Service) Battalion, the Preston Pals, and given the number 12488. The new Battalion moved to Whitchurch for their training that December.
On 17th July 1915 William sailed from Folkestone to France with the main body of the 7th Battalion. During the war Agnes worked in a munitions in Preston.


Agnes worked in a munitions factory in Preston

On 23rd July 1916 William was killed in action on the Somme whilst trying to save a wounded comrade by carrying him to a place of safety. He was 31 years old and is remembered with honour on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing.


Agnes later took receipt of her late husband’s 1914/15 star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. She was awarded a widows pension of 24/6 per week for her and their five children.

William is also remembered in the Harris Museum on the Preston Roll of Honour.  His entry makes note of his gallant act and suggests he should be awarded a medal – I have searched the London Gazette and believe that a gallantry award was not forthcoming.


Rank: Private
Service No: 12488
Date of Death: 23/07/1916
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 7th Bn.

Thank you to Alison, the great granddaughter of William Cunliffe for supplying the information and photographs for this article. 

Paul McCormick
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8 Responses to 12488 PTE. W. CUNLIFFE. L.N.LAN.R

  1. Liz Eastham says:

    My grandfather John Cartmell who was a Preston man, though born in the Wesham area, served in the Seaforth Highlanders in WW1. He was a Lewis gunner and was at the Battle of the Somme in July 1916. He mentions a friend, John Leeming who was probably with the North Lancs.
    Why did he join a Scottish regiment? It is said he joined up under age in his lunch hour! His mother was furious, it is said. He attended the Catholic College. Much is told of the dead of WW1, rightly so, but so little is said of those who survived. Grandad survived. Do you have any information on Preston boys and men joining other regiments?

  2. Gail Newsham says:

    My great uncle 12453 Lcpl Joe Newsham was killed on the Somme on 23 July 1916. My Dad, who fought in WW2 was named after him. I think he was probably a friend of 12488 Pte William Cunliffe who lived on Inkerman Street. Uncle Joe lived on Bedford Street which wasn’t far from Inkerman Street. He also went to France on 17 July 1915 and they were both killed on the same day. I have done some research about Uncle Joe and he fell in the area of Bazentin-le-Petit and Mametz Wood. I really feel he could be buried in Flat Iron Copse Cemetery. I have contacted CWGC about a gravestone but they weren’t very helpful. I have had a wooden cross made with a brass plaque and am taking it to France in June 2014. I will place it as close to where I think he fell. I wonder if he is with Pte William Cunliffe? Their army numbers are very similar. I wish I knew more about Uncle Joe’s last day.
    Wonderful website by the way. Thank you for your efforts in remembering these brave lads.
    Gail Newsham

    • Simon Newsham says:

      Gail Newsham, your great uncle Joseph Newsham was a cousin of my Grandfather Alexander Newsham, also in the LNL, served in The Balkans, Gallipoli 1914, Ypres, Vimy Ridge, Paschendale, Somme, wounded twice and was awarded the MM at Kemmel Hill in April 1918.

      Kind Regards to a fellow Newsh.

      Simon Newsham

      • Gail Newsham says:

        Hi Simon, only just seen your comment. Thanks for your letting me know. We are obviously distant relatives. My grandad (uncle Joe’s brother) fought in Gallipoli too but I wish I knew more about his service. It’s all fascinating stuff.
        Kind regards,

  3. Dave Moseley says:

    Liz Eastham after doing some family research have found that I have a John Leeming Wilson who was my great grand uncle, he was enlisted in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, I am sure it is the same John Leeming you mention.

  4. Eric Tomlinson says:

    I am very interested to find out the name of the five children in the picture.

    Kind regards

    • Mrs Alison Panasiewicz says:

      Hi, I am his great grand daughter, so I know all the names – can I ask your connection/interest please?

  5. Debbie Kenworthy says:

    Hi Alison my husband is his great grandson so you must be related we did have copies of the above but not sure where they are now.

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