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willacypicArthur Willacy was born in 1894 the son of William and Eliza Emma Willacy (nee Bates).

William and Eliza were married in St. Johns church, Westhoughton in 1883 and had 8 more children, Isabella (1883), Sarah Ada (1886), William (1888), John Thomas (1890), Edwin Bates (1892), Elizabeth Alice (1897), Emma (1899), and Alice Emma (1903).

By the time of the 1911 Census Arthur was living at home with his parents and siblings at 12 Birley Street, Kirkham. Arthur`s occupation was an apprentice painter. Arthur`s father William was an unemployed schoolmaster, Isabella, Sarah and Edwin were cotton weavers, William was a railway clerk and John Thomas a railway lamp man.

Arthur Willacy enlisted on 1st September, 1914 at Preston for the duration of the War. He was posted to “B” Coy, 7th Battalion Loyal North Lancs and given the service number 12794.

He confirmed his address as 12 Birley St. Kirkham. His occupation was a painter and plumber with Richard Royles, Kirkham.

At his medical inspection it is noted that he was 5`11” tall, weighed 152lbs, had a 35inch chest and was of good physical development. It also notes he had 2 scars on his right knee.

On the 3rd November, 1914 Arthur was appointed Lance Corporal, but unfortunately this promotion only lasted for one month.

On 4th December, 1914 his papers reveal that he was deprived of 7 days’ pay and also deprived of his Lance Corporal appointment for – “when on active service striking a private”.

On 17th July, 1915 Arthur embarked at Folkestone with the 7th Battalion bound for France.

5th August, 1915 Arthur was again promoted to Lance Corporal (unpaid) while he was with the 7th Battalion.

On the 14th October, 1915 he was admitted wounded to 57th Field Ambulance and the following day admitted to 13th Stationery Hospital, Wimereux. By the 23rd October, 1915 he was on his way back to England via the Hospital Ship Cambria.

Arthur left hospital on 19th November, 1915 and went on leave until 28th November. When he returned from leave he spent some time with the 11th (Reserve) Battalion Loyal North Lancs.

On 31st May, 1916 Arthur was promoted to Corporal. Two days later on 2nd June, 1916 Arthur was on his way back to France again and was then posted to the 8th Battalion.

Corporal Arthur Willacy was killed in action on 14th July, 1916 when the 8th Battalion were involved in operations during the Battle of the Somme.

 14th July 1916
At 11:00 hrs on the 14th July 1916 the 8th Battalion LNL provided a carrying party for the 10th Cheshire Regiment. The 10th Cheshire’s were carrying out  an attack with the 75th Brigade, attempting to capture a line of trenches south of Ovillers.  They reached the line of German trenches but only held them briefly owing to enemy machine gun fire from above. Captain A.N. Faulkner, Lt. P.R. Shields and eleven men were wounded, three were killed and four were missing.

The following photograph and report appeared in the local paper a short while after Arthur was killed.


No effects were returned to Arthur`s family. He was awarded the 1914/15 Star, British War and Victory Medals. Arthur is remembered with honour on the Thiepval Memorial and his name is also recorded on the Kirkham War Memorial.

Rank: Corporal
Service No: 12794
Date of Death: 14/07/1916
Age: 22
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 8th Bn.

Authors Note: The above article refers to Arthur Willacy as Sergeant. His papers only show him being promoted to Corporal and his Medal Card the same. The CWGC record also records him as Corporal A. Willacy.

The article also refers to one of Arthur’s brothers being in Mesopotamia with the Loyal N Lancs. This was 21151 Private Edwin Bates Willacy. It looks as though no service papers have survived for Edwin. His medal card confirms he received the 1914/15 Star, British War and Victory Medals and that he was demobilised to Class Z at the end of the war.

This post was researched and published by Janet Davis

Janet Davis
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