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Jonathan was born in Kirkham in 1896 and was the son of Joseph and Mary Hannah Fenton (nee Butler). Joseph and Mary were married on 16 May, 1889 in St. Michael`s Church, Kirkham. Jonathan was the youngest of three, his sister Mary Jane was born in 1889 and a brother Arthur in 1893.

In 1901 the family were living at 6 Railway Terrace, Wesham. Jonathan`s father was working as a fireman in a local cotton mill. Just a year later his mother Mary Hannah passed away at the age of 35.

On the 5 November, 1904 Jonathan`s father re-married to a widow Jane Alice Tattersall (nee Wilcock). Jane was fourteen years younger than Joseph and it wasn`t too long before they started their own family. A son Harold was born in 1905 and he was followed by Gladys in 1907 and then Florence in 1910.

In 1911 Jonathan and his brother Arthur were living with their father, stepmother and their three children in Railway Terrace, Wesham. Jonathan and Arthur were working as creelers in a local cotton mill while their father was still employed in the mill as a fireman.

Joseph and Jane Alice then had two more children, Elsie born in 1911 and Florence (Florrie) in 1912.

At the end of August 1914 a big recruiting rally took place on the Market Square in Kirkham and men from Kirkham, Wesham and the surrounding villages all turned up to listen to the patriotic speeches being made by the local dignitaries.

On Tuesday 1st September, 1914 approximately 120 men lined up in the Market Square in Kirkham and prepared to march the 8 miles to Preston to enlist. Local school children from nearby St. Michael`s School were allowed out of school to wave them off. Nineteen year old Jonathan Fenton would probably have been amongst those who marched from Kirkham that day.

Apparently the men took a break at Lea just outside Preston for some light refreshments before continuing on with their journey and eventually arriving in Preston later the same day. The recruiting offices in Preston had been inundated with men trying to enlist and it seems Jonathan was one of those who had to wait because he signed his forms on the 2nd September.

He had his medical inspection and was described as 5`9” tall, weighed 122lbs and had a 35 inch chest. His eyes were grey, his hair brown and his complexion described as sallow. His occupation at the time was a spinner in a cotton mill. Jonathan gave his next of kin as his father Joseph Fenton of 6 Railway Terrace, Wesham. He was allocated the service number 12832 and posted to “B” Company of the 7th Battalion.

On the 12 May, 1915 he got into a spot of bother when the Battalion were at Tidworth for “When on active service absent off pass from 12 midnight until reporting himself at 10pm on the 13th (about 1 day). For this he received the punishment of 3 days confined to barracks and the loss of 1 days` pay.

The 7th Battalion made the move to France starting on 16 July, 1915 when 3 Officers and 110 non-commissioned Officers and men left for Southampton with the transport. The following day Jonathan went with the remainder of the Battalion from Tidworth to Folkestone by train and crossed from there to Boulogne. The total strength of the Battalion was 30 Officers and 900 other ranks

From the 19th February until the 22nd March, 1916 Jonathan suffered with a bout of scabies and also a boil on his right leg.

On the 7 July, 1916 during the Battle of the Somme he was wounded having received a gun- shot wound to his buttock. He re-joined the Battalion on the 11th July so the wound was obviously not too serious. A couple of months later he was evacuated again, this time with sickness.

From the 31 January, 1917 to 25 February, 1917 Jonathan was away from the Battalion suffering from boils once again. Three days later he was sent back to base at Etaples for dental treatment finally re-joining his Battalion on 21 May, 1917.

On the 7June, 1917 the great battle of Messines got underway when 19 British mines were exploded simultaneously under the German defences. The 7th Battalion were involved in the fighting at this time and then they were relieved on the 12th June and moved back into support. The casualties by then had reached 5 Officers and 163 other ranks, killed and wounded.

Jonathan Fenton was killed in action on the 15 June, 1917. The following article was printed in the Preston Guardian after he died.


The newspaper article mentions Jonathan was a Signaller so it is likely he met his death when he was delivering a message or possibly fixing broken communication lines.

A few of Jonathan`s personal items which included letters, photographs and an ID Disc were returned to his father Joseph in Wesham.

Jonathan received the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals. His body was never recovered and so his name was recorded on the panels at the Menin Gate in Ypres.

His name is also remembered on the War Memorial that stands in the centre of Wesham.



Rank: Private
Service No: 12832
Date of Death: 15/06/1917
Age: 21
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 7th Bn.

Janet Davis
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