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John Edward Barnish was born in 1891 in Wesham, son of Alexander Barnish, b. 1825 and originally from Rochdale, and Mary Ann Thomson, b. 1856 and from High Leigh, Cheshire. Alexander and Mary Ann had 12 children (5 boys and 7 girls) and even managed to adopt an extra son making 13 in all. By 1911 the family had moved to Lostock Hall, by way of Little Hoole and Longton. The family lived at 117 Watkin Lane and they all worked in the cotton mill, Alex as a warehouseman, the children as weavers or tenters. John Edward was a weaver and by the time he enlisted he was an overlooker. He was a big man by the standards of the time: very nearly 6 feet tall, a 40” chest, and weighing 154lbs. He had red hair, brown eyes and a fresh complexion. He was in excellent physical condition.

He had served in the Territorials for 4 years before signing up to the 7th Loyal North Lancs (Preston Pals) on 7th September 1914.


Preston Pals, September 1914

He was appointed unpaid Lance Corporal on 4th December 1914 and paid Lance Corporal on 30th January 1915. He sailed to France with the initial deployment of the 7th Battalion on 17th July 1915.

The late summer and autumn of 1915 were relatively quiet, though there were incessant artillery attacks and casualties continued to mount. Initially the Battalion was engaged in intensive training in all forms of trench warfare and then took part in the Battle of Loos in September and October, a relatively large scale attack, particularly notable as the first occasion when British forces used poison gas.

The Battalion remained in the area of Richebourg l’Avoué and Festubert, in and out of the trenches, for the remainder of the year. The Regimental history describes what it was like:

During November the German artillery was very active, while the weather became particularly trying, constant rain being followed by intense cold, the trenches were full of mud, men had sometimes to be hauled out and there were many cases of “trench foot”.

John died of wounds on 5th December 1915, at Richebourg l’Avoué, near Festubert. He was 24 years old.


Festubert 1915

His effects, including two whistles, and his medals were returned to his parents in Lostock Hall.

Rank: Lance Corporal
Service No: 13109
Date of Death: 5 December 1915
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 7 Battalion (Preston Pals)
Grave Reference: II. F. 6

Bill Brierley
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One Response to 13109 LCPL. J. E. BARNISH. L.N.LAN.R

  1. D Pickering says:

    Lance Corporal Barnish was my 3XGreat Uncle, the younger brother of my Great Grandmother. Her husband John Harrison, John Edward’s brother-in-law also served with the regiment and I’m currently researching his role in the war and I would appreciate any information regarding this. Thank you for this article and indeed the site …. Lest we forget.

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