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James Tattersall was born in July 1893 in Longton, Lancashire. His father John (b. 1857 in Hutton) was a gamekeeper and later agricultural labourer. His mother was Mary née Blundell, (b. 1861 in Farington). John and Mary married in 1882 and had 11 children, 8 of whom survived infancy. Of the surviving children, James was the only boy, the rest were girls. In 1911, the family was living at 8 Garfield Terrace, Lostock Hall, where John was working on a farm, James was an engine cleaner and the women worked in the mill.

James enlisted in Preston on 4th September 1914 and joined the 8th Battalion. He was 5’8” tall, weighed 137lbs and had a 36” chest – fit and well built for the time. The Battalion remained in training in England until it received orders to depart for France on 24 September 1915. Once there, the Battalion was moved from 74th Brigade to 7th Brigade (25th Division), but the winter and spring were relatively quiet as both sides sought to dig themselves in but also prepare for renewed offensives later in the year. In May 1916, they were involved in the battle over Broadmarsh Crater, which the Germans initially succeed in capturing but were then pushed back by 8/L.N.LAN.R. in what was becoming typical of battlefield action at the time, where one side makes a sudden spurt forward only to be halted and repulsed by the other, with inevitably heavy casualties. In May 1916, for example, the Battalion had 3 officers killed and 5 wounded, and 27 other ranks killed, 103 wounded and 15 missing. Shortly after this action, on 30 May 1916, James was promoted to Lance Corporal in ‘C’ Company.

The Battalion, along with the rest of the Division, was initially in reserve when the Battle of the Somme opened on 1 July 1916 but it was soon to join the fray and by 9 July the Division had moved to occupy and defend the newly-won German lines between Ovillers and La Boiselle. On 10 July attacks were made by 7th and 74th Brigades northwards towards Ovillers. From the War Diary:

About 1pm, orders were received to occupy several points in the enemy line… At 2.30pm an advance was made from our block and a heavy hostile enemy barrage was opened on the trench, but in spite of very large casualties we reached Point 25, where we were held up by enemy bombing parties, and heavy shelling and bombing continued for about two hours without any gain on either side.

The enemy then tried to outflank us … but was driven off and the night passed quietly … A detached post under Sgt. Holmes of ‘C’ Company (James’s Company) on the left of our line held its ground all day, although it experienced many casualties and no supports could reach it. The post was relieved during the night of 10th-11th. The enemy had shown signs of massing a counter-attack at various points, notably at Pozières Wood, and, our artillery being informed of this, opened a heavy bombardment, causing serious loss to the enemy.

The Battalion’s losses were heavy: 4 officers and 33 other ranks were killed; 5 officers and 156 men were wounded, and 49 men were missing believed dead – among whom was James Tattersall. His body was never recovered. It was just a few days past his 23rd birthday.

His effects of £2 8s 4d and War Gratuity of £8 10s were paid to his father, who himself died only a few months later in December 1916.

Rank: Lance Corporal
Service No: 13308
Date of Death: 10/07/1916
Age: 23
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, “C” Coy. 8th Bn.
Panel Reference: Pier and Face 11 A.

Bill Brierley

Before taking early retirement in 2007 and returning to his native Lancashire in 2009, Bill Brierley was head of the School of Languages and Area Studies at the University of Portsmouth.Bill has researched his own family history and has developed a further interest in World War 1 especially as it impacted on the villages of Lostock Hall and Bamber Bridge, where his family originates from.Bill has also displayed his work at Lostock Hall library and contributed to other displays at Leyland Library and South Ribble Museum.
Bill Brierley

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