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Born in April 1896, John Joseph Youd was the son of John and Mary Ann Youd, of 3 Lupton Terrace, Lostock Hall. His father, John, was a railway engine driver from Blackburn, working for the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Co. His mother, Mary Ann, was born in Preston. According to the 1911 Census, John and Mary Ann had 11 children in all, of whom only 5 survived into adulthood. His surviving siblings were: Ada Mary (b. 1891), Robert (b. 1894), Albert (b. 1903) and Thomas Percy (b. 1905).

In 1911, John Joseph (aged 14) was working in the cotton mill as a tenter (tenter is a generic term for someone who tends a machine; the Census specifies he was a weaver). Older sister Ada was a cotton winder and older brother Robert a railway engine cleaner. Younger brothers Albert and Percy were at school.

John Joseph was a private (13870) in the 8th Battalion, The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. He joined up in Preston on 2 Sep 1914, at the age of 19yrs and 5mths. He gives his occupation as engine cleaner. He was living with his parents at Lupton Terrace, Lostock Hall. He was 5’7” tall, weighed 121lb and had a 33” chest. He had a dark complexion, dark brown eyes and dark hair.


He embarked with his Battalion for France on 25 September 1915. Initially, the battalion was stationed near Armentières, for training and instruction in trench duties, then in reserve. It seems that about this time Pte Youd was charged with a couple of offences of minor insubordination, such as refusing to obey an order. One offence occurred at Ploegsteert but the date is illegible and it is also impossible to decipher the punishment.

By the spring of 1916, the Battalion had moved south and was fighting in the area north of Arras in northeast France. This account is taken from the Battalion’s War Diary.

On the night of 18-19 May, the Germans mounted a sudden attack and captured certain Battalion outposts around what was known as “Broadmarsh Crater”, and the Battalion was thereupon ordered to provide, on the evening of the 19th, a party one hundred strong to counter-attack and endeavour to recover the lost ground. Our guns bombarded the Crater until 9.15pm, when the barrage was lifted and the Battalion’s men went ‘over the top’. On the position being taken, consolidation at once began, while a constant stream of bombs was hurled into the enemy trenches; and then, in the early morning of the 20th, the original party was relieved by a fresh one.

During the 21st the German guns fired very heavily, communication with our front line was cut off, and about 7.30pm the Germans exploded a mine a few yards to the south of Broadmarsh Crater and then attacked in successive lines of infantry. The fire of the Battalion did great execution and fighting was heavy and prolonged with rifle, bomb and bayonet. The ammunition supply at last began to run out, but the men of the 8th Battalion L.N.Lancs.R held their ground admirably, until the men were at last reduced to ‘bombing’ the Germans with lumps of chalk, flint and even empty bomb boxes! The men now began to fall back, halting whenever possible to stay the German advance, and the advanced position was finally evacuated about 10pm.

During this operation, 3 officers and 27 other ranks (including John Joseph Youd) were killed. A further 6 officers and 103 other ranks were injured, and fifteen other ranks missing (presumed dead). John Joseph is buried at Écoivres Military Cemetery, Mont Saint Éloi, about 5 miles to the west of where he fell in battle. Among the belongings that were returned to his mother were: a packet of letters, 10 photos, 12 greetings cards, 1 wallet, 1 belt, and 2 newspaper cuttings.

Rank: Private
Service No: 13870
Date of Death: 21 May 1916
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 8th Bn.
Cemetery: Écoivres Military Cemetery, Mont Saint Éloi

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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