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Albert Hartley was born in Preston and was the only child of John and Jane Hartley (nee Worsley).

John and Jane were married in St. Matthews Church, Preston on 11 June, 1889 and Albert was born in Cave Street, Preston in April 1890.

By the time of the 1911 Census Albert was working as a weaver in Redmayne`s Alliance cotton mill on New Hall Lane and was living at home with his parents just around the corner from the mill at 12 Middleton Street in Preston. Both of Albert`s parents were also working in the cotton mill.

Albert enlisted on 7 September, 1914 at Preston. He confirmed that he was unmarried and also that he had no previous military experience. His medical inspection report states that he was 5`3” tall and weighed 109lbs. He had a fresh complexion, grey eyes and light brown hair. Albert named his next of kin as his parents John and Jane Hartley of 12 Middleton Street, Preston.

On the 26 September, 1914 he was allocated the service number 14274 and posted to “B” Coy 9th Battalion.

Albert must have made a good impression on his superiors because on the 18 November, 1914 he was appointed Lance Corporal and then the following month on the 24 December, 1914 he was further promoted to Corporal.

The Battalion remained in training in various camps in England until the autumn of 1915 and they were at Aldershot when the order came to proceed to France.

The 9th Battalion were in the 25th Division of the 74th Brigade and on the 25 September, 1915 Albert embarked at Folkestone with the Battalion and landed in Boulogne the following day.

Four days after the Battalion had landed in France they were sent to billets in Armentieres in order to receive instruction in trench duties.

The initial period of instruction ended after just a week and by the 6th October they had been moved to Le Bizet and then went into the front line trenches from the 12 – 20th October. The Battalion remained in this sector going in and out of the trenches for the remainder of the year.

The Battalion had gone back into the trenches on the 20 December, 1915 and were due to be relieved later on Christmas Day. They would then be going back to billets in Le Bizet for a short respite from life in the trenches and would be spending Christmas there. It may not have been in great comfort but at least they would be out of sight of the enemy for a short while. No doubt the men chatted about it and would have been looking forward to their relief arriving.

Sadly for Albert this was not to be, he was shot through the head and died at 01.00hrs on 25 December, 1915 before the relief took place.

Extract from Battalion War Diary

20 Dec 1915 – The Battalion moved into the first line of trenches, in relief of the 11th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers, 2 companies in first line, and 2 companies in support trenches and in the fortified place known as Seven Trees Redoubt.

22 Dec 1915 – 1 man wounded, gunshot wound; 1 man slightly wounded, remaining at duty.

23 Dec 1915 – 2 men wounded, including 1 accidental

24 Dec 1915 – 2 men accidentally wounded by fall of dug-out, including 1 slightly wounded, remaining at duty

25 Dec 1915 – 2 men killed, 7 men wounded, including 2 accidental and 1 slightly, remaining at duty.

The other soldier killed on the 25 December, 1915 was 14275 Private Joseph Miller a 33 year old chap from Chorley and he was in the same company as Albert.

In a letter of condolence to Albert`s parents Lieutenant G.R. Sharpe explained how their son had died and also mentions that Albert was wearing a cap when he was shot. This would have been normal for that period in time as steel helmets were not widely introduced until 1916.

The following report appeared in the Preston Guardian a short while after Albert`s parents had been informed of his death.

hartley

Corporal Albert Hartley was awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals which his mother Jane signed for.

He is buried with honour in the Gunners Farm Military Cemetery, France. Albert`s parents requested the following inscription be put on his gravestone.

hartley2

Rank: Corporal
Service No: 14274
Date of Death: 25/12/1915
Age: 25
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 9th Bn.
Cemetery: GUNNERS FARM MILITARY CEMETERY

Janet Davis

Janet Davis

Janet Davis has been researching her family history for many years and through this she discovered many relatives who served in WW1. This interest then led Janet to do many walking the battlefield tours with her husband. In April 2013 she discovered this website and volunteered to help. Janet believes that there are lots of stories still to be told, most of them very sad but at the same time they are a fascinating insight into the men, their families, what they did and where they came from.
Janet Davis

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