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Joseph McClarnan was born in 1888 in Preston and was one of seven children born to Joseph and Elizabeth McClarnan (nee Waddington). He had four sisters and two brothers although sadly one of his brothers died; Catherine (1885), Christopher (1887-1887), Andrew (1889), Alice Ann (1892), Mary (1894) and Elizabeth (1902).

In 1901 the family were all living together at 71 Frank Street in Preston where Joseph`s father was labouring for a bricklayer. Sadly, just a couple of years after Joseph`s youngest sister Elizabeth was born his mother passed away.

By 1911 Joseph`s eldest sister Catherine had married Thomas Wilson and Joseph went to board with Catherine, Thomas and their young children at 19 Rye Street in the town. His occupation at the time was a bottle washer for a licensed beer seller however he later found employment at Messrs. Atherton`s Foundry as an iron turner.

On the 23rd December 1911 he married Lily Reid at St. Luke`s Church in Preston. Lily already had a son Ernest who had been born in 1910. There does not appear to be any records of any other children being born to Joseph and Lily.

On the 8th September 1914 Joseph went to the recruiting office in Preston and enlisted for the duration of the war. He confirmed his previous occupation was an iron turner and that he had no previous military experience. From his medical inspection Joseph was noted as having blue eyes and brown hair and was just five feet two and three quarter inches tall and he only weighed 100lbs (7st 2lb) so quite a small chap overall.

Joseph was allocated the service number 14308 and posted to the reserve. A couple of weeks later he was posted into the 5th Platoon of B Company, 9th Battalion.

Joseph sailed to France with the main body of the Battalion on the 25th September 1915.

Extract from 9th Battalion War Diary detailing the mobilisation on the 24/25th September 1915

“The 9th (Service Battalion Loyal N. Lancs. Regiment) left Aldershot Blenheim Barracks for service in France on 24/25th September, 1915. The transport and advance party left under the command of Major W.A. Jupp, strength as under:-

3 Officers, 109 Other Ranks (including 6 A.S.C. Drivers attached), 76 horses and mules, 17 limbered wagons, 4 field kitchens, 4 carts and 9 bicycles for Southampton to cross to France by the Southampton-Havre route.

The Battalion (remainder) left Aldershot under command of Lieutenant Colonel C.E.M. Pyne, by two trains leaving Farnborough Station (S.E. & Chatham Railway) at 8.20 and 8.50pm respectively for Folkestone, strength as under:-

27 Officers (including Medical Officer attached), 889 Other Ranks (including Armourer attached). Arrived at Folkestone (Harbour Station) at about 11.20 and 11.50pm and the Battalion embarked on board the `St. Seiriol` for Boulogne. Landed at Boulogne at about 2.30am and the Battalion marched to Rest Camp for the night about two miles out of town.

Joseph had qualified as a Signaller and according to the newspaper report below he seems to have been good at his job and very well thought of by all concerned. It was a dangerous job repairing and laying telephone wires and at times he had to work during daylight hours under the watchful eyes of the German snipers.

Sadly on the 1st January 1916 Joseph`s luck ran out when he was shot by a sniper while he was out inspecting the telephone lines.

After news of her husband`s death Lily McClarnan submitted the following information to the Preston Guardian.

McClarnan 1

Lily later received a number of Joseph`s personal possessions which included;

  • 1 cloth wallet with letters, 1 purse, 2 copper coins
  • 1 writing pad and 1 fountain pen
  • 1 medallion
  • 1 razor strap
  • 1 flash light
  • 1 jack knife, 1 pen knife
  • 1 small flag
  • 1 compass and mirror and 1 case of compasses
  • 1 cigarette lighter
  • 1 rosary

Joseph was buried with honour in Gunners Farm Military Cemetery in Belgium. He lays alongside another 9th Battalion man, also a Preston lad, 14274 Private Albert Hartley who died a week before Joseph on the 25th December 1915.

Additional Information

Pte Hartley was 6th Platoon, B Company. He was single, enlisted on 7.9.14 and was 24 years when he died. He was C.E and a weaver by profession. Albert’s next of kin was his mother, Jane at 24 Middleton St, Preston. Albert was killed in trench G7 and in the 9th Bn roll book it states he was also a qualified Gym instructor.

Lily McClarnan remarried to James Godfrey on 25th November 1916 at St. Mary Magdalene`s Church in Ribbleton, Preston. Lily and James had a son Thomas who was born in the December quarter of 1916.

Joseph was awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals which Lily (Godfrey) later signed for.

Rank: Private
Service No: 14308
Date of Death: 01/01/1916
Age: 26
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 9th Bn.


Janet Davis
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4 Responses to 14308 PTE. J. MCCLARNAN. L.N.LAN.R

  1. Hi Janet, whilst researching some of my McClarnan family history I came across your story here on Joseph McClarnan – he was the nephew of my great grandfather James McClarnan. A rather tenuous link in a way and I wouldn’t normally research in too much depth as it would be a full time given the large size of some of the families at that time. However, the information you have unearthed here is phenomenal and I thought I’d write you a note thanking you for it. I’ll certainly be using this information in writing up this side of my family. Thanks once again

  2. Janet Davis says:

    Hi Spence,

    Many thanks for your kind comments, they are very much appreciated. I`m pleased the information has been helpful to you and good luck with your research.

    Kind regards

  3. Julie Mayoh says:

    Hi Janet, I and my sister noted that your name was connected with a photo of the war grave of 15628 Pte. Alfred Wiseman. Of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. This was on information on a web site of a Paul McCormick. Do you have any more information about Alfred, he was our father’s uncle. His grave is at Bienvillers Cemetry. Thank you.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hi Julie,

      I`m sorry I don`t have any other information about Alfred. Paul did the original page for him and I got his grave photo in the summer which has now been added to his bio.

      If you do come across a photograph of him or any other information, it can always be added to his page in the future. Sorry I could not help more.

      Kind Regards

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