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14906 Private James Pearson 1James Pearson was baptised at St. John`s Parish Church in Preston on the 1st November 1896 the son of James and Catherine Pearson (nee Sowerbutts). His parents married on the 23rd December 1893 at St. Peter`s Church in Preston and of the seven children the couple had only three survived infancy; James (1896)*, Eliza Ann (1899) and John (1900).

James was born at 46 Allen Street North in Preston and this is where he was living with his parents and brother and sister in 1901. His father was working in the card room in one of the local mills at the time. Sadly, James` mother Catherine died in 1907 when she was just 37 years old and by 1911 James Pearson Snr. had moved to 3 Crown Street in Preston with his two sons and had also taken in a lodger by the name of Joseph Sowerbutts. James Pearson Snr. was working as a lap piercer and 14 year old James was also working in a mill while his brother John was still at school. James` sister Eliza Ann had gone to live with her Aunt Mary and Uncle James Sowerbutts at 76 Atkinson Street.

At some point after 1911 and before he joined up James left his job in the mill and went to work in Powell`s Biscuit Works on the corner of Moor Lane and Ashmoor Street in Preston.

14906 Private James Pearson - Powell's biscuit works

Thomas Powell & Sons Biscuit Works

James presented himself at the recruiting office at Preston on the 2nd September 1914 declaring his correct age of 17 years and 11 months old. He attended his medical inspection and was passed fit to serve and posted to “B” Coy of the 7th Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment with the service number 14906.

After several months of training James went overseas with the 7th Battalion sailing from Folkestone to Boulogne on the 17th July 1915. His papers reveal that he spent two years at the front before being allowed some home leave on the 20th July 1917 until 9th August 1917.

In February 1918 the 7th Battalion was disbanded in France after which James was posted to the 1st Battalion joining them in the field on the 10th February 1918. The 1st Battalion War Diary notes;

“10/2/18 – Quiet days. Battalion engaged on work on Army line. Draft of 160 other ranks joined, first detachment of 200 posted from the 7th L.N.Lancs Regt”.

When James joined the 1st Battalion they had just been transferred to the 1st Brigade of the 1st Division.

On the 9th April 1918, the German Army launched the second phase of its spring offensive in what would become known as the Battle of the Lys. On the 16th of the month the Battalion relieved the 2/5th Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers and went into the front line near La Bassee Canal, they were in position by 3.55pm. The following day was generally quiet.

Extract from the Battalion War Diary – 18th April 1918

“At 4.15am, the enemy commenced to bombard the whole of the Divisional front. The barrage became intense and at 8.10am the enemy attacked from the north, filtering into our trenches under the cover of the high ground at Givenchy. He succeeded in reaching and occupying the main line of resistance before counter measures could be taken. Vigorous counter-attacks by “C” and “D” Companies eventually succeeded in ejecting the enemy from our main line and by 11am he was only holding a few isolated posts in our outpost line.

On the following day there was a certain amount of sniping by the Germans who were now holding the shell craters which had formed the outpost line. The 1st Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment later successfully attacked the remaining enemy and the Germans retreated back to their own line.

A period of quiet then followed with the men concentrating on repairing and improving the defences  until finally being relieved from the front line on the 23rd – 24th April.

Although the Battalion War Diary does not give a daily account of the casualties for this particular period in the front line it does record losses of 46 men killed, 105 wounded and 189 missing.

Sadly, Private James Pearson`s family would later receive the news that James had been killed on the 18th April 1918.14906 Private James Pearson 2

James` body was never recovered from the battlefield and so his name was later recorded on the Loos Memorial to the Missing.

For his war service James was posthumously awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals.

Rank: Private
Service No: 14906
Date of Death: 18/04/1918
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st Bn.

Janet Davis
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