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William Southworht was born in 1889 in Preston to William and Mary Southworth (nee Marsden). His parents married in Preston in the March quarter of 1884 and they had thirteen children together, nine of whom survived; Alice (1885), Mary (1887), William (1889)*, Martha (1896), Sarah (1898), Elizabeth (1901), Thomas (1903), John (1907) and Walter (1908).

Two years after William was born he was living with his family at 16 Silver Street in Preston where his father worked as a `loomer` (weaver) in a cotton mill. By 1901 the family had moved to 13 William Henry Street and then ten years later in 1911 they were living at 5 John William Street which was just a short walk away from their previous address. William was still living at home with his parents and six of his younger siblings and he was also working as a weaver or `loomer` like his father.

On the 23rd December 1911 William married Catherine Laughlin in Preston and a daughter Magdalen was born in May 1912 and she was followed by a son Thomas in January 1914.

William enlisted at Preston for the duration of the war on the 14th September 1914 into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and was issued with the service number 15083. At his medical inspection his height was recorded as being 5`7” and his weight 128lb, he had grey eyes and dark brown hair. William confirmed he had no previous military experience and that he was married and prior to his enlistment had been working as a cotton operative at Calvert`s Mill in Walton le Dale. After he completed his medical inspection he was posted to the Reserve and a week later he was posted to the 9th Battalion LNL.

Sadly, on the 22nd December 1914 William and Catherine`s two and a half year old daughter Magdalen died at 21 Dunmore Street in Preston, a copy of her death certificate is amongst William`s service papers. The cause of Magdalen`s death was given as i) acute bronchitis and ii) dentition. William, whose service papers confirm that he was home on leave at the time of his daughter`s death was recorded as being the informant.

There are three instances of misconduct recorded on William`s Regimental Misconduct Sheet, the first one for being absent off parade, the punishment being deprived of one days` pay. The second instance was for overstaying a pass and the punishment was the loss of three days` pay. The third occasion was a little more serious when he went absent without leave on the 2nd July 1915 from Aldershot before finally presenting himself to the Orderly Sergeant 7 days later, for this offence he had to forfeit nine days pay and was confined to barracks for ten days.

William embarked for France with the 9th Battalion on the 25th September 1915 and was a member of “B” Company. On arrival in France the strength of the 9th Battalion comprised of 27 Officers and 889 non-commissioned Officers and men coming under the command of the 74th Brigade in the 25th Division.

On the 19th January 1916 the Battalion took part in its first offensive operation of the war, being detailed to support an attack made by the 2nd Royal Irish Rifles on Le Touquet Salient, causing a diversion by means of a feint attack, the attack was successful although they had sixteen killed and wounded including two Officers.

For the whole of February 1916 the Battalion stayed at Steenewerck as the Division remained in Corps reserve. During the months of March, April and May 1916 the Battalion was moved around with periods in the front line trenches, alternating with stays in billets at Neuf Berquin, Ostreville, Tinques, Maiziere and Camblain l`Abbe and casualties were fairly numerous.

Sadly, William Southworth was one of several casualties fatally wounded on the 15th May 1916.

Catherine Southworth informed the Preston Guardian of her husband`s death and the paper later published the following information;

15083 Private William Southworth “B” Coy 9th Battalion

A few of William`s belongings were returned to his widow Catherine in Preston, these included; 1 ID Disc, 1 tobacco pouch, 1 pocket knife and a Roman Catholic Medallion.

After his death William was buried in Ecoivres Military Cemetery, Mont St. Eloi

Catherine was later awarded a pension for herself and one child amounting to 15/- per week with effect from the 4th December 1916.

After the war Catherine Southworth signed for her husband`s 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals that he had been awarded in recognition of his service and sacrifice for his country.

Rank: Private
Service No: 15083
Date of Death: 15/05/1916
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 9th Bn.

Janet Davis
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