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James McMullen was born in Preston in January 1892. His parents were Miles McMullen (b. 1868 in Preston) and Elizabeth Rawcliffe (b. 1871 in Preston). Miles, a cotton spinner by trade, and Elizabeth were married in Preston in 1891 and Miles was born the following year. The couple then went on to have seven other children, three of whom survived, daughters: Mary (Polly) b. 1895, Elizabeth b. 1898 and Mary Ellen b. 1908. Sometime between 1898 and 1901, the family moved to Blackpool, Miles taking up employment as a joiner’s labourer. In 1911 the family was living at 91 Boothely Road, Blackpool. James was working as a brickyard labourer.

James is listed on the Hope Terrace Memorial in Lostock Hall and also on St Gerard’s memorial, as he was a Roman Catholic, but no formal record has been found of his association with the village, other than these memorials.

James signed his attestation form at Preston on 15th September 1914. He was 5’ 5” tall and weighed 132lbs and had a 36” chest. He had a fresh complexion, grey eyes and brown hair. There are some crossings out on the form indicating that at some stage he may have been considering joining the Royal Army Service Corps but he ended up in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, with service number 15165, and was assigned initially to 8th Battalion. The 8th Bn remained at home and in training throughout most of 1915 and finally moved to France at the end of September, arriving at Lillers on the 27th, and James was with them at that time.

Still in 8th Bn, James was appointed unpaid Lance Corporal on 14th January 1916, and paid LCpl from 7th May. However, James was sent back to hospital in England on 28th September 1916 suffering from P.U.O. (Pyrexia – or fever – of Unknown Origin). He was in hospital at Norwich War Hospital for a month, 29th Sep – 27th Oct 1916, and after that it seems he spent the period until 28th March 1917 as unpaid LCpl at Divisional Headquarters.

During that time he was granted a week’s home leave, from December 6-17 1916, which he spent at his parents’ home in Blackpool. On 28 March 1917 he was posted to 3Bn, the Regimental Depot at Fulwood Barracks, where he spent the next few months. But then he returned to France, embarking at Folkestone on 15th June 1917. He landed at Boulogne later the same day and then proceeded to Étaples, where, on 10 July 1917 he was posted to 2/5Bn. The Battalion formed part of 170th Brigade in the 57th (West Lancashire) Division, and he joined them near Armentières, close to the Belgian border, where the Division remained until the end of September. In October, the Division was moved north to Boesinghe near Ypres, where it would play its part in the Third Battle of Ypres (Second Battle of Passchendaele).

From the Battalion’s War Diary:

Throughout the 25th (October) the Battalion held the line under the very worst possible conditions of rain and mud, the enemy keeping up a heavy if intermittent shelling, which caused fifty-three casualties; and about 5 o’ clock in the morning of the 26th the companies formed up to attack to attack an objective which was distant about 1000 yards from the original line.

At 5.40 the Battalion moved off in attack formation, three companies being in the front line and one being held in readiness as a counter-attack company, each platoon having a frontage of about 160 yards. The “going” was almost impossible, but the men pushed on steadily if slowly. Owing to the state of their weapons it was practically impossible to use ether rifle or Lewis gun, and the men had to trust to the bayonet, in the wielding of which the men of the 2/5 excelled themselves, and it is estimated that the non-commissioned officers and men accounted for some five hundred of the enemy and captured eight machine guns. One sergeant attacked and killed the detachments of two German machine guns single-handed, and was still advancing when he himself became a casualty.

[From the list of casualties below, it would seem the Sergeant referred to here is 241458 Sgt. Edward Hill, MM, of “A” Coy.]

James McMullen was killed during this action. He was 25 years old. Unusually for men who died at Passchendaele, his body was recovered and he is buried at Poelkapelle British Cemetery.

His effects, £8 4s 10d plus a War Gratuity of £14, were sent to his mother in Blackpool, who also received his medals.

Rank: Lance Corporal
Service No: 15165
Date of Death: 26/10/1917
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 2nd/5th Bn.
Grave Reference: Plot XXXV. Row F. Grave 16
Cemetery: POELCAPELLE BRITISH CEMETERY

101 men of 2/5th Bn. were killed that day:

28657   Private WILLIE ABRAHAM
24358   Private THOMAS ASHCROFT
242074   Private JOSEPH ATHERTON
241222   Private WILLIAM BARNES
28623   Private R A BAYLEY
241945   Private HERBERT BERRY H.Q. Coy.
245060   Private CHARLES BETTERTON
37907   Private HANCE CAIN
Lieutenant FRED GEORGE CARRIE
10262   Private JOHN CLARKE
242290   Private JOHN CLAYTON M M
242135   Private LEONARD COOPER
37890   Private HARRY CORLESS
245096   Private HENRY COTTIER
245068   Private HARRY COTTRELL
240853   Private HARRY COWBURN “B” Coy.
244975   L/Corporal JOHN COX
241685   CMS SAMUEL CROFT
240372   Corporal SAMUEL CROOK
241734   Private STANLEY CROOK
244953   L/Corporal WILLIAM DAVIES
245053   Private EDWARD JAMES DENT
244945   Private RICHARD DEW
241903   Private ROBERT DIXON
241653   Corporal JAMES NORMAN EDGE
241812   Private JOHN FALLOWS
241845   Private WILLIAM FARRINGTON
240499   L/Corporal ALBERT GARDNER
18294   Corporal JOHN GREGSON
Lieutenant N GREY
245050   Private GEORGE PROSSER GRIFFITHS
240254   Private THOMAS HALL
37893   Private JAMES HARRISON
2nd Lt JAMES ERNEST HARTLEY
242176   Private STANLEY HAYHURST
33926   L/Corporal HEDLEY CHARLES HAZELL
242006   Private ERNEST HEYES
241695   Private WALTER HEYWOOD
241458   Serjeant EDWARD HILL M M “A” Coy.
Captain ALAN BRODIE HOARE “A” Coy.
241293   L/Corporal HARRY HOYLE
241936   Private J IRELAND
28610X   Private SAMUEL JAMES JACKSON
241507   Private EDWARD JONES
244717   Private JOHN HENRY JONES
28585   Private LAURENCE KEATING
241247   L/Corporal JAMES ROBERT LANE M S M
28553   Private HARRY WILLIAM LANGSTONE
244959   Private ARNOLD LEECH
241425   Serjeant THOMAS LEWTAS “B” Coy.
245074   Private W T LLOYD
25381   Private JOHN LOCKTON
28595   Private GEORGE WILLIAM LOCKYER
28554   Private MICHAEL LOFTUS
245176   Private JOHN LYNCH
37287   Private ALBERT LYTHGOE “A” Coy.
263016   Private JAMES MACHIN
2nd Lt ARCHIBALD JAMES MARSHALL
241521   Private JAMES MATHER
36044   Private ALLAN McINNES
15165   L/Corporal JAMES McMULLEN
245088   Private ALBERT MELLISH
2nd Lt JOHN MIDDLEHURST
240416   L/Corporal HAROLD MONAGHAN
28620   Private G A M MORRELL
Captain HARRY MORRIS
244891   Private THOMAS MORRIS
242018   Private W MORRISON
245157   Private JOHN ORME
28606   Private GEORGE HARRY PARISH
28494   Private HARRY PARK
28653   Private SMITH PARKER
2nd Lt WALTER PATON
241765   Private ERNEST PENDLEBURY
240953   Corporal WILLIAM PLUMBLEY “C” Coy.
245061   Private BRINLEY REES PRICE
245154   Private PETER LEADER PULMAN
2nd Lt WILLIAM RIMMER
203806   Private JAMES ROBERTS
24342   Private BERNARD ROGERSON
241785   Private JAMES EDWARD ROWLES
28588   Private W J RUSSELL
28636   Private FRITZ SANDSTROM
28638   Private JOHN RICHARD SHAPLAND
241465   Private WILLIAM SHAW
242256   Corporal JOHN SMITH
9814   Private WILLIAM SMITH
241456   Corporal GEORGE SPARROW
241833   Private RICHARD STANDISH
245106   Private J SUMMERS
241864   Private JOSEPH TAYLOR
28589   Private CHRISTOPHER THOMPSON
241731   Private WILLIAM WAIN
28658   Private COLIN WHITE WALKER
28642   Private HAROLD WARD
241771   L/Corporal JOHN J. WARREN
28538   Private HERBERT WINTER
28570   Private HENRY HERBERT WOODWARD
34140   Private FREDERICK YARWOOD
27520   Private JAMES YOUNG
28631   Private ROBERT YOUNG

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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One Response to 15165 LCPL. J. McMULLEN. L.N.LAN.R.

  1. Joanne says:

    My Great Granda is included in this list. I have just returned from visiting he & his comrades at Tyne cot. Its great to have come accross this thread and be able to read extracts from the war diary of his regiment. Thank you.

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