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John Livesey was born in Preston in 1890 the son of John and Bridget Livesey (nee Geelan). John`s parents were married in St Joseph`s RC Church in Preston on 8 January, 1887 and they had six children including John. Sadly two of their children died in infancy.

  • George Thomas (1888-1889)
  • John (1890)*
  • Mary Elizabeth (1892-1893)
  • Margaret Ellen (1894)
  • Rose Ann (1896)
  • Francis (1899)

In 1901 John was living with his parents and three surviving siblings, Margaret, Rose and Francis at 90 Porter Street in Preston. John`s father was employed in a local cotton Mill.

By 1911 the family had moved to number 10 Gillett Street in Preston but there was only his father, his sister Rose and brother Francis recorded as living there at the time. The whereabouts of his mother Bridget and younger sister Margaret are unknown.

On the 5th October, 1914 John went to the recruiting office in Preston to enlist. He was allocated the service number 16982 and posted to `A` Company of the 11th (Reserve) Battalion. In early 1915 the Battalion were sent to Chichester and Brighton and then moved on again in June 1915 to continue their training at Billericay in Essex.

It was not long after the Battalion had arrived in the camp at Billericay that some tragic news was relayed back to John`s family in Preston. The family were told that John had accidentally drowned while out swimming at a lodge in an area about a mile away from the camp.

The following article was then printed in the Preston Guardian.


More information appeared in the Preston Guardian a few days later when further details of John`s accident became known.

Unfortunate Incidents at Billericay Camp

Exposure to a scorching sun has already tanned the men of Caption A.M. Hollins Company of the 11th Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment encamped at Billericay, Essex. Tunics have been discarded with the idea of granting relief during drill. The Company earns praise by its appreciable progress at drill. It has now been fully equipped with the exception of rifles and bayonets. On Tuesday the tedium of squad drill was relieved by preliminary bayonet exercise and on Wednesday by a route march and an inspection of specially constructed trenches.

The camp has been shocked by two unfortunate incidents, and in each case Preston men are concerned. On Tuesday Private Daniel Eccles of `C` Company (Captain Hollins`s) whose home is at 8 Churchill Street, sustained a compound fracture of his leg during a friendly wrestling bout with a companion.

The other incident resulted in the death of 16982 Private J Livesey whose home is in Geoffrey Street. On Wednesday morning he went with Corporal R Bagwell to bathe in a lodge about a mile from camp. Bagwell, who is a good swimmer entered the water first, and had swum some distance before his attention was called to the disappearance of his friend. He was unable to save Livesey who is believed to have got entangled in weeds. His body afterwards recovered.

Both Livesey and Bagwell belonged to `A` Company of the Battalion. Livesey who was about 24 years of age enlisted in October and his companion spoke highly of him as a soldier and friend. He was very keen for active service and on the day he lost his life his platoon was selected to undergo special instruction in preparation for an early departure to the front.

The Lodge has now been placed out of bounds to the soldiers of the camp.

John`s body was returned to Preston and according to the newspaper article he was given a military funeral and was buried in a private grave in Preston Old Cemetery.


Preston New Hall Lane Cemetery

Rank: Private
Service No: 16982
Date of Death: 09/06/1915
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 11th Bn.

Janet Davis
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