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John Joseph Baldwin was one of eight surviving children born in Preston to Joseph Louis and Ann Baldwin (nee Smith). His parents married in Preston in 1887 and they had five daughters and three sons including John, the others being; Mary (1887), Margaret (1889), Agnes (1894), John Joseph (1896)*, Ellen (1899), Henry (1904), Elizabeth Ann (1906) and James William (1909).

John`s father was Preston born and his mother Ann was originally from Witton on the outskirts of Blackburn and after their marriage the family home was at 16 Springfield Street in Preston where Joseph was supporting his family by working as a shop assistant for a corn dealer.

Sadly John`s father died in 1910 and the 1911 Census confirms that his mother was a widow and that the family had moved to 22 Shuttleworth Road in Preston. John and his three eldest sisters, Mary, Margaret and Agnes were all working as weavers in one of the local mills. The following year his mother remarried to Timothy Thomas Keen in St. Thomas`s Church in Preston.

John originally enlisted into the Territorial Force at Preston on the 13th January 1913 for the term of four years and he was given the service number 1731 and joined the 4th Battalion. He was seventeen years old and at the time he was working as a warehouseman at Hawkins & Co in Gordon Street in Preston and his home address was still 22 Shuttleworth Road. A note on his papers also mentions that he was a member of the English Martyrs Church Lads Brigade.

By the time war was declared John had left his warehouse job and had gone to work as a fireman on the railways at Preston and his family had moved to 12 Lockhart Road. After a few months of training he sailed to France on the 4th May 1915 with the main body of the 1/4th Battalion. John`s first real taste of front line action would have been at Festubert in June 1915 which he managed to get through unscathed unlike many of his friends.

On the 8th November 1915 after a spell in the trenches the Battalion went into billets at Bouzincourt to rest, clean up and do some additional training. On the 16th November as snow was falling they moved out of the billets at Bouzincourt and marched to Authuille for another period in the trenches. According to the war diary the area was fairly quiet with very little activity coming from the German trenches and for most of the time the men were engaged in working parties, repairing trenches and shelters.

The war diary states that at 11am on the morning of the 17th November the enemy put about twenty shells into the village of Authuille but didn`t do much damage although one man was wounded. The working parties continued with the repair work for the next couple of days, the weather was damp and misty and the enemy still fairly quiet.

Three days later on the 20th November the war diary reports;

“Our artillery had a `shoot` against the German trenches. About 2.30pm the enemy replied with about 30 small shells on Authuille. 1 man was killed although no damage was done”.

Sadly, the man who died on the 20th November 1915 was nineteen year old John Joseph Baldwin.

After receiving news of John`s death his family had the following information printed in the Preston Guardian.Private John Joseph Baldwin

John was originally buried in Authuille Communal Cemetery Extension which was about two miles from Albert. However, after the Armistice the remains of men from a number of smaller cemeteries were exhumed and reburied and so John now rests in Peronne Road Cemetery, Maricourt.

After the war John was awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals in recognition of his service and sacrifice for his country.

Rank: Private
Service No: 1731
Date of Death: 20/11/1915
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.

Janet Davis
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