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Albert Worthington was born in Chorley on the 23rd January 1896 to John Thomas and Martha Jane Worthington (nee Fishwick). John Thomas and Martha Jane married in the Church of St. Lawrence on the 14th April 1888 and Albert was the only son of the four children born to his parents, the others being; Margaret (1888-1890), Alice (1893) and Eva (1899). When Albert`s parents married his father was living with his widowed mother Margaret at 2 Waterloo Street in Chorley and in 1901 Albert and his family lived at the same address. Albert`s Uncle Edward was also with the family and working as a labourer in a coal pit while his father John was labouring in the floor cloth works and his mother Martha was a cotton weaver.

By 1911 Albert and his family had moved into their own home, still in Waterloo Street but now at number 17. Albert, his mother, father and sister Alice were all cotton weavers and his 11 year old sister Eva was still at school. Sadly, two years after the Census Albert`s mother passed away aged 50 years, her death was registered in the December quarter of 1913.

Albert enlisted into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on the 7th September 1914 and was initially issued with the service number 2072 and posted to the 4th Battalion. He declared his age as 18 years and 63 days and the Medical Officer noted that he was 5`7” tall and he weighed 145lbs. After several months of training Albert sailed to France as a member of “B” Company with the main body of the 1/4th Battalion on the 4th May 1915. A week after landing the Battalion became part of 154th Brigade of the 51st (Highland) Division.

During the early part of the operations known as the Battle of Festubert the 51st Division remained in reserve to the Indian Corps, being held ready to move up to the front at short notice.  On the 14th May 1915 they marched to the area Caestre-Borre-Merris-Meteren and came into G.H.Q. Reserve to stay in billets on the East and North-East side of the town of Meteren. On the 18th of May the Battalion moved to billets in Locon where they remained until the 25th and then on this date they were sent to relieve the 7th Black Watch of the 153rd Brigade, taking over a sector about one mile west-north-west of Festubert. “A” and “D” Companies and the machine-gun section occupied the fire trenches with “C” in support and “B” Company in reserve.

The enemy kept up an intermittent fire all day of shrapnel and high explosive shells and it was here that the Battalion experienced their first casualties of the war. By the time the Battalion had been relieved on the 1st June one man had been killed and 2nd Lieutenant H. Bryce-Smith and a number of other men had been wounded, one of them being Albert Worthington with shrapnel wounds to his left leg sustained on the 30th May.

Albert`s wounds were initially treated in France but by the 5th June 1915 he was on his way back to England where on arrival he was admitted to Springburn Woodside Hospital in Glasgow. According to his papers Albert endured two operations on his leg before he was finally fit enough for discharge on the 3rd November 1915. Following his discharge Albert was granted two weeks furlough after which he was posted into to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion.

Unfortunately for Albert, his stay with the Reserve Battalion was all too brief and by the 5th December 1915 he was on his way back to France for the second time. After joining the 1/4th Battalion in the field he was posted into “D” Company.

In January 1916 the 1/4th Battalion left the 51st Division and transferred to the 164th Brigade of the 55th (West Lancashire) Division. In the middle of July 1916 the 55th Division was sent south to play their part in the ongoing Battle of the Somme. By the end of July the Division had taken up its appointed place in the line opposite the village of Guillemont, a place that had already proved to be a thorn in the British side, having already held up more than one attack. The need to capture the village of Guillemont became extremely important to the success of the general advance and a further attack entrusted to the 55th Division was therefore scheduled to take place on the morning of the 8th August 1916.

Battalion account of the actions 8th August 1916

After a night in bivouacs, preparations were made to go over the ground prior to an attack on GUILLLEMONT on the 8th. The Battalion returned to the line that night and assembled in trenches east and west of the road which ran south from the east corner of TRONES WOOD, C Company being detailed to consolidate the right of the enemy line and D Company the left on the west side of GUILLEMONT. A and B Companies acted in conjunction with the 1/4th Royal Lancasters and the 1/8th Liverpool Regiments respectively.

The attack was not a success. The right was held up from the start by the switch line which had been reported by our patrol on the 6th, such report having been either overlooked or ignored, and the men had to fall back to the original line, though the 1/8th Liverpools went through the village on the left and D Company of our Battalion commenced to consolidate, but were driven off by the enemy coming behind them and cutting them off from the Liverpools.

Considerable confusion was caused owing to the mist and the employment by the enemy of smoke bombs, the four platoons in reserve not being called upon, for this reason, though all their Officers were killed and they suffered many other casualties. The operation was a costly one. Nine other ranks were killed, 97 wounded and 107 reported missing; whilst of the Officers, Captain E.M. Rennard and Captain H. Lindsay were killed, Second Lieutenants O.H. Ducksbury and J.H. Holden missing (afterwards found to be prisoners of war) and Lieutenants De Blaby and A.T.D. Evans and Second Lieutenants E.L. Fairclough and T.A. Bigger wounded, Lieutenant De Blaby died the following day.

Sadly, Albert was one of the 107 men reported missing after the action, he was just 20 years old.

Albert was issued with his new style TF number of 200505 in January 1917 because at the time his death was still unconfirmed. His family would eventually be notified that for official purposes Albert was presumed to have died on or since the 8th August 1916.

After the war Albert`s family would have received his 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals in recognition of his service for his country. They would also have received his Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice. His details were also entered into the Chorley Memorial Book (CMB/I/80a) compiled by Susannah Knight between 1919-21, see below. The memorial book is held at Astley Hall and was recently researched by Adam Cree.

albert-worthington-cmbAlthough Albert had been missing in action, his body was eventually discovered and identified and in 1921 he was re-buried in Delville Wood Military Cemetery on the Somme. His sister Alice had the following words inscribed at the foot of his gravestone;



Photo taken July 2016

Rank: Private
Service No: 200505
Date of Death: 08/08/1916
Age: 20
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.

Janet Davis
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