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Joseph Harold Calder was born in Preston in 1896 the son of Thomas and Margaret Calder (nee Booth). Thomas Calder was a farmer’s son originally from Hertfordshire and Margaret was the daughter of a joiner and she was born in Golborne near Wigan. The couple married in Stowell Memorial Church on Eccles Road in Salford on the 8th July 1882 when Thomas was 28 and Margaret seven years his junior aged 21.

Shortly after Thomas and Margaret married they moved to Emmanuel Terrace in Preston and Thomas went to work as a foreman in the goods yard at the Greenbank Goods Station. By 1897 they had five sons and four daughters although sadly one of the boys died at the age of nine.

  • Florence Charlotte (1882)
  • Walter Joseph Thomas (1885)
  • May Ann (1887)
  • Alice Annie (1889)
  • Thomas William (1890-1899)
  • Charles Arthur (1892)
  • Matilda May (1893)
  • Joseph Harold (1896)*
  • William Frederick (1897)

Sadly, Joseph`s father died in Preston Royal Infirmary on the 2nd January 1901 as a result of a tragic accident at the goods yard where he worked. The local paper published details of the accident;

Lancashire Evening Post – 2nd January 1901

“Thomas Calder, a yard foreman, employed by the Greenbank Railway Company, Preston, died at the Preston Infirmary today. Deceased, who was about 45 years of age, and lived at 5 Emmanuel Terrace, was in the yard last night, when a young horse, which, with another, was attached to a wagon containing a very considerable weight of steel rails, was startled, and set off. Deceased was knocked down and run over, and was afterwards taken to the Infirmary in the ambulance.”

When the Census was taken on the 31st March 1901 Margaret and seven of her children including Joseph were still living at 5 Emmanuel Terrace. Florence the eldest was working as a machinist in a slipper works and Walter aged 15 was an apprentice electrician. Alice, Charles, Matilda, Joseph and William were all attending school. The family also had a 16 year old boarder by the name of William Cullum who was from London and he was working as a cleaner on the railways.

After the death of her husband Margaret Calder was left with eight children to care for, four of which were under the age of ten so life must have been difficult for her. Probably as a consequence of this eight year old Matilda and four year old William were both admitted to the Harris Orphanage in Preston on the 30th December 1901 and by the 3rd February 1902 six year old Joseph had joined them.

In the June quarter of 1905 Margaret Calder remarried to John Beardsworth in Preston and then on the 30th June 1905 Joseph, Matilda and William were all discharged from the Harris Orphanage and they returned to live with their mother and new stepfather at 281 Fylde Road. Sadly, Margaret was widowed for the second time when her husband of two years John Beardsworth died in 1907.

Joseph was still living at 281 Fylde Road in 1911 together with his mother, his sister Matilda and brothers Charles and William. His mother was a dressmaker, Joseph was now employed as a weaver, Charles was an apprentice fitter and Matilda was a Christmas card painter. William, the youngest member of the family was still attending school. The family also had two boarders, John Ogden a married man aged 40 who was a commercial traveller and William Mansell a fishmonger also married and aged 40 years.

Prior to his enlistment on the 23rd October 1914 Joseph had been working at Messrs. Calvert & Co`s Aqueduct Mill. He was allocated the number 2995 which would later become 200845 and he was posted to the 4th Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. His medical inspection record states that he was 19 years and 2 months old and was five feet three and a half inches tall. His mother Margaret and brothers Walter and Charles of 281 Fylde Road were listed as his next of kin.

Joseph sailed to France with the main body of the 1/4th Battalion on the 4th May 1915 and was a member of “C” Company. A week after landing in France the 1/4th Battalion became part of the 154th Brigade in the 51st (Highland) Division but in January 1916 they were transferred to the 164th Brigade in the 55th (West Lancashire) Division. In February 1916 the 55th Division was detailed to relieve the 88th French Division who at the time occupied the sector south of Arras, from Wailly to Bretencourt. February and March were both uneventful months, the sector being a fairly quiet one, and casualties were few. However, there had been heavy snow followed by a thaw and the trenches had become wet and uncomfortable. During this time and in April and May small reinforcements of Officers and men arrived.

Raids were now being organised and attempted more frequently and in the middle of June a special battalion raiding party was organised and practised continually. This party was composed of Captain E M Gregson, 2nd Lieutenants Martin, Roscoe and Walker and sixty other ranks, and on June 28th a daylight raid took place.

Extract from the Battalion War Diary – 28th June 1916

“On the 28th the raiding party of 3 Officers and 56 other ranks left our lines at the junction of GAMBLER STREET with the fire trench at 5.35pm. The raid was preceded by cloud gas and artillery fire.

This party was working in conjunction with raiding parties from all Battalions in the Division. They advanced by two rushes to within a few yards of the enemy trenches, were they came under heavy fire and were held up. At 5.50pm they established communication with our lines and reported that they could get no further and were suffering very heavy casualties. A Sergeant returned and reporting that the enemy were in strong force and further progress was impossible. Major Crump ordered them to retire, which they did in good order, in spite of losses which included the whole of the leaders”

In the Battalion raiding party 10 men were killed, one of which was Joseph Harold Calder. Captain Gregson also died while 2nd Lieutenants A Martin and J S Walker and 17 other ranks were wounded.

After receiving the news of Joseph`s death his family notified the Preston Guardian who later printed the following article.Joseph Harold Calder

It wasn`t until the 26th April 1917 that the military authorities finally confirmed for official purposes that Joseph had died on the 28th June 1916. Then on the 29th June 1917 his mother received some of Joseph`s personal effects which included; 1 ID Disc, 1 pocket book, a safety razor and his prayer book.

Joseph`s body was never recovered for burial and so his name was later inscribed on the Arras Memorial to the Missing. After the war his mother signed for the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals that her son was entitled to.

The name of Joseph Harold Calder is also remembered on the Harris Orphanage War Memorial in Preston. (The Memorial notes 1st Battalion which should be the 1/4th).Harris Orphanage War Memorial 1Harris Orphanage War Memorial Panel

Rank: Private
Service No: 200845
Date of Death: 28/06/1916
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.

Janet Davis
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