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simon1Alfred Simon was born in Burnley on the 3 September, 1896 the son of Thomas and Margaret Emily Simon (nee Lewis). He was actually christened with the name Alphonsus on 30 September, 1896 at the Holy Trinity Church in Habergham Eaves and the name Alfred seems to have come into use later on.

Alfred`s father Thomas was originally from Bootle and his mother Margaret Emily was born in Wales. The couple were married in the Holy Trinity Church in Habergham Eaves near Burnley on 16 February, 1896.

Alfred was the eldest of four children born to Thomas and Margaret. He had two younger sisters, Myfanwy (1898) and Helen Louise Una (1901) and a brother Eric Morgan who sadly died (1905-1905).

In the 1901 census Alfred was found at his Grandmother Elizabeth Lewis`s house at 2 Pollard Moor, Hapton with his parents and two sisters. His father Thomas was working as a labourer in a nearby chemical works.

When the 1911 Census was recorded he had moved to 7 Elizabeth Street in Preston with his Grandmother Elizabeth Lewis, his mother Margaret and his two sisters. Thomas Simon seems to have stayed on in Hapton where he was boarding with Edward and Jane Lewis and their children at 31 Wood Street. Presumably Edward and Jane were another branch of his wife Margaret`s family. Thomas was still labouring at the chemical works.

At some point after war broke out Alfred went to enlist at the Preston Recruiting Office. He was initially allocated the service number 3355 which would later become 200910.

Unfortunately his service papers do not appear to have survived so very little information is available. However information in the newspaper article below it seems to suggest that he probably went to France with the 2/4th Battalion in February 1917.

The 2/4th Battalion left Blackdown for Southampton at 7.30 a.m. on the morning of the 7th February, 1917. The strength of the Battalion at this time being 32 Officers and 926 non-commissioned Officers and men. They sailed for France the same day on board the “Duchess of Argyll” and arrived at Le Havre in the early morning of the 8th February.

On the 31 July, 1917 the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) had started and had almost immediately become bogged down in the mud caused by heavy rain. Further attempts to advance were made over the coming weeks, but objectives for the first day were still in German hands. On the 26th October, a further attempt to capture the village of Passchendaele itself was planned.

The men of the North Lancashires were in their assembly trenches by 4.30am, 70 minutes later, the British artillery barrage opened on No Man`s Land and the German front line, effectively preventing the Germans from manning their front line strong points. The men went “over the top” keeping only 25 – 30 yards behind the protection of the barrage.

The Regimental History records “Despite the mud and water-logged shell craters, the line advanced steadily behind our own barrage and under slight enemy machine gun fire until about 6am. At about 6.20 the troops were finally held up at the Green Line, a barrier of machine gun fire being opened up by the machine guns in the pill-boxes immediately in front and on the flank. A party of men succeeded in working round a pill-box in the ruins of a farm building. This strong point held 30 men who were killed or wounded by Lewis gun and rifle fire and bombs”.

During the advance, about 40 enemy aircraft repeatedly flew over the troops at low altitude causing some casualties.

The Regimental History continues “From 6.30, the troops were compelled to lie low in water-logged shell holes owing to the sweeping machine gun fire and constant sniping from men posted in trees, shell craters and pill-boxes”.

Although pinned down, the North Lancashires drove off a German counter-attack with Lewis gun and rifle fire, but they realised that the Battalion on their left had not been able to advance. The unit on the right had advanced but had now been forced back. This now left the men in a dangerous position.

The History continues “Communication with Battalion HQ was almost impossible as runners were shot down in attempting to get back reports of progress; telephone communication was only possible with the Battalion on the left. Heavy rain began to fall about midday. The right and left flanks were up in the air, most of the Lewis guns and rifles were out of action and the men reduced in number and exhausted through exposure and being in water-logged craters for two days and two nights. For the above reason, it was considered necessary to withdraw to the original line and this was effected by 9pm. During the withdrawal, most of the wounded were brought back to our lines”.

It was during the above battle that Private Alfred Simon was killed. His family were informed of his death and not long afterwards the following short article appeared in the Preston Guardian. 

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Alfred was awarded the British War and Victory Medals in recognition of his sacrifice. As his body was one of the many never recovered from the battlefields his name is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing.

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Alphonsus (Alfred) is also remembered on the Preston Roll of Honour which is located in the entrance hall in the Harris Museum and Library.

Rank: Private
Service No: 200910
Date of Death: 26/10/1917
Age: 21
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 2nd/4th Bn.
Memorial: TYNE COT MEMORIAL

Janet Davis

Janet Davis

Janet Davis has been researching her family history for many years and through this she discovered many relatives who served in WW1. This interest then led Janet to do many walking the battlefield tours with her husband. In April 2013 she discovered this website and volunteered to help. Janet believes that there are lots of stories still to be told, most of them very sad but at the same time they are a fascinating insight into the men, their families, what they did and where they came from.
Janet Davis

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One Response to 200910 PTE. A. SIMON. L.N.LAN.R

  1. Ian Peter Swift says:

    Hi Janet, fascinating story. I have just begun to research my family history and my Great Uncle Lance Corporal Walter Coward was in the 2/4th Loyals. Maybe he knew your relative and shared the same experiences. He was KIA in the same battle near a place called Poellcapelle, they never found his remains, age 23.

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