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John Francis English was born in Preston in about 1890. Before the Great War he worked as a labourer at Preston Docks.

John went by his middle name Francis, completing all his forms with this name. His father was called Francis, and had recently died. He had been a ship breaker. At the time of his enlistment John Francis lived with his mother Mary Ann English at 13 Beverley Street, Preston. He had two brothers and four sisters (Thomas, Mary Ellen, Margret, Lilian, Elsie and Joseph). Mary was from Middlesex, his father had been from York. All of the children were born in Preston.

Francis enlisted in the 4th (Territorial) Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on 27th May 1915. He was posted into the 3/4th Battalion and given the number 3969 which would change in 1917 to 201450. He signed the waiver to allow him, as a Territorial soldier, to serve in any place outside the UK in the event of a national emergency. He had no previous military experience.

At the time of his enlistment the medical officer described him as being 24 years 10 months old and standing 5ft 6in tall.

In October 1915 at Blackpool Francis was confined to barracks for three days having been deemed ‘dirty on parade’.

Private English qualified as a machine gunner, second class and sailed from Southampton to France with the 9th batch of reinforcements to the 1/4th Battalion on 17th March 1916. After a short spell in the 55th Divisional Base Depot he joined his new Battalion in the field in early April.

Just four months later, on 8th August 1916 Private Francis English was reported to be missing in action on the Somme. His mother placed the following advertisement in the local newspaper appealing for information about her son;


He was later accepted as having been killed on that date for official purposes. As his next of kin, Mary signed for her late son’s British War Medal and Victory Medal. She would have also received the Memorial Plaque and Scroll as recognition of his sacrifice.

Francis’ body was never recovered from the battlefield, he is remembered with honour on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.

Rank: Private
Service No: 201450
Date of Death: 08/08/1916
Age: 27
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.

Paul McCormick
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2 Responses to 201450 PTE. J. F. ENGLISH. L.N.LAN.R

  1. Ian English says:

    Thank you for the information about my relative and especially the photograph from the newspaper. This is the only picture I have seen of my relative. Your site has encouraged me to visit the Thiepval memorial this summer to find his grave and show my resources to the other fallen. Keep up the great work and your highly informative website.

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