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Walter Wilson Barnish was born in Preston in 1892 and he was the son of James Wilson and Clara Margaret Barnish (nee Meredith). Walter`s parents were originally from Crewe in Cheshire and they had married in Nantwich in 1883.

James and Clara moved to Preston shortly after they were married and they had nine children altogether including Walter. All the children were born in Preston the others being, James William (1884), Frederick Herbert (1887), Arthur (1889), John (1893), Ethel Ellen (1896), Frank (1898), Albert (1902) and Clara Doris (1904).

In the 1901 Census the family were living at 49 Hamilton Road, Preston. Walter`s father James was an engine fitter, brother James was an apprentice house painter and Frederick was a house painter`s errand boy. Walter and the rest of his siblings were all attending school.

Walter`s father James Wilson Barnish died in 1909 at the age of fifty and two years later when the 1911 Census was recorded his mother Clara and the children had moved to 4 Wellfield Road, Preston. Walter was by this time employed in a rubber tyre works, brother James was still a house painter and John and Ethel Ellen were working in a cotton mill. The three youngest, Frank, Albert and Clara Doris were all at school.

On the 29 May, 1915 Walter enlisted at Preston for the duration of the war, he was posted to the 4th Battalion and given the service number 4002. He was single and had no previous military experience and he stated that he was employed on the Lancs and Yorks Railway. The Medical Officer recorded that he was 5`6” tall and weighed 126lbs. Walter named his mother Clara as his next of kin.

Walter embarked at Southampton on 10 March, 1916 and disembarked in Rouen the following day. He was posted to `D` Coy 1/4th Battalion and joined them in the field on 13 March, 1916.

Walter Barnish was reported wounded and missing on 8 August, 1916 at Guillemont. His service number was changed to 201471 while he was still missing. On the 11 March, 1917 Walter`s mother finally received confirmation of his death. The Military Authorities decreed that for official purposes Walter had been killed in action on 8 August 1916. The following report appeared in the Preston Guardian not long after.


Battalion account of the actions 8 August, 1916

“After a night in bivouacs, preparations were made to go over the ground prior to an attack on GUILLEMONT 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.”

Unfortunately there is no record of whether any personal effects were sent back to Walter`s mother Clara in Preston.

Private Walter Wilson Barnish was awarded the British War and Victory Medals and is buried with honour at Delville Wood, Longueval, France.

Photo by Janet Davis – July 2016

Photo by Janet Davis – July 2016

Additional family information

The newspaper article refers to three of Walter`s brothers who were also serving.

33499 Private Arthur Barnish enlisted on 8 September, 1914 in the RAMC. It seems he was discharged on medical grounds on 6 October, 1914 (valve disease of the heart). Arthur must have re-enlisted into the Liverpool Scottish at some point. He survived the War and was awarded the British War and Victory Medals.

680616 Driver Frank Barnish RFA also survived the war and was awarded the British War and Victory Medals.

201447 (prev 3964) Private John Barnish, Loyal North Lancs Regiment (Battalion unknown). John also survived and was awarded the British War and Victory Medals. No further information is available.

Rank: Private
Service No: 201471
Date of Death: 08/08/1916
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.

Janet Davis
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3 Responses to 201471 PTE. W. W. BARNISH. L.N.LAN.R

  1. David barnish says:

    Excellent research, one of the brothers Frank was my grandfather and Walter was my great uncle and my dad was named Walter in his honour. I will endevour to see his grave when I pass through France next year now that I know here he is buried.Many thanks

  2. Janet Davis says:

    Thank you for the kind comments David, I hope you find Walter`s grave. Many thanks, Janet

  3. Denise newport says:

    Very sad to read .I wondered what happened to Frederick Burberry barnish , whom I believe to have been my grandfather 1887. If I have the right fred , he became a watch maker and jewelrey shop . Much appreiciate any news about him .

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