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John Walmsley was born in Preston in 1886 and was the son of Thomas and Isabella Walmsley (nee Alston). John`s parents were married in 1880 in Preston and altogether they had ten children including John. Unfortunately John`s mother Isabella and four of the children died before 1901.

In the 1901 Census John was living with his widowed father Thomas and his five surviving siblings James (1881), Annie (1888), Eleanor (1890), Mary Alice (1892) and the youngest Charles (1896). The family were at 62 Bold Street in Preston. John`s Aunt Margaret Walmsley was also living in with the family.

By 1911 John`s father Thomas had also passed away and John was living at 160 Aqueduct Street in Preston with his sisters Annie, Eleanor and Mary and the youngest brother Charles. All the family were employed as weavers in a local cotton mill and eldest sister Annie was now the head of the household.

John enlisted on 4 June, 1915 at Preston and was posted to the 3/4th (Reserve) Battalion. He was allocated the number 4081 which would later be changed to 201521. John was working at Messrs. Dick, Kerr & Co. in Preston at the time he enlisted.

On his enlistment papers in answer to the question “Have you had any previous military service” – John replied “Yes, Army Service Corps – 5 days – discharged having no knowledge of horses”.

At his medical inspection the Medical Officer recorded that John was 5`3” tall, had a 35” chest and was of good physical development. John also declared his age as 28 years and 7 months. The Medical Officer duly declared him fit for duty.

On the 25 December, 1915 John sailed for France with a batch of reinforcements. After an initial period of training and instruction he was sent to join the 1/4th Battalion. The Battalion History notes that the 1/4th received 72 men and 3 Officers as reinforcements in early January 1916 when they were in billets in Airaines so it is possible that John may have been one of these.

John was promoted to Lance Corporal (paid) on 8 March, 1917.

The weather during June and July 1917 had been fairly dry but on the 29th July a thunderstorm arrived. The amount of rain that fell filled the shell holes with water and made the roads virtually impassable due to the mud. On the 31 July, 1917 during the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) John was awarded the Military Medal for “gallantry on the field at Wieltje”. On this day the Battalion casualties were very heavy with fifty one of all ranks being killed or dying of wounds, 192 wounded and 77 men missing.

Lance Corporal John Walmsley was killed in action a couple of months later on 20th September 1917 when the 1/4th Battalion were again heavily involved in the same Battle. John`s Company Officer wrote to the family and noted that “He was a brave fellow and after the Officer in Charge was hit, continued to lead the men till he fell”.

His death was announced in the Preston Guardian a short while later.


It is not known whether any of John`s personal effects were returned to his family in Preston. Lance Corporal John Walmsley MM was awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals. His name was recorded on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the missing in Belgium. John`s name was also recorded on the magnificent St. Walburge`s RC Church War Memorial in his home town of Preston.


The History of the War Memorial states that the Crucifix is made of oak and was carved in Germany in the 1300`s. It was apparently saved from a French Abbey ruined in the 1914-18 War and was removed to Belgium, where it was eventually bought for St. Walburge`s Church in Preston. There are eight plaques in total, three of which contain the names of men from the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. The majority of the men lived locally in the terraced streets in the vicinity of the Church.


Rank: Lance Corporal
Service No: 201521
Date of Death: 20/09/1917
Age: 34
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.
Awards: M M

Janet Davis
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One Response to 201521 LCPL. J. WALMSLEY. L.N.LAN.R

  1. Trevor Walmsley says:

    Think that might have been my grand fathers brother. Grandfather lived in goosnargh just outside of Preston. I remember some of my aunts and uncles talking about John getting killed in the First World War. May or not be the same one.

    I joined the RAF 60 years later and stayed for 30 years
    Best regards.

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