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Charles Ratcliffe was born in 1893 in Chatburn, near Clitheroe, first child of Robert Ratcliffe (b. 1863 in Bamber Bridge) and Margaret Ada Sherlock (b. 1865 in Willaston, Cheshire). Robert and Margaret had 7 children, 5 of whom survived infancy: Charles, then Robert Arthur (b. 1895), Harry Sherlock (b. 1898), Lucy (b. 1901) and Frank (b. 1903). Robert had several jobs and his family moved around; he was first a weaver in Bamber Bridge, had moved to Chatburn by 1891, where Charles was born, then on to Burscough by 1901, where he was a police sergeant, and finally to Lostock Hall in 1911 where Robert was working as a rubber pressman and Charles had begun work in the mill as a spinner. The family were living at Almond Terrace, 100 Watkin Lane.

Charles attested that he was willing to serve in the army on 10th December 1915 and was posted to the reserves the following day. By this time he had left the mill and gave his occupation as motor driver. He was a member of the Wesleyan Church community. He was mobilised on 3rd January 1916 and posted to 2/4 Battalion with the service number 4825, which became 202010 when the new numbers were issued the following year. The Battalion formed part of 170th Brigade in the 57th (West Lancashire) Division. In the months before their departure for France, the Battalion engaged in training at Willsborough, Barham Downs and in and around Aldershot. They embarked at Southampton on 7th February 1917 and disembarked at Le Havre the following day and then made their way to Sailly sur la Lys (near Armentières on the Belgian border) where they first went into the trenches on 17th February. Although the fighting was light at this time, the conditions were appalling: trenches were poorly maintained and often under water; communication trenches were narrow, deep in mud and all but impassable; parapets were low and in bad repair and the enemy had marked superiority in sniping. The thaw, after the winter, made conditions doubly uncomfortable. Charles obviously proved an effective soldier and leader as he was promoted first to Lance Corporal on 27th February, then to Corporal on 14th June.

The Battalion remained in this area throughout the summer but, after a month’s further training in September, they moved north to Boesinghe, just north of Ypres, where they went into the trenches on 24th October, as 57th Division prepared to make its contribution to the Second Battle of Passchendaele.

At 3.40 on the morning of 26th October 1917 the Battalion was formed up in its assembly position and moved off to attack at 5.40 and captured their immediate objectives (Mendling and Rubens farms) fairly quickly and with relatively light casualties. In the process, however, all four company commanders had become casualties. The centre of the attack was then held up by heavy fire from German pill boxes. The pill box was eventually taken and a more dominant position achieved, but further advance was impossible due to heavy German machine-gun fire from all sides. The Battalion captured 18 Germans and destroyed several enemy machine-guns. The ground advanced over was very bad, swampy and covered with shell holes. Charles Ratcliffe lost his life in this attack. He was 24 years old. His body was not recovered. There are no records as to what happened to his effects.

Rank: Corporal
Service No: 202010
Date of Death: 26/10/1917
Age: 24
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment 2nd/4th Bn.
Panel Reference: Panel 102 to 104.
Memorial: TYNE COT MEMORIAL

On 26th October 1917, 306 men from the L.N.LAN.R. lost their lives, of whom the following 112 men from 2/4th Bn:

201080 Private WILLIAM ALLEN
202324 Lance Corporal ROBERT ALMOND
202213 Private RICHARD ALTY
201998 Private JOHN ARCHER
201926 Private NORMAN BAIRD
203304 Private ERNEST BATTERSBY
201950 Private HARRY BAXENDALE
241007 Private WILLIAM HENRY BECKETT
2nd Lt ALAN BELLINGHAM
200283 Private JOSEPH BILSBORROW “C” Coy.
203813 Private JOHN EDWARD BIRCHALL
244844 Private ERNEST BLEAR
243242 Lance Corporal JOHN BOOTH
2nd Lt WILLIAM BOYLE
27204 Private ARTHUR BRIERLEY
203385 Private RAINFORD WILLIAM BULLOCK
201304 Private JAMES BURROWS
201927 Private LEVI CHILTON
201514 Private JOHN CONROY
201413 Private JOHN COOKSON
242110 Private ALEX COUGHLIN
240321 Lance Corporal WALTER COWARD
201942 Corporal JAMES CROOK
203202 Private BENJAMIN CROOKS
27179 Lance Corporal ARTHUR HARRIS DOUGLAS
203294 Private J FORREST
201951 Lance Corporal JAMES GAMBLE . “C” Coy.
200978 Private FRANCIS GARLICK
202825 Private WILLIAM GARNER
203214 Private HERBERT GREENWOOD
200570 Lance Corporal HARRY HALL
201128 Corporal ALEXANDER HALLIWELL
201083 Corporal NORMAN HILTON HAMER
203399 Private HENRY HAMPTON
203195 Private RANDOLPH HARGREAVES
200684 Lance Corporal THOMAS HARRISON
202172 Private JOHN HARRISON
202198 Private RICHARD HART
201207 Lance Corporal ANDREW HATTON
201429 Private JOHN HAWKINS
203199 Corporal JOHN RICHARD HAWORTH
265666 Private JOSEPH HAYES
200298 Corporal THOMAS HENDERSON
16829 Private ZECHARIAH HILL
203413 Private JOHN HINDS
201181 Private ELIJAH HOLDEN “D” Coy.
203280 Private JAMES HOPKINSON
2nd Lt JOHN BERNARD HORN
205129 Private JOHN ROBERT KENT
202271 Private WILLIAM ROBSON KIRBY “A” Coy
203365 Private CHARLES KITCHENER
202326 Private GEORGE LANCASTER
9836 Corporal GEORGE BRIDGEWATER LILLEY
28479 Private JOHN LOUD
203224 Private FRANK MASON
32551 Private THOMAS HENRY MAYMON
266241 Lance Corporal FREDERICK JAMES MAYNARD
240563 Private JOSEPH MAYOH
202345 Lance Corporal RICHARD McGREEVY
202242 Private GEORGE MELIA
205130 Lance Corporal JOHN JAMES MUSGRAVE
202216 Private JOSEPH NAGLE
201957 Lance Corporal JOHN NOBLET
28492 Private ERIC NOPPEN
201862 Private JOHN O CONNOR “B” Coy.
201553 Serjeant JOHN WILLIAM ODDIE
28493 Private JAMES O’HARA
200843 Private A OLDHAM
28495 Private ALBERT GEORGE PAINE
201944 Serjeant NORMAN PARKINSON
27624 Private RICHARD PATE
28542 Private HUGH PATERSON
202321 Serjeant EDWARD PAYNE “C” Coy.
200232 Serjeant JAMES PINDER
202010 Corporal CHARLES RATCLIFFE
203918 Private THOMAS RAWCLIFFE
28527 Private ALFRED ERNEST SAUNDERS
202195 Private FRED SCHOLES
200230 Private JOHN JAMES SHARPLES
201999 Lance Corporal FREDERICK JAMES SHARROCK “D” Coy.
12706 Corporal JOHN SHAW
203354 Private THOMAS SHAW
200910 Private ALFRED SIMON
14426 Private WILLIAM SMITH
201991 Private FRED SMITH
202016 Private JOHN STANLEY SMITH
203319 Private DENNIS WILLIAM SMITH
28503 Private SAMUEL SMITH
28502 Private ARTHUR SPEIGHT
200049 Corporal THOMAS SPIBY
240817 Private JOHN STEVENS
200725 Private ALFRED STOREY
203946 Private THOMAS SWARBRICK
200327 Lance Corporal VERNON ASHWORTH TAYLOR
201857 Private ARTHUR SIDNEY TAYLOR
202237 Private DANIEL TAYLOR
243801 Private JAMES TAYLOR
32061 Private WILLIAM TERRY
200512 Lance Corporal ARTHUR THOMAS
203335 Private CHARLES JOSEPH THORNBER
203369 Private OLIVER TOWNLEY
266380 Private ARTHUR UNSWORTH
203240 Private JAMES WALKER
25414 Private THOMAS WALMSLEY
28513 Private BERNARD WHEATLEY
201054 Private JAMES WHITTLE
202095 Private THOMAS WILLIAMS
32520 Private F W WILLIS
201151 Private STANLEY CLIFFORD WINSTANLEY
28533 Private GEORGE WOODMANCY
28499 Private H WOOLFITT
28514 Private JOHN WILLIAM WRIGHT

Bill Brierley

Bill Brierley

Before taking early retirement in 2007 and returning to his native Lancashire in 2009, Bill Brierley was head of the School of Languages and Area Studies at the University of Portsmouth.Bill has researched his own family history and has developed a further interest in World War 1 especially as it impacted on the villages of Lostock Hall and Bamber Bridge, where his family originates from.Bill has also displayed his work at Lostock Hall library and contributed to other displays at Leyland Library and South Ribble Museum.
Bill Brierley

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