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Albert Askew was born in Preston in 1891 the son of John and Clara Jane Askew (nee Walmsley). Albert`s parents were married in St. Thomas`s Church, Preston on 22nd December 1881. They had another 9 children, Henry (1882), John (1883), Frederick (1885), Walter (1887-1901), Herbert (1889), William (1894), Frank (1896), Clara (1898) and Doris (1902-1907).

When the 1911 Census was recorded Albert was living at 26 Kenmure Place, Preston with his parents and five of his siblings, John, Herbert, William, Frank and Clara. Albert`s father was employed as a bookkeeper in an iron foundry. Albert was working as a motor mechanic. As the article below states, he was considered a ‘famous’ rink hockey player and was captain of the Preston Marathon team.

Albert enlisted at Preston on 12th September 1914 and was allocated the service number 2244. He gave his address at the time as 109 St. Andrews Road South, St. Anne’s. He was working as a Chauffeur to a Mr John Prestwich who was the Manager of the Manchester & County Bank Ltd in Lytham.

On the 3rd May 1915 Albert boarded the SS Onward as part of C Company of the 1/4th Battalion bound for Boulogne.

On the 15th June 1915 the 1/4th took part in the Battle of Festubert. The letter below was penned by Albert to his father just three days after the action, 18th June 1915.

Privates Story of the Fight

On Sunday morning we were told we were going into the trenches again – for the 3rd time but this time, on the Tuesday night, we were going to make a bayonet charge. We made it, and, thank God I am still living and unhurt.The artillery started bombarding soon after we got into the trenches. We lay there for two whole days with scarcely anything to eat or drink. On the Tuesday afternoon we captured a German. He was a Saxon. It was then about 3 o`clock. He told us what time we were going to charge and said the Germans were ready waiting for us.

Our Officers picked 50 men out for the first line to charge. I was one of the 50 that went first – there are only 7 of us left. At 5.30 the bombardment proper started. It was awful, shells were flying and bursting all over the place. I was really glad when 6 o`clock came and we got the order to “mount the parapet”. I can tell you the boys went over as if they were drilling. It rained bullets when we were advancing. As soon as we got on top of the German trenches the Germans put up their hands, some of them offered us watches, rings & etc., saying “comrade” and asking for mercy. We gave none, we bayoneted and shot the lot. I accounted for a few myself. Our Officers were amongst the first losses sustained on our side.

After that we charged about 200 yards on our own, clearing the trenches as we went. We advanced altogether about 600 yards. When we got to the third line of German trenches we found our artillery had not blown down their barbed wire entanglements, and it was impossible to advance any further, so we dug ourselves in with our entrenching tools. It was hot work.

We held this position until the reinforcements came up. It was worst to see our pals go over and not be able to stop and help. There were some awful sights. There are very few of our men left. I don`t know what they will do with us now. We shall at least get a long rest and we need it.

After the actions on the 15th June orders were finally given to withdraw and under the cover of an early morning mist (16th) they finally got away.

When the Battalion got back to Le Touret only 243 men answered the roll call. The total number of casualties being: killed or died of wounds four officers and nineteen other ranks, six officers and 255 non-commissioned officers and men were wounded, 2 officers and 145 men were missing.

On the 7th July 1915 Albert forfeited 1 days’ pay for “absence in the field”. On the 10 August he was admitted to a field ambulance with scabies and a month later admitted again with influenza.

A year later on 4th August 1916 Albert was appointed paid Lance Corporal and five days later on 9th August 1916 further promoted to Corporal.

Just a month later on 9th September 1916 Albert Askew was killed in action during the course of the Battle of the Somme.

The following article appeared in the Preston Guardian a short while later.


Albert was awarded the 1914/15 Star, British War and Victory Medals and his name is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial, France.

Rank: Corporal
Service No: 2244
Date of Death: 09/09/1916
Age: 25
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.

Additional family information:
One of Albert`s brothers: 41504 Private William Askew RAMC, 52nd Field Ambulance. Killed while acting as a stretcher bearer on 6th August 1916 one month before Albert died. William`s name is also recorded on the Thiepval Memorial, France.

Janet Davis
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