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Rurick Rupert Whitfield Monks was born in Bolton in 1897 and lived with his parents, employees in the local cotton mill William Whitfield Monks and Nancy (nee Blundell) at 26 Shipton Street, Bolton. Their home was a gable end red brick terraced house so typical of the closely lined streets of houses for the cotton mill workers of the time and a house still inhabited today. His parents had married in 1894 and prior to the marriage his mother had lived across the road at No 39 with her parents, six brothers and three sisters.

Rupert had an older brother William Whitfield Monks and a younger sister Rose Whitfield Monks, all the children had been given this paternal family name but it seems that Rupert went through life using just his chosen given name.

As a youngster he attended the nearby Oxford Grove Council School, at age 14 having left school he started off as a mill warehouse lad and later worked at the Temple bleach works in Smithills, the largest employer in the area at the time.

War having been declared he enlisted into the 3/5th LNL on 4th June 1915 giving his occupation as a packer, he stated he was 19 years and 6 months old and was 5’5” tall. Having completed his initial training he sailed from Southampton for France on 17th March 1916 and joined the 55th Divisional Depot there before joining ‘D’ coy 1/5th at the front on 2nd April 1916 he served as a battalion bomber.

On the 1st July 1916 at the opening of the battle of the Somme the battalion had not been engaged, they were in the trenches at Bellacourt and had mainly been employed on working parties. They were however to take part in the action at Guillemont 8th – 9th August 1916 where they had 131 killed, wounded and missing. They had also suffered many casualties throughout September from enemy fire whilst being used for salvage work and as burial parties on the edges of Delville Wood after the major battle that had taken place there.

He had gained promotion to L/Cpl on 23rd August 1917.

It was during the Battle of the Menin Road Ridge on September 20th 1917 the battalion was part of the 166th Brigade, 55th West Lancashire Division and were supporting 165 Brigade for the attack set for 5.40am south east of St Julien. The initial attacks were repulsed by rifle fire and strong machine gun positions and the reserve battalions were sent in a few hours later to carry forward the attack towards Hill 37.

Rupert Monks was killed by shell fire aged 20, on this day his body was never recovered.

He is commemorated on panel 102 on the Tyne Cot Memorial and appears on the Roll of Honour of Oxford Grove School a large carved wooden memorial containing the names of ex pupils who made the supreme sacrifice during the conflict on which he is shown as L/Cpl R Monks, he also appears on the Chorley Old Road Wesleyan Church Roll of Honour.

His pair of WWI medals were signed for by his father on 28th March 1922 and 92 years later in 2014 his British War and Victory Medals together with several pages of hand written penciled notes of his war experiences appeared for sale on a well- known auction site.

Garry Farmer
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Garry Farmer

Garry's grandfather and great uncles served in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment during WWI, 2 Gt uncles were KIA at Ypres and Mesopotamia. A regular worldwide battlefield visitor and exhibitor at the OMRS Convention he spent 36 years as a civil and RAF policeman and served on operations in Bosnia, Cyprus, Kenya, North, Central and South America.
Garry Farmer
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