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Bertram Broome Attwell was born in 1891 in Bury and he was the eldest son of George William and Mary Ann Attwell (nee Broome). George and Mary Ann were married in the Holy Trinity Church in Bury in 1891 and they had seven children including Bertram.

Bertram and the next five children were all born in Bury, Ethel (1892), William (1894), Annie Louise (1897), Beatrice Ellen (1898) and Edwin (1900). After Edwin was born the family moved to 29 Edward Street, Preston where George Attwell was working as a Saddler. In 1903 George and Mary Ann had their final child, a daughter named May who was born in 1903.

The family moved house again and by 1911 they were at 26 Pleasant Street in Preston. Bertram`s father George was working as a journeyman saddler. Bertram was employed as a bottler in Matthew Brown`s Brewery in Pole Street and Ethel the eldest girl was working in W.H. & J. Woods tobacco factory. The four youngest children were all at school.


A typical advertisement for Matthew Brown & Company Limited shown below where Bertram was employed.

Unfortunately Bertram`s service details have not survived so very little information is available but at some point after war broke out he went to enlist and was allocated the number 24373.

The 9th Battalion went to France in late September 1915 but Bertram did not go until after January 1916 so he probably went over to France with a draft of reinforcements at some point.

Bertram`s parents were eventually informed that their son had been posted as missing in action from 21 October, 1916.

Mr and Mrs Attwell then placed the following advertisement in the Preston Guardian in the hope that someone may know what had happened to their son.


Extract from the 9th Battalion War Diary – 20th – 21st October, 1916

The Company detailed to stay in Hessian Trench was relieved and went back into the support trenches. The evening of the 20th the Battalion again moved up to Hessian Trench, one Company being in the Assembly Trench and 2nd Lieutenant Henry Lewis being wounded during the relief, he remained on duty in the trenches until the following day. 2nd Lieutenant James Patterson Oliver wounded and evacuated to hospital.

At 12 – 6 pm the artillery barrage opened, the Battalion got out of Hessian Trench in three lines and crossed “no man`s land” immediately behind the barrage, very few casualties occurring until we reached the enemy`s wire when a considerable amount of trouble was caused from an enemy`s machine gun and snipers.

This machine gun was outside a dug-out in the Sunken Road and was put out of action by 2nd Lieutenant Gwynne Mervyn Jones and three bombers, the machine gun being captured. Many prisoners were taken mainly from the sunken road dug-outs, not many of the enemy being in the front line. About 200 prisoners were taken including one who said he was a Battalion Commander.

As soon as they had taken the trench the men did remarkably good work consolidating and an out- post line was immediately organised and put out by 2nd Lieutenant Gwynne Mervyn Jones

2nd Lieutenants Henry Dobbyn and William Laban Kirkham (R.W.K Regiment) wounded by shell and admitted to hospital

Casualties on 21st October; 2 Officers killed, 3 wounded. Other ranks; 20 killed, 57 wounded and 17 missing.

As Bertram had been posted as missing his parents would no doubt have had to wait several months before the Authorities confirmed that for official purposes their son was presumed to have died on or about the 21st October, 1916.

For his sacrifice to his country Bertram was awarded the British War and Victory Medals. His body was eventually recovered and he was buried in Stump Road Cemetery, Grandcourt, Somme, France.

Rank: Private
Service No: 24373
Date of Death: 21/10/1916
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 9th Bn.

Janet Davis
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