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Hugh Able was born in Blackrod in November 1886 enlisted into the Territorial Force at Preston on 12th December 1915. He had married Mary Morray at the Parish Church in Blackrod in July 1910 and they had one child pre-war. Mary was six years older than Hugh and in 1911 she was working as a cotton weaver when they were living at 1 Mount Pleasant, Blackrod.

Hugh had been called up under the Derby Scheme and, once enlisted, returned to his civilian employment where he worked as a stoker in a bleach works. He was 29 years old and had no previous military service. By 1915 he and Mary had moved to 15 Ainse Road, Blackrod.

His call to mobilise came in August 1916 and he joined the 5th Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment with the number 9718 which changed to 244623 when the Territorial Force was renumbered in 1917. At his medical assessment the officer described Hugh as standing 5ft 5.5in tall, with a 35in chest, being of fresh complexion with blue eyes and dark hair.

Between 30th May and 27th July 1917 he was treated in the Military Hospital at Oswestry for Synovitis of his knee and in September that year was transferred to the Western Command Labour Centre, also at Oswestry. That November he was discharged as being no longer physically for War Service. The underlying cause of his disability was assessed as being not attributable to his military service but from an old injury in 1911 at Blainscough Colliery where his right knee joint had suffered internal derangement.

Upon discharge the R.A.M.C officer made the following statement;

He was working in the mine when he slipped on a flat sheet and injured his right knee and was taken straight to his medical man and was under treatment for 5 weeks, the knee being very swollen and stiff. Ever since up to joining the Army has had to have days off work owing to pain, swelling and stiffness. He has never been able to march and 16 weeks ago he was operated upon at the Military Hospital and was in 10 weeks and the remaining 6 weeks just doing very light work in the lines.

He complains of pain in the right knee especially on walking and causes him to limp. The knee feels very weak and he is unable to stand any length of time. There is an operation scar 2.5in on the outerside of right knee and underneath it feels like lumps of torn cartilage. He says two lumps were removed at the operation and these have come since then and he was informed by the surgeon that it was a growth.

Private Hugh Able did not serve overseas, he was discharged from the Army in November 1917 and unusually appears not to have applied for a Silver War Badge. His character and conduct throughout his 1 year 349 days service was assessed as being ‘good’.


Paul McCormick
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