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Private James Doolan, photo courtesy of Susan and Roy Fox.

Private James Doolan, photo courtesy of Susan and Roy Fox.

James Doolan and his large family came from Bamber Bridge. Although James’s father, Michael b. 1857 hailed originally from Preston and his mother Margaret (née Russell) b. 1857 was from Ireland, all 15 of their children were born when the family lived in the School Lane area between Bamber Bridge and Walton-Le-Dale. In 1911 they were living in Oakland Street. The family consisted of Catherine b. 1883, Susannah b. 1884, John b. 1885, Thomas b. 1886, then James b. 1889, Michael b. 1891, Peter b. 1894, Margaret b. 1896, William b. 1898, George b. 1899 and finally Robert b. 1900.

Catherine, Susannah and John had all left to start families of their own by 1911, but the remaining children were still living with their parents, and all working in the mill except the three youngest boys who were still at school.

James married Jane McCabe in 1914, just before he signed up and they lived at 1 Tanner’s Row, Croston Road, Lostock Hall. The McCabe family lived at Garfield Terrace, Croston Road, Lostock Hall and Jane was a cotton drawing tenter. James was a mill worker.

James joined the Loyal North Lancs Regiment and was posted to France to join the 10th Battalion probably in July 1916, in which case he would have fought with them at the Battle of the Ancre in November that year, although a further large draft joined them in December. For much of the war the opposing armies along the Western front were at stalemate. The Battle of Arras in April and May 1917 was an attempt by the British and French to break through the German lines. Despite some spectacular advances in the first few days of the battle, the Allies were unable to achieve the breakthrough they sought, and once again there were very heavy casualties, with more than 160,000 allied soldiers killed or wounded. The 10th Battalion lost about 500 men and officers, killed or wounded.

A novel feature of the battle was the use of the ‘creeping barrage’, during which the artillery would lay down a barrage of shells and shrapnel and the infantry would advance about 100 yards behind the barrage. Whilst this was sometimes successful in stopping the enemy from advancing or attacking with machine guns, given the difficulties of managing the barrage, there were often errors and men were sometimes killed by their own artillery. Even when it was successful it must have been horrific.

Given their heavy losses in the battle, the Battalion was withdrawn to ‘quiet sectors’ and by July was near Mesen in Belgium, south of Ypres, where the armies were preparing for what would later be known as the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele). Although this was a ‘quiet’ period there was still regular shelling and sniper fire by both sides. James died on 3 July 1917. He was 28 years old. He is buried at Pond Farm Cemetery, near Heuvelland in Belgium, about half way between Armentières on the French border and Ypres in Belgium.

CWGC headstone at Pond Farm, October 2016

His effects of £2 10s 8d and the war gratuity of £4 were paid to his widow Jane. His mother had died in 1916, presumably while James was at the front.

Rank: Private
Service No: 24648
Date of Death: 03/07/1917
Age: 28
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 10th Bn.
Grave Reference: M. 4.

Additional Information

There are also records for several of James’ brothers serving in France.
• Thomas enlisted on 11 December 1915 in the Army Service Corps. He landed in France in August 1916 where he joined 143 Siege Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery. Immediately after the end of the war, in December 1918, Thomas married Catherine Mercer. He was demobbed the following year. He died in 1952.
• Michael enlisted on 19 May 1915 in Bamber Bridge, along with the Brierleys and Halpins and many others from the village. He joined the Royal Field Artillery, his service number was 680875, my grand uncle Tom Brierley was 680873. He had married Sarah Cook in October 1914. He was demobbed in 1919, but I don’t know what happened to the family after that.
• Peter probably also signed up possibly joining the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. 12212 PTE. P. DOOLAN joined 7Bn (the ‘Preston Pals’) in 1914 and went to France on 7 July 1915. He was subsequently transferred to the Labour Corps with ser. No. 482088.

His brother William, who was sickly all his life, died in 1919 at the age of 20.

Jane McCabe’s extensive family, from Croston Road, Lostock Hall, also provided several soldiers in the War:
• John b. 1881 was a platelayer and he signed up on 27 August 1915 to join the Royal Anglesey Royal Engineers, no 3 Railway Company, and was engaged in laying railway tracks to support artillery and troop movements during the war. He served in France from September 1916, and was demobilised on 20 December 1918, and was probably home for Christmas.
• Vincent b. 1884 was a regular soldier. In 1911 he was serving in India with the East Lancashire Regiment. The Regiment served in France from 1916-1918.
• Hugh b. 1887 joined the Royal Welsh Fusiliers on 9 December 1915 and served with the Labour Corps, involved in logistics. He was demobbed on 13 November 1919.

Jane suffered a number of personal family tragedies, as well as the loss of her husband in 1917 after such a short marriage. Her mother Dinah had died in February 1917, six months before she lost her husband. Her father Hugh died in 1919. She also lost three brothers who died in infancy. She never remarried and died in Bamber Bridge in 1974 aged 82.

Bill Brierley
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4 Responses to 24648 PTE. J. DOOLAN. L.N.LAN.R.

  1. Roy Fox says:

    Thank you for putting James Doolan,s story onto your website. He is my wives great-uncle and it is nice to see him being honoured in this way. We visited Pond Farm Cemetery last October to pay our respects.

    • Maureen Shaw says:

      I read with interest your E mail as James Doolan was also my great uncle my Grandfather was Thomas Doolan and is Daughter Margaret (Peggy) was my Mother.
      I would be interested to know your wife’s name and were she fits into our rather large brood.

      Hoping to hear from you
      Maureen Shaw

      • Roy Fox says:

        Hi Maureen, Thomas and James had a sister Margaret who married a Robert ODonnell. they had a daughter also called Margaret(Peggy) who would have been your mums cousin.
        Margaret married and became a Chatburn, they lived in Collins Road and had three children Eric, Tony and my wife Susan.So you are my wife are 2nd cousins?

  2. Linda says:

    Always sad to read of the many many local lads who lost their lives in the first war and the many families from Lostock Hall ,Bamber Bridge area etc whose lives were shattered by loss.
    Born in 1935 ,as a baby and for several years, I visited 1 Tanners Row with my mother Margaret also known as Peggy.,and though not old enough to be totally aware of the family there I remember Jane and the house with the Tannery behind.
    and Margaret who I always called Mrs Doolan?
    I understood that she was Jane McCabes sister _in _law.
    When I went to NZ in 1958 after the death of my mother.Mrs Doolan? Maggie? wrote to me for some years.
    I am not sure if she was Margaret O’Donnell. However if my Mrs Doolan was related to any of you I do want to say how kind she was in keeping up contact with me and my growing family at the other side of the world.
    I have never forgotten

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