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Joseph Gallagher was born on the 20th June 1895 in Kirkham and christened in St. John`s Roman Catholic Church in Kirkham by his parents Martin and Ellen Gallagher (nee Rossall). Martin Gallagher was originally from Achill Sound in County Mayo and Ellen Rossall was born in Great Eccleston. Martin grew up in Kirkham but in 1891 he was working as a farm labourer in Samlesbury and Ellen had moved to Preston with her family. By 1893 Martin and Ellen were living in Kirkham where their first child was born, however, despite extensive searches, a marriage record for the couple has yet to been found. Martin and Ellen had eleven children including Joseph, seven of whom survived;

  • Margaret (1893-1893)
  • James and John (1894-1894)
  • Joseph (1895)*
  • Mary Ellen (1896-1897)
  • Ann (1898)
  • Mary Ellen (1899)
  • Martin (1901)
  • Catherine (1902)
  • Michael (1903-1903)
  • Alice (1905)
  • Patrick (1906)

In the Census of 1901 Joseph and his family lived at 1 Houghton`s Court in Kirkham where his father was a general labourer. By 1911 sixteen year old Joseph had a job as a mill hand while his father was labouring on a farm and the family had also moved to number 9 New Row in Kirkham. At some point after the 1911 Census Joseph and his family moved to Preston to live at 35 Higginson Street.

On the 3rd June 1914 Joseph enlisted into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment for a period of six years as a Special Reservist and was issued with the service number 2531. Mr. Thomas Monks, a herbalist of the Temperance Bar at 223 North Road in Preston was asked to provide a reference for him in which he stated that he had known Joseph for six months and knew him to be honest, sober and reliable.

Joseph`s medical inspection revealed that he was five feet four and a half inches tall, weighed 108lbs and had a chest measurement of 34”. He had brown hair, brown eyes and was said to be of fair physical development. His age was recorded very precisely as 18 years and 346 days and his occupation was a textile factory worker. For official purposes Joseph named his parents and his brothers and sisters of 35 Higginson Street as his next of kin.

After the outbreak of war Joseph was recalled to the Colours on the 8th August 1914 and was posted to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion. Joseph remained at Felixstowe with the 3rd Battalion for almost twelve months and in the early months of his service there is no record of anything on his regimental misconduct sheet, however, from May 1915 until mid-July 1915 four instances of misconduct were recorded against his name;

  • 14/5/15 – Overstaying his pass – punishment of 2 days confined to barracks
  • 19/6/15 – Irregularity mounting guard – punishment 3 days confined to barracks
  • 29/6/15 – Overstaying his pass for 9 days until 7/7/15 – punishment 9 days confined to barracks and forfeit of 9 days` pay.
  • 24/7/15 – Using improper language to an N.C.O. – punishment 10 days confined to barracks

Joseph`s last punishment ended on the 2nd August 1915 and on the 3rd August 1915 he was on a ship bound for France where on arrival he was posted to the 1st Battalion. Whether his recent misdemeanours had any bearing on his speedy departure to the front we shall never know!

The Battalion War History notes that during August 1915 the 1st Battalion received two drafts totalling 35 men and five Officers so it`s very likely that Joseph was in one of those drafts. A little over a month after joining them Joseph would have taken part in the Battalion`s actions during the Battle of Loos (25th September – 19th October 1915).

On the night of 30th June / 1st July 1916, as the men down on the Somme were preparing to go over the top for ‘The Big Push’, the 1st Battalion Loyal North Lancs were still north of Arras at Maroc and attacked a position known as ‘Russian Sap’. During this action Joseph was seriously wounded with gunshot wounds to his shoulder and face. He was taken to No.1 Casualty Clearing Station where sadly he later succumbed to his wounds.


After his family had been informed of his death the following article was published in the Preston Guardian;2531 Private Joseph Gallagher 1st Battalion

Joseph`s family later received some of his personal effects which included; a prayer book and rosary, letters, 2 postcards, 2 photographs, 1 cap badge and 1 ring.

After his death Joseph was buried with honour in Chocques Military Cemetery and his mother had the following words inscribed on his gravestone;


NB; The words “Dulce et Decorum Est” form the title of a poem written by the War Poet Wilfred Owen, and the words “Dulce et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori” appear at the end of the poem and when translated means “It is sweet and right to die for one`s country” or “It is sweet and honourable to die for one`s country”.

Joseph was awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals in recognition of his service for his country. His family would also have received his Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice.

The name of Private Joseph Gallagher is also remembered on the Roll of Honour in the Harris Museum and Library in his home town of Preston.

2531 Private Joseph Gallagher 1st Battalion 2

Rank: Private
Service No: 2531
Date of Death: 01/07/1916
Age: 21
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st Bn.

Janet Davis
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