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Henry Arthur Austin was born in Bury in 1887 and was one of six surviving children born to his parents Edwin William and Elizabeth Ellen Austin (nee Howarth). His parents had married in the Parish Church in Bury on the 11th November 1871. The other surviving children being;

  • Edward Howarth (1871)
  • William (1873)
  • Eveline (1875)
  • Ellen (1881)
  • Fred (1891)

In both the 1891 and 1901 Census Henry`s family home was at 42 Lord Street in Bury, his father was originally a cashier in a bleach works before later taking up a similar position in one of the cotton mills.

By 1911, Henry who was now a blacksmith had left Bury and had relocated with his parents and sister Ellen to Elton Cottage in the small village of Elswick (situated between Preston and Blackpool). Two years later on the 29th October 1913 he married Annie Crawshaw at All Hallows Church in Bispham (a suburb of Blackpool), the marriage record noting Henry`s occupation as a blacksmith and his home address in Elswick. His wife Annie`s address was noted as 31 Brunswick Street in Blackpool and she was the daughter of Edmund Crawshaw a company housekeeper. After their marriage the couple set up home in Blackpool, later information noting their address was still 31 Brunswick Street. The following year the couple had a son and named him Henry Arthur after his father.

Again, later information states that Henry originally enlisted in December 1914, joining the 8th (Irish) King`s Liverpool Regiment but was later discharged because of varicose veins. He re-enlisted at Preston in July 1916 and joined the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. After a period of training he embarked for France around November 1916 and was later posted to the 8th Battalion LNL coming under the Command of 7th Brigade in the 25th Division.

During the early part of 1917 the 8th Battalion was just to the south of Ypres where they had a fairly quiet time and the casualties were low in number. In early July they moved north and spent four days in Ypres where they were being heavily shelled and here they suffered many casualties from gas shells. The 3rd Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) began on the 31st July 1917 but the 8th Battalion, being in reserve, were not immediately involved. However, the following day they were moved forwards to relieve a unit of the 8th Division on the Westhoek Ridge. The relief was carried out in broad daylight and in full view of the enemy who were holding Glencorse Wood and to make matters worse they were also unsure of the position of the unit they were relieving. After heavy rain and constant shellfire the whole area was now a quagmire and the trenches were knee deep in water. Whilst in the trenches the Battalion was subjected to constant shellfire until they were relieved on the night of the 5th August. Sadly, it was on this day that Henry was severely wounded in the head, chest and legs. He was eventually evacuated from the battlefield and transported back to the 8th General Hospital in Wimereux. Again, according to later information, Henry`s wife Annie was able to go and visit him, setting off for France on the 14th August. On arrival she also discovered that an operation had been carried out on his shattered left leg which in turn had resulted in amputation. Henry survived for just over a month before finally succumbing to his wounds on the 14th September 1917.

Henry was laid to rest in Wimereux Military Cemetery;

Photo taken April 2018

After the war Annie would have taken receipt of her husband`s British War and Victory Medals to which he was entitled and would also have received his Memoria Plaque and Scroll in recognition of her husband`s sacrifice.

Henry`s father also completed a Submission Form for his son to be remembered on the Preston Roll of Honour in the Harris Museum and Library, the form noting that around the time war broke out he was living and working in Preston and that Henry and his wife had some apartments in the town.

Henry, having been born in Bury then lived in Elswick, Blackpool and Preston is also remembered on the War Memorial in Fleetwood, the town where his parents eventually went to live, his father died in Fleetwood in 1931;

Fleetwood War Memorial photo taken 2017

Janet Davis
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