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Peter Saul was born in Preston in the March quarter of 1886 and was one of eight children born to Thomas and Bridget Saul (nee Campbell). His parents married in Preston in 1882 the same year their first child John was born, he was followed by Thomas Henry (1884), Peter (1886)*, William (1888), James (1890-1891), Ann (1893), James (1894) and Albert (1897).

In 1891 the Saul family home was at 37 Duke Street in Preston where Peter`s father worked as a cotton weaver in one of the mills. The family also had a lodger, Ann Campbell a single lady aged 46 years and she was described as an Aunt. Sadly, Peter`s mother Bridget passed away in the September quarter of 1898 and in the weeks and months following her death it seems that thirteen year old Peter found himself in trouble with the Police on more than one occasion.

On the 18th August 1899 the Lancashire Evening Post reported on his first court appearance;

18th August 1899
“Peter Saul and William Croft were charged with loitering and gaming with cards. They had been remanded to allow for the attendance of their parents and the case was adjourned for four weeks”.

On the 13th November 1899 a second court appearance was again reported on by the Lancashire Evening Post;

13th November 1899 – A BAD CHARACTER
“Peter Saul, a boy was brought before the Court as a wanderer, without visible means of support – P.C. Cross said prisoner would not work, and was frequently in the company of thieves. The father had been warned again and again. He was sent to the workhouse for a week, during which time admittance to an industrial school will be sought by the Authorities”.

A final court appearance was reported on by the Lancashire Evening Post on the 20th November 1899 and after this appearance it seems that Peter`s fate had been sealed.

20th November 1899 – AN UNMANAGEABLE BOY
“Peter Saul, 13, was charged on remand with loitering, gaming with cards and wandering and having no visible means of subsistence. The Magistrates Clerk explained that the boy was unmanageable and kept company with reputed thieves. He had been four times before the Court – The police court Commissioner and P.C. Cross explained that they had done their best for the lad, but without avail – The boy was ordered to be detained in an Industrial School until 16 years of age, the Chairman informing the father that the boy`s position was uncommonly like the result of parental neglect”.

The 1901 Census record shows that Peter had been sent to the Boys Refuge Industrial School for Catholic boys in St. Anne`s Street in Liverpool. At some point after his sixteenth birthday he was released from the Industrial School and returned home to Preston and by the 24th October 1904 he had joined the Militia aged 17 years and 10 months. At his medical inspection it was recorded that Peter was 5`5” tall and he weighed 116lbs. He had a fresh complexion, grey eyes and brown hair and his only distinguishing feature was a scar on his forehead. Peter stated that he was a general labourer and that he had previously been working at the Oakenclough Paper Mill. His address at the time of his enlistment was given as 64 Albert Street off Avenham Lane in Preston and he named his father Thomas Saul as his official next of kin.

Peter attended his yearly annual camps and then on the 26th July 1908 he joined the Special Reserve. On the 31st October 1908 he married a widow Elizabeth Ann Riley (nee Finch). Elizabeth Ann Finch had previously married William Riley in 1898 and they had four children together before William passed away in 1906; Mary Ann (1898), Robert (1899), Catherine (1901) and Albert (1904-1905). Not long after Peter and Elizabeth Ann`s marriage they had a daughter Mary Elizabeth who was born in the March quarter of 1909 but sadly she died when only a few weeks old.

In 1911 Peter who was still a general labourer was living at 62 Albert Street with his wife Elizabeth Ann and his three step children, Mary Ann, Robert and Catherine. The following year a son James was born to the couple but sadly he did not survive infancy and died in 1913.

At the outbreak of war Peter returned to the Colours, signing his papers on the 6th August 1914. He sailed to France on the 20th September 1914 with a batch of reinforcements for the 1st Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.

The Second Battle of Ypres commenced on the 22nd April 1915 which continued until the 24th May 1915 and the 1st Battalion as part of the 2nd Brigade first became involved in the action in the early part of May. An attack was planned for the 7th May 1915 but was subsequently postponed until the morning of the 9th.

Extract from the Battalion War History
7th May 1915 – A long day of preparation, every man was issued with 220 rounds of ammunition, a gas mask and two sandbags.
8th May 1915 – The Battalion left Le Choquaux at 8pm and moved into battle position in the third line of breastworks behind the Rue du Bois, and was in position there by midnight.

The attack went ahead as planned on the 9th May but unfortunately Peter was wounded (no further information) and he was eventually transferred back home to England for treatment.

A few weeks later the Lancashire Daily Post published the following photograph of Peter;2640 Private Peter Saul

Peter was eventually discharged from the Army on the 30th June 1916 due to his wounds and was issued with the Silver War Badge No. 36132. On the 29th January 1917 Peter and Elizabeth had another son and they named him William Martin (he died aged 16 years in 1933).

On the 10th April 1918 Peter Saul now aged 32 years and 2 months re-enlisted at Preston, this time joining the 36th Company of the Royal Garrison Artillery with the service number 199802. His papers reveal that in response to the question “Are you willing to be enlisted for general service” he replied “No, home service only”.

After the war Peter was awarded the 1914 Star, British War and Victory Medals in recognition of his war service with the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.

Sadly, Peter died in Preston aged just 34 years old on the 12th January 1921 and was buried in a Commonwealth War Grave at Preston (New Hall Lane) Cemetery, the headstone bearing the inscription of the Royal Garrison Artillery.2640 Private Peter Saul headstone

Rank: Gunner
Service No: 199802
Date of Death: 12/01/1921
Age: 34
Regiment/Service: Royal Garrison Artillery, 49th Coy.

Janet Davis
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