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Arthur Rawcliffe Woodburn was born in 1892 at 52 Ashmoor Street, Preston. He was the eleventh of twelve children born to Henry and Elizabeth Woodburn (nee Rawcliffe). Henry and Elizabeth were married at St. John`s Church, Preston on 24 May, 1873.

The other eleven siblings were: Anne (1873), Charles (1874-79), Frederick (1877-79), Margaret (1879), Henry (1880), Arthur (1882-83), Helena (1885-85), Minnie (1886), Richard (1888), Edward Rawcliffe (1890) and finally Adelina (1894).

In the 1911 Census Arthur was living at his parents’ home which was 225 Fylde Road in Preston. At the time he was working for Preston Corporation as a Capstan Cleaner on Preston Docks. His father Henry was an Overlooker in a cotton mill.

Five of Arthur`s siblings were also living at home, brothers Henry and Richard were labourers for a car manufacturer and Edward was an engine cleaner on the railways. Minnie was a weaver and Lena (Adelina) was an apprentice card maker in a cotton mill.

Before Arthur enlisted he had moved on to work as a crane driver on Preston Docks and in September 1914 he left his job and went to the recruiting office in Preston and signed his enlistment papers. He was allocated the service number 2669 and was posted to the 4th Battalion.

On the 13 April, 1915 the Battalion received orders to prepare for embarkation for service overseas.

On the 2 May, 1915 an advance party of 3 Officers and 104 other ranks boarded the SS Rossetti at Southampton with the Battalion transport bound for Le Havre. The rest of the Battalion including Arthur left Bedford by train the following evening and boarded the SS Onward at Folkestone and sailed for Boulogne on the morning of the 4th May.

Unfortunately Arthur`s service papers do not appear to have survived so there is very limited information available.

Arthur would have been in France for a little over a month when the Battalion took part in their first major actions at Festubert in mid June 1915.  The casualties in that action numbered 431 men either killed, wounded or missing.

On 3 November, 1915 Arthur was killed in action and according to the following newspaper report “he met his death while conveying a wounded comrade to safety”.


Arthur was awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals and is buried with honour at Millencourt Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France.

Rank: Private
Service No: 2669
Date of Death: 03/11/1915
Age: 23
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.

Janet Davis
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