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2718 Private Humphrey Oldnall 1Humphrey Oldnall was born on the 11th December 1897 in Preston to Humphrey and Margaret Oldnall (nee Booth). His father was a tailor by trade and was originally from the little village of Elswick not far from Kirkham. He also lived for a short while with his family in Marsden Street in Kirkham but by 1891 he was boarding at 19 Alfred Street in Preston with his brother Robert. Just a few doors away at number 10 lived Margaret Booth, a seamstress, so presumably this was how the pair first met. They married at St. Paul`s Church in Preston on the 21st May 1893.

Humphrey had three sisters and two brothers, all of whom survived; Margaret Ann (1894), Eva (1896), Albert Edward (1901), Ellen (1904) and Ernest (1909).

By 1901 Humphrey and his family had moved to 44 St. Paul`s Square in Preston where his father was still working as a tailor. In 1911 the family was still resident in St Paul`s Square, probably in the same house although now numbered 38 and Humphrey and his two elder sisters all worked in one of the local cotton mills as weavers. On the Census of that year his father recorded his occupation as a `coat maker and gentlemen`s tailor`.

Humphrey`s service papers are no longer available so his enlistment date is unknown, however, his service number suggests he probably enlisted between September and November 1914. He embarked for France with the main body of the 1/4th Battalion on the 4th May 1915. He was wounded during the Battalion`s first major action at Festubert on the 15th June 1915 which was later reported on in the local paper. Humphrey was a member of “C” Company and it was “C” Company that had been given the task of leading the attack at 6pm on the evening of the 15th June.

2718 Private Humphrey Oldnall 2

Later newspaper information states that after he was wounded Humphrey was brought back to England for treatment and after recovering he was sent back out to France for the second time.

In January 1916 the 1/4th Battalion had been transferred into the 164th Brigade of the 55th (West Lancashire) Division and at the end of July 1916 the Division had taken over a line opposite Guillemont. A major attack was planned for the morning of the 8th August, however, on the 3rd August Humphrey was wounded for the second time with a bullet through the thigh.

Battalion War History

“Prior to the opening of the attack the Brigade and also the Battalion had suffered from the German guns during the preliminary occupation of the line, the Battalion having three men killed, 2nd Lieutenants Orrell, Crone, Munro and Hunt and also thirty one men wounded”.

Humphrey was sent back home once more and was admitted to a hospital in Stockport for treatment.

The local paper again reporting;

2718 Private Humphrey Oldnall 3

After recovering from his wounds for the second time it seems that at some point Humphrey transferred to the Royal Tank Corps, his new service number being 304403. Unfortunately there is no other information about his service other than he did survive the war and eventually returned home to Preston.

In the September quarter of 1919 Humphrey married Alice Ann McClarnon and the couple went on to have two children, Alice and John. In 1939 Humphrey, a general labourer, Alice and their two children were living at 27 Hesketh Road in Preston.

Humphrey`s wife Alice passed away in the March quarter of 1978 and Humphrey not long afterwards, his death being registered in the June quarter of 1978, aged 80 years.

Janet Davis

Janet Davis has been researching her family history for many years and through this she discovered many relatives who served in WW1. This interest then led Janet to do many walking the battlefield tours with her husband. In April 2013 she discovered this website and volunteered to help. Janet believes that there are lots of stories still to be told, most of them very sad but at the same time they are a fascinating insight into the men, their families, what they did and where they came from.
Janet Davis

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