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Matthew Hardicker was born in 1896 and baptised in the parish church of St. John in Preston on the 27th December 1896. His parents John William and Margaret Ann Hardicker (nee Wilding) married in St. Paul`s Church in Preston on the 1st April 1893.

John William Hardicker was a widower when he married Margaret Ann. His first wife was Grace Ashworth who he married in 1888 but sadly she died in 1891. They had one son named Timothy who also died aged about 7 months old in 1892.

His second wife Margaret Ann also had a daughter Elizabeth Ann (1884) prior to their marriage and as well as Matthew they went on to have six more children including two sets of twins although not all of them survived.

  • James Robinson (1893-1895)
  • Sarah Ann (1893)
  • Edith and Lily (1898-1898)
  • Henry (1900-1900) and May (1900)

In 1911 the family was living at 82 Old Lancaster Lane in Preston. Matthew`s father was an engine tenter and Matthew was a cotton weaver like his stepsister Elizabeth and his sister Sarah Ann.

Matthew enlisted on the 9th October 1914 at the recruiting office in Preston stating that he was 19 years and 2 months old when actually he was probably just short of his eighteenth birthday. He was allocated the service number 2842 and posted to the 4th Battalion.

After a few months of training Matthew sailed to France with the 1/4th Battalion on the 4th May 1915. He was part of ‘B’ Company. Sadly, Matthew was wounded in action on the 15th June 1915, another casualty of Festubert.

Matthew was eventually moved back down the line suffering from gun-shot wounds to his right thigh, buttock and left hip and was admitted to 18 General Hospital in Rouen which is where he died on the 24th June 1915.

Lance Corporal John Seddon of “B” Company who had also been wounded on the 15th June sent a letter to his wife back in Preston. The letter was written while Lance Corporal Seddon was in Colchester Hospital recovering from his wounds and extracts from the letter appeared later in the Lancashire Daily Post;

“I hope the shirkers of Preston and District will read between the lines of this letter. I say all men who won`t enlist should be made to do so and that men who have done their bit should be put to making munitions. Then we should have more men in the field, and men and shells are what we want.

I will tell you of our last engagement with the pick of the German army. We were ordered to mount the parapet and advance in a left incline. Our first company to go over was very hard hit, but our spirits never fell. B Company followed next with Lieut. Moore leading, and we were determined to have our revenge.

When we took the first trench the German Officer in charge of the Maxim gun got hold of one of the 8th Liverpool Irish, threw him in a dug-out and put a sentry over him. But our lads arrived on the scene, and when we made for them with our bayonets, they cried for mercy. One big Prussian asked for a cigarette – and he got it, not half! One lad threw a bomb in a dug-out which was packed with them. They were crying for mercy and offering watches and money for us to take them prisoner.

When we captured the third trench I had the misfortune of being blown into the air by a high explosive shell. The sandbags and earth buried about 16 of us, and I was lucky to get out under heavy fire. I was badly shaken and found I had lost nerve. I could not hold my rifle or fire it. Just before I got back to our line I came across Lance Corporal Holden who was wounded, and was waiting till the firing should slacken. It was kept up, however, so we made a rush for it. There was a long open field to cross and we had to go through barbed wire entanglements. I came across one of our fellows who was badly wounded, and managed to drag him into a hole made by a `Jack Johnson`. Later I was able to carry him to our trenches, and I was not long there before I was blown up a second time. I became unconscious and was taken to the Royal Engineers trenches.”

A brief article including a photograph of Matthew appeared in the local paper sometime later.

Hardicker

A number of Matthew`s personal effects were eventually returned to his family in Preston and these included; a purse, new testament, pocket wallet, key, photographs, buttons, pencil, a bullet, shoulder titles, cards, prayer book, booklets, letters and scissors.

Matthew was buried with honour in Etaples Military Cemetery. His parents requested the following inscription be placed at the foot of his headstone;

“UNTIL THE SHADOWS FLEE AWAY”

After the war his mother took receipt of his 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals.

Rank: Private
Service No: 2842
Date of Death: 24/06/1915
Age: 18
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.
Cemetery: ETAPLES MILITARY CEMETERY

Janet Davis

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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