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Harold Blackburn Corless was born in 1894 in Preston, his christening took place on the 31st October 1894 at St. Mark`s Church in the town. His parents, William Blackburn Corless (born in Forton) and Dinah Hoyles (born Winmarleigh) married at St. Andrew`s Church, Ashton on Ribble in Preston on the 19th November 1881. Harold was one of twelve children, nine of whom survived, the children with the exception of one all carried the middle name of Blackburn;

  • Mary Blackburn (1882)
  • Ann Blackburn (1884-1891)
  • William Blackburn (1886)
  • Alice Blackburn (1888)
  • Ann Jane Blackburn (1899-1899)
  • Elizabeth Blackburn (1890)
  • Albert Blackburn (1893)
  • Harold Blackburn (1894)*
  • Harry Blackburn (1897)
  • Elsie (1900-1901)
  • Violet Blackburn (1902)
  • Evelyn Blackburn (1904)

Harold and his family lived at 39 Ecroyd Road in Ashton on Ribble for many years, his father was a platelayer on the railways. By 1911 Harold`s father had been promoted to foreman platelayer employed by the Lancashire & North Western Railway. The family address was still 39 Ecroyd Road and Harold and two of his elder siblings, Elizabeth and Albert were working as weavers at Ashton Shed while younger brother Harry was a farm servant.

At the age of 20 years and 3 months Harold enlisted at Preston on the 30th November 1914 joining the 4th Battalion (TF) of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment with the service number 3398. Prior to his enlistment he had been working as a weaver at the Shelley Road Mill in Preston and was unmarried and had no previous military experience. For official purposes Harold named his parents of 39 Ecroyd Road as his official next of kin. He signed his agreement to serve abroad at Blackpool on the 1st February 1915 and then on the 4th May 1915 he embarked for France with the 1/4th Battalion as a member of “C” Coy, the Battalion coming under the Command of 154th Brigade of 51st (Highland) Division.

According to his papers Harold reported to a field ambulance suffering with a fever on the 14th July 1915 and was out of action for a week, returning to the Battalion on the 20th.  In January 1916 the Battalion transferred into the 164th Brigade of 55th (West Lancashire) Division and in early February 1916 the 55th Division was sent to relieve the 88th French Division who at the time was occupying the sector south of Arras, from Wailly to Bretencourt, the Division remaining in this general area for the next few months. On the 4th July 1916 he was admitted to a field ambulance again, this time suffering from `shell shock` and he was then transferred to hospital at Le Treport. On the 25th July, whilst Harold was still in hospital, the 55th Division had made their way south to take part in the Battle of the Somme and by the 30th July they had taken up their appointed place in the line opposite the village of Guillemont.

Harold remained in hospital until the 2nd August 1916 and went to the No.3 Convalescent Depot in Etaples but then the following day he was re-admitted to hospital with some form of skin disease and did not re-join the Battalion until the 28th August 1916. His papers then state that Harold was wounded in action on the 9th September 1916 which was during an attack on Ginchy, the wound keeping him out of the line until the 13th.

In the late afternoon of the 18th September 1916, the Battalion vacated the trenches and went into bivouacs at Mametz where they remained until the afternoon of the 24th September.

Extract from the Battalion War Diary

24th September – Church Parade. At 4.30pm the Battalion marched off to the trenches and relieved a Battalion of the 165th Infantry Brigade in BROWN TRENCH, in front of DELVILLE WOOD, and close to FLERS.

25th September – Nothing of importance occurred. Two carrying parties, each of 60 men carried up rations and stores to the units in the front line. Casualties; 1 O.R. Killed, 5 O.R. Wounded, 5 O.R. to hospital.

26th September – Morning quiet. A few casualties as a result of hostile shell fire. At 10pm the Battalion moved up into the front line and took over from the 1/7th King`s Liverpool Regiment in GIRD TRENCH, close to GEUDECOURT. Casualties; 17 other ranks wounded, 3 other ranks missing, 2 other ranks to hospital sick.

Harold was one of the 17 other ranks wounded and he was taken to No. 36 Casualty Clearing Station where sadly he succumbed to his wounds six days later, his date of death recorded as 2nd October 1916.

After being informed, his family announced his death in the Preston Guardian newspaper;

Harold was buried at Heilly Station Cemetery on the Somme which was where No. 36 CCS was stationed at the time of his death.

His mother later received and acknowledged a number of Harold`s personal effects, these included;

  • Card and Photographs
  • 1 Pocket Book
  • 1 Religious Book
  • 2 Cigarette Cases
  • 1 Note Book
  • 1 Metal Ring
  • 2 Knives

After the war Dinah Corless also took receipt of her sons` 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals to which he was entitled and would also have received his Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice.

Harold`s family later completed a Submission Form for his name to be included on the Roll of Honour in the Harris Library and Museum in Preston (pictured below);

Below, Harold`s name as it appears on the Roll of Honour;

Additional Family Information

Harold`s younger brother also enlisted; 681124 Gunner Harry Blackburn Corless R.F.A. – enlisted 30th August 1915. Served in France 29//11/16 – 4/11/17. He was discharged due to sickness V.D.H. (Valvular Disease of the Heart) on 24/12/17 after 2 years and 117 days service. Harry died in 1938 aged 41 years so he is not the Pte. Harry Corless listed under Harold`s name on the above Roll of Honour.

Rank: Private
Service No: 3398
Date of Death: 02/10/1916
Age: 22
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, “C” Coy. 1st/4th Bn.
Cemetery: HEILLY STATION CEMETERY, MERICOURT-L’ABBE

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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