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Ernest Armfield was born on 13th August 1897 to John and Hannah (nee Clough) and was baptised at St James church on 8th September that year.

John and Hannah had married at the Holy Trinity Church in Ashton under Lyne on 17th August 1895.

At the time of the 1901 census the family were living at 8 Church Street, Botany, Ashton under Lyne. Ernest was three years old and his mother and father were both working in a cotton mill. A second child, William is recorded on the census as being one day old.

By the time of the 1911 census the family had moved to 111 Church Street, Hurst, Ashton under Lyne. Ernest is found living with his mother and father and two brothers Joseph Clough and Samuel. His father was recorded as working as an overlooker ring frame jobber at Whittakers Ltd cotton mill in Hurst. Ernest’s parents had ten children in all, seven had died in infancy and sadly Samuel would die seven months later, October 1911, aged 3.

When war broke out Ernest enlisted into the Manchester Regiment at Ashton under Lyne and was given the number 35083.

By the time he sailed to France, sometime after January 1916, he had been transferred to the 9th Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. His new service number was 33980.

Whilst overseas, he spent a brief spell with the 10th Battalion but soon returned to the 9th.

On 27th May 1918 the Germans mounted an offensive against a French sector near the River Aisne. This sector was, by chance, held by the battered British 1X Corps which, in need of a rest, had been allotted a supposedly quiet area. The British troops involved included …. the 9th Loyal North Lancs. All of these were in reserve when the forward areas were pounded by the largest concentration of artillery yet assembled. The main line of defence was quickly breached and overwhelmed and the reserves were committed piecemeal in desperate and confused fighting against odds of at least four to one. Unit cohesion was soon shattered, but the troops fought on in isolated company groups and mixed detachments, retiring in close contact until the tide was turned and, after eight days heavy fighting the German advance once more ground to a halt.

Private Ernest Armfield was killed in action on the first day of the attack, 27th May 1918.

Extracts from The Battalion War Diary

24th May 1918
Arrived at Vandeuil, early hours of morning
25th May 1918. Vandeuil
COs inspection of Battalion

26th May 1918. Vandeuil
Church parade. Orders for move.
1915hrs: Received orders to prepare to move at once.
2300hrs: Marched to Muscourt. During latter part of journey, box respirators were worn owing to gas shelling by enemy.

27th May 1918. Muscourt
Arrived at Muscourt at about 0400hrs.
0900hrs: 1 Platoon per Company ordered to proceed to a line along Canal Bank, N.E of MAIZY, to form a nucleus of defence for that place.
1200hrs: Remainder of Battalion ordered to reinforce at once, line areas taken up. Total going into action: 12 Officers, 496 Other Ranks

28th May 1918. Canal Bank
5 Officers and 72 Other Ranks reported to the transport lines in small parties during the day (remnants of Battalion).

Private Ernest Armfield’s body was not recovered from the battlefield and as such he is remembered on the Soissons Memorial.

armfield

Three weeks after Ernest’s death, and the notice having reached home, on 20th June 1918 his father, John Armfield, presented himself to the recruiting station in Ashton. He was 43 years 6 months old (born 24th December 1874), had no previous military experience and was still working at Whittakers. On account of his age, John was permitted to join the Royal Army Medical Corps providing his own medical category did not fall below B1. He was given the number 85351 (later 154183) and was posted to Blackpool the following month. John later spent some time with the 1st R.A.M.C Training Battalion in Dover and was finally discharged and returned home in July 1919.

The last remaining child, Joseph Clough Armfield lived to the age of 52, dying on 24th December 1958 in Ashton under Lyne.

Rank: Private
Service No: 33980
Date of Death: 27/05/1918
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 9th Bn.
Memorial: SOISSONS MEMORIAL

Paul McCormick
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Paul McCormick

Paul McCormick is the creator and administrator for the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment website. Since 2010 he has been researching the soldiers that served during the First World War and sharing their stories on his website. You can contact Paul through the website 'Contact Me' page or on Twitter and Facebook.
Paul McCormick
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