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William Ellithorn was born in Preston in 1889 and was the youngest of the four children born to his parents Samuel and Monica Ellithorn (nee Lawrenson), the other three being; Elizabeth (1883), Ethelina Mary (1885) and Septimus (1887). William`s parents had married in 1882 and by 1891 the family were living at 17 Spring Street in Preston where Samuel Ellithorn was working as a hairdresser. William`s Uncle Septimus Ellithorn was also living with the family at the time.

Unfortunately William`s father Samuel died in 1896 and in the Census of 1901 his mother Monica had moved to number 38 Cobden Street, located between Fylde Road and Maudland Bank. Her late husband`s brother Septimus had moved out by now and her daughter Ethel had gone to live with her maternal Grandfather William Lawrenson at 29 Maudland Bank leaving just William, Elizabeth and Septimus living with their mother in Cobden Street. Elizabeth was working as a weaver and 13 year old Septimus was an apprentice bricklayer. The family had also taken in a lodger, 18 year old labourer, Joe McGuire.

Sadly, William`s mother Monica passed away in 1902 and eight years later on the 26th February 1910 William married Mary Ormerwood in St. Mary`s Church in Preston. A son William was born later in the same year and by 1911 William, Mary and baby William had moved in with Mary`s father Joseph Ormerwood at 8 Back Sydney Street just off North Road in Preston (the whole area demolished in the 1960`s). William was working for Preston Corporation as a crane driver on the docks. In 1913 William and Mary had a second son and they named him Joseph after his maternal Grandfather. Around the time Joseph was born the Electoral Register shows that William and Mary had moved to 63 Senior Street in Preston.

With WW1 underway William presented himself at Fulwood Barracks on the 15th February 1915 in order to enlist. He attested into the 4th Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and was given the service number 3708. His service record indicates that his medical inspection was carried out on the 20th February 1915 and it states he was 5`8” tall and weighed 144lbs with good physical development. William`s home address was 63 Senior Street, Preston and his occupation was a crane driver. He named his wife Mary as his next of kin for official purposes.

William initially joined the 3/4th (Reserve) Battalion stationed in Blackpool but on the 29th June 1915 he was posted to the 42nd Provisional Training Battalion spending about four months with them before being posted back to the 3/4th Battalion on the 6th November 1915. Not long after William enlisted Mary gave birth to the couples` third child, another son and they named in Samuel (1915-1993) after his paternal grandfather.

On the 28th July 1916 William went to France embarking at Folkestone with a number of reinforcements and disembarking at Boulogne later the same day. The following day he arrived at the Base Depot at Etaples where he stayed for ten days.

On the 8th August 1916 William left Etaples for the front where two days later he was `attached` to the 1st Battalion which is shown in his service record below;

When William joined the 1st Battalion on the 10th August 1916 they were in bivouacs in Henencourt Wood on the Somme where they had been since the end of July.

Extract from Battalion War Diary

10/8/16 – Training as usual. Practice in night operations – advancing on enemy trench under the artillery barrage. Observations from supposed line of enemy trench by aid of `Very light` showed up the `line of columns in file` very clearly, the latter offering an excellent mark for MG or rifle fire, whereas lines were much harder to distinguish and a very much less obvious target.

11/8/16 – Lt. L.G. Holt returned from hospital (wounded on July 15th). Got up a draft of 22 OR details from our service battalions. Yesterday (10th) we got a draft of 16 OR from our own 3/4th (T) Battalion.

12/8/16 – Last day of training. Sussex sports in the afternoon.

13/8/16 – C.O. and Coy Cmdrs went up to reconnoitre our line. G.O.C. presented medal ribbons to Lt. Holt (Military Cross), Sgt. Balderson and Privates Lennon and Cleece (Military Medals). Moved up in the evening and bivouacked in BECOURT WOOD.

14/8/16 – BECOURT WOOD – Moved up in the afternoon and relieved 10th Royal Fusiliers 111th Brigade, 34th Division, as Reserve Battalion, Right Brigade. Brigade frontage from HIGH WOOD at S4D35 to S3C56. On our left 1st Brigade, on our right 33rd Division.

Disposition; A & C Coys in trench from X23B46 to X24A13. B and D Coys in trench along western boundary of MAMETZ WOOD from X24A22 to X24C13.

15/8/16 – MAMETZ WOOD – Quiet day with the exception of 2 brief spells of shelling about 9.30am and 2.30pm. Latter spell with 5.9`s caught `B` Coy, inflicting 11 casualties.

Sadly, one of the 11 casualties on the 15th was William Ellithorn, killed in action. He had only been with the Battalion for five days when he died.

William`s death was announced later in the local paper, the Preston Guardian;

Although there is nothing in William`s service record detailing his personal effects but his widow Mary did send a letter to the Military Authorities in which she acknowledges receipt of them.

After the war Mary took receipt of her husband`s British War and Victory Medals that he was entitled to and would also have received his Memorial Plaque and Scroll.

The body of William Ellithorn was never recovered from the battlefield where he fell and as such he has no known grave so his name was later inscribed on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing on the Somme.

William`s name is remembered on the Roll of Honour in the Harris Museum and Library in Preston and his name also appears on the War Memorial Panels in St. Walburge`s Roman Catholic Church in Preston (pictured below).

Submission form used to include his name on the Harris Museum RoH

Author`s note; Both the CWGC and Soldier`s Died record Private William Ellithorn as being with the 1/4th Battalion LNL and not the 1st Battalion. However, his service papers and the Register of Soldier`s Effects both state that he was `attached to 1st Battalion`.

Rank: Private
Service No: 3708
Date of Death: 15/08/1916
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn. attached 1st Bn.
Memorial: THIEPVAL MEMORIAL

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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One Response to 3708 PTE. W. ELLITHORN. L.N.LAN.R.

  1. Tracey Perman says:

    This is my great-grandfather

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