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Henry Stackhouse married Grace Annie (nee Howarth) in February 1904. The couple had two sons, Frank (born 28th February 1909) and Bernard (born 11th January 1915) and they lived at 18 Gorple Street in Burnley.

Henry enlisted into the Reserve Forces in June 1916 and returned to work as a house painter and decorator until he would be mobilised.

On 14th June 1917 he was called up to serve with the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. He was 34 years old and had no previous military service.

At his enlistment medical, the officer described Henry as standing 5ft 1.75in tall, weighing 111lbs with a 32.5in chest.

Henry was given the number 38161 and posted into the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion at Felixstowe for training in preparation to be sent to France to join a Service battalion at a later date.

Almost immediately after arriving in Felixstowe a sexually transmitted disease made a reappearance (first diagnosed 1909) and Henry was admitted into Cherry Hinton Military Hospital at Cambridge for treatment. He had declared that he was under medical treatment for this disease at the time of his enlistment.

Henry spent 3 months in the hospital before being discharged on 26th September 1917. He was required to immediately rejoin his Battalion and resume his training but remained absent from duty and was declared a deserter.

It must be assumed that Henry had intended to return to his duty as he made his way east from Cambridge towards Felixstowe.

Exactly one month later, Friday 26th October 1917, a body was found in the waters of the River Beben near Ramsholt (5 miles north of Felixstowe). The deceased man was wearing a soldier’s uniform which displayed the shoulder titles of the North Lancashire Regiment.

The body was taken to the Ramsholt Arms on the bank of the river and the assistant Adjutant of the 3rd Battalion, Second Lieutenant Henry Denis Dobbyn, was nominated to attend the inquest there the next day. Dobbyn reported;

Police Constable Syrett made a careful inspection of the body and had found the sum of 14s/7d in the pockets but there was nothing which would lead to an identification. The body was in a very advanced state of decomposition, the features having disappeared and the hair being also missing. I removed as much of the clothing as possible and made a careful search for the man’s identity disc. This was not to be found, but we removed a pair of Government braces and a knitted woolen waistbelt which were on the body. The braces bore the number 38161 which we afterwards found to be allotted to Private H. Stackhouse, who had been an absentee from his Company since 26.9.17.

On 29th October 1917 I interviewed the Mother, Father and Wife of Pte Stackhouse and enquired from them whether the latter had worn a waistbelt. They informed me that he had been in possession of a certain woolen belt of a peculiar pattern, and the description they gave me of same tallied with that of the belt found on the body. I also questioned the relations regarding the size of boots worn by Pte Stackhouse and the condition of his teeth. They told me he had rather small feet and that certain of front teeth were missing. I had already noted in my examination of the body that the deceased was wearing size 6 boots and that his canine teeth on the upper jaw were missing.

The body was declared for official purposes to be that of Henry Stackhouse and was buried locally at Ramsholt (All Saints) Churchyard.

Photo courtesy of Lee Thornberry

CWGC headstone photograph courtesy of Lee Thornberry

The Burnley Express printed the following on 3rd November 1917;





Most tragic are the circumstances of the death of Pte. H. Stackhouse, a Burnley painter and decorator of Nairne-street. He was called up on June 13th last, and went to his unit at Felixstowe. He was there two days. After medical examination he was stated to be unfit, and was sent to Cambridge Convalescent Camp. From June 29th to September 26th he remained there, following which he reported at Felixstowe. He had not been heard of since until Friday of last week, when he was found drowned two miles below Ramsholt Dock. An Ipswich paper reports that at the inquest on the day following the discovery of the body, a sheperd deposed that while he was walking along the river wall he found deceased. After the inquest the body was searched by a regimental sergeant and an officer, and the man’s identification number was found on his braces. His wife and parents were communicated with on Sunday, and they traveled to Ramsholt for the funeral. The family wish to express appreciation of the kindness of the military authorities. It is believed that Pte. Stackhouse in the darkness turned in the wrong direction while looking for his billets, and walked into the sea. The body was in the water a month, and was unrecognisable when recovered. The soldier was 34 years of age, and leaves a widow and two children. He had worked for W. Aspinall and Sons, painters and decorators. He was well-known in Burnley and Padiham, and his many friends will regret to hear of his untimely death.

The Ministry of Pensions would later declare that “as the accident which caused the death of 38161 Pte H. Stackhouse. Loyal Lancashire Regt. was due to his own fault, his widow is not eligible for the grant of any pension”. His case was referred to the Local War Pensions Committee at Burnley Town Hall for their consideration but the outcome of this is unknown.

Rank: Private
Service No: 38161
Date of Death: 26/09/1917
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 3rd Bn.

Paul McCormick
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