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Lawrence Baines was born in George Street, Preston and was baptised at St. Mary`s Church in the town on the 20th January 1895 the son of Thomas and Mary Ann Baines (nee Eccles). Lawrence was the eldest of six children, the others being; Jane (1896-1896), William (1898), Elizabeth (1900-1901), Thomas (1902) and John (1905).

When the 1901 Census was recorded the Baines family were living at 10 George Street where James` father Thomas was employed as a fireman in one of the local cotton mills. Sadly, just a few months after their son John was born Thomas Baines passed away in the December quarter of 1905 at the age of 35. Lawrence was still living at the same address in Spencer Street in 1911 with his mother Mary Ann and his three brothers, William, Thomas and John. In order to support her young family Mary Ann was having to go out to work as a rover in a cotton mill. Lawrence was also working in a mill as a `tenter` while his three siblings all attended school. The family also had a couple of lodgers, Mary Ann`s father Lawrence Eccles and a niece named Agnes Thomas. Lawrence Eccles was a widower aged 73 and he was employed as a street sweeper and 15 year old Agnes Thomas was working as a `tenter` in a cotton mill.

Lawrence enlisted into the 4th Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on the 29th May 1915 at the age of 20 years and 4 months. At his medical inspection it was noted that he was 5`2” tall and weighed 111lbs. He had a 33” chest and his physical condition was described as fair. Prior to joining up Lawrence had been working as a weaver in the Wellington Mill on Deepdale Mill Street in Preston. He was issued with the service number 4000 and he signed his agreement to serve abroad on the same day.

He sailed to France with a batch of reinforcements on Christmas Day 1915 and by the 7th January 1916 he had joined the 1/4th Battalion in the field.

The Battalion War History notes;

“On the 7th January 1916 the Battalion moved independently to billets in Airaines, where the remainder of the month was passed: here training of all kinds was put in hand and seventy-two men joined as reinforcements”.

The 1/4th Battalion had been in France since the 4th May 1915 as part of the 154th Brigade in the 51st (Highland) Division but just as Lawrence and the other recruits arrived the 1/4th Battalion were re-assigned to the 164th Brigade in the 55th (West Lancashire) Division.

In late July 1916 the 55th (Western) Division was detailed to take part in the ongoing Somme battle. They took their place in the line on the night of 30th July opposite the village of Guillemont, the plan being to capture the village (which thus far had proved to be a major sticking point) enabling further advance. On the night of 8th August 1916 they assembled in trenches in Trones Wood in preparation for the attack. The attack was largely unsuccessful incurring a large number of casualties. After this failed attack the Division was relieved on the 14th–15th August and they moved back to the west of Abbeville to rest and refit.

The Battalion spent the rest period in billets in Saigneville and Millencourt where they were joined by reinforcements totalling 219 non-commissioned officers and men from the Manchester and East Lancashire Regiments. On the 7th September the Brigade was recalled to the front, and the Battalion marched from Fricourt to Montauban; here the sector of the front line taken over extended from the eastern edge of Delville Wood in the direction of Ginchy, the Battalion and the 2/5th Lancashire Fusiliers occupying the trenches. “B” and “C” Companies were in the front with “A” Company in support.

Orders were received for an attack on the afternoon of the 9th September;

Battalion History

At 16:45hrs on the 9th September 1916 the 1/4th Battalion was part of an attack launched by the XIV Corps. 164th Brigade (including B and C Companies of the 1/4th LNL) were to attack and take a line of trenches that ran between Ginchy and Delville Wood. The plan was to `go over the top` and take Hop Alley and then Ale Alley but Ale Alley wasn`t reached due to the intensity of the enemy machine-gun fire. The attackers fell back to the original line.

The casualties were heavy, 24 men killed including Second Lieutenants W.E. Pyke and E.F. Falby. There were also 125 men wounded and a further 79 men missing, many were later also identified as having been killed.

Sadly, Lawrence Baines was one of the 79 men posted missing after the attack and then later identified as having died on the 9th September 1916.

The following month after receiving the official notification of Lawrence`s death, his family posted the following notice in the local paper.

lawrencebaines

According to his service papers the only personal possession that was returned to his mother in Preston was her sons` identity disc.

The body of Private Lawrence Baines was never recovered from the battlefield and so his name was later inscribed on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing on the Somme.

After the war Mary Ann Baines signed for Lawrence`s 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals to which he was entitled.

On the third anniversary of her son`s death Mary Ann Baines had the following notice printed in the Lancashire Evening Post;

9th September 1919

BAINES – In loving memory of my dear son Pte Lawrence Baines (Lol) 1/4th LNL Regt. aged 24 years who was killed in action September 9th 1916.

“No stone or cross to mark the spot where he so nobly fell

but he will forever be one of the glorious dead”

From Mother and Family and Brother Billy in France – 10 Spencer St. Preston

Lawrence is also remembered on the Roll of Honour in the Harris Museum and Library in his hometown of Preston.

Rank: Private
Service No: 4000
Date of Death: 09/09/1916
Age: 21
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.
Memorial: THIEPVAL MEMORIAL

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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