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Thomas Arthur Charnley was born in Wesham in 1897 and was the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Ann Charnley (nee Nixon). Thomas`s father was originally from Manchester and his mother was from Wesham.

His parents were married in St. Michael`s Church, Kirkham on 1 October, 1891. Thomas had three brothers and three sisters namely; Edwin (1892), Ida Ellen (1894), William Benson (1900), Margaret (1902), Clifford Wilson (1904-1905) and Elizabeth May (1905).

In 1911 Thomas was with his family in a four roomed house at 13 Rawlinson Street, Wesham. His father was a Horse Driver (carrier). Thomas Arthur was employed in a local mill as a weaver’s tenter.

On 29 May, 1915 Thomas Arthur enlisted at Kirkham into the 4th Battalion and was allocated the service number 4017. He was 17 years old, 5`7” tall and weighed 162lbs. Thomas gave his address as 7 Garstang Road, Wesham and confirmed his occupation was a weaver. The witness on his service papers was Timothy Whiteside Rossall another local Wesham lad.

Thomas embarked at Southampton on 12 October, 1915 bound for France with a second batch of reinforcements. Two weeks later he was sent to join the 1/4th Battalion joining them in the field on 26 October. On the 23rd July, 1916 he was attached to the 164th Machine Gun Corps.

Thomas was one of the many men posted `missing` on 8 August, 1916 when the Battalion were in action at Guillemont. The following note was recorded on his service papers: “the above man was last seen near the German wire under heavy fire. Men of his section could not see what happened owing to the clouds of smoke and nearby smoke bombs”.

The following report appeared in the Preston Guardian not long after his death was confirmed:


A few of Thomas`s personal possessions were returned to his parents in Wesham:

  • 1 wristwatch and strap
  • 1 matchbox cover
  • Correspondence
  • 1 A.B. 50
  • Photographs and postcards

Private Thomas Arthur Charnley was awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals and is remembered with honour on the Thiepval Memorial. His name is also on the Wesham War Memorial but is recorded as Private A. Charnley.


Rank: Private
Service No: 4017
Date of Death: 08/08/1916
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.

Additional family information: Thomas`s eldest brother Edwin moved to 25 Clyde Street, Preston and he married Ann Jane Harrison on 10 July, 1913 at St. Marks Church, Preston. Edwin enlisted into the A.S.C. on 11 November, 1914 at Preston with the service number 028028. Edwin did not serve abroad and he was medically discharged as unfit for further service (sickness) on 13 January, 1915.

Janet Davis
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