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Henry Howarth was born on the 22nd October 1884 to William and Johanna Eliza Howarth (nee Allison). His father William Howarth and mother Johanna Eliza Allison had married in the parish church of St. John on the 12th January 1874 and after their marriage they set up home at 99 Church Street in Preston with William carrying out his trade as a fish dealer and Johanna working as a cotton weaver. William and Johanna had five children born prior to the 1881 Census, only one of whom survived; Margaret (1878).

By the time of the 1891 Census the family had increased in size with the arrival of Henry (1884)* and William (1890) and they had also moved house to 13 Ashworth Street (adjacent to London Road but demolished in the 1960`s). Henry`s father William was now hawking his fish as a street vendor. When the 1901 Census came along the family were still living in Ashworth Street but the house number was now 26 and by this time Henry also had two more brothers, Thomas (1891) and Roger (1897). Henry`s father was still selling fish and Henry and his sister Margaret were both employed in local cotton mills.

When the 1911 Census was recorded Henry and his family were still in Ashworth Street but now at number 13. Henry, Margaret and Thomas were all mill workers with Henry working in the weaving shed blowing room. His father was still a fish seller and his brother William was now working as a carter (horse and cart transport). There was also a five year old boy by the name of Sidney living with the family, he was recorded as `son` but according to baptismal records he was the son of Margaret, Henry`s eldest sister.

At the outbreak of WW1 Henry was working as a loom ring spinner in the employ of Messrs. Orrs Mill which was on School Lane in Bamber Bridge. He attested into the 4th Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on the 11th December 1915 and was posted to the Reserve with the service number 5247. His medical inspection noted that he was five feet three and a half inches tall and had a 35” chest. Henry confirmed that he was a single man and that his home address was 31 Ashworth Street in Preston. He named his father William of the same address as his official next of kin, this would later be amended to his mother Johanna. He was mobilised on the 24th March 1916 and posted to the 3/4th (Reserve) Battalion. Henry remained in training with the Battalion at Kirkham, Blackpool and then Oswestry before embarking for France with a number of reinforcements on the 16th July 1916. After arriving in France he moved on to Etaples, Base Depot of the 25th Infantry Brigade and then after spending a couple of weeks there he was sent on detachment from the 1/4th Battalion to the 8th (Service) Battalion LNL, joining them in the field on the 26th July 1916, the 8th Battalion coming under the command of the 7th Brigade of 25th Division.

The 8th Battalion LNL had been fighting in the area of Ovillers and La Boisselle during the Somme offensive in July 1916 and had suffered very heavy casualties, therefore between the 21st – 29th July 1916 they received large numbers of reinforcements comprising men from several different regiments as well as sister Battalions.

On the 29th July the Battalion went into the trenches for a brief spell and after being relieved on the 6th August the Battalion then went into Divisional reserve at Bertrancourt where they engaged in the training of the newly arrived reinforcements. By the 15th August 1916 the Battalion along with the entire brigade and its attached units moved on to Puchevilliers where they were billeted in the village. Two days later the whole of the 7th Brigade moved on to Hedauville where they were bivouacked in the grounds of a chateau.

On the 23rd August the 8th Battalion moved into dugouts close to Aveluy Wood in order to support troops holding the trenches at Leipzig Salient. The Battalion went into the trenches the following day with “A” and “B” Companies supporting the 1st Wiltshire Regiment and “C” Company being attached to the 3rd Worcester Regiment who together were tasked with attacking and taking the Hindenburg trench. Although taking the trench was successful it had to be vacated eventually due to enemy counter attack. This engagement lasted until the 27th August when the 8th Battalion was relieved by the 8th Battalion South Lancs. Regiment. There were several failed attempts to take the Hindenburg trench before it was finally taken in September 1916. The operation had been a costly one with casualties amounting to 4 Officers and 85 other ranks killed or missing and 3 Officers and 181 other ranks wounded.

Henry Howarth was one of the men listed as missing, presumed killed, his date of death later being officially confirmed as 27th August 1916. Henry`s parents were informed and the Preston Guardian published the notification of his death soon afterwards;

There is nothing in Henry`s service papers to say whether any of his personal effects were ever returned to his family in Preston. After the war Henry`s mother took receipt of her sons` British War and Victory Medals that he was entitled to and would also have received his Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice.

As Henry`s body was never found his name was later inscribed on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing on the Somme. His family also had his name added to the Roll of Honour in the Harris Museum and Art Gallery in Preston; the original submission form is also shown below (note the error with the date stating 1917).

On the 28th August 1918, two years after Henry`s death, his family had the following notice published in the Lancashire Evening Post;

HOWARTH – In memory of Henry, the beloved son of Eliza and William Howarth who was killed in France, August 27th 1916. Also, Roger, their son, who was killed in France, August 13th 1917.

“We often think of days gone by

When we were all together;

A shadow cast upon our lives,

Two sons have gone forever”.

From Father, Mother, Sister and Brothers, 31 Ashworth Street, Preston.

Rank: Private
Service No: 5247
Date of Death: 27/08/1916
Age: 32
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn. attached 8th Bn.

Additional family information

The newspaper article refers to three of Henry`s brothers who were also serving.

L/2584 Gunner Roger Howarth, “D” Bty., 165th Bde., R.F.A. Roger embarked for Eygpt 26/12/15 later going to France where he died of wounds on the 13th August 1917. Roger is buried in La Targette British Cemetery, Neuville-St. Vaast. After the war his mother also received his 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals.

305757 (previous number 2686). Sergeant William Howarth, 8th Battalion King`s Liverpool (Irish) Regiment. William was a married man when he enlisted having married Rose Ellen Norris in St. Mary`s Church in Preston in 1913. He enlisted on the 14th October 1914 and embarked for France on 3/5/15 and by February 1916 he had been promoted to Sergeant within the transport section. William was awarded a Military Medal – London Gazette 28/9/17. He survived the war and later received the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals.

The third brother was Thomas Howarth but unfortunately there is no information about him other than he did survive the war.


Ron Crowe
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2 Responses to 5247 PTE. H. HOWARTH. L.N.LAN.R.

  1. pippa cain says:

    Very interesting william howarth the fish dealer was my great great grandmother catherine howarths brother

  2. Christa says:

    So pleased to find this. Roger Howarth, Henry’s little brother, was one of my Grandfather, John Brown’s, best friends. They were together when Roger was wounded at Vimy Ridge. It was John Brown’s life long wish to visit Roger’s grave – but he never got there. I will be going this summer and pay his belated respects.

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