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6276 Private Herbert DuckworthHerbert Duckworth was born in Burnley in 1895 the youngest of four surviving children born to his parents Eli and Elizabeth Duckworth (nee Peacock). This was Eli Duckworth`s second marriage, his first marriage was to Dinah Noddle in 1880 but sadly she died in the same year. Eli and Elizabeth married in St. Paul`s Church in Burnley on Boxing Day 1885.

Herbert had one sister and two brothers; Ellen (1886), John (1888) and Simon (1890). In 1891 the Duckworth`s lived at 60 Robinson Street in Burnley but by 1901 they had moved just a few minutes` walk away to 67 Hurtley Street which is where they remained for a number of years. In 1901 Herbert`s father was working as a pit labourer (above ground) while his mother was a cotton weaver.

Herbert and his family were still at the same address in 1911 but his father had left his pit job and had gone to work in an iron works as a labourer. Herbert and his three older siblings were all now employed in one of the mills as cotton weavers.

On the 12th February 1916 Herbert enlisted at Burnley into the East Lancashire Regiment and was initially posted to the 3/5th (Reserve) Battalion E.L.R. with the service number 4633. He was quite a tall lad standing at 5`8”, he weighed 108lbs and had a chest measurement of 35”, physically he was said to be in `fair` condition. Herbert embarked for France with a batch of reinforcements on the 7th August 1916 but two weeks later he was transferred over to the 1/4th Battalion LNL with a number of other men from the East Lancs Regiment. After joining the 1/4th Battalion LNL he was also issued with the new service number of 6276. The photograph of Herbert shows him wearing his East Lancashire Regiment Cap Badge so would have been taken not long after he first enlisted.

Prior to the arrival of the East Lancs men the 1/4th Battalion had been involved in the failed attack at Guillemont on the 8th August 1916 which had resulted in a large number of casualties.

Extract from 1/4th Battalion War Diary

17th August 1916 at Mericourt

Coy and platoon training. All transport was brigaded and proceeded to new area. 1 Officer and 119 other ranks, reinforcements, arrived from the 1/5th East Lancs. Regiment.

After the reinforcements arrived the 1/4th Battalion spent a rest period in billets in Saigneville and later at Millencourt. On the 7th September 1916 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 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 front with “A” Company in support.

Orders were received for an attack on the 9th September but sadly, this was to be Herbert`s first and last action of the war when he died after being hit by a bullet to the head.

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. Hop Alley was taken but Ale Alley wasn`t reached due to the intensity of the machine-gun fire. The attackers fell back to their 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 also later identified as having been killed.

A few weeks after Herbert`s death the local paper, the Burnley Express printed the following article;

“On Thursday morning, Mr. and Mrs. Duckworth of 55 Hurtley Street, Burnley received official notice that their youngest son, Private Herbert Duckworth of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, was killed in action on September 9th. The news first came in a letter from another son, Pte. Simon Duckworth, who is serving with the same Battalion. He stated that they had received orders to go over the top, and his brother had just got to the last trench when a bullet went through his head, and killed him instantaneously. Private Duckworth was only 20 years of age and was formerly a weaver at Messrs. Thornton and Tattersall`s. He joined the army in February last, entering the 3/5th Battalion East Lancashire`s but was afterwards attached to the Loyal North Lancashire`s. He was connected with North Street Baptist Chapel and school. Another brother, Private J. Duckworth is with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers”.

The only personal item returned to Herbert`s family was his identity disc. After the war Elizabeth Duckworth took receipt of her sons` British War and Victory Medals. She would also have received his Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice for his country.

Herbert was originally buried out on the battlefield but his body was later exhumed, identified and then reburied in Delville Wood Cemetery. His mother had the following words inscribed at the foot of his headstone;


Photo taken July 2016

Photo taken July 2016

Rank: Private
Service No: 6276
Date of Death: 09/09/1916
Age: 20
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.

Janet Davis
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