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William Houghton was born in Clitheroe in 1882 to Thomas and Jane Houghton of 2 Waddington Road, Clitheroe. Thomas was a Stone Quarry Labourer originally from Dolphinholme and Jane was from Yorkshire. William was one of at least seven children; the 1891 census shows;

  • Thomas Houghton, 1849, Dolphinholme, Lancashire
  • Jane Houghton, 1848, Bentham, Yorkshire
  • James Houghton, 1870, Dalton, Lancashire
  • Wallace R Houghton, 1877, Borwick, Lancashire
  • Ellen Houghton, 1880, Borwick, Lancashire
  • Bartholomew Houghton, 1882, Borwick, Lancashire
  • William Houghton, 1884, Clitheroe, Lancashire
  • Susannah Houghton, 1888, Clitheroe, Lancashire
  • Agnes Ann Houghton, 1891, Clitheroe, Lancashire

At 18 years old William was still living with his parents, serving part-time in the Militia whilst working as a barber. It was then on 13th August 1900 he enlisted in the Regular Army and joined the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and was given the number 6349.

At his enlistment medical the doctor described William as standing 5ft 3.5in tall, weighing 115lbs with a 32-34 in chest. He was of fresh complexion with brown hair and brown eyes. The doctor also thought to note scars on both knees, skins and his right elbow. These marks would have helped identify William should the worse happen on the battlefield.

Probably expecting to be sent across to join his fellow Loyals fighting the Boers in South Africa, he spent his initial three year term of Regular Service in the U.K. He was granted good conduct pay and appointed Lance Corporal in 1902 but reverted to Private ‘at his own request’ three months later. Finally he passed a class of instruction in ‘Transport’ in March 1903 and then joined the Reserves that August.

William returned to civilian employment for nearly two years before deciding to rejoin the Colours in June 1905. On 8th August 1908 he married Edith Sullivan at Tonge-cum-Breightmet and, settling down to married-life, he left the Regulars and joined the Reserve for a second time in December 1908 just before their daughter, May, was born on 7th January 1909. Their address being 9 Owen Street, Preston.

Mobilised when war was declared in August 1914, he was out in France by 15th September joining the 1st Battalion who, after retreating from Mons and doing good work during the First Battle of the Marne, were now heavily involved at Troyon. William, along with 262 other men joined the Battalion in Billets on 20th September just as Sir Douglas Haig and General Lomax (Commanding 1st Army Corps and 1st Division) came to congratulate the Regiments on their ‘splendid work at Troyon in the trenches’.

He had sent a postcard to his wife, who was staying in Ribchester, when he arrived at Southampton enroute to France.

Photo courtesy of Christine Dougherty, Gt Grandaughter of William Houghton; click to enlarge.

Photo courtesy of Christine Dougherty, Gt Grandaughter of William Houghton; click to enlarge.

The next couple of weeks were spent in the same general area and William wouldn’t see anything more of France as just 23 days after stepping onto foreign soil he was back in England having sustained a gunshot wound to his left arm on 2nd October.

The war diary reads;

2nd October 1914: TROYON
A quiet morning, foggy, usual artillery duel but it came mostly from our side. Subsequently, afterwards to be very quiet.
Improvements of trenches all along our line.

About 6.20 p.m. enemy attacked heavily on our centre, B Company, but were driven back, with loses. Another attack on the Northampton’s right was driven back. No shell fire at all except about 6 shells on our left flank.

Order came from 1 Division complimenting us on the splendid resistance of the enemy’s attack. This is quite frankly the 30th attack made by the Germans, all of which have been repulsed.

One wounded in “B Company” trench.

Upon being sent back to England a medical board convened and wrote;

..passage of bullet disorganising elbow joint, elbow joint completely disorganised and permanently ankylosed, power of grip has practically gone.

William was discharged from the Army on 10th June 1915 as being ‘no longer physically fit for war service’. It was agreed that his earning capacity was reduced by 75%. His character was said to be ‘very good’ and he provided his correspondence address as that of his in-laws tripe shop at 58 Ribbleton Lane, Preston.

Photo courtesy of Christine Dougherty

Subsequent medical boards found “loss of bone, [elbow] joint fixed at a right angle and muscles of his arm wasted”. There are also several references to Neurasthenia; an ill-defined medical condition characterized by lassitude, fatigue, headache, and irritability, associated chiefly with emotional disturbance.

Family Memories; Christine Dougherty – Gt Grandaughter.

Edith Bradshaw once said to me “they gave William too many operations with Ether that disturbed him…”

In 1916 he was issued Silver War Badge number 64117 which for the next few years would have stopped the white feather brigade from accusing him of not doing his bit. His mental condition was described as still being ‘compressed’ in 1917, the board noting ‘marked rambling statements’.

On Armistice Day, 11th November 1918, he had his final medical board where they noted his arm was fixed at 120 degrees with slight movement; again noting neurasthenia.

William took receipt of his 1914 Star in February 1919 but died on 8th September 1920 about the time the British War Medal and Allied Victory Medals were being issued. He was buried in Preston (New Hall Lane) Cemetery.

On 28th March 1921 Edith remarried and, now named Bradhaw, received a widow’s pension at 18 Dunmore Street, Preston.

Edith, and her mother, were eventually laid to rest alongside William.

Photo courtesy of Janet Davis

Photo courtesy of Janet Davis

Rank: Private
Service No: 6349
Date of Death: 08/09/1920
Age: 36
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st Bn.
Cemetery: PRESTON (NEW HALL LANE) CEMETERY

Paul McCormick
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Paul McCormick

Paul McCormick is the creator and administrator for the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment website. Since 2010 he has been researching the soldiers that served during the First World War and sharing their stories on his website. You can contact Paul through the website 'Contact Me' page or on Twitter and Facebook.
Paul McCormick
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One Response to 6349 PTE. W. HOUGHTON. L.N.LAN.R.

  1. Christine Dougherty says:

    Thank you Paul for all the work you have done of my Great Grandfather.
    My family history means a lot to me and you have filled in the pieces I didn’t know.
    I am so lucky to have been given that postcard of him leaving for the front.
    Once again you’ve made my day x x

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