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William Sanderson was born in Preston in 1884 to Thomas and Jane Sanderson (nee Lang), his parents had married in the Parish Church of St. John in Preston on the 19th August 1876. Thomas and Jane were both single and in their early thirties when they married, Thomas was 34 and Jane 33 and Jane had two children prior to their marriage; John (1871) and Thomas (1873). The couple went on to have at least another five children together including William, the others being; Robert (1881), James (1882), George (1885) and Joseph (1889).

William`s mother Jane passed away in 1899 and in 1901 he was living with his father at 12 Sydney Street East in Preston. The rest of the household consisted of; John, James, George and Joseph. William`s father was a mason`s labourer and William was working as a cotton spinner. On the 5th September 1902 he joined the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, signing on for 3 years with the Colours and 9 years on the Reserve. He appears to have been quite small in stature, the Medical Officer describing him as standing at just over 5`1” tall with a 32” chest and weighing in at 111lbs. During this three years` service with the Colours William served in both Gibraltar and South Africa with the 2nd Battalion.

On the 25th July 1906 he married Sarah Cross in St. James` Church in Preston, At the time of the marriage William`s address was 78 Brunswick Street and Sarah was living at number 80, so he literally married the girl next door. Later the same year a daughter Jane Elizabeth arrived and she was followed by Elizabeth Ann (1908) and then a son William (1909). When the 1911 Census was recorded William and Sarah were living at 13 Rye Street in Preston with their three children and William was a labourer in the building trade. In the summer of 1914 William and Sarah had another child, a second son, and they named him Samuel.

As William was still a reservist at the outbreak of war he was recalled to the Colours on the 5th August 1914 and the following day he was posted to the 1st Battalion LNL with the Service number 6850. He sailed to France with the 1st Battalion on the 12th August 1914 as part of the BEF, the Battalion coming under the Command of the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Division.

Just over a month after landing in France William was wounded in the arm by shrapnel during the Battalion`s involvement in the Battle of the Aisne (12th – 15th September, 1914). Read Diary of a Second Lieutenant (1st Battalion) for details of the action, click here……

Because of his injuries William was shipped back to a hospital in England for treatment. After he returned home to Preston he gave an interview to the Preston Herald, published under the date 10th October 1914;

“Preston Soldier`s Story of the War”

“There is at present in Preston, Private W. Sanderson, 1st Batt. Loyal North Lancs, who was wounded at Vendrecy (sic) three weeks ago. The Prestonian was wounded in the arm by a piece of shrapnel shell, and in order to obtain treatment had to crawl a mile and a half to get clear of the enemy`s line of fire. Like most other soldiers who have been drafted home wounded, Sanderson has a contempt for the German infantry fire, but a wholesome regard for the shell fire which they pour on our lines. It is, he thinks, due to their possession of such a great advantage over us in the number of machine guns and heavy artillery that they are able to hold out so well against the pluck and dash of the Allied lines. He affirms that, learning from the terrible punishment meted out to them by our men, the Germans now copy our tactics of extended fighting.

Some idea of the terrible nature of the war may be gleaned from Sanderson`s estimate that out of 1,500 members of his Battalion who went out, only 250 men and 3 Officers are left, and the effects of the shell fire may also be gauged from his statement that there was extracted from a soldier in an adjoining bed to his in hospital no less than 32 bullets. He says that the same day that Major Lloyd took over the Command following the loss of Col. Knight, he also was shot. Six of Sanderson`s brothers served in the North Lancs, and one in the Liverpool Regiment, and four of these, including himself, went out to the front with the Lancashire Regiment. So far as he knows, all are still alive”.

William was eventually declared `no longer physically fit for service` and discharged on the 24th May 1915, he had served a total of 12 years and 262 days with the Colours. He was awarded Silver War Badge Number 64118.

In the December quarter of 1917 William and Sarah had their seventh and final child and they named him Douglas Haig Sanderson, presumably William was an admirer of Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig.

William obviously thought he could still help out with the war effort and so on the 4th January 1918 he attested into the Labour Corps, number 498096. The Labour Corps often comprised of men who had previously been wounded but were not quite fit enough for front line service. At the time of his attestation he was living at 17 Harold Street in Preston and was just a month short of his 34th birthday. His Labour Corps papers state he would be used for home service and so he was posted to Park Hall Camp at Oswestry on the 8th January 1918.

Sadly, just two weeks later on the 22nd January 1918 William died in Prees Heath Hospital in Shropshire, cause of death given as peritonitis. His body was returned to his home town of Preston and he was later laid to rest in Preston (New Hall Lane) Cemetery.

After the war his widow Sarah took receipt of his 1914 Star & Clasp and British War and Victory Medals to which he was entitled. In recognition of his sacrifice for King and Country she would also receive his Memorial Plaque and Scroll.

Sarah also completed a Submission Form for her husband`s name to be remembered on the Roll of Honour in the Harris Museum and Library in Preston.

Copy of the original submission form used to have William’s name added the Harris RoH.

Below, his name as it appears on the Roll of Honour;

Rank: Private
Service No: 6850
Date of Death: 22/01/1918
Age: 34
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment Depot, transf. to (498096) W.C.L.C. Labour Corps
Cemetery: PRESTON (NEW HALL LANE) CEMETERY

Janet Davis

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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One Response to 6850 PTE. W. SANDERSON. L.N.LAN.R.

  1. Linda Allsop says:

    William’s brother Robert was my great-grandfather and he also served with the Loyals, see Private R Sanderson 6766. See also their brother James, Private J Sanderson 7010 for more information.

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