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sanderson4aJames Sanderson was born in 1882 at 3 Ousby Street, Preston and was baptised on the 1 March 1882 at St Thomas’ Church, Preston. After leaving school he worked in the cotton mill and served in the Militia (No. 1393).

He enlisted at Preston on 9th March 1903 (under the name of Lang his mother’s maiden name), and joined the Lancashire Fusiliers with the service number 7010.  Three days later, on 12th March he was transferred into the 1st Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, moving to the 2nd Battalion that November. James completed his three year term of engagement, having served in South Africa and the Mediterranean and was transferred to the Reserve in March 1906.

James married Mary Ellen Seed on 27 April 1907 at St Leonard’s Church, Padiham and they had 6 children; Thomas (b. 1907), Jane (b. 1908), Sarah Ann (b. 1910), Joseph (b. 1913), John (b. 1915) and William (b. 1920).

When War was declared in 1914 James was recalled to the Colours and sailed out to France with the 1st Battalion on 12th August 1914.

Just 25 days later he returned to the UK sick.


On 19th September 1914 the Burnley Express carried the following article;



One of three Burnley men who came back from Netley Hospital on Tuesday night was Private James Sanderson, a reservist of the Loyal North Lancashires. He was invalided home with acute dyspepsia and feels that he will be quite alright again when he has to report himself at the end of next week.

Private Sanderson is one of four brothers all serving in the Loyal North Lancashires at the present time and he left the other three safe at the front. Their names are Will, George and Bob. A remarkable fact is that another brother, Jack, was also in the Loyal North Lancashires, and his time became just expired, and two brothers now dead were in the Special Reserve and served in the King’s Liverpool, the later of which went through the South African war have also (unreadable) the Army. The father, who only died the week before this war broke out, at the age of 75, was formerly in the Loyal North Lancashire Militia, whilst Private Sanderson’s wife’s brother, Private Jack Seed, is also serving at the front.

Thus there have in this family been the father, seven sons, and a brother-in-law to the  latter, all military men, and five of them are in active service now.

Another strange fact is that the father, as stated, died a week before this war, and the mother died just prior to the outbreak of the South African war.

When seen by an Express reporter, Pte. James Sanderson would not say much, except that he was in the fighting from Mons on August 23rd, during the British retirement, till the 29th. He had not been well for a day or two and when the German attack slackened off he took the opportunity to see the doctor, who considered it best that he should be invalided.

The fighting, he said, was very hard work for the Loyal Norths, as they seemed to be deputed every time to hold a position, and at night retire to take up and prepare another. They never got to hand-grips with the Germans, seeing them only at rifle distance, but, like all others who have come or written home, he does not think much of the enemy’s infantry fire. Their shells, however, are very true and their artillery wonderful. He had heard that the French artillery was superior but not having seen any French artillery up to the time of leaving the firing-line he could not say.

The French people themselves were “trumps.” They did all they could to show their appreciation of the British soldiers, by giving them food and fruit.

He mentioned a comical incident, although annoying. The regiment had been marching all day in pouring rain and were drenched to the skin. At one time they had to wade through a swollen brook waist high. After marching in their wet things till late at night, they were glad to get in a barn where they took off all their underclothing to dry. Whilst this was being done the Germans started firing on the place and they had to decamp, snatching up what they could. He had his trousers on and a woolen jersey, but had to leave his shirt and underclothing. Later on, in one of the villages, he had a lady’s nightdress given to him which had to do duty for a shirt!

Whilst in the trenches they continually saw aeroplanes flying overhead. One airman, he said, was a hero. Whether he were a German, Englishman or Frenchman it was impossible to say, but he was wonderful, and the soldiers below could not help looking up to admire his daring. He never faltered even with shots flying all around him. Pte. Sanderson said that whilst he watched him there must have been fifteen or sixteen shells bursting round and about the aeroplane, but the airman never swerved. “He was a hero, whoever he was.”

The following articles were published by the Burnley News during the same period.


Burnley News 19.9.1914



Burnley News 3.10.1914



Burnley News 10.10.1914

James later transferred to the Cheshire Regiment with the number 29185. He served with them in Gibraltar between August 1915 and February 1916.

He was discharged in March 1916 upon expiration of his Reserve service commitment.

James died in Padiham in September 1927 and was buried 1 October at St Leonard’s Church, Padiham

Paul McCormick
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