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3975 A/R.S.M. James Elijah Farnworth DCM
1st Battalion attached 1/4th Battalion

James was born in Preston in the summer of 1875 and was baptised by his parents William and Margaret (nee Holmes/Hulme) on the 25th July of that year in the Parish Church of St. John in Preston. His father was originally from Horwich and his mother was born in Chorley, the couple married in St. George`s Church in Chorley on the 24th February 1861. James had at least four sisters and four brothers; Elizabeth (1862) and Mary (1866) born in Horwich and then William (1868), Maria (1870), John Edward (1873), Henry (1877), Frederick (1880) and Alice Ann (1882) all born in Preston.

Sadly, James lost both of his parents in the mid 1880`s, William died in 1884 and his mother Margaret in 1866, both were buried in Preston Old Cemetery. By 1891 James and two of his brothers, John Edward and Henry had gone to live with their married sister Mary and her husband William Holding at 154 Barlow Street in Preston. Two years later on the 12th April 1893 James left his job as a moulder`s labourer and enlisted for 12 years (7 with the Colours and 5 on the Reserve) with the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment at Preston. The Medical Officer noted that he was five feet seven and a half inches tall and weighed 124lbs and had blue eyes and light brown hair. James passed his medical inspection and was issued with the service number 3975.

On the 24th May 1893 James was posted to the 2nd Battalion LNL, promotions then followed at regular intervals, L/Cpl in May 1895, Corporal in July 1896 and by the 16th July 1899 he had been promoted to Sergeant. His record of service notes that on the 12th September 1899 James` service was extended to complete 12 years with the Colours and then on the 20th September he departed for Malta. He was only in Malta for a few months and by the 20th February 1900 he was on his way to South Africa having been transferred to the 1st Battalion LNL. According to his service papers James arrived back in England on the 18th September 1902. For his war service James received the Queen`s South African Medal and 3 clasps; Cape Colony, Orange Free State and Transvaal and South Africa 1901 and 1902.

He married Mary Agnes Pridmore at St. Paul`s Church in Dover on the 5th November 1902 and by 1911 the couple had five children;

⦁ Charles James (1903) born in Devonport
⦁ Violet Mary (1905) born in Kinsale
⦁ Elsie Claire (1907) born in Preston
⦁ Francis John (1909) born in Curragh Camp
⦁ Grace Agnes (1910) born in Chorley

In 1911 James, Mary Agnes and the children lived at 92 Devonshire Road in Chorley and when completing the census form James recorded his occupation very precisely as; Soldier (Instructor) Col. Sergeant Territorials, Permanent Staff, 4th Bn. L.N.L. Regiment. The Drill Hall in Chorley where James was an instructor was literally a few doors away from where he was living on Devonshire Road. According to his record James was appointed Acting Sergeant Major on the 1st August 1912.

A year later another daughter Theresa Helen (1912) was born while the family still lived in Chorley. Then on the 28th June 1913 James was granted permission to extend his army service beyond 21 years. By early 1914 the Farnworth family had left Chorley and relocated to 17 Trafford Street in Preston where their seventh child was born, another son, Joseph Louis (1914).

Aged 39 years old James was mobilised for war on the 5th August 1914 and was immediately appointed to the rank of Company Sergeant Major. Having been `attached` to the 1/4th Battalion LNL he embarked for France with the Transport Section of the Battalion on the 3rd May 1915. James would have taken part in the Battalion`s first major action at Festubert (June 15th/16th 1915), known as `the great bayonet charge` and would no doubt have witnessed the loss of many of the Chorley Territorials he had previously helped to train.

In January 1916 the 1/4th Battalion left the 154th Brigade of 51st (Highland) Division and transferred into the 164th Brigade of 55th (West Lancashire) Division. Just prior to the Division`s involvement on the Somme in the summer of 1916 the London Gazette published the latest medal awards, James` name appeared on an official list under the date 21st June 1916, the list confirming that he had been awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal, the citation reading;

3975 Actg. S.M. J. Farnworth, 1st Bn, N. Lanc. R. (Attd. 1/4th Bn., T.F.)(LG 21 June 1916). For conspicuous gallantry and good work in action. He kept up the ammunition supply, organised stretcher- bearer parties, and assisted in the dressing and disposal of the wounded.

News of James` award was published later that same month by the Preston Guardian;

James went on to the Somme with the Battalion and would have taken part in the hard fighting around Guillemont and Delville Wood in August and September of 1916, witnessing once again the large number of casualties inflicted on the Battalion. At the end of September 1916 the Battalion left the Somme and returned to the area around Ypres.

Sadly, the conditions the Battalion had endured in the fighting of the previous months was now beginning to tell on James` body and noting the date 26th October 1916 the History of the 1/4th Battalion recorded the following tribute;

James returned home to England at some point after this date and on the 11th April 1917 his service record notes that he was transferred to Class “P” Reserve due to sickness. However, still keen to carry on `doing his bit`, James` papers confirm that he then applied to join the National Service Volunteers (no further information). He was eventually discharged as medically unfit on the 25th October 1917 and received Silver War Badge No.173757, his rank at the time of discharge is given as A/R.S.M. By the time James was discharged he had served with the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment for a total of 24 years and 197 days.

In 1919 James and Mary Agnes had another son Eric Edward and he was followed the following year by their ninth and final child, Ronald George.

For his WW1 service James was awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals to go with his Distinguished Conduct Medal.
By 1939, 64 year old James and his wife Mary Agnes were still living at 17 Trafford Street in Preston. His occupation is listed as `gas mask inspector`, so he was still `doing his bit` at the beginning of WW2. Also living with the family in 1939 was daughter Grace, sub Post Office Assistant, sons` Joseph, an aircraft progressman and Ronald a clerk in a creamery factory. The couples` married daughter Violet (Duffy) and her 5 year old son Francis were also present at the time.

James` probate record notes his death as 23rd July 1949 and his death place as Whittingham, his home address was still 17 Trafford Street, Preston. Mary Agnes passed away 20 years later in 1969 aged 90.

201697 Private Henry Farnworth DCM
1/4th Battalion

Henry (b.1877) attested into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment when he was 18 years old, just as his brother James had done two years earlier. He signed his papers on the 5th January 1895 at Preston agreeing to serve a term of 12 years with the Colours. He was unmarried and had previously been employed as an iron turner. Henry named his married sister Mary Holding of 106 Henderson Street, Preston as his official next of kin. The Medical Officer noted that he was five feet six and a half inches tall and weighed 122lbs and had a fresh complexion, hazel eyes and brown hair and his only distinguishing feature was said to be a scar on the left side of his head.

At enlistment he was issued with the service number 4741 and was then posted to the 2nd Battalion LNL.

Henry served mainly with the 2nd Battalion although he did spend two years with the 1st Battalion, taking part in the South African War, his record of his service states;

⦁ Home 5/1/95 – 21/10/96
⦁ Ceylon 22/10/96 – 10/2/99
⦁ South Africa 11/2/99 – 17/9/02
⦁ Home 18/9/02 – 7/1/07
⦁ South Africa 8/1/07 – 18/10/07
⦁ Mauritius 19/10/07 – 26/11/09
⦁ East Indies 27/11/09 – 19/3/13
⦁ Home 20/3/13 – 6/4/13 when he was discharged at his own request after serving for 18 years and 92 days.

During his service he did attain the rank of Lance Corporal (14/9/04), however, three months later in the December of 1904 his papers note that he was deprived of his appointment and reverted back to the rank of Private, (no further information).

For his South African War Service Henry was awarded the King`s S.A. Medal and 2 clasps, South Africa 1901 & 1902. He also received the Queen`s S.A. Medal and 4 clasps; Defence of Kimberley, Paardeberg, Johannesburg and Diamond Hill. At discharge Henry stated his intended place of residence would be 106 Henderson Street in Preston, the home of his married sister Mary Holding.

WW1 had been ongoing for just over a year when on the 15th September 1915, aged 38 years and 11 months Henry attested once more into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment at Preston. He was issued with the service number 4388 which would later become 201697. Henry sailed to France with reinforcements on the 6th July 1916 and after landing joined the 1/4th Battalion LNL in the field.

Henry had only been in France for a month when he was nominated for the award of the Distinguished Conduct Medal for conspicuous gallantry during the Battalion`s involvement around Guillemont, 8th August 1916, the citation reading;

His service papers also note that his award was confirmed in the London Gazette on the 14th November 1916. Henry was presented with his award when the Battalion was in billets at Brandhoek on the 5th November 1916 as noted in the Battalion War Diary;

Henry continued in service with the 1/4th Battalion until 27th July 1917 at which point he returned to England. He was subsequently discharged on the 22nd November 1917 after serving 2 years and 69 days. His discharge was officially due to “no longer being fit for war service” and he received Silver War Badge No. 268896, the record also noting that this was due to `wounds`.

Sadly, Henry passed away on the 29th December 1920 aged 43 years and he was buried in his parents` grave in Preston Old Cemetery on Newhall Lane;


For his WW1 service Henry was also entitled to the British War and Victory Medals to go with his Distinguished Conduct Medal.

Author`s Note; There does seem to be some confusion over Henry`s rank, the History of the Battalion notes him as Sergeant in the DCM list and in the same book the alphabetical list states Lance Corporal. The DCM Citation record also states Sergeant as does the War Diary. When Henry was discharged in November 1917 his papers note that he was Pte Henry Farnworth and his Medal Index Card, SWB record and Medal Roll also state Private.

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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