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200201 Private John Jolly “A” Coy 1/4th Battalion

John was born in Kirkham on the 19th February 1894 the son of James and Elizabeth Jolly (nee Cookson). John`s father was a native of Kirkham and his mother was from Wharles, a small hamlet situated just outside Kirkham, the couple married in St. Michael`s Church in Kirkham on New Year`s Day 1887. Elizabeth was just seventeen when the couple married and she also had a daughter Alice Ann Cookson who had been born in Wharles in 1886, Alice Ann was baptised in St. Michael`s Church on the same day her mother married James Jolly.

James and Elizabeth went on to have a further ten children, eight of whom survived; James (1888), Sarah (1890), Isabella (1896), Edward (1898), Richard (1904), Alfred (1906) and Elizabeth (1909).

In 1891 the Jolly family residence was in a cottage at 12 Church Street in Kirkham but by 1901 the family had moved to 57 Preston Street, a slightly larger five roomed property, the move no doubt to accommodate the growing family. John`s father was a platelayer on the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway at Kirkham. John`s half-sister, Alice Ann had been using the Jolly surname, however in 1906 she reverted back to her mother`s maiden name of Cookson when she married Alfred Ackers at St. Michael`s Church and then in 1910, also at St. Michael`s, John`s eldest sister married Thomas Garlick.

By 1911 the family consisted of; parents, James and Elizabeth, James 22, a shunter on the railways, John 17*, cotton piercer, Isabella 15, cotton tenter, Edward 13, a creeler and Richard 6, Alfred 4 and Elizabeth aged 1. There was also a one year old girl, Elizabeth Cookson, a niece from Bolton, also living with the family at the time.

About six weeks after the 1911 Census had been recorded John joined the 4th Battalion (Territorial) Force, signing his papers at Lytham on the 15th June 1911. The Medical Officer described him as being 5`10” tall with a 36” chest and having brown eyes and black hair. John attended his Annual Camps at Kirkham (1912) and then Denbigh (1913), he was also part of the Lytham Territorials successful tug of war team at Denbigh in 1913. It was also in 1913 that John left his job as a cotton weaver and went to work as a platelayer on the railways.

By the 5th August 1914 John had risen to the rank of Corporal and then his signature appeared under “E” Company on the Roll of Volunteers for Service Abroad which all the volunteers signed at the Public Hall in Preston on the 8th August 1914. John`s papers then reveal, without any explanation, that he reverted back to the rank of Lance Corporal on the 20th February 1915 and then two months later (again without explanation), was reduced to the rank of Private on the 6th April 1915. A month later on the 4th May 1915, John, together with the 1/4th Battalion LNL sailed for France on board the “SS Onward”. On the 15th June 1915 the Battalion took part in their first major action at Festubert, casualties were high during this period and the Battalion War History lists John as being wounded on the 15th June 1915, his papers do not give any details, presumably his wounds were either superficial or not sufficient enough for him to return to England for treatment. Amazingly, John also managed to survive the hard fighting undertaken by the Battalion at Guillemont in August 1916 and again at Ginchy in September, where again, casualties were numerous.

Christmas 1916 saw the Battalion `out of the line` and in billets in Ypres where they remained until the 27th December when they went by train from Ypres to “C” Camp at Brandhoek. On the 6th January 1917 the Battalion returned to Ypres and then on the 7th they relieved the 1/6th King`s Liverpool Regiment in the trenches at RAILWAY WOOD. On the 8th January 1917, according to the Battalion War History, the Battalion was shelled all day, in particular BEEK TRENCH and the Headquarters which resulted in six men being wounded. According to the Battalion War History John was one of the wounded on the 8th January 1917, his papers also confirm this was due to a gun-shot wound to his left foot. Unlike his previous wounding, this one was more serious and after initially being treated in hospital in France he was sent back to England, landing on the 16th January 1917 and then transported to Dundee War Hospital for further treatment.

He was admitted to Dundee Hospital on the 17th January and remained there for a period of 105 days before being discharged on the 2nd May 1917. John`s injury continued to trouble him and his papers note that he could only walk with the aid of a stick. Eventually, he was deemed “no longer physically fit for war service” and was discharged on the 15th October 1917 and awarded Silver War Badge No. 253895. According to his papers at discharge John had a fifty percent degree of disablement and he was therefore awarded a small pension. He was re-examined annually to assess his disablement, in 1920 his papers note his left foot was still swelling after walking.

After the war John was awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals in recognition of his service for his country.

On the 13th September 1920 he married Annie Lewis in St. Michael`s Church in Kirkham, his home address was still Preston Street in Kirkham, the marriage details noting his occupation as `platelayer`. The following year John and Annie had a daughter, Gladys (1921-1993). In 1939 John, Annie and daughter Gladys were living at 17 Dyer Street, a few minutes` walk from Kirkham Railway Station where John was still working as a `Ganger Railway Engineer`.

Annie Jolly died in 1955 and John passed away seven years later in 1962.

2113 Private James Jolly 7th Battalion LNL

James was born in 1888 and was the eldest son of James and Elizabeth Jolly. He was unmarried and pre-war was living at home with his parents in Preston Street, Kirkham and working as a shunter on the railways. Just as his brother John had done he also enlisted into the 4th (Territorial) Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, James` enlistment date was 31st September 1914. He did not go overseas but was still listed as being with the 4th Battalion when on the 5th June 1916 he was discharged from the Army due to `sickness`. James was issued with the Silver War Badge No. 85089. Unfortunately none of his service papers have survived and there does not appear to be any newspaper articles which might have helped with further information.

Sadly, James passed away in December 1917, whether this was as a result of his earlier sickness or completely unrelated is unknown. James was buried in Kirkham (St. Michael`s) Churchyard on the 31st December 1917.

29675 Private Edward Jolly 2nd Battalion E.Lancs. Regiment, formerly 13961 7th Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.

Edward was born in Kirkham, his birth registered in the first quarter of 1898 and he was baptised on the 24th April, 1898 in St. Michael`s Church in Kirkham. In 1911 he was aged 13 years old and working as a creeler in one of the local cotton mills. Edward was the youngest of the three brothers to enlist into the Army, later information suggesting that he attested in 1914 when he was just 16 years old. He originally joined the 7th Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and embarked for France with them on the 17th July 1915, the Battalion coming under the Command of 56th Brigade in 19th (Western) Division. When he went to France Edward was still about eight or nine months short of his eighteenth birthday.

At some point Edward was transferred to the 2nd Battalion East Lancashire Regiment but whether this was before or after the 7th Battalion LNL had been disbanded (Feb 1918) is unknown. Unfortunately none of Edward`s service papers appear to have survived either so information is fairly limited. It would seem that Edward was severely wounded whilst serving with the East Lancashire Regiment and was subsequently returned to England and admitted to Whalley Military Hospital.

Sadly, Edward died in Whalley Military Hospital on the 14th November 1919 and his body was then returned to his family in Kirkham. He was buried four days later on the 18th November 1919 in the same grave as his brother James. The Lancashire Evening Post reported on his funeral;


“A military funeral took place at Kirkham Parish Church yesterday afternoon, when the remains of Private Edward Jolly (21) of the L.N.L. Regt. (sic), the 3rd soldier son of Mr. & Mrs. James Jolly of Croft Cottages, Kirkham was laid to rest.

The coffin, which was covered with a Union Jack was carried by soldier comrades and preceded by a firing party from Fulwood and a large number of member comrades of the Great War Association. The service was conducted by the Ref. Wellbury T. Mitton, Rector, and at the graveside, a volley was fired and the “Last Post” sounded.

Private Jolly on enlistment was 16. He was seriously wounded at Nesle about two years ago and died at Whalley Hospital”.

For his war service Edward`s family would later receive their sons` 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals in recognition of his sacrifice.

Below, the CWGC headstone marking the grave of the two brothers in St. Michael`s Parish Church graveyard in Kirkham;

The two brothers are also remembered on the War Memorial Plaque inside St. Michael`s Church in Kirkham (pictured below). Although the Plaque indicates that James was with the 7th Battalion, all available information suggests that he only served with the 4th Battalion;


War Memorial Plaque – St. Michael`s Parish Church in Kirkham

Janet Davis
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3 Responses to The Jolly Brothers of Kirkham

  1. Frank malone says:

    Hi would anyone know if the LNL regiment served in India ?

    My Grandfather served with the regiment and i am trying to find out info regarding his past as i know nothing about him, thank you.

    • Hi Frank, the 2nd Bn were in India when war broke out in 1914. Also elements of the 6th Bn. were in India throughout the war years; mainly clerks and administration workers from what I’ve seen. Regards, Paul

  2. Benedict King says:

    CWGC have recently placed a plaque on St.Michaels Cemetery (Ext) and the double gravestone of the Jolly Brothers is of interest but I couldn’t find any military information about the eldest brother James thanks to your research I have a clearer understanding of what happened to him, in 1901 census he is listed as a cotton weaver at 12 years old perhaps contributing to his poor health?

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