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The Great War News from Lancaster in 1914

7th August 1914

These pages include reports from the local press in Lancaster and district from August 1914.

“Terrier’s” Shocking Death
Verdict of Felo De Se.

The shocking death of a Territorial occurred at Pilling on Wednesday. A nineteen year old farm labourer, named James Hall, received his call to join the Territorial detachment to which he belonged at Fleetwood by Wednesday morning’s post, and shortly afterwards a man passing 50 yards away heard a report of a gun on the farm. On making investigations, he found the young man dead with a bullet wound through his head, the wound having been inflicted with a Territorial rifle, the bullet having entered one temple and gone out a the other. The bullet itself was found in the woodwork of the shippon.

The inquest was held yesterday before the Coroner, Mr Neville Holden.

Richard Hall, joiner, Pilling, father, said deceased was a private in the 5th Battalion, King’s Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment. He had always enjoyed good health and stated that the mobilisation posters were out, and that he would have to go to Fleetwood in the morning. On Wednesday he got up at 8.30 am and got his kit ready to go by the 11 am train from Pilling. About 9.30 am witness was in the shippon watching deceased trying to clean his rifle with a piece of string. He said he had lost the proper cleaning rod, so witness went into the shop to find something with which to clean it. Whilst there he heard the rifle go off, and hurried back into the shippon. Deceased was lying over a cow trough, dead, and blood was oozing from a wound in the head. The stock of the rifle was under his right elbow. He had never seen deceased with live cartridges in his possession, and had never heard him threaten to take his life. He appeared quite cheerful at the idea of going away. Before leaving him he had noticed a piece of wood two or three yards away from deceased, but when he returned it was under his body.
PC Strong said he received information at 10 am, and found deceased lying on his back in the shippon. Under his right arm was a military rifle. In the right temple was a wound such as would be caused by a bullet and a large portion of the left side of the skull had been blown away. he examined the rifle, which was an Enfield, and in the magazine was a spent cartridge. He had since received four cartridges completing the clip.
The Coroner told the jury that it was a case to be dealt seriously with. The man had apparently taken his own life, and he was perfectly sane. A soldier’s duty was to serve his King and country, and it was an act of cowardice to take his own life in that way. The evidence showed that the was perfectly sane, and it was the duty of the jury to give a verdict in accordance with the evidence, which showed that the man had committed felo de se.
The Jury returned a verdict accordingly.

Local War News

Territorials’ Speedy Return from Camp

The Territorials of the West Lancashire Division, including the three infantry brigades, the three field ambulances, and several companies of the Army Service Corps, went into camp on Sunday as arranged, but considerable uncertainty existed in view of the European situation and the possibility of England being called upon to mobilise her reserve forces. This uncertainty was accentuated by the notice received on Friday to return all oilsheets, which the men depend upon to protect them against damp when sleeping and all blankets above war scale. Usually each man has been allowed a couple of blankets, but this was reduced to one, an allowance sparing enough considering that the men went into camp almost drenched to the skin. When the formula was changed to “Two men one blanket,” the conditions were much more trying, and colds resulted.

All the troops of the division left their respective headquarters early on Sunday morning. The Liverpool Brigade, over 3,000 strong, entrained for Milnthorpe, whence they marched to fields belonging to Mr Rowland Parker, at Moss End, Preston Patrick, four and a half miles from the station. The South Lancashire Brigade camp was chiefly on the Priory Farm, Hornby. Its strength was over 3,700. The North Lancashire Brigade, which includes the 4th and 5th Battalions of the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment and the 4th and 5th Battalions Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, were on the low lying land forming the banks of the Lune on the eastern side below the Devil’s Bridge at Kirkby Lonsdale. The ambulance and ASC companies were on the opposite bank. Heavy rain had fallen during Saturday night, and when the troops detrained at the respective stations it was still falling mercilessly. The Lancaster men, in common with all the others, accepted their misfortunes with the best of grace and good humour. The muster was splendid. Nine trains were required to convey the men and their horses and equipment, and the work of debarkation was carried out with smoothness. By the time camp was reached, two and a half miles away, the fellows were soaked to the skin, but the quarter-master, who is described as “a stunner,” and his merry men had taken all possible precautions to ensure their comfort, despite the fact that the camp equipment had been held up on the railway owing to the failure of the train arrangements on Thursday and that only two days remained to him for erecting the camp and doing the thousand and one things necessary to the training of the men. The strength of the battalion is between 760 and 780, and over 700 turned up for the full fifteen days. Of the headquarter companies A and B, recruited from Messrs J Williamson and Son’s works, and C, manned by Messrs Storey Brothers and Co.’s employees, were up to strength, as were the Fleetwood and Blackpool and the Morecambe (including Garstang) companies. The Lancaster town company was 29 or 30 men short. Every officer except one was present.
When the men reached camp they found the cooks busy preparing a hot meal, the fragrance of which was wafted throughout the lines. No work, other than that of settling down, was possible during the day, and what time was left afterwards was at the men’s disposal. As the weather cleared up about one o’clock they were able to explore the near beauties of the valley, but anticipation of an early order to return to headquarters spoiled any dispositions to free indulgence.
The fateful news was communicated to the authorities in all three camps about two o’clock on Monday morning. At most of the stations trains had been held in reserve in view of the possibility, and it was not long before all the camps were busily engaged in packing up. Early in the afternoon nearly all had returned to their homes to await mobilisation orders, leaving behind only those who were needed to break camp and put the baggage on the trains.

Animated Scenes

Many Territorials had, of course, been in uniform since their return from camp, and very soon after the notice was posted considerable stir was apparent, and scenes of great animation were enacted in the streets. Possible developments were eagerly discussed and there was quite a disposition among the friends of the Territorials to say “Good-bye” at once. Men were attending places of entertainment and other resorts were called out by their comrades, but happily there was little need for hurry, as after reporting themselves the men were ordered to be on parade at half past ten on Wednesday morning for medical inspection.

At Bowerham Barracks, where the staff had been hard at work night and day for nearly a week, the mobilisation order was received at 5.30 and copies of the Proclamation were placarded on the walls of the barracks in Bowerham Road, at the Town Hall, police stations, and other public places. The response was immediate, and during Wednesday and yesterday large drafts of men, after receiving their kits, were sent away by special trains to their destinations. The process is being repeated today and tomorrow, by which time it is expected practically all the men will have been dealt with.

Territorials Splendid Response

The keenness and loyalty of the members of the 5th Battalion King’s Own was strikingly manifested again on Wednesday morning, when the headquarters companies mustered almost to a man for medical inspection and completion of kit prior to their departure in the afternoon. The outside companies were dealt with at their respective headquarters. Not only did the enrolled men turn up in strength, but a large number of applications were received by time expired men to rejoin, and if all were accepted the battalion would have left considerably over strength. The authorities are, therefore, at last in the position of having the “waiting list” so long desired – a magnificent tribute to the soldierly spirit of the Britisher. There has also been a big demand for commissions, as a result of which the officers are numerically complete. Four were sworn in. They include Mr Noel Briggs, only son of the Mayor and Mayoress of Lancaster, (Mr and Mrs W Briggs), Mr Harold Bell, son of Mr and Mrs Anthony Bell, Redthorpe, Derwent Road; Mr William Wolfendale, son of Mr and Mrs Caleb Wolfendale, of Howeghyll, Halton Road; and Mr S K Bates, son of Major Bates, second in command of the battalion, who has been transferred from the recently formed Royal Grammar School company of the Officers’ Training Corps.

It may be interesting to state that each man receives a £5 bounty, which was intended to be paid shortly after arrival at Barrow. A private receives pay at the rate of 1s per day and his wife a separation allowance of 1s and 1d per day, with 2d per day for each child. Corporals receive 1s 8d per day, and the separation payments are at the same rates as privates. Sergeants’ pay is at the rate of 2s 4d a day, wives 1s 1d and children 4d each per day. Motherless children are paid for at the rate of 4d each per day. Out of his bounty the man has to make up his kit, if it is incomplete.

Leaving the Colours Behind
The Mayor and the 3rd Battalion King’s Own

A brief but impressive ceremony was carried out at the Town Hall on Wednesday afternoon, when the Mayor (Mr W Briggs), on behalf of the Corporation and the inhabitants generally, took over the custody of the colours of the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion, King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, which was at that moment being mobilised. Lieutenants Watkins and Jameson, who carried the colours, had as escorts Colour Sergeants Fleming, Redfern and Sweeney, and they were met on the steps of the Town Hall by his Worship, Alderman Kitchen, Preston and Jackson; Councillors Heald, Bell, Seward, Oglethorpe, Curwen, Cardwell, Harford, Riley, Sewell, Parr, Gooch, Glasby, Messrs S J Taylor, G H Mitchell, and J M Dowbiggiin, Chief Constable Harris, Corporation Officials: Mr J J Gilchrist, Mr W French, and other gentlemen. The colour party was subsequently led to the Banqueting Chamber, where the formal handing over took place. Here had assembled a number of ladies, among them the Mayoress, Mrs Preston, the Misses Seward, the Misses Jackson, Miss Wilson, Mrs and Miss Bell, Miss Stanton, Mrs Malcolm, Mrs Croft Helme, and Mrs Kitchen.
After receiving the colours, his Worship, said: Officers and men of the 3rd Battalion King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment: In accepting the custody of your colours, I do so with the fullest sense of the importance of the occasion, and all that it means. But I should like you to know that Lancaster is proud of its regiment, and wishes it every success, knowing that it will do its duty wherever it may be called to serve, and do its best to live up to its great traditions with which its name is associated. My sincere wishes are that God may be with you all, and that you may safely return to receive your colours back again. (Hear, hear.)

Impressive Service at the Parish Church

Almost immediately after the Ceremony the Mayor and members of the Corporation paid a State visit to the Parish Church, to assist in a service of intercession for the welfare of the 5th Battalion King’s Own on their departure on the placing of the colours of the battalion in the King’s Own chapel, to be kept there during their absence. The battalion marched through crowded streets, with band playing gaily, to the church, where the colour party, which consisted of Lieutenant Lloyd Evans (King’s colour) and Lieutenant Parsons (regimental colour), with Colour Sergeants Ralph Smith and Haigh as escort, were met by the Vicar (Rev J U N Bardsley) and Revs W E Cunliffe and R L Hussey. There was a large congregation, and the service was of a deeply impressive character. Colonel Lord Richard Cavendish was in command of the troops, and most of the other officers were present. The colour party proceeded to the sanctuary rails in the King’s Own chapel after singing of the hymn “O God, our help in ages past,” in which many voices quivered and many women were moved to tears, the Vicar received the colours and placed them one on each side of the altar.

The form of service “To be used at sea,” with its impressive prayers, was used. The Vicar asked that all should kneel reverently, and remember that possibly at that very moment a fierce engagement was being fought in the North Sea, and earnestly beseech the God of Victory to grant what their hearts desired. A spirit of reverent devotion prevailed while prayers were being said, and the men joined feelingly in the responses.

In a brief address the Vicar said: I gladly accept the trust with which you have honoured us this day. The colours which you have just brought to this hallowed spot will be preserved in reverence and honour until, please God, you return in safety to re-claim them. You could not possibly have chosen a better place than the chapel which has been dedicated to the worship of Almighty God and to the memory of those who laid down their lives for their country, belong to this regiment. The colours which you have just place in this sanctuary and the colours already hanging from the walls of the chapel speak to you of a regiment that possesses a record – a noble record – of great deeds attempted and great things suffered. You are leaving a town this afternoon, may the thought of these colours be a stimulus to you. You may be called upon to endure many long weeks, aye, months, of monotonous, weary training, but do not forget this service. Do not forget these colours, which speak to you of high and noble traditions. We all know what traditions of the past can do in influencing men for good or evil in every walk of life. You know what it is to have an honoured name and to have been brought up in an honoured home. You know what it is to have been at a school with high traditions, what it is to belong to a country with the very noblest traditions that any country can posses, and to belong to a regiment like the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment. Be true to your traditions. When away you may not be called upon to assume the offensive, but you will be called upon none the less to endure, and that is a great work as any man can be called upon to perform. You may be called upon to endure monotonous waiting for a foe which, we hope, may never appear, but none the less it will be arduous work. Your duty is to earnestly prepare yourself for whatever may come, so that our country our homes, may be in safety under God’s protection. You will be called upon to endure in a keener sense even than that – to resist temptations to dishonour your God, your country and your regiment. In order that you may be ruled aright, may the thought of these colours be ever in your minds, and may you, afar off, pray earnestly and join with us as we met day by day in this chapel, and pray for your safety, physical, moral and spiritual. We ask God to preserve you in body, soul and spirit, and we hope that you all will pray with us that God will give you His grace, that He will pour it out in abundance upon you so that whatever may come – whether you are called upon for active service or merely preparation for it – He will enable you to be true to Him and to do His will in performing what is right. Unto God’s gracious mercy and protection we commit you. The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you, the light of His countenance upon you and give you peace, now and for evermore.
The service ended with the singing of the National Anthem.

1st Battalion’s Colours Deposited

In the King’s Own Memorial Chapel, yesterday afternoon, an escort from the 1st Battalion King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, which is at present stationed at Dover, brought the colours for sanctuary at the church. The fact was not generally known, and only about a couple of dozen people witnessed the handing over. The battalion is under orders to join the expeditionary force which is expected to proceed to Belgium within the next few days. The colours were carried by Lieutenants Irving and Statter, and Colonel J M Graham, of the 3rd Battalion, and Colonel Duffin, who had taken over the command of the depot from Major Creagh-Osborne, who is to proceed with the expeditionary force, were also present.

Before receiving the Colours, the Vicar (Rev J U N Bardsley) said he had received a letter from the officer commanding the 1st Battalion, Colonel Dykes, stating that the battalion had been ordered to mobilise for active service, and he was sending the colours to the depot, in charge of an officer, to be placed in the chapel, and “I know” he continued, “that you will gladly accept this responsibility until we can return to claim them, and I also know that we shall have the prayers of yourself and your congregation that the regiment may maintain its proud traditions and add new honours to its colours in the performance of whatever duty it may be called upon to undertake.” He (the Vicar) assured them that they would have the daily, earnest prayers of himself, and that he would lay the matter before the congregation at the first opportunity on Sunday. They would all pray that the men might return safe and sound in body and soul. He gladly received the colours, with all honour and reverence, until they returned to claim them. They might be assured that in their absence the colours would be under safe protection.

He then took the flags singly, and placed them at opposite sides of the altar, with the colours of the 5th (Territorial) Battalion King’s Own, which had been deposited the previous day. Shaking hands with the colour-bearers, the Vicar said, “I wish you God’s blessing, and that you may return safe and sound.”

The officers seemed greatly interested in the memorials to fallen officers and men of the regiment, and spent some little time examining them before leaving.

King’s Own Territorials’ Departure

Some 400 members of the headquarters and Morecambe companies of the 5th Battalion, King’s Own left Lancaster on Wednesday afternoon, and were accompanied to the Castle Station by a great crowd of townspeople. Farewells had been said beforehand, and there were none of those heartbreaking scenes in the streets which occurred when the active service companies left for South Africa 14 years ago. The seriousness of the situation and of its possible developments appeared to weigh upon most people’s minds, and though there was some cheering, the demeanour of the watching crowd was much more subdued.
The men, lead by their popular colonel, Lord Richard Cavendish, marched from the Drill Hall at Phoenix Street without music and were met at the station by the brigadier, Colonel G L Hibbert, Major Bruce, brigade-major, the Mayor and Mayoress of Lancaster, Alderman Jackson, Mr A Bell, Mr E Cardwell, Mr C F Seward, Mr E Sharpe, Mr E Sharpe, Mr H A Paley, Rev W George, and other well known people who had assembled to give them a send-off on their journey. The train was in waiting and in a few minutes every man was aboard. The came the warning whistle of the guard, the reply from the engine, and with a cheer, to which the men merrily responded, a hasty last handshake, and a fusillade of fog signals, the train moved off. The men generally were in high spirits. Very few were rejected as a result of the medical inspection earlier in the day.
The swearing in and equipping of the re-enlisted men was continued yesterday, and during the day between 100 and 200 left to join their comrades at Barrow.

Post Office Employees and the War

Amongst the postal employees who have offered their services is Mr Arthur Price, a telegraphist from the Lancaster post-office who has offered his services as a signaller. He only volunteered on Wednesday, but was passed, and left with the 5th Battalion King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment the same day. His experience at the post office, where he has worked for about eleven years, will stand him in good stead.

Four of the Lancaster postmen are army reservists, and three of them have rejoined their regiments, but the fourth, Private J Pennington, was rejected. The accepted men are Corporal J Cruikshank, of the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment; Private H Colman, of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, who mobilise at Carlisle; and Private S Smith of the 10th Hussars, who are stationed at York.

From Caton Private J Wise of the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment reservist, has been withdrawn, whilst from Clapham Private Drummond, formerly of the Royal Field Artillery, has responded to the mobilisation order.

The Morecambe contingent includes Private Wilson, who journeyed to London to rejoin the Coldstream Guards; Private G Colecliffe, of the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment; Private F Auty, of the East Lancashire Regiment; and Private J Livesey, of the King’s Royal Rifles.

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