The Great War News from
Lancaster in 1914
4th December 1914
These pages include reports from the local press in Lancaster and
district from December 1914.
During the last few weeks the girls have been busy in their spare time
knitting for the soldiers. They have sent to the Mayoress 100 pairs of
socks, 113 pairs of cuffs, and 65 body belts. The wool for the above had
been provided by the parents and friends of the scholars. In each pair
of socks was a short letter from the knitter, wishing the wearer a
speedy return home. The balance left over was spent on cigarettes.
Six sons in the Army
Several cases have recently been published of parents who have four or
five sons in the army. Mr James Butterworth of Green Street can go one
better, for he has six son, all of them old scholars of the National
School, who are now serving. Their names are: William, York and
Lancaster Regiment; George, Scots Guards; Christopher, 3rd Battalion,
Royal Lancasters; John, Loyal North Lancashires and James and Hugh, 5th
Battalion Royal Lancasters.
Local Territorials at Blackpool
The men of the home defence battalion of the 5th King’s Own Royal
Lancaster Regiment, now at Blackpool, are putting in plenty of hard
work. During the last week battalion and company drill was the rule, and
some companies were put through rifle drill under Sergeant Major
Morrell. A signalling section was also formed. The men who have
volunteered for imperial service are being put through special drill at
every parade. The men signed the papers for Imperial Service on Monday,
and expect to be sent to Rossall next week to fire their musketry
course, prior to being drafted to Sevenoaks. Between 300 and 400 from
the battalion have been inoculated, each man receiving two days’ sick
leave. On Sunday morning the home defence battalions of the Loyal North
Lancashires and the Royal Lancasters attended a special service at the
Tower Circus, when Rev L W D Spencer of Preston, was the preacher. The
Lancasters provided the guard for the cliffs at Bispham last week.
The battalion is reported to be now at full strength.
Royal Lancaster Heroes
Heroism of Royal Lancasters.
Sergeant Heaney’s DCM and Commission.
A correspondent of the Daily Mail writes:-
In the fierce fight which is raging between what is left of the
beautiful old Flemish town and Armentieres, several splendid records of
courage stand out that will never be forgotten so long as the three
regimens exist. The regiments are the King’s Own (the Royal Lancaster
Regiment) the Connaught Rangers, and the Northamptonshires. Dealing with
the acts of three of the Royal Lancasters, the writer says:
For a long time the troops had been in the fighting line without fresh
provisions. For ten whole days the roads had been impassable, exposed to
a torrent of shells, and the situation was getting serious. It seemed
impossible to get fresh provisions for the worn troops unless they
retreated towards the base, and that, of course, was out of the
question. Things began to look troublesome.
Sergeant Heaney went to a major of the Army Service Corps and
volunteered to take the wagons through the rain of shells and to bring
back the food. He did not say he would try. He said he would go and
fetch the provisions. The major’s comment was only “Sheer madness!” but
Heaney was of a different opinion. He was put in charge of the convoy
and he set out down that shell-worn track. Four long miles separated the
troops from where the provisions were stored, and every yard of the way
there and back lay under a devastating fire.
But Heaney got through with his wagons, and brought back provisions for
the whole division, and had to report as his only casualties one man
wounded and two horses killed. He was recommended for the distinguished
conduct medal, and promoted lieutenant for his brilliant action. Then
came his death. Two days later he was killed at Le Touquet, near
Warneton, almost before he had had time to realise what he had done for
our army and how he had been rewarded for it.
Another brave man is Private Cornthwaite. During some preliminary
fighting near Le Touquet the regiment was retired from some trenches
across a big open space to where there was higher ground with plenty of
cover. Lieutenant D C Robinson, the famous all-England cricketer, was
badly wounded in the first engagement, and got left behind in the
trenches. Cornthwaite asked to be allowed to rescue him, and crawled
back to where his officer lay. Seven hundred yards away lay the
trenches, much of the distance over open ground swept by shells,
shrapnel, and withering rifle fire. Cornthwaite worked his way along the
hedge in the undergrowth, taking advantage of every available scrap of
cover until he reached the edge of the open. Then, without pausing a
second, he dashed across to the trenches, picked up his officer, slung
him across his back and bore him safely into the lines.
Sergeant Major Dakin has been decorated with the Legion of Honour for
repeatedly distributing ammunition under heavy fire and for repeatedly
bringing in wounded under heavy shrapnel fire. One can hardly better the
phrase “repeatedly.” The story needs no drawing out. It tells itself.
The Boy Scouts and The King’s Own
The proceeds from the sale of the old newspapers this week will be
devoted to providing “Christmas Cheer” for the soldiers of the King’s
Own at the front. We are anxious to collect a large quantity for this
worthy object, and shall do our best to cover the whole town, but if
some houses are missed, we should like anyone who has not been called
upon up to 5 pm to kindly send their parcels to our collecting centre,
the old Town Hall. Any kind of old papers, periodicals, or magazines,
clean or dirty, are acceptable.
The Boy Scouts.
Only a proportion of our collections
are on display at anyone time. Certain items are on loan for display
in other institutions. An appointment is required to consult any of
our collections which are held in store.