2153 PTE. R. E. BILSBOROUGH. A.C.C.
Richard Ernest Bilsborough was born in Pilling, near Garstang, on 15 June 1894. His family life is somewhat chequered. His mother was Jennett Bilsborough (b. 1874 in Claughton). Jennett was unmarried. In 1891 she was working as a domestic servant for the Shepherd family at Pasture House, Pilling. In 1901 she and Richard had moved to live with Jennett’s mother and stepfather at Bradshaw Lane, Pilling, and in 1904 Jennett married Thomas Bradley Wilson (b. 1880 in Pilling). Tom and Jennett then went on to have two children of their own (Norman and William), before Jennett died in late 1911. At the time of the 1911 Census, Richard was living with his grandmother and an aunt at 8 Grundy Street, Leyland, and working as a rubber crumb grinder in the rubber factory. Later that year he was married at St Saviour’s in Bamber Bridge to Ellen Ann Ball (b. 1890 in Cuerden). Ellen Ann’s family lived at Mounsey Road in Bamber Bridge and the newly weds must have settled in the village. The following year they had a daughter, Janet Ann.
From partial military records we know that Richard enlisted first with the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, with service number 11283, but he was then transferred to the Army Cyclist Corps and posted to 13DCC. The primary roles of cyclists in the ACC were reconnaissance and communications (message taking). They were armed as infantry and could provide mobile firepower if required. Those units that went overseas continued in these roles but also spent much time in trench-holding duties and on manual work. 13DCC is 13th Divisional Cyclist Company, attached to 13th (Western) Division. 13th Division landed at ANZAC Cove on 3-5 August 1915 and fought in the Battle of Sari Bair (6-10 August). Richard’s Medal Index Card says he landed in Gallipoli on 21 August 1915 and he was therefore with the Division when they fought in the Battle of Hill 60 on 27-28 August. Hill 60 was the last major attack of the Gallipoli campaign. When British and ANZAC forces failed to claim the summit of the hill, stalemate ensued and eventually the decision was taken to evacuate Empire troops. Richard was wounded at Hill 60 and he was evacuated and managed to get back to England, but he died of his wounds at Netley Hospital on 30 September 1915. CWGC records his age as 25 but in fact he was still only 21 years old.
Service Number: 2153
Date of death: 30/09/1915
Aged: 21 (corrected)
Regiment/Service: Army Cyclist Corps, 13th Div. Cyclist Coy.
Cemetery/memorial reference: C.E. 1733.
Cemetery: NETLEY MILITARY CEMETERY
Additional Information: Husband of Ellen Ann Bilsborough, of 6 Mounsey Road, Bamber Bridge, Preston.
Ellen Ann was the step-sister of Charles Battersby who was also killed at Gallipoli, on 9 August 1915. In 1927 Ellen Ann remarried, to Thomas Holmes (b. 1901 in Chorley).