BAMBER BRIDGE IN WORLD WAR 1
12787 PTE. H. BRUNDRETT. L.N.LAN.R.
Henry Brundrett was born on 23 April 1898 at 23 Ward’s Row, Lostock Hall and baptised on 22 May that year at St Paul’s, Farington.
His family background is very complicated and takes some unravelling! If you know, or are related to the family, and spot any errors, do please get in touch!
In 1901, Henry was living at Newhouse Farm, Farington. The other members of the household are:
James Lupton, b. 1847 in Ambleside, working as a labourer in the cotton mill.
Mary Lupton, b. 1838 in Guisborough, North Yorkshire. His wife, and Henry’s paternal grandmother. Her maiden name was Oxley and her given names at birth were Elizabeth Mary. Elizabeth Mary Oxley married Henry Brundrett (b. 1829 in Dunham, Cheshire, who was our Henry’s grandfather) in 1856. He was an iron miner. He and Elizabeth had at least 7 children between 1858 and 1878, including John (b. 1858 in Guisborough, our Henry’s father). However, it appears that they must have separated shortly after the birth of their last child, as Henry is recorded as living in Cheshire in 1881 then in Guisborough in 1891, where he died in 1898. In all the Censuses where they are together, his wife is ‘Elizabeth Mary’. But when James and now Mary appear in the 1881 Census, with Elizabeth’s children now bearing James’ surname, and one new child they have had together, she calls herself Mary. There is no record of James and Elizabeth Mary’s marriage, and indeed they couldn’t have married if Henry was still alive, so it appears they had a common law partnership.
Returning to the 1901 household: Maggie Lupton (b. 1880 in Lostock Hall), James and Mary’s daughter; Jane Jackson (née Brundrett, b. 1861 in Upleatham, Yorkshire, the widow of Michael Jackson); her two children, Elizabeth (b. 1894) and Michael (b. 1896) Jackson. And finally, Henry Brundrett, Mary’s grandson, and Michael’s cousin (more of Michael later). So in summary the household comprises: Mary Lupton and her common-law husband, James; their daughter Maggie; Mary’s daughter, Elizabeth; and three of Mary’s grandchildren.
So why wasn’t Henry living with his parents in 1901? In fact, they weren’t far away. They were living at 36 Ward Street in Lostock Hall. His father John (b. 1859 in Guisborough) was a navvy; his mother Elizabeth née Rose (b. 1867 in Farington) was working as a weaver in the mill. But this household is complicated too! There are three children: Mary Brundrett (born to John and Elizabeth, so Henry’s sister, b. 1900); William Rose (b. 1888, Elizabeth’s illegitimate son, more of him later, but in 1901 at age 13 he’s already working in the mill); and Elizabeth Fox, b. 1891, Elizabeth’s daughter by her previous marriage to Lawrence Fox (1865-1892). Given the complexity of the family arrangements, and the fact that John and Elizabeth had just had another child, Henry may just have been living temporarily with his grandmother. In any case, the family was back together again by 1911, and living at 12 Queen Street, Lostock Hall. Elizabeth Fox had married James Clarkson in 1908 but was already a widow at the age of 20 and back living with her mother. William Rose had joined the navy. Henry at 12 had just started as a half timer in the mill, his sister Mary was still at school.
Henry’s service record has not survived, but from his medal records we can piece together some of what happened. We know that he was awarded the 1915 Star, so he must have served in France in 1915; and we know that he first served with 7th Battalion, later transferring to 9th Battalion. So he must have enlisted in September 1914, aged only 16, with the Preston Pals, and gone to France with them on 17 July 1915.
It’s possible that Henry was transferred to 9Bn in February 1918. Fighting had been very light in the last three months of 1917 and in early 1918 9Bn was in reserve and L.N.LAN.R. saw some considerable reorganisation, with 8Bn being disbanded and men from this and other Battalions redistributed to bring the remaining Battalions up to strength, so by the end of February 9th Battalion was back at almost full strength.
On 21 March 1918, when the Germans launched their Spring Offensive, 9Bn was on the Cambrai-Bapaume road, north of the River Somme. The first phase of the Offensive was launched on that day, the German objective being to defeat the British Army on the Somme, break through and capture the strategic towns of Amiens and Arras, after which they believed the French would surrender. The Offensive ultimately failed, but it very nearly succeeded.
When 74th Brigade (of which 9Bn was a part) reached its position on 21 March it became clear that the advancing enemy had not only forced its way through the front defensive position, but in some places had actually entered the second line. 9Bn was north of the Cambrai-Bapaume road and 11 Lancashire Fusiliers were to the south. The Regimental History reports casualties on the night of the 21st as relatively light (though the final casualty list below gives a different impression). On the morning of 22 March the fighting began in earnest.
Enemy shelling began early, soon after dawn on the 22nd, and by 7.30 the first attack was well on its way along the line… From midday onwards, owing to reports received of the enemy massing astride the Bapaume-Cambrai road, the 9 L.N.LAN.R. were moved gradually up to reinforce (other Battalions). The Germans were continually pressing on in large numbers, and very heavy casualties were inflicted on them by 9 L.N.LAN.R. and other troops in this portion of the line. About 4pm a small party of the enemy with machine-guns broke through on the left of the Battalion, and, with their numbers steadily increasing, the line north of the Bapaume-Cambrai road became intolerable… Many officers and other ranks had already been killed. The O.C. decided to withdraw to the south side of the road, with a view to a counter-attack, but before this could be carried out, it was found that the Germans had also broken through south of the road. This increased their difficulties so much that by 5.30pm most of the men were casualties and the remainder were successfully withdrawn in small parties to the new position.
That evening the Battalion was forced back to Beaumetz, and the following day they were forced to withdraw again, to Frémicourt, just outside Bapaume.
This attack was a stunning success for the Germans, but the advancing troops moved so far ahead of their supply lines that they ran out of food and ammunition and were unable to press forward and ultimately the advance ran out of steam without achieving its objectives.
Henry Brundrett is recorded as killed in action, his death was ‘assumed’ as his body was never recovered. He was still only 19 years old (CWGC says he was 20 but he was still a month short of his 20th birthday). His effects (totalling £21 11s 4d) were returned to his father John, who also received a War Gratuity of £20 10s. John Brundrett died in 1920, at which time the family was living at 25 Fairfield Street, Lostock Hall
Service No: 12787
Date of Death: 21/03/1918
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment 9th Bn.
Panel Reference: Bay 7.
Memorial: ARRAS MEMORIAL
Henry’s half-brother, William Rose, was born in 1888 in Farington. He joined the Navy in 1904, aged 16, and served on a number of ships before and during the War. He was killed whilst serving on HMS Medea on 24 April 1916. He was 28 years old. At the time of his death, HMS Medea was part of the Harwich Squadron and involved in the defence of Yarmouth and Lowestoft during a German raid. He was buried at sea.
Henry’s cousin, Michael Jackson, was born in 1896 in Brotton-in-Cleveland. He initially enlisted as a Gunner in the West Lancashire Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery (service number 680738), but he later transferred to the Army Veterinary Corps (TT/03902). At the time of his death, he was attached to 4th AVC Reserve Hospital, which was based at Bulford. He died on 29 October 1918, aged 22, and is buried at St Paul’s Farington. His cause of death is not known but October-November 1918 were the peak months for the influenza pandemic.