(My thanks to Mark Dickinson, Jim Cross’s grandson, for giving me basic family information and allowing me to share the family photos)
St Saviour’s Roll of Honour bears the names of E. Cross, J. Cross and R. Cross. St Aidan’s Roll of Honour bears the names of James Cross, John Cross and R. Cross. I believe there is some duplication here and that there are in fact four brothers: John Cross (b. 1884), James Cross (b. 1891), Ernest Cross (b. 1894), and Richard Cross (b. 1898).
Their father was Richard Cross (1865-1907), a cotton weaver. Their mother was Ruth Jones (1863-1931). Richard and Ruth were married at St Saviour’s in 1884 and the couple had seven sons in all. In addition to John, James, Ernest and Richard there were William Herbert who was born in 1886 but died a year later, then another son whom they named William (b. 1889) and finally the youngest, Frederick (b. 1902). In 1911, the widowed Ruth was living with her five youngest sons at 283 Station Road, Bamber Bridge. William was a book-keeper in a cotton mill; James was a cardroom hand; Ernest was a labourer in an iron foundry; Richard was a spinner creeler; and Fred was still at school.
John Cross (b. 1884) enlisted in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on 24 August 1915. He was assigned service number 4285 and posted to the Reserve. He was discharged on 4 April 1916 as medically unfit as he was found to be suffering from a hernia. John was married in 1910 to Beatrice Alice Southworth (b. 1885) and in 1918 the couple had a son, Harry.
James (Jim) Cross (b. 1891) served in the Royal Field Artillery. He probably served in the Territorials before the War and was initially assigned service number 1583. In 1917 this was changed to 680429. Jim was a Gunner and later promoted to Bombardier and then to Sergeant. He served with 276 Brigade and landed in France with 55th Division on 30 September 1915. He was probably in “B” Battery. For an account of 276 Brigade in the latter part of the War, see https://www.rfawestlancs.info/
Jim was demobbed in 1919 and the following year he married Margaret Wignall (b. 1892 in Bamber Bridge). The couple had four children and the family lived at 106 Station Road, Bamber Bridge
Ernest Cross (b. 1894) served in the Army Ordnance Corps. He probably enlisted at the outbreak of War. He was assigned service number 02046 and he landed in France on 17 April 1915. He served throughout the War but the AOC did not keep War Diaries so it has not been possible to locate where exactly he was engaged, nor what precisely his job was, but the AOC was generally responsible for the maintenance and repair of armaments and munitions.
A volunteer at the RFA Museum has provided the following information:
Ernest Cross is wearing a General Service Corps cap-badge and set of buttons, not Gunner ones. He appears to have a Gunner-style white lanyard probably with a jack-knife attached to it. During WW1, Gunners wore white lanyards around their right shoulder. It is possible that this photo may have been taken on completion of his initial (3rd Class) Artificers course – probably at Woolwich. On completion of his Artificers course, he might have been posted as either an Artificer RA (Gun Tiffy) or an Artificer RAOC.
Ernest was demobilised on 10 February 1919. After the War, Ernest returned to Bamber Bridge. He was a sanitary worker and he lived with his younger brother Fred Cross at 171 Station Road, Bamber Bridge.
Richard Cross (b. 1898) tried to sign up in the Royal Field Artillery on 6 May 1915. At the time he was living at 171 Station Road, Bamber Bridge, but he tried to sign up in Preston, presumably hoping not to be recognised. Richard claimed to be 19 but in fact he was still only 16. He was allocated a service number, 17729, and initially posted to “A” Battery of 170th (County Palatine) Brigade. It appears from his attestation papers that Richard was required to produce a birth certificate, at which point his true age was discovered and in July 1915 he was discharged.
The family have a photo of Richard in uniform but as yet we have not worked out where or when he served.
In 1925, Richard married Ann Tootle (b. 1902 in Bamber Bridge). Richard was a munitions worker, presumably working at the ROF in Euxton, and they lived at Co-operative Street, Bamber Bridge. Richard died in 1954.