7145 SJT. W. H. HALPIN. R.D.C.

 

William Henry Halpin is my great grand uncle, born in 1864 in Preston.  He married Elizabeth McLear in 1887 and the family lived at 9 Havelock Terrace in Bamber Bridge, where he worked as a spinner in Dewhurst’s Cotton Mill.  They had 10 children, including two boys who also served during the War: John (Jack) and Joe.  Jack and Joe served in the RFA, like their cousins and the Brierleys.  But their father, William Henry, also enlisted.  At the age of 51 in 1915 he joined the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.  However, the maximum age for active service was 40 so he transferred to the Royal Defence Corps where he was promoted to Sergeant in the 30th Protection Company.

 

In October 1914 the National Reserve was formed into Protection Companies, which were attached to existing TF (Territorial Force) battalions for the guarding of railways and other vulnerable points in Britain. In March 1915 the Protection Companies were trawled to identify men who could serve in the forces abroad and the rump were redesignated as Supernumerary Companies TF, which then became the Royal Defence Corps.  The role of the regiment was to provide troops for security and guard duties inside the United Kingdom; guarding important locations such as ports or bridges. It also provided independent companies for guarding prisoner-of-war camps. The regiment was never intended to be employed on overseas service. In many respects, they fulfilled the same role as the Second World War's Local Defence Volunteers or the later Home Service Force (the Home Guard).

 

I haven’t been able to find any details of the specific tasks that 30th Protection Company was engaged in.  William Henry died of a heart attack, on 14 December 1916, aged 52 (though his death certificate says 51), at the Middle Gelt Bridge Inn in Hayton, Cumberland.

Jack and Joe Halpin both served in the Royal Field Artillery, West Lancashire Brigade, almost certainly in ‘C’ Battery along with the other gunners from Bamber Bridge.  Both survived the War.  Jack was born in 1890 and joined up earlier than the others as his medal record shows him going to France in September 1915.  However, he was later given a service number (680428) which indicates he was in the West Lancashire Brigade and may have joined the other Briggers in ‘C’ Battery.  I believe he died in 1967.  His younger brother Joe (born 1894) served in the Artillery (service number 680804), joining up in 1915 and promoted to Corporal, and after the War, in 1920, he married Maria Winter.  They had twins, Bernard and Teresa (born 1932), and Joe died in 1961.

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