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Brothers John and Robert Halshaw were killed within three moths of each other in 1916.  Their father lied about his age and served from 1915-1917.

Halshaw Family




John Halshaw was born in 1891 in Bamber Bridge.  His father was Robert Halshaw (b. 1867 in Great Harwood), a mule spinner by trade.  Robert (Snr)’s family moved to Holland Slack in Walton Le Dale in the 1870s and in 1888 he married Elizabeth Sharples (b. 1869 in Walton Le Dale). They had eleven children of whom 8 survived infancy: Ann Jane (b. 1889), then John, Mary Edith (b. 1895), Robert (b. 1896), Ellen (b. 1899), Richard (b. 1901), Theresa (b. 1904) and finally Margaret (b. 1905).  By 1911, the family (Robert and Elizabeth and all the children except Ann Jane) were living at 74 School Lane, Bamber Bridge.  All the children of working age worked in Orr’s Mill, John and Robert (Jnr) were weavers.


On 1 July 1915, Robert (Snr) enlisted with the Loyals and was given service no. 31382.  He lied about his age, claiming to be 40 years and 7 months old.  In fact he was 48.   He was 5’ 2½” tall and had a 36½” chest and weighed 125lbs.  The attestation form also says Robert had done 4 years as a volunteer with the Loyals.  He was initially posted to 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, but on 9 August 1915 he was transferred to Cheshire Regiment (1st Garrison Battalion) with new service number 29078, and he then served with the Labour Corps with service no. 343969.  In July 1917 he spent 10 days in hospital in Felixstowe suffering from spasmodic stricture of the oesophagus (inability to swallow properly).  He was discharged as no longer physically fit for military service on 28 August 1917 (aged 50).  But by this time, the War had claimed the lives of two of his sons.


On 18 November 1911, John married Margaret Ann Clarkson at St. Saviour’s Church, Bamber Bridge. Prior to their marriage Margaret Ann had been living at 7 East Street, Bamber Bridge with her widowed mother Louisa and a brother Walter.  After they were married John and Margaret Ann moved in with Margaret Ann’s mother. In 1912 they had a daughter whom they named Lilian.  John enlisted at Preston on 3 September 1914. He was 5’5” tall and weighed 135lbs.  He was assigned servicer number 13888 and posted to 8th Battalion. On the 1 January 1915 John was appointed (paid) Lance Corporal but later in the month he reverted back to being a Private.  8th Battalion remained in England training until the 25 September 1915 when they landed in France.   


8th (Service) Battalion came under orders of 74th Brigade in 25th Division.  They had a relatively quiet time in the winter of 1915-16 but in the spring of 1916, they moved from Mazières to Maroeuil and then into the trenches at Mont St Éloi.  “Opposite this part of the line the enemy now began to show considerable activity, his bombardment being at times exceptionally heavy”.  On the night of 18-19 May the Germans attacked suddenly and captured Broadmarsh Crater but at 9.15 on the evening of 19 May, a party from the Battalion went ‘over the top’ and managed to recapture the crater.  “During the 21st the German guns fired very heavily, communication with our front line was cut off and about 7.30pm the Germans exploded a mine a few yards to the south of Broadmarsh Crater and then attacked in successive lines of infantry.  The fire of the Battalion did great execution and fighting was heavy and prolonged with rifle, bomb and bayonet.  The ammunition and bomb supply at last began to run out … and the men were reduced to “bombing” the Germans with lumps of chalk, flint and even empty bomb boxes.”  During the night of 21-22 May, 3 officers were killed and 5 wounded; other ranks had 27 killed, 103 wounded and 15 missing.  John Halshaw was among the dead.  He was 25 years old.


Rank: Private
Service No: 13888
Date of Death: 21/05/1916

Age: 25
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 8th Bn.




Robert (Jnr) must have signed up at more or less the same time as his brother John – September 1914 – and he was assigned service number 17534 and he was posted to 10th Battalion.  The Battalion was part of 112th Brigade of 37th Division.  The Battalion arrived in France on the night of 31 July – 1 August 1915.  37th Division was not engaged in any major operations during the autumn, winter and early spring, being in relatively quiet parts of the front.  Even in July 1916, at the start of the Battle of the Somme, the Division was largely in reserve.  However, they were called into action at Contalmaison on 11 July, by which time the fighting was heavy and progress difficult.  Typically, on one occasion, two brigades were ordered to attack, but then the order was cancelled but not in time to prevent the attack going ahead.  Without appropriate support, casualties were heavy.  An attack on the village of Pozières on 15-18 July also failed, again with heavy casualties, although the village was finally taken by the Australians on 25 July.  On 6 August, the 112th Brigade took over the front line, 10 Bn occupying trenches to the east of Bazentin-Le-Petit. 


From the Regimental History:


At 2am on the morning of 11 August “the turn of 10Bn came.  Immediately on the tail of a heavy bombardment, ‘C’ Company sprang out of our trench on the right of the barrier and dashed along the top of the Bosche trench, hurling down bombs on its occupants. ‘A’ Company followed, and passing ‘C’ Company pushed on, sprang down into the trench and bayoneted the defenders, clearing the trench up to the Martinpuich road.  A building party then put up a barricade fifty yards from the road, which was completed by 2.50am.  At 7am, ‘B’ Company took over the 300 yards of trench won by ‘C’ and ‘A’, and later a company of the 9 North Staffs came up and consolidated the gain.  The casualties were: killed, one officer and 20 other ranks; wounded, 3 officers and 77 other ranks; of the wounded 3 men died later.” 


CWGC records confirm that on 11-12 August 1916, one officer (2nd Lt. Adam Frazer Gordon) and 29 other ranks were killed.  Robert Halshaw, aged 19, was among the dead.  His body was never recovered.


Rank:  Private

Service No:  17564

Date of Death:  11/08/1916

Age: 19

Regiment/Service:  The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 10th Bn.

Panel Reference:  Pier and Face 11 A.


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