BAMBER BRIDGE IN WORLD WAR 1
(I am grateful to Gareth Bullock, Robert Jackson’s grandson, for family information about the four younger Jackson brothers, Matthew, James, Robert and Austin. Unfortunately we haven’t been able to find categorical evidence that the Thomas and Joseph Jackson who were recipients of the DCM were members of the same family but I think the circumstantial evidence is compelling. In researching these two men separately I have come to the conclusion that they are in fact brothers and they all belong to the same large Roman Catholic family with many members who served in the Army during the War. If you have information to the contrary, please get in touch via the Contacts Page.)
680862 PTE. J. JACKSON. D.C.M., R.F.A.
680994 SGT. T. JACKSON. D.C.M., R.F.A.
The list published in the Preston Herald in early 1915 listing Roman Catholics from Brownedge who had signed up before then, includes several men with the Jackson surname: Austin, James, Matthew and Robert. These men are all brothers and we have records for their service, but they had two older brothers, Thomas and Joseph. The men from the village who joined the Royal Field Artillery with service numbers 680xxx all enlisted in May 1915, after the Herald list was published. Both Tom and Joe could have been among them.
The father of the family was Robert Jackson (b. 1856 in Preston), a cotton spinner. His wife was Sophia Dickinson (b. 1854 in Bamber Bridge). They married at St Mary’s in 1875 and they had 12 children, though they lost two in infancy. The children were: Thomas (b. 1875), Joseph (b. 1878), Agnes (b. 1880), Matthew (b. 1883), James (1884-1884), John (b. 1886), James (b. 1889), Robert (b. 1890), Austin (b. 1892), Walter (1894-95), Sophia (b. 1897) and Walter (b. 1902). In 1911, Robert and Sophia were living at 60 Club Street, Bamber Bridge, with four of their children.
Thomas Jackson was born on 14 July 1875. In 1898, he married Catherine Doran (b. 1875 in Walton Le Dale). They had 6 children, 4 of who survived infancy: Robert (b. 1898), Mary Agnes (b. 1899), Wilfred (b. 1906) and Joseph (b. 1909). In 1901, the family was living at 1 Smith Street in Bamber Bridge, where Tom was an engineering labourer, but in 1911, Tom was a boarder in Birkenhead and working as a boilermaker in a shipyard. Catherine had moved to Preston, but later the family moved to Birkenhead. Tom would have been 39 in May 1915 so it’s possible he would have been allowed to enlist. However, his wife Catherine died in 1916, so Tom must have left the care of the family to Robert and Mary Agnes.
The action for which Tom Jackson was awarded the DCM occurred on 9 April 1918, at Fleurbaix. This was the day the Germans launched the second phase of their Spring Offensive, Operation Georgette or the Battle of the Lys. That day they made rapid advances, retaking the battleground of Passchendaele taken at such enormous human cost only six months before. But they were unable to break through and the operation was called off on 29 April.
I don’t know what happened to Tom after the War.
Joseph Jackson was born on 5 November 1878. In 1902, he married Catherine Bayes (b. 1878 in Brindle). The couple had seven children: Robert (1903-1912), John (b. 1904), Walter (b. 1906), Joseph (b. 1908), William (b. 1911), Elizabeth (b. 1912) and Robert (b. 1914). Joe was a cotton spinner and in 1911 the family was living at 7 Brown Street, Bamber Bridge.
Joe enlisted like the other Briggers in the RFA in May 1915. His citation is less specific than Tom’s and refers to devotion to duty over a two month period. Given the date of publication of the citation, this is likely to refer to the period of the German Spring Offensive from March-May 1918.
After the War, Joe got a job in the Leyland Rubber works and his family lived at 21 Mounsey Road. Joe died in 1957.
Agnes Jackson was married in 1904 to Arthur Jeffrey, at the time a soldier at Fulwood Barracks (with the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment). They had a son, Albert, in Bamber Bridge in 1904, but their second son Walter was born in Karachi in 1909. By 1911, Arthur had left the army and the family was back in Preston. Arthur died two years later.
Matthew Jackson was born on 17 March 1883. In 1909, Matthew married Mary Slater (b. 1882 in Brinde) and they had a son Thomas (b. 1910). In 1911, they lived at 1 Brown Street, Bamber Bridge, and Matthew was a cotton weaver. Matthew enlisted in the King’s Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment) in 1904 and had served in India before re-enlisting at the outbreak of War. He was 8105 CPL. M. JACKSON and he was sent to France on 24 August 1914. He served first with 1st Battalion and was later promoted to Corporal and transferred to 2nd Battalion. 1st Battalion went to France with 4th Division, but 2nd Battalion in October 1915 moved first to Egypt and then to Salonika, with 28th Division. I know very little about the campaign in Salonika. After the War, Matthew came back to England and settled in Mounsey Road, Bamber Bridge and he worked as a boilerplater. He and Mary had a daughter Hilda in 1922. Matthew died in 1963.
John Jackson (b. 12 June 1885) is the only one of the boys not to sign up. John emigrated to the United States in 1907. One possible contributing factor may have been that his intended wife (Lydia) was not a Catholic. The couple lived in Bristol, Massachusetts. John did register for the US military in September 1918, but he did not serve in Europe.
James Jackson was born in the third quarter of 1888. He attested he was willing to serve with the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on 4 September 1914. He was assigned service number 13427 and posted to 8th Battalion. 8Bn came under orders of 7th Brigade in 25th Division. James landed in France on 25 September 1915 but he would not have seen a great deal of fighting (through no fault of his own). His Division was involved in defensive fighting at Vimy Ridge in May 1916 but at the end of that month James began to suffer a series of medical problems with nephritis and finally hepatitis. He was discharged on 21 June 1916 from a military hospital in Dundee after suffering from acute hepatitis. He remained in hospital for a month before being allowed home. James was forced to write some time after his discharge asking to be issued with a Silver War badge ‘as it is hard to hear the remarks passed about you when in any strange places’. James came home and in 1919 married Nellie Mildred Candlish (b. 1901 in Canterbury, Kent). Nellie was herself from a military family. The couple had a daughter, Kathleen, in 1925. They lived at Carr Street in Bamber Bridge, and James worked in the Leyland Rubber works. He died in 1954.
Robert Jackson was born on 29 August 1890. In 1911, he was living with his parents at 60 Club Street, Bamber Bridge, and working as a grinder in the Rubber Works. In 1913, he married Alice Dunderdale (b. 1890 in Preston), and the couple had a daughter, Sophia, later that year. Robert enlisted on 5 December 1914. He started off in the R.F.A, but was almost immediately transferred to a Heavy Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery with service number 308718. He was sent into the field in May 1916. He was with 55th (West Lancashire) Division, which in May 1916 was in the area of Wailly-Brétencourt, near Arras. Later that year, the Division fought during the Battle of the Somme, at Guillemont and Gincy, then Flers-Courcelette and Morval. At the end of the year they were moved to the Ypres salient, which at the time was considered a relatively ‘quiet’ sector. It appears he was wounded in action in April 1917 and he was then in and out of various hospitals in the UK until the end of that year. On release from hospital he seems to have spent the remainder of the War in service but at home, in Lydd and Portsmouth. He was disembodied on 22 March 1919. He was given a small pension in recognition of gunshot (shrapnel) wounds to his left hand and buttock. Robert and Alice had more children after the War: Austin (b. 1918) and Veronica (b. 1922). Robert died in 1954.
Austin Jackson was born on 15 December 1892. In 1911, he was working as a cotton spinner, but shortly after the Census he enlisted with the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. He served in India, but in 1913 he left the army and emigrated to the United States, to join his brother in Massachusetts. There he met and married Lavina McClelland (b. 1897 in Fall River, Mass.) and the couple had two children – Robert (b. 1916) and Agnes (b. 1917). On 19 July 1917, Austin went to Montreal where he enlisted with the Canadian army. He was assigned service number 2075497 and he was posted to the Canadian Engineers. He arrived in England with the CIF on 17 October 1917, but at this point he was discovered to be suffering from a heart condition. He had contracted scarlet fever as a child, which was the cause of the condition, but it only became noticeable when he was subjected to the exertions of military training. So he was discharged in March 1918, but at the end of September that year, he re-enlisted, this time at Providence, Rhode Island, but again in the Canadian Army. He did not return to Europe though and was finally demobilised in December 1918. He returned to Fall River where he and Lavina had another daughter Emily in 1920. Austin died in Massachusetts in 1979.
Another family member, Heather Potter, has confirmed to me that Thomas and Joseph were indeed brothers, and she sent me these photos. I think it's the same man in each picture but we don't know his identity. It may be James.