23580 PTE. J. H. SHARPLES. L.N.LAN.R.
James Hardacre Sharples was born in the second quarter of 1884 in Bamber Bridge. His father was Peter Sharples (b. 1845 in Bamber Bridge), a butcher by trade. His mother was Ellen Hardacre (b. 1847 in Bamber Bridge). Peter and Ellen were married in 1866 and they had 12 children, though three died young. The children were: Grace (b. 1868), Thomas (b. 1869), Robert (b. 1871), Lucy (b. 1873), Margaret (b. 1880), Elizabeth (1882-1895), then James, then Richard (b. 1886), Henry (b. 1888) and finally Peter (b. 1890). In 1911, Peter and Ellen and five of their adult children, were living at 326 Station Road. All the children were cotton weavers.
James was 30 when War broke out and it looks as though he enlisted in late 1915 or early 1916. He joined the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and was assigned service number 23580 and posted to 8th Battalion. 8th (Service) Battalion was formed at Preston in September 1914 as part of K3 and came under command of 74th Brigade in 25th Division. They landed at Boulogne on 16 September 1915 and the following month the Battalion transferred to 7th Brigade in same Division. James would have joined the Battalion in the field in early 1916.
The Division was first engaged in a defensive fight when the Germans made an attack on Vimy Ridge in May 1916. After that, they were withdrawn for rest and training, west of St Pol. They moved to the area behind the Somme front in the third week of June 1916, in the area around Warloy.
7th and 75th Brigades with some supporting units received orders on 2 July to move to Aveluy Wood and Martinsart respectively, and came under orders of 32nd Division. On 3 July, 75th Brigade made a virtually unsupported and inevitably costly and unsuccessful attack in one of the awful, piecemeal, efforts to hold on to the minor gains made in the Thiepval area on 1 July. The rest of the Division relieved 32nd Division in the night of 3/4 July. More localised and equally ineffective attacks were made. As the Somme offensive moved from its early phase (designated the Battle of Albert) to the next major push (the Battle of Bazentin), 25th Division continued to carry out operations on a small scale in the Ovillers area. Casualties were heavy, with no gains of any significance being made. Relieved by 48th (South Midland) Division during the night 16/17 July, the Division moved to Beauval.
From 23 July to 10 August 1916, the Division held a sector of the line north of the River Ancre. Once again, just as in the Bazentin battle, the Division is recognised as having been in action during the Battle of Pozières, without being in the area of most attention during the fighting. Relieved by units of 6th and Guards Divisions between 7 and 14 August, the Division moved to Bus-lès-Artois for rest and training. Divisional HQ moved up to Hédauville on 18 August and the infantry moved into the trenches of the Leipzig Salient. A local attack by 7th Brigade on 21 August was carried out successfully, using for the first time a device known as a “push pipe mine” to destroy enemy defences before the infantry went in. Further attacks were made on 23, 25 and 26 August. At the end of the operation though the North Lancashires were unable to hold their position and were forced back to their original line. James Sharples was killed on 26 August 1916, he was 32 years old. 25 other men from 8Bn were killed on the same day.
Service Number: 23580
Date of Death: 26/08/1916
Regiment/Service: Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 8Bn
Cemetery/memorial reference: Pier and Face 11 A.
Memorial: THIEPVAL MEMORIAL
James’ younger brothers, Richard, Henry and Peter may also have served during the War but I have found records only for Henry. Henry originally attested in 1915 but he wasn’t called up until 9 May 1917. (In fact, he got married the day before, to Rachel Livesey (b. 1889 in Bamber Bridge)). He was assigned service number 381615 and posted eventually to 25th Battalion, the King’s (Liverpool Regiment). He was discharged on medical grounds on 23 March 1918. It appears he never served abroad. He was sent first to the Herefordshire Regiment, 2/1Bn, which was engaged in coastal defence at Herringfleet, near Lowestoft. He was then transferred to 90th Labour Coy, and then to 25th Bn, King’s (Liverpool Regiment), which was also a labour company. He had a club foot and deformities to both feet, so it’s somewhat surprising that he was enlisted in the first place. After the War, Henry opened a fish-and-chips shop at 123 London Road, Preston.