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680548 SGT. J. SOUTHWORTH. M.M., R.F.A.

680841 SGT. T.E. SOUTHWORTH. M.M., R.F.A.


John and Thomas Emmanuel Southworth were brothers.  Tom was born on 13 May 1886 and John on 14 January 1892, both were baptised at St Aidan’s.  Their father was Nathaniel Southworth (b. 1860 in School Lane), an overlooker in a cotton mill.  Their mother was Rachel Horsefeld (b. 1859 in Walton Le Dale).  Rachel and Nathaniel were married in 1881 and they had 11 children, though they lost 4 in infancy.  The survivors were Beatrice (b. 1885), then Tom, Richard (b. 1888), Albert (b. 1891), then John, Florence (b. 1896) and finally Irene (b. 1901).  In 1911, the family was living at 2 Ashworth Street, School Lane.  Both Tom and John were weavers in the local mill.


The two men joined up, like the other Briggers, in the Royal Field Artillery on 19 May 1915.  Tom had just turned 29 and John was 23.  They then underwent training through the rest of the year and through 1916, during which time they were both promoted to Sergeant.  Although they were in the same Brigade (286Bde), they were not in the same Battery: John was in “A” Battery (same as Sgt Francis Schultz), whereas Tom was in “B” Battery – most of the Briggers ended up in “C” Battery.  They landed in France in February 1917 and spent the first part of that year in the defence of Armentières.  In November, they fought in the Second Battle of Passchendaele.  In the spring of 1918, they were engaged in the German Spring Offensive, especially the second phase, Operation Georgette or the Battle of the Lys and later in the year 286 Brigade was in support of the Canadian Infantry as they advanced towards and eventually captured Cambrai.


Tom’s Military Medal was announced on 23 February 1918.  This was the same time as Francis Schultz, James Sumner and George Spencer, indicating they all received their awards for gallantry at Passchendaele the previous November.  John’s Military Medal wasn’t announced until 22 July 1919, indicating that his award was probably related to the later stages of the War and the advance on Cambrai in October 1918.


Tom served through the War but was officially discharged as ‘sick’ on 1 May 1919 and awarded a Silver War Badge.  Many of his mates would already have been demobilised.  I don’t know what happened to Tom after the War; I have found no marriage records and there is a record of Thomas E Southworth who died in 1937.


John came home and in 1922 he married Ellen Molyneux (b. 1895 in Ainsdale).  The couple had a daughter Joyce in 1925 and they went to live in Garstang, where John was a chauffeur and gardener.  He died in 1988 aged 96.

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