Littleborough’s History

The Battles around Arras from 9th April 1917 to 16th June 1917

The Arras Battlefield lies some 20 to 30 miles north of the Somme Battlefield where so many local soldiers fell between July and November 1916. It stretches from the Vimy Ridge in the north east to Bullecourt in the south east. As elsewhere the British and Commonwealth Troops were called upon to launch an attack in support to a larger French offensive.  The opening Battle of Vimy and the First Battle of the Scarpe were very encouraging with great a great deal of ground gained but as the battles continued attritional fighting led to fewer ground gained but growing casualties with final attempts to outflank the German lines at Bullecourt prove terribly costly. Further details of the Arras offensive can be found online at, and from where the details and dates have been taken. Numerous other websites provide additional information and are easily found. During the battles around Arras, some 25 Littleborough soldiers lost their lives including 13 during April 1917. The stories of those who fell during April are told below and those who fell during May will be added later.

Arras Battlefield – in the Trenches & Hospitalised

Private Ernest Taylor

Ernest was born in Littleborough born around 1898 and in 1911 was living with his parents John (55 a Quarryman) and Louisa (51) at 1 Gatehouse together with his brothers and sisters. Ernest was employed as a Ring Frame Doffer and a member of the Littleborough Parish Church Lads Brigade. He enlisted in Rochdale when he was only 16 years of age and went to France in 1915 aged only 17. Two years later, Private G/5947 Ernest Taylor, 7th Bn East Surrey Regiment was killed in action on 1st May 1917 when in the trenches at Neuville Vitasse and was buried in grave number A10 Happy Valley British Cemetery, Fampoux, Pas de Calais, France. Ernest’s name is recorded on the Littleborough Cenotaph, Littleborough Central School Roll of Honour, Durn Baptist War Memorial and Holy Trinity War Memorial as well as on the family grave. The Rochdale Observer for 13th June 1917 reported that a special service was held in Durn Baptist Church for Gunner Crabtree and Private Ernest Taylor on Sunday evening last attended by a the Church Lads Brigade, a large number of soldiers, relatives and friends.

Private James Deakin

James was born in Sheffield around 1897, and lived there in 1901 before moving to Littleborough where in 1911, the family lived at 14 Higher Shore Road. Besides James were his 5 brothers and 2 sisters. His parents later moved to 13 Kershaw Street. Private Deakin enlisted in Bury and had suffered from wounds earlier in the war before, in November 1915, he received a bayonet wound to his left knee and was hospitalised home to a hospital in Southend. Less than 2 years later on Wednesday 2nd May 1917 21 year old Private 4753 James Deakin, 1st Bn Border Regiment died of wounds in a Casualty Clearing Station most likely from the trench warfare that followed the Battles of Arras in 1917. James was buried in Grave Number IV. D. 8. Duisans British Cemetery, Etrun, France and his remembered on Littleborough Cenotaph and St Barnabas War Memorial. Private Deakin had a brother Private William Deakin King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry a prisoner of war in Germany.

The Third Battle of the Scarpe, 3 – 4th May 1917

Private Wallace (William) Cunliffe

Wallace was born in Littleborough in late 1893 and in 1911 the family lived at 28 Hare Hill Road (Prospect St – Tenement) including Wallace snr, a fishmonger, Mary his mother who assisted in the business as well as a brother and 2 sisters (had already left home). Prior to enlisting in Manchester in June 1915, Private Cunliffe lived at 19 Sale Street and was a draper’s assistant being a member of the Littleborough United Methodist Church. On Wednesday 23rd June 1917 it was officially confirmed that Private PS/7804 Wallace (William) Cunliffe 8th Bn Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) who had been posted as missing on Thursday 3rd May 1917 had been killed in action. Wallace was buried in Grave Number IV C 18 at Vis-En-Artois British Cemetery, Haucourt, France and his name can be found on Littleborough Cenotaph, and the Central School Memorial.

Also killed at the same time as Private Wallace Cunliffe was Private Pickles and Lance Corporal Wallwork as both soldiers were engaged in an during the “attack on Monchy le Preux. The 8th & 9th Royal Fusiliers attacked the Tiver Scarpe, to the south of Monchy.  The Battalion’s objective was the village of Pelves, just south of the river. Some men managed to reach it but in the end they were forced back.

Private Eric Pickles

Eric was born in Smallbridge in 1896 and in 1911 lived at 183 Todmorden Road with his parents Fred, a Cotton Weaver and Elizabeth and sister Dora with Eric being a Boot Repairer. His parents later moved again to 104 Croft Cottages, Calderbrook Road and then to 13 Moorland Street, Littleborough. Prior to enlisting in Rochdale mid 1916 he worked for Messrs Henry Whittles, Littleborough and attended Smithy Bridge United Methodist Church being a member of their choir. 20 year old Private 55342 Eric Pickles, 9th Bn Royal Fusiliers, (City of London Regiment) was killed in action on Thursday 3rd May 1917. Eric’s his name is inscribed on Bay 3 Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France, Littleborough Central School Memorial (now in the History Centre), Smithy Bridge United Methodist Roll of Honour, Littleborough Parish Church and Littleborough Cenotaph.

L/Cpl John Clifford Wallwork

John Clifford was born in Wardle in late 1894 and in 1911 he lived with his parents Albert (own account Fulling Miller) and Clarissa Anne together with his brothers and sisters at Carlton House, Wardle. John and brother Harvey were Fullers. L/Cpl Wallwork 6582 of 9th Bn Royal Fusiliers was 22 year old when he was killed in action in France on 3rd May 1917 and his name is recorded on Bay 3 of the Arras Memorial in France The Rochdale Observer for 2nd June 1917 reported “PRIVATE JOHN CLIFFORD WALLWORK – Private John Clifford Wallwork of the Royal Fusiliers was killed in action on May 3rd. He was 22 years of age and the youngest son of Mr and Mrs Albert Wallwork of Carlton House, Wardle, and was employed by his father until March 1915 when he joined the Public Schools Battalion. After training at Epsom, Clipstone and Salisbury he went out to France on Christmas Eve, 1915. He was not long in France and for 26 weeks was in hospital in Sheffield. He later re-joined the Royal Fusiliers and went to the front at the end of March. He was killed after being in the front line only a few days. He was a regular attender and a member of the choir in Wardle Church and as a boy went to Wardle St James’s School and the Littleborough Central School. He was a playing member of the second team of the Wardle Cricket Club when they won the League Medals. Two brothers are serving in France”. John is remembered on the Roll of Honour of Littleborough Central School and on the Wardle War Memorial.

Sergeant Harold Percival

Harold was born in Smithy Bridge in 1892 and in 1911 he was living at 101 Smithy Bridge Road with his parents Harry (47) and Hannah (46) and his 2 sisters. Harold was a House Painter and his father was a Hide Curer connected with Messrs James Percival, picker makers, Little Clegg Road, Smithy Bridge. Prior to his enlistment he was associated with St Andrew's Church and was a member of the Independent Order of Rechabites. Harold embarked on the SS Saturnia at Southampton on 10th September 1914, subsequently disembarking at Alexandria, Egypt on 25th September. From Egypt his Battalion was actually posted to the Dardanelles and took part in the campaign. Contracting enteric fever he was hospitalised in Egypt/Malta during summer 1915. Harold was invalided home to England and after being discharged fit for duties he picked up two promotions and also underwent an operation for appendicitis. Private Percival volunteered to go to the front saying “I don’t think a young fellow ought to stay in England who can get out there and help”. He was then posted to France in April 1917.  Just a month later his parents were officially informed that their only son, 24 year old Lance Sergeant 240680 Harold Percival, 2nd Bn Lancashire Fusiliers, had been killed in action in France on Thursday 3th May 1917 whilst he was in the line at Fampoux (the Bn also involved in an attack). He is remembered on Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France Bay 5 as well as on St Andrew's Church Memorial Card and War Memorial and a stained glass window in his memory in the church. His name is also inscribed on Littleborough Cenotaph and on the Littleborough Central School Memorial. He and other soldiers were also remembered in a number of Memorial services at St Andrew’s Church.

Private Joseph Scott

Joseph was born in Walsden in 1885 but by 1911 the family had moved to 21 Turf Terrace, Shore with Joseph being a Mule Scavenger. Prior to enlisting in Halifax Private Scott was employed at the Calderbrook Print Works. He enlisted in November 1915 and went to France in April 1916. The Rochdale Observer for 24th October 1917 reported that Private Joseph Scott was officially reported as missing since 3rd May 1917 By Saturday the 27th October 1917 his parents had been officially informed of the death of their 32 year old son. Private 27551 Joseph Scott, 2nd Bn Royal Scots was killed in action in France on Thursday 3rd May 1917 when his Battalion was in the Trenches at Monchy. At zero hour,  03.45 hrs the attack commenced but unfortunately made little progress owing to the intense hostile German rifle and Machine Gun fire which was not silenced by the British barrage. A line of advanced posts was however established and at night and during the following nights men gradually made their way in. However, the casualties were heavy. Private Scott is remembered on bay 1 and 2 of the Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France. Private Scott’s name is inscribed on St. Barnabas War Memorial and on the Littleborough Cenotaph.

John Bulcock

John was born in Todmorden in 1886 and lived in that town most of his life as in 1911 he was a Cotton Weaver, living at 7 Liberal St, Lydgate, Todmorden with his wife Martha (25 born in Burnley) together with their 2 children, Margaret Elizabeth (3 born in Todmorden) and Edith May (2 born in Burnley). Private John Bulcock 36755, 12th Bn East Yorkshire Regiment who enlisted Todmorden was killed in action on 3rd May 1917 fighting to the north of Oppy Wood. John has no known grave so his name is recorded on the Arras Memorial, Bay 4 and 5 and he is also remembered on Todmorden and Cornholme War Memorials , Mount Zion Methodist and in Beverley Minister. The Leeds Mercury 8th June 1917 recording Todmorden Casualties’ incl Private John Bulcock with his address as Knotts, Lydgate. His great granddaughter is a well-known member of local history societies

German Counter Attack and continuing Trench Warfare

Private Walter Ernest Marsden - NO PHOTOGRAPH FOUND

Walter was born in Littleborough in October 1878 and on 14th December 1897 he enlisted in the Lancashire Fusiliers in Bury but by 11th March 1898 he had been discharged on receipt of payment of £10. By 1901 Walter had moved to Court D, 3 Colton St, Leicester  and married Rose (17) being employed as a Coach Painters Labourer. By 1911 Walter, now a widower was employed as an Insurance Agent Walter having moved to 150 Bilberry Street, Rochdale together with a boarder, Martha Harling (31 a Cardroom Operative). Private 15283 Walter Ernest Marsden, 1st Bn Devonshire Regiment who enlisted in Rochdale, died on Wednesday the 9th May 1917 most likely during a counter – attack organised by the British to recapture Fresnoy from the Germans who themselves had recaptured it from the British. Many lives were lost. Walter, then aged 42, was the son of Mrs. M. E. Taberner, 65 Coventry Street, Leicester. A family grave in St. Andrew’s (Dearnley) Churchyard remembers Walter noting he was Killed in Action 9th May 1917 and Not Forgotten. Private Marsden’s name is inscribed on bay 4 of the Arras Memorial, France. The Roll of Honour in the Rochdale Observer for 16th March 1918 includes family sentiments.

Private Harry Grindrod

Harry was born in Wardle in 1896 and in 1911, was living at 154 Ramsden Road, Wardle with Ellen, his widowed mother together with his sisters. Harry was a Woollen Piecer and was later reported as residing at 152 Ramsden Road. He attended St James Church and was a member of the Wardle Conservative Club. The Rochdale Observer 15th November 1916 noting him passed for service stated that prior to enlisting in Rochdale he was employed as a Slasher’s Labourer at Messrs Cleggs Shore Mills, Littleborough. The Rochdale Observer of 16th June 1917 reported that “Much anxiety was felt in Wardle when it became known that Mrs Grindrod of 152 Ramsden Road had been officially informed that her son Pte Grindrod had been missing since a recent engagement in France”. The report added “Being of a very genial disposition he has many friends”. Some 10 months later 21 year old Pte Grindrod, 24538 10 Bn Lancashire Fusiliers was subsequently presumed killed on 12th May 1917 whilst in the trenches at Feuchy. His name is remembered on Bay 5 of Arras Memorial, France. There is also an H Grindrod on the Shore Mills war memorial but 2 Harry Grindrod’s worked at Cleggs Mill!.

Private Fred Hicks

Fred was born in Shawforth in 1891 but by 1911 had moved to 3 Lodge Terrace, Littleborough with his parents George and Alice Maria brothers and some sisters. Prior to enlisting in Rochdale he was employed at Messrs Cleggs, Shore Mills and was a member of Shore Primitive Methodist Chapel. Weekending 3rd January 1918 Mrs Hicks, 5 Turf Terrace, Shore was officially informed that her 26 year old son Private 45714 Fred Hicks, 100 Machine Gun Corps. (Infantry)  formerly 20485 Devonshire Regiment who was reported missing on the 20th May 1917 was killed in action on that date when he was in the Croiselles St Ledger area fighting towards Sencee Valley and river. Fred’s name is on Shore Mills War Memorial, Shore Primitive Methodist Chapel War Memorial as well as on St Barnabas and Littleborough War Memorials with his name is also inscribed on Bay 10, Arras Memorial, France. On Sunday afternoon 24th March 1918 a memorial service in his memory was held in the Shore Primitive Methodist Chapel. The Roll of Honour in the Rochdale Observer of 9th & 25th March 1918 included sentiments from his close family as did a May 1919 edition.

Continuing action along the Hindenburg line June 1917

On arrival and after being re-equipped for trench warfare in very different conditions to those the men had become accustomed to they entered the line at Epehy.They remained in this area, soon moving to Havrincourt where they remained until 8 July. These positions faced the formidable German Hindenburg Line in front of Cambrai.

Private Charles Grimshaw

Charles was born in the district of Bradford in Manchester during 1892 but the family had moved to 8 Hanover Street, Rochdale in 1911. Charlie, a Cotton Dyer married Isabella Foster in 1912 and later lived at 90 Ramsden Road, Wardle. Prior to enlisting in Rochdale in April 1915, he worked at Messrs Ogden and Doodson Ltd, Dearnley Mill, Dearnley and served for 4 years with the local “Territorials”. He served in Egypt before travelling to France but unfortunately Pte Grimshaw, 203300 1/5th Lancashire Fusiliers was killed in action on 13th June 1917 whilst in the trenches at Trescault and is buried in Ruyaulcourt Military Cemetery B6. The Rochdale Observer of the 30th June and 7th July editions carried sentiments from his close family. There is a G Grimshaw on the Wardle War Memorial.

Private Charles Sutcliffe

Charles was born in 1885 in Sowerby Bridge but by 1891 he was living in Paul Row on Temple Lane with his family. By 1901 the family (less his father) moved to 19 Sally St with Charles a Cotton Weaver. Charles married Winifred Emma Ogden aged 20 from Plymouth in Rochdale during 1907 Qtr 2 and they must have continued to live in the village as he worked at Shore Mills and their son Percy was born there in 1909. The family moved again because in 1911 they lived at 39 Bury Old Road, Shuttleworth. Before joining the army (enlisting in Rochdale) Charles lived at 10 Stafford Street, Hamer, Rochdale and worked for Rochdale Corporation in the stables department. Charles served in Egypt (September 1916) prior to being posted to France in February 1917. Just 4 months later, 31 year old Pte Sutcliffe, 203294 of 1/5 Bn Lancashire Fusiliers was killed in action on 16th June, 1917 whilst in the trenches at Trescault and is buried in grave No B 10 in Ruyaulcourt Military Cemetery, France. Charles left a wife and 2 children, the eldest of who was 8 years old. His name is recorded on the Littleborough Cenotaph and on the St James’s Church, Calderbrook Roll of Honour.

On some computers, tablets or Mobiles the pictures may not allign exactly with the details of the solder. Click on the photograph to be sure

#Taylor #Deakin #Cunliffe #Wallwork #Percival #Scott #Bulcock #Grindrod #Hicks #Grimshaw #Sutcliffe #Pickles