Littleborough’s History

WW1’s Fallen Heroes

who lived on Higher Calderbrook

Climbing the hill from next to St James Church and graveyard, Higher Calder contains only a small number of homes with that name in their address but that didn’t stop 6 of them having within 6 soldiers who fell during World War 1 and 2 soldier who died after the war no doubt from medical issues relating to his war service. As the anniversary of the Armistice draws close we can remember the streets loss and sadness some 100 years ago.

2 Higher Calderbrook in 1901

The Whittaker family lived a 2 Higher Calderbrook in 1901, parents John, 38, a Blacksmith's Striker at a Velvet Dye Works and Martha 40 with sons John, 20, a Joiner, Charles 8 and Herbert 4 and  daughters, Sarah 17 and Polly 14, both cotton Ring Piecers, Emily 10 and Ida 4. Daughter Martha M was born in 1902. They later lived at 1 Middle Calderbrook. Their 2 youngest sons fell during the war.


Rifleman Herbert Whittaker

Herbert Whittaker was born in Littleborough in 1895 and by 1911 he was employed as a Factory Hand – Doffer. Prior to enlisting he lived at New Earth Top, Calderbrook and was employed by the Grove Dyeing Co. Todmorden Road. When only 21 year old Rifleman C/1464 Herbert Whittaker 11th Bn Kings Royal Rifle Corps (Brother to Bombardier Whittaker) was killed in action on Sunday 17th September 1916 in the support lines near Lesboeufs. He has no known grave and is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France


Bombardier Charles Louis Whittaker

It is not entirely clear where Charles was born but in 1911 he was employed as a ‘Calico Weaver’.  On the 18th July 1915 in the Holy Trinity Church, Charles married Miss Jesse Brierley of 8 Centre Vale, the only daughter of Mr and Mrs J Brierley, their son Fred acted as best man. Prior to enlisting, Charles worked in the warehouse at Fothergill and Harvey’s Littleborough, was a member of the Calderbrook Church Choir and an Alderman. By weekending 23 June 1917 Mrs Whittaker, by then living at 189 New Platt, Todmorden Road was officially informed that her 24 year old husband Bombardier 118483 Charles Louis Whittaker “A” Bty. 174th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery and Royal Horse Artillery had been killed in action on Sunday 10th June 1917, by shell fire when his Battery was located S of Ypres so as to shell Wytschaete - Messines and Hill 60. Charles is buried in Grave Number I A 13 Vlamertinghe New Military Cemetery, Ieper, Belgium. Mrs Whittaker received a letter from the Army Chaplain advising her that her husband how he was killed. Rifleman ‘Fred’ Brierley was also killed during the war and together with Bombardier Whittaker their names are remembered on the Brierley family grave in St James Churchyard.


Both Brothers are remembered on Littleborough Cenotaph and St. James’s Roll of Honour and War Memorial. Sentiments for both of them were also posted in the Rochdale Observer from friends and family. These included their parents and loving brother Jack who was still serving in France in France.


2 Higher Calderbrook in 1911

Private Robert Walter Whaley

Robert was born at Walsden in 1894 and in 1901 lived with his parents John, 53, a farmer and Susanna 39, at Moor Road Farm. Robert had 2 brothers and 4 sisters, Daisy 21, a Cotton Weaver, Francis 19, a Mason’s Labourer, John T 15, a Raiser in a Velvet Works, Mary 10, Annie 4 and Maggie 8 months. Robert’s mother died on 29th May 1907 and in 1911 the family had moved to 2 Higher Calderbrook, Littleborough with his father now the Sexton at St James’s Church in Calderbrook. Only Robert, possibly better known as Walter, a Weaver at Sladen Wood Mill Co, Mary, Annie and Maggie were living at home. 25 year old Private Ply/17183 Robert Walter Whaley, Royal Marine Light Infantry died in England on Thursday 11th March 1920 and is buried in his mother’s grave in the cemetery of St. James (Calderbrook) Church. Robert is remembered on St. James’s (Calderbrook) Church War Memorial and Roll of Honour and is officially remembered by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC).


4 Higher Calderbrook

Robert William Buckley was born in 1877 and when aged 19 he married Alice Sherratt in Bradford, Manchester on 10th October 1896. They must have left Manchester shortly afterwards because when they had their two children, John in 1899 and Joseph in 1901 both were born in Littleborough. At the time of the 1901 Census the family lived at 4 Higher Calderbrook with Robert being a Velvet Dyer. They had two lodgers who worked in the same roles, presumably in the same works, either Littleborough Dyeing Co at Calderbrook or even Grove Dyeing works. There were 2 more children, Richard born on 9th June 1903 and Agnes born on 11th January 1905. Alice unfortunately died on 4th April 1907 and Robert subsequently married Mary Elizabeth Slater from Castleton on 29th August 1908 and it is likely that the family relocated to Rochdale because in 1911 they lived 9 Chestnut Place off Ramsey St, Rochdale. Robert and Mary E had 3 children, Annie in 1909, Albert in 1911 and Mary J in 1913. The family soon returned to live in Calderbrook living at 1 Stoney Head in November 1914 and 13 Salley Street in April 1918. The family suffered further when James Worrall, Robert’s brother-in-law was killed in action on the 23rd October 1918.


Private John Alfred Buckley - Picture

John enlisted in Bury and after training went to France. Unfortunately, 20 year old Private 42085 John Alfred Buckley, 12th Bn Suffolk Regiment died of wounds received in action in France on Tuesday 16th April 1918 when the German’s retook the Somme and later battlefields. John was buried in Grave Number III C 21 Erquinghem-Lys Churchyard Extension, Nord, France and remembered on Littleborough Cenotaph and St. James’s (Calderbrook) Church Roll of Honour and War Memorial. John was remembered in the ‘In Memoriam’ column of the Rochdale Observer for 14th December 1918.


Gunner Robert William Buckley

Robert enlisted in the Royal Garrison Artillery as 51453 on 11th November 1914 in Ashton but he was declared unfit for further military service and discharged on 11th April 1915. According to army records, Robert lived at 120 Summit Littleborough, right next door to his daughter Annie at 122 Summit. Robert subsequently died on 22nd June 1923 but whilst he served in the army he is not recorded on any known war memorial or in the CWGC official records.


6 Higher Calderbrook

Lance Corporal Albert Sargeant

Albert was born in Salford on 25th May 1889 and 2 years later was a ‘boarder’ with his brother John H. However, by 1901 he is recorded as the adopted son of Alfred and Agnes Sherratt of 6 Higher Calderbrook.  Albert later emigrated to Canada and the CWGC records show him as the son of Margaret Buckley (formerly Sargeant), of Mount Pleasant, Calderbrook, Lancs, England and the late Joseph Sargeant. Also, the husband of Mary A. Sargeant, of 21, Maple St., St. Catharine’s, Ontario. On his attestation papers he included an address at 24 May Ave, Niagara Falls, Ontario but this was crossed out to be replaced by 13 Water Street, Rochdale, Lancashire. 29 year old L/Cpl Sargeant 210862 of 98 Bn Canadian Infantry died on 6th May 1919, presumably of wounds received when in action and is buried in C of E, St Catherine’s (Victoria Lawn) Cemetery, Canada. Robert is remembered on the St James Church, Calderbrook 1914 – 1918 Roll of Honour but his name is spelt Sergeant.


7 Higher Calderbrook

Private William Hawkhard Sutcliffe

William was born in Littleborough in 1888 and in 1891 he was living with his parents Mitchel, 37 and Sarah, 34, both Weavers and his sister Sarah 5 and brother James 5 plus 2 lodgers at 7 Higher Calderbrook. By 1901 the lodgers had left and James was now a Cotton Warehouse Labourer. In 1911 the family lived at 33 Calderbrook Road and William was a Cotton Weaver. William was actively connected with St James Church being a scholar of the school and later a Sunday school teacher. He was also a member of the church dramatic society. Prior to enlisting in Rochdale 7th May 1915 he was employed as a Weaver at Shore Mills. Private Sutcliffe went to  the Dardanelles (Gallipoli) in mid-September 1915 but during action on 10th November 1915 he was seriously wounded being transferred to a hospital in Mudros on the Greek Island of Lemnos (Limnos). 27 year old Private 10890 William H Sutcliffe, 1st/6th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers died on 14th November 1915.  A month later, on Saturday 11th December 1915 Mr & Mrs Sutcliffe, Northern Glen, Calderbrook Road, were notified that their son had died from a gunshot wound and that whilst in hospital he underwent a serious operation. The chaplain wrote to his parents saying that his condition was serious. William is buried in Grave Number H. 25 Lancashire Landing Cemetery, Turkey and remembered on Shore Mills and St Barnabas War Memorials, St James’s (Calderbrook) Church Roll of Honour and War Memorial, and the Littleborough Cenotaph.. The St Barnabas Parish Magazine for January 1916 reported his death adding “The deceased was well known in Shore and much respected by all who knew him. …. The sympathy of his friends is given to the parent and relative in their bereavement. RIP”.  On the family grave in St James’s Churchyard is inscribed William’s name, rank, number and regiment and that he “Died at Mudros 14th November 1915 from wounds received at the Dardanelles” together with the sentiment “He Did His Duty”.


9 Higher Calderbrook

Private James Arthur Stott

James was born in Littleborough 1891 and in 1901 lived with his parents Charles, 32, a Cotton Weaver and Ada 34 and sister Annie 11 and his younger brothers Henry 4 and Ernest 1 at 9 Higher Calderbrook. In 1911 James was employed as a Cotton Operative and before enlistment on 14th July 1916 was employed at Messrs Kershaw’s Wellfield Mill, near Littleborough. James went to France in December 19th, 1916. On 9th August 1917 Private Stott was wounded near Ypres by shrapnel in the right shoulder and over the right eye being transferred to Tooting Military Hospital, London. Recovering, he returned to France but a year later he was dangerously wounded on September 2nd and on Thursday 3rd September 1918 26 year old Private 34967 James Arthur Stott 2nd Bn Lancashire Fusiliers died of these wounds in a Casualty Clearing Station based in Ligny-St-Flochel, Pas de Calais In August 1918, the 2nd Bn of the Lancashire Fusiliers were in trenches and undertook attacks around L'Ecleme, NW of Gonnehem. James is buried in grave III D 32 in Ligny-St-Flochel British Cemetery, Averdoingt, France and his name is on the family grave in St James Churchyard; the headstone with the sentiment "THE SUPREME SACRIFICE-HIS LIFE". James is also remembered on Littleborough Cenotaph. The Rochdale Observer for 21st September 1918 within its Roll of Honour included family sentiments whilst the 2nd October 1918 edition noted that James later lived at 2 Lower Calderbrook, Littleborough, Both of his brothers served during the war.