Littleborough’s History

4 Local Heroes to be added to the Littleborough War

Rochdale Council has agreed that four Local Heroes who are not remembered on any known local War Memorial qualify to be enlisted on the Littleborough Memorial Cenotaph (1st World War) and have therefore, arranged for the name engraving works to be conducted by Rochdale Memorial Services (their appointed contractor). Their names will thus be added to the 270 names remembered on the World War 1 plaques located behind the Cenotaph in Littleborough Square. Details of the 4 soldiers are given below:


Sapper Harry Barker was born in Bury in 1883 and had lived in Castleton but by 1911 Harry was living with his wife of 6 years (married at Rochdale Registry Office on 24th December 1904), Mary Jane and their son, Thomas Henry at 124 Featherstall Road, Littleborough. Before enlisting in December 1915, Harry was a Stonemason and had moved to 54 New Road, Dearnley. Mobilized on 7th August 1916 Harry was subsequently posted to the Royal Engineers. Unfortunately, 38 year old Sapper Barker died of wounds received during the war on 5th April 1921 and is buried in Grave 24R at Dearnley St Andrew’s Churchyard but otherwise is not recorded on any local war memorial.


Private John William Connolly was born in Manchester in 1884 but by 1911 was boarding with the Playford family (his cousin) at 1 Featherstall Square Littleborough and was a Velvet Finisher at the Littleborough Dyeing Co. On Friday 7th September 1917 his cousin Jane Playford, now of 10 Middle Newgate, Calderbrook Road, received news that Private John W Connolly died of wounds in a casualty clearing station located near the village of Lijssenthoek in Belgium on 7th September 1917, his body interred in grave number XVIII H 16A Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Poperinge, Belgium. John was one of many local soldiers who fell attacking Beck House and Iberian farms north east of Ypres, most of who ARE ON local war memorials.


Private Clifford Firth was born in Littleborough in 1898 and having lived at 24 Smithy Bridge Road with his parents in 1901, the family had moved to 24 Excelsior Terrace, Smithy Bridge in 1911 with Clifford still at school. Having enlisted in Bury he served in France but 20 year old Private Clifford Firth died on Friday the 8th November 1918, in a military hospital from wounds he had received during the very last few days of the Great War. Clifford’s name is inscribed on the family grave but otherwise is not recorded on any local war memorial.


Private Harry Mason was born in Littleborough in 1898 and in 1901 he lived with his family at 11 Bare Hill Street, Littleborough. By 1911 the family had moved to 25a Todmorden Road. Prior to enlisting in Bury Harry worked for the Littleborough Dyeing Co in Calderbrook. Harry was in a working party repairing road when they came under attack from the ‘Fritz’. Harry was badly wounded 4 in four places but after being carried to a place of safety pleaded to his rescuers for them to go back “As there were others worse than himself.” Unfortunately, 20 year old Private Harry Mason was more seriously injured than he believed and died of wounds on 28th June 1917. The Rochdale Observer for 2nd November 1918 reported on the sad news being sent to his parents that their eldest son Alfred had been killed in action. The article also reported that about 3 weeks ago a postcard had been received from Private Harry Mason stating that he had been injured and admitted to hospital adding that ‘since when nothing was heard’. This suggests some terrible confusion regarding when Harry died. Ultimately, his parents learnt that they had lost their only 2 sons. Unlike his brother Alfred, Harry does not appear to be recorded on any local war memorial!


Unfortunately, sufficient information wasn’t available to prove that Lance Sergeant James Robert Egerton actually lived in Littleborough even though his parents lived at 59 Smithy Bridge Road, Littleborough and he once visited them on leave and is buried in St Andrew’s Churchyard.


Our list of Littleborough continues to include Lance Sergeant James Robert Egerton who was born in Newton Heath in 1899 and lived in Manchester most of his life. James, who enlisted in Manchester, came home on-leave to his parents house  but unfortunately when only 19 year old he died of pneumonia on the 19th November 1918. On Sunday 24th November 1918 a memorial service in his honour was held at the Smithy Bridge United Methodist Free Church.


We Remember them all