The Great War 1914 -1918 Bacup Home Front Home 1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 1919 Brothers in Arms Wounded Fern Hill Hospital Medals & Awards Empty Chairs Chit Chat Contact  Copyright Bacup & Stacksteads Great War
The war cloud which hung over Britain as the August Bank Holiday weekend approached did little to prevent the usual numbers of holiday makers from from going to thier favourite resorts. The Bank Holiday crowds at Blackpool were said to be some of the biggest ever seen. In Morecambe even the bad weather failed to dampen the holiday spirits. Hotels and boarding houses in Southport recorded full houses, and during the twenty four hours, between six o’clock on Saturday morning and six o’clock on Sunday morning over 40,000 visitors disembarked from 27 steamers  onto the shores of Douglas, Isle of Man.    


And So It Begins.......

Within hours of the declaration of war the King had issued a proclamation calling all reservists to the colours, and the Defence of the Realm Act more commonly known as DORA came into force. The act gave the British Government powers to seize resources including property, buildings and land to be used for the war effort; it also covered censorship and the country’s labour force which had been affected by the outbreak of war.
At the St John’s Ambulance  HQ in King Street, Bacup, orders had been received that all Sick Berth Reservists must hold themselves in readiness for an emergency. By Sunday the 2nd August, further orders had been received informing them that all ranks of the Sick Berth Reservists, as many as could be available, must proceed to London that night with the remainder to leave the following morning. Shortly after 9pm over 40 men of the Bacup St Johns Ambulance Sick Berth Reserve were waved off from Bacup railway station by family and friends. Along with the ambulance men, over 5,000 Territorials of the East Lancashire Division along with members of the West Lancashire Division were recalled from their annual training camp in Carnarvon some having only arrived there the day before some of who were still making their way there on the train. This was the first time in the history of the home defence movement that this had ever happened. The railway companies were not prepared for the sudden return of all the troops from the Welsh Coast and this caused severe disruption to ordinary services. Leaving from Bacup on one of these trains were two Police reservists P.C Willis and P.C.s William and Richard Coates. The Bacup and Stacksteads Territorials were part of H Company the 5th Battalion East Lancashire Regiment, under the command of Colonel Joshua Craven Hoyle who like many of his men had taken part in the Boer Wars of 1899-1902.


John Darcy 26 08 1914 Hugh Holland 05 09 1914 Thomas Brennen 14 09 1914 James Higgins 15 09 1914 John Schofield  20 09 1914 James Greely 27 09 1914 Leonard Holt 02 11 1914 Michael Gallagher 08 11 1914 William Coates 11 11 1914 Men of H Batt 5th  East Lanc Men of St John's SBR
There was a desperate need for fit healthy young men. With this in mind the army reduced the normal minimum height requirement from 5ft 3 to 5ft. Men enlisted into these units were known as Bantams. These battalions were frequently drawn from coal mining and industrial villages and towns.  In Bacup by the 5th of December 1914 there had only been 12 enlistments into this kind of battalion. The 12 men and occupations were: W Gillmore Millhand, David Banham Collier,Herbert Holt Cotton Operative, Fred Gee Collier, J J Mills Collier, J W Whittaker Collier, Samuel Austin Labourer, R W Smith Collier, R Marshall Cotton Operative, T A  Bridge Quarryman, T Gallagher Slipperhand,  Patrick Gallagher Labourer. Between the 4th Dec & 2nd January further enlistments were: J Connearn Slipperhand, J W Cross  Weaver, Jack Blamet Weaver, J A Gee Collier, H Guy Miner, Lord Harris Miner, Arthur Jones Labourer, G McGinty Labourer, Harry Nadin Slipperhand, P Prince Cotton Operative, J W Ives Labourer.

Bacup came under the 30th recruiting area; a room at the Mechanics

Institute had been loaned by the Bacup Borough Council for the

purpose of recruiting and by the week ending October 24th 1914,

over 900 men from Rossendale had answered Kitchener’s call and

enlisted.  Between August and December, over 500 men from Bacup

and Stacksteads had enlisted. In Bacup, Mr Jesse Temperley, pictured

below, a clerk in the Rochdale Town Clerk’s office, and Mr A E

Ashworth, clerk in the employ of Messrs Joshua Hoyle & Sons, were

amongst the “Old Boys” of the universities and Public Schools Battalion which had been formed in

Manchester, sadly Jesse who was a 2nd Lieutenant would die in 1917, from carbon monoxide

poisoning when a heater was left on in his dug out.

Following the announcement of war there was a fear by the Bank of England that the declaration of War would cause a run on the banks. Employers found difficulties in paying their employees’ wages. Mill owners found their orders for cloth were cancelled and, those who had already delivered their orders found great difficulty in obtaining the money owed. The closure of the Liverpool Cotton exchange and curtailed operations at the Manchester Exchange meant there were difficulties getting new orders, giving quotes and signing contracts. As a consequence many of the local spinning mills had to begin working short time and in some cases cease work all together. By the middle of September, out of a working population of approximately 4,500 just over 300 people found themselves out of work and a total of over £573.00 was distributed in relief to over 2318 families from the start of the war to March 1915.  Equal today 100 years later to over £57,000. Not everyone found themselves out of work. Many local plumbers and joiners were interviewed by representatives from the military and offered twelve month contracts in naval dockyards repairing damaged battleships and other work incidental to the war. Others were sent to the various Army training camps to erect the many huts needed for the recruits and stables needed for the horses. As if to illustrate the need for these huts one young Private, Will Coupe of G Company, R.A.M.C., based at Redun Camp Aldershot wrote home to the Bacup Times stating: “The men are still under canvas, but hope to be in a barracks before long”.  He went on to say that since he arrived he had witnessed several train loads of wounded soldiers and the departure of brave lads off to the front.

Horses & Transport Commandeered

Within days, the army remount men were busy in Rossendale, buying up horses for transport purposes. It appears the remount officer for this area was a little kinder than in some parts having it was said a “sympathetic outlook”. One of the first horses to be bought belonged to the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company, its delivery man having to use a handcart following the horse’s purchase.  Some farmers were very happy to see their horses go, especially as they received a payment. In these cases it was due to the fact that their horses were known to be biters and kickers and so the farmers were happy to be rid of them. Motor vehicles were also commandeered, for one company Tattersalls of Tong Mill, this was rather frustrating as they had only purchased a new charabanc a few weeks before the outbreak of war.
Enlistments  Aug - Dec 1914


The Christmas of 1914, in Bacup and Stacksteads was one that was described as unprecedented in the history of the lives of Bacupians. Families wishing to send parcels to the front were advised that letters and parcels would not be sent free of charge. The cost of a parcel weighing up to 3lbs was one shilling and for a parcel weighing 3lbs to 7lbs the cost was 1s.4d. Parcels weighing more than 7lbs were not allowed nor were registered parcels.   Families at home celebrated the season of Peace and Goodwill all the while knowing that their sons, brothers, fathers and husbands were engaged in a horrible slaughter, killing and attempting to kill their fellow men across the North Sea in the fields and trenches of Flanders. Some of the luckier men were allowed a short leave or furlough which they spent with their families in Bacup and Stacksteads the sight of many of these Khaki Clad leading some people to describe Christmas as the Khaki Christmas. In America public subscriptions had paid for 80,000 Christmas gifts consisting of warm clothes and toys. These had been shipped from New York aboard the fleet fuel ship Jason, which was publicised in the newspapers as the “Santa Claus Ship”   the ship arrived in Devonport in November. Bacup was a recipient of some of these American gifts and these were added to by the Mayor and Mayoress and other dignitaries. Every child who had a parent serving in the colours  received a gift and invitations to various parties which in Bacup were held at the Mechanics Institute and in Stacksteads at Western School.
Soldiers Who Died Bacup’s first reported war casualty was Martin Farragher, born in Bacup he was a married man aged 31, and a reservists. Martin was a member of the 2nd Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers, who were part of 12th brigade 4th division who first went into battle with the Germans at La Cateau on the 26th August a battle in which the British troops were heavily outnumbered.


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