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


Keeping The Home Fires Burning


Soldiers Who Died

The following is not a complete list of 1917 deaths just those that I have come across whilst researching.
The New Year of 1917 began in Bacup with a speech from Councillor Gledhill, who expressed the Councils sadness that there were many empty chairs in many Bacup homes, and many mothers, wives and families missing the touch of a vanished hand and a silent voice. He was of course he said speaking of those who had made the supreme sacrifice, and as they knew the Bacup Times often made its way to France he would like to send the Councils best wishes to those at the front and to assure them they would here at home keep the home fires buring. Part of keeping those home fires burning concerned the Rossendale by-election  of February 1917, which had been caused by the elevation to the peerage of the sitting Liberal MP, Lewis Harcourt who had been elected as MP for Rossendale in 1904. The Liberal candidate was the Mayor of Bacup Sir John Henry Maden, his opponent was Albert Taylor, the secretary of the Rossendale Slipper Operatives Union who was also a Conscientious Objector, who had been exempted on condition he found work of  military duties and importance Taylor refused. Has a consequence on the 30th January he was fined and detained by the military authorities sentenced to 60 days imprisonment at Wormwood Scrubs, he could not campaign. Described in the press as the Peace by Negotiation’ candidate, he was not very well thought of by many of the men who were already at the front fighting for thier King and Country. Many of them sent there by Taylor who sat on the local Military Tribunal panel. One soldier wrote to the Bacup Times, expressing his view and said :  A man who has forced others to take a service he was not prepared to take, he has also refused to obey the law by not attempting to find work of“national importance”, I have always understood that people should learn to obey the law before they claim to impose laws on other people. Perhaps these were the feelings of many, because Sir Henry won by a clear majority, only holding one campaign meeting at the Mechanics Institute on the 10th February where it is stated he said : he would support the present government or any other as long as it brought an end to the terrible war and loss of life.

An Unpleasant Experience

As January was coming to an end two thirds of residents of Bacup and Stacksteads woke one morning to find they had no water. At first it was thought that it was just the taps that had frozen and a little hot water poured over them would solve the problem. It was soon discovered that the lack of water was much more serious than first thought and it was the mains themselves that had become frozen. The whole area had been suffering from a severe bout of frost the like of which had not been seen for many years.

Battle of Ancre

Towards the end of February, the Art Picture House screened an official British Army film titled the Battle of the Ancre and the Advance of the Tanks. The film was screened to packed houses the seats fully booked. This would have been the first time that many Bacup and Stacksteads families would have ever seen the wonder of the “Tank”.  The film was described as showing the “ splendid endurance of the troops, and also the marvelous land ironclads crawling and crushing thier way from our lines across No Man’s Land to the German Front, enemy onslaught failing to disconcert or injure them. Splendid examples of gunnery were given, and what struck us as an admirable improvement  on the “ Battle of the Somme” was the fact there was non of the re-pungent features which were introduced in the Somme films”.  You can watch a small clip here.

Women’s Land Army

The women’s Land Army was created by the Board of Agriculture, in order to replace the many men who had gone off to war. The Government needed the women to work the land with a shortage of food it was imperative that crops were grown. In April of 1917, the women of Bacup and Stacksteads, were informed of the procedures involved in wishing to join. After filling in and signing a form which they would have picked up from the Post Office on Burnley Road.  A prospective recruit would then be summonsed to the Labour Exchange on Market St to pick up a train voucher in order to travel for an interview before the  Employment  Exchange and District Selection and Allocation Committee of the Women’s War Agricultural Committee, which I understand was based at Preston. The interview was to determine if she was already skilled enough to be sent straight to work on a farm  where a bursary of 15s would be paid or if she would need four weeks training. Provided she passed the medical she would be contacted with details of placement and a voucher for travel, although the recruits were placed as close to home as possible. On the 1st May a census was carried out it was not the usual census that today’s family history researchers use because this one was carried out under the Defence of the Realm regulations and had been ordered by the Quartermster General Sir John Cowans. The census was of horses, cattle, sheep and pigs and of agricultural implements. Farmers and horse-keepers also had to include the amount of grain consumed per week and the amount of horses that were at grass. Waste Nothing and Fun & Games In Rossendale the subject of Bread shortage had become a matter of concern by the begining of May, so much so in Bacup that the Mayor Sir Henry Maden called a special meeting. Suggestions of substituting flour were put forward along with the suggestion that families reduced their bred intake to 3lbs per head per week. “Waste Nothing” being the keyword as it was an offence punishable by law to waste food of any description, or to feed animals with human food. On Saturday the 16th June a little relief from the wartime weariness occurred when the Moorlands and Stubbylee Park bowling greens and tennis courts were opened by the Deputy Major Mr J.H.Lord and his daughter Mrs A .R. Taylor described as being like “Green Velvet”. The first game of bowls was played by Councillor Lord and Mrs James Ashworth the Chairman of the Parks Committee. Fourteen days later on the 30th June, Stubbylee and Moorlands Park was again the venue for what was termed a “Grand Demonstration and Sports Gala”.  A small admission was charged with the proceeds going to the Fern Hill Military Hospital fund.  The gala included a procession of 46 floats and walkers who after gathering on South Street, paraded through the streets eventually arriving at the park. Once there, along with various side stalls which included acrobats, dolly shows, bowling handicap tournaments, there were several sporting events including, for the wounded soldiers of Fern Hill, a wheelbarrow race and a clearing the oven race with a rescue race for the ambulance men.

A Cyclone

The weather on the evening of 20th June caused a great deal of alarm in Bacup and Stacksteads when a cyclone hit the district. A heavy rainfall had occurred earlier in the evening culminating in a sound described as water rushing through water. At Sandfield on Rochdale Road, stones were picked up and hurled 20 to 30 feet. One witness described water being sucked up out of the grass in one of the meadows. Telegraph poles and standards were blown about and a skylight from Fir Trees house was blown completely out. The passage of the cyclone was concentrated in the Rochdale Road, New Line area moving across Tong towards Todmorden Road and Christ Church. On New Line several houses had chimney pots and windows smashed, with hen pens uprooted and blown many yards away. The arm of one of the signals at the engine sheds being completely ripped off with some pieces of metal thought to be from the railway found on the roofs of a couple of houses on New Line. At number 83 the resident, a Mr J Lewis described the conditions as “ lively” when the window of one of his bedrooms blew in along with the roof of his shed. At Christ Church a tree was blown down amidst a great gust of dust, dirt and slates which were blown off many roofs.

A Family’s Double Bereavement

Throughout the war the Bacup Times like many hundreds of newspapers all over the country carried stories that even today in 2014, I personally find hard to comprehend how families coped. One of these occurred in September following the obituary of one mother, Mrs Thomas, wife of Mr William James Thomas of Thornbank Street, Bacup. Her husband had written to his son’s commanding officer in order to get his son Gunner Herbert Thomas aged 29 of the Royal Garrison Artillery, home for his mother’s funeral. The news which came back however was that her son had actually been killed on the very day she had been buried when the dugout he was in was hit by a shell.

Food Control

Under new Food Control regulations residents had to apply for sugar cards and before the end of October over 5,150 sugar cards had been applied for with over 4,500 handed out from the local food office at 18 St James Street. After December 31st, sugar could only be obtained if you had registered your household and in return received a retailer’s sugar ticket for each member of the household which you then had to show to buy sugar. As Christmas approached, the queues in Bacup and Stacksteads at local shops were as prominent here as they were all over the country. Supplies to the various shops were intermittent and irregular. Products such as butter, jam and margarine which in some households was a major part of the staple diet were all rationed. Some women were criticized and accused of behaving unpatriatically by moving from shop to shop to buy more than their fair share of margarine. Mill workers seemed by all accounts to loose out because while in the mill all day at work they were unable to do their shopping during the day and by the time they finished  work the supplies were all gone. The fourth wartime Christmas was spent very much the same as in the previous three years with families quietly remembering loved ones who would never sit by their fireside’s again. Some travelled to Rochdale by train to watch a performance of the “ Messiah” which was at the time a popular annual event. Christmas 1917 was reported has being crisp and bracing and although one or two carol singing groups toured the towns the Irwell Springs Band did not owing to the weather. Many of the children’s Christmas parties that would have once been held were called off due to the various restrictions on food and waste-age, though other entertainments were put on with one of the main places of entertainment being the Arts Picture Palace.
Edward C Russell 17 01 1917 FrankHitchen 25 01 1917 Wilfred H Tattersall 09 02 1917 Willie Clawson 11 02 1917 James Lord 12 02 1917 Arthur Greaves 14 02 1917 John  Roberts 17 02 1917 Patrick Hester 03 03 1917 James Naven 08 03 1917 Patrick Cahill 09 03 1917 Richard H Bellam 19 03 1917 John G Heyworth 21 03 1917 Thomas Kelly 26 03 1917 John W Savory 30 03 1917 Martin Garvey 01 04 1917 James F Mannion 09 04 1917 George Parkinson 10 04 1917 Phillip Nuttall 10 04 1917 George H Yeadon 10 04 1917 Edward M Wright 10 04 1917 Robert H Riding  11 04 1917 Thomas Stott 11 04 1917 Harry Greenwood 13 04 1917 Lawrence Hanley 15 04 1917 Nelson Ormerod  17 04 1917 Arthur Clegg 20 04 1917 Joseph Firth 22 04 1917 Norman R Shingle 25 04 1917 Harry Shepherd 25 04 1917 Robert H Heys 28 04 1917 Arthur Jones 28 04 1917 George Cooper 30 04 1917 Albert  Schofield 02 05 1917 Edward Schofield 02 05 1917 James W Robinson 03 05 1917 Bert Taylor  04 05 1917 Myles Conway  05 05 1917 James A Law 12 05 1917 Joe Tempest 12 05 1917 John B Nuttall 13 05 1917 William J Pill 15 05 1917 T H Stringer  19 05 1917 Frank Sunderland 19 05 1917 John Perry 08 06 1917 Martin McClaughlin 12 05 1917 Tom Hartley 10 06 1917 John A Holt 11 06 1917 George Butterworth 13 06 1917 Arthur Taylor 13 06 1917 Arthur Widdup 14 06 1917 Clifford Whatling 17 06 1917 James A Holmes 30 06 1917 Robert Winder 05 07 1917 Harry Mawdsley 05 07 1917 Frederick W Smith 06 07 1917 Fred Ashworth 06 07 1917 John Perry 08 07 1917 Charles Pillips 10 07 1917 Frank Worthy 11 07 1917 Fred Walmersely 10 07 1917 Enoch Butterworth 13 07 1917 Frank Horrocks 15 07 1917 John R Hitchen 17 07 1917 Fred Leach 21 07 1917 James W Haworth 22 07 1917 Albert E Rogerson 24 07 1917 Thomas H Bell 26 07 1917 Lawrence Robinson 27 07 1917 Harry Gregory  31 07 1917 Fred Harrison 31 07 1917 William R Dennis 01 08 1917 George Dearden 05 08 1917 George Bathurst 09 08 1917 Robert Hoyle 10 08 1917 Cecil Mill 14 08 1917 Sam Edwards 16 08 1917 Joseph Mudd 16 08 1917 David H Harrison 17 08 1917 Michael Conlan 26 08 1917 James Flynn 27 08 1917 Fred Hargreaves 29 08 1917 Robert Crowther 31 08 1917 Ben G Podd 01 09 1917 Joseph W Abbott 01 09 1917 James F Wilkinson 01 09 1917 James Brennan 03 09 1917 R W Blud 03 09 1917 John O Stott 04 09 1917 Samuel R Lord 06 09 1917 William Brooks 04 09 1917 Herbert Thomas 12 09 1917 James Gallgher 17 09 1017 John Morrow 18 09 1917 Scarlett Brown 20 09 1917 Lawrence Dunn 23 09 1917 Walter Baker  30 09 1917 Edward White 01 10 1917 John E Butterworth  04 10 1917 James Whittles 04 10 1917 Albert Nuttall 05 10 1917 Peter Smith 08 10 1917 James W Tomlinson 08 10 1917 Herbert Knight 09 10 1917 Sam S  Bullas 10 10 1917 William H Walsh 10 10 1917 William Cross 12 10 1917 John Furness 12 10 1917 Robert Ashton 18 10 1917 William J Hunter 19 10 1917 William H Taylor 22 10 1917 Miles W Tatersall 22 10 1917 Arthur Benett 23 10 1917 Jess H Temperley  25 10 1917 Benjamin Riding 25 10 1917 Thomas Kite 29 10 1917 Fred Hargreaves 29 10 1917 Samuel T Holt 09 11 1917 John J Hargreaves 10 11 1917 Fred McWicker 12 11 1917 John Hanley 13 11 1917 John Dawson 20 11 1917 John Hoyle 23 11 1917 Thomas Smith 23 11 1917 Thomas Egan 27 11 1917 Charles Cockcroft 30 11 1917 Thomas H Bell 30 11 1917 Joe Hibbert 01 12 1917 Roland Ratcliffe 01 12 1917 Frank Whitworth 13 12 1917 James A Ray 27 12 1917 Jack Lambert 28 12 1917 James Beswick 31 12 1917
Fourth Wartime Christmas
The shades of night were falling fast, As through our little town there passed A woman with but one device “Twas Margarine! “ Try not the queue!” the old man cried, “Its reet to th’ bottom o’ Bankside”; “Ill stand my chance,” a voice replied, For Margarine!” Two hours they stood there in the cold, And some were young, and some were old,  And then the waiting crowd was told; “No Margarine!”

Lads of 18 Called Up

In February 1917 the Secretary

of the War  office made the

following announcement.

The War Cabinet has instructed the Secretary of State for War to call up for military service all lads as and when they attain the age of 18 years and seven months. The necessary proclamation will be issued immediately. The de scion to call up all lads as and when they reached 18 was to train them and to employ them in home defence until they reached the age of 19. The proclamation meant that all lads born in 1898 and in January 1998 who were still in civilian life had to report to their nearest recruiting office of which they were registered with. There were some lads who were exempt these included those who had just passed through a apprenticeship in a skilled engineering trade and who were engaged on  war work in the shipyard or munitions.
Food Shortages 
As an island nation Britain depended not only on the food that could be grown on land here but on imports. America and Canada were two of the major countries who exported food to Britain using shipping routes across the Atlantic Ocean. Following the sinking of the passenger ship the Lusitania in May 1915, and the death of 128 Americans, the American president Woodrow Wilson, demanded that Germany stop its attacks against unarmed merchant ships. On the 1st February, Germany once again began unrestricted submarine warfare and this began to have a serious effect on the food available in Britain. Throughout February, the town council in accordance with Government guidelines had been discussing the cultivation of land in Bacup and Stacksteads in order to grown crops and vegetables such as wheat and potatoes. By the middle of March the Town Council had set up a joint Committee for Food Control, ,made up of members from the Town Council, Corporation Officials,  Education Authority, and War Savings Committee a number of Sub Committees were also formed to undertake the various phases of the campaign. One phrase was to choose land which was suitable for cultivation land at the Maden Recreation ground, and Stubbylee Park was chosen the work of ploughing and planting  the land was down to members of the Bacup Borough Police Force. Other plots were ploughed and planted at the golf links, and schools throughout the area were given plots of land to cultivate, with home owners who owned allotments given free potaote plants.

Margarine Margarine

Battle of Ancre Back to Bacuptimes 1917