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Brindle Chorley Lancashire Cameronians.

On Saturday 2nd January 1915 a group of ten men from Brindle and area entered Chorley Recruitment Office on Market Street in the town and joined up.


Traditionally many locals joined the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment based at Fulwood Barracks in Preston but for some reason six men with a Brindle connection joined a Scottish Regiment. More than likely that day, soldiers from the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) had come from their base in Glasgow looking for suitable recruits in Lancashire. As the name implies, the Cameronians were an infantry regiment and they traditionally recruited in Scotland, especially around Glasgow and the West of Scotland. Another three men joined the King’s Own Shropshire Light Infantry and one was placed in the RASC, the Royal Army Service Corps.


The six men who joined the Cameronians together were given sequential numbers, very much in the ethos of ‘Pals’. They were 17574 Septimus Hunt, 17575 James Haydock, 17576 Fred Berry, 17577 Thomas Chadwick, 17578 Thomas Stott and 17579 George Marsden. With the exception of James Haydock, who may have worked with his father (who was a painter), they all worked for Messrs. Wiggins Teape at Withnell Fold Paper Mill. These men give a picture of what happened to pals across the country - some were to lose their lives, some never saw action (being discharged), some lost limbs and some received gallantry awards. In the case of the following they did not, however, fight together as they were either discharged before seeing any active service, sent to different battalions or even other regiments - sadly, three were killed in action. Of the six, three went to school together and are pictured with Mr. & Mrs Lea at Brindle Parochial School (now St. James’ Primary) in 1905.

Septimus Hunt was born in Barrow-in-Furness on the 10th October 1893 where his parents ran a fishmonger’s at 22 Leicester Street. He was named Septimus because he was the seventh child born to his mother - she had five children from a previous marriage. The family came to Brindle in 1901, although his brother Samuel had been in the village for a short while in 1900. Septimus was enrolled at the parochial school on the 4th November 1901 and was living with his widowed mother, Sarah, at Top o’th’ Lane. The school registers show that he left on the 18th October 1906 to go “full-time” as a super calendarman at Withnell Fold Paper Mill.


He served as Private 17574 in the Cameronians although the memorial in Brindle Parish Church (St. James’) records him as being a bugler rather than a Private. He may well have played in the battalion band and been a stretcher bearer, as many musicians had this dual role. A picture post card of Gurrock back to his brother Samuel in Brindle, posted on 15th July 1915, showed he was still in barracks in Scotland. He was killed in action on the Ypres Salient in Belgium on the 13th October 1917 during the latter stages of the Third Battle of Ypres. He is buried in Poelcappelle Military Cemetery near the village of the same name and was initially buried on the battlefield, as Poelcapplle cemetery was created after the Armistice in November 1918. Around him are 7,477 other Commonwealth soldiers, including the youngest soldier to be killed in action in World War One, Private John Condon who was just 14 years of age. Septimus Hunt was in the 9th Battalion of the Cameronians when he was killed; if he had been with the same battalion from the beginning he would certainly had seen action during the Battle of the Somme in July 1916. His elder brother, Samuel, was killed there with the Liverpool Pals on the 30th July 1916 (see Chapter 5). On the 2nd November 1918, just days from the Armistice, their sister Agnes married Private Robinson Kay, a fellow worker from the paper mill at Brindle parish church; he too had joined up at Chorley on the 2nd January (see Chorley Guardian article). After the war the remaining members of the Hunt family, including Agnes and her husband, emigrated to Canada in April 1921.

Lance Corporal 17575 James Haydock was the step-brother of Private 17576 Fred Berry (see below). James’ father, Richard Haydock (a painter) married Fred’s mother, Jane Berry at St. James’ Church in Brindle on the 26th December 1911. According to the 1901 Census, James was born in Clayton-le-Woods in 1897 and living in Town Brow Cottage on the road to Leyland. He survived the war as his name is on the War Memorial in St. James’ Church (it being one of a handful of memorials in the UK that records survivors). In addition, he is mentioned in the ‘In Memoriam’ notice for Fred Berry in June 1918 saying “Jim in Scotland” (probably at Fort Matilda, the Cameronians Barracks). His medal card shows that he landed in France on the 2nd October 1915 and was serving in the 9th Battalion in 1918.


Born in Brindle on the 27th June 1894, Fred Berry lived with his mother Jane at Top o’th’ Lane in Brindle where she ran a small general store. The census records of 1881 and 1901 recorded that his grandfather, Elijah Berry, ran the Royal Oak pub at Riley Green in Hoghton. Fred attended the local school on Water Street from the 9th June 1898 until the 18th December 1907, leaving to work at Withnell Fold Paper Mill as a beaterman’s assistant. He worshipped at Brindle St. James’ Church and a board in the bell ringing room in the Church showed he was a member of the bellringers, ringing a full peal in 1912. The service record of Private Fred Berry survives at the Record Office at Kew in London and makes interesting reading, not only of his time in the army but tracks his family to Leyland after the war. A few days after enlisting in January 1915 he was posted to the 4th Battalion of the Cameronians, probably based at Fort Matilda on the bank of the River Clyde near Greenock. It was here at the end of April that he absented himself from a tattoo (military parade), being duly “admonished” and had to forfeit three days pay. Whether this brought about his transfer out of the Cameronians is unknown but on the 8th July 1915 he was posted as Private 18356 to the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers, embarking for the Western Front five days later with the 2nd Battalion. His record shows that he was with the 2nd Battalion from March 1916, being attached to the Trench Mortar Battery from the 1st May. He probably would have taken part on the attack on the village of Montauban on the morning of the first day of the Battle of the Somme on the 1st July 1916. On the 30th July the battalion suffered heavy casualties attacking the village of Guillemont; they finally left the Somme for the Arras sector in October. Less than a year later he was killed in action on the 19th June 1917, close to the village of Zillebeke on the Ypres Salient in Belgium. The family headstone in the churchyard of Brindle St. James says “A life laid down for King and Country”. It also says he was buried in Zillebeke churchyard; this may have been the case but, after the war had ended, his body was transferred to Perth (China Wall) Cemetery on the outskirts of Zillebeke and his mother Jane was notified of same on the 10th October 1919. Just after Fred’s death his mother, his sister Eunice and stepfather Robert Haydock had moved to the Seven Stars hotel in Leyland. A year later, in June 1918, a very moving tribute was placed in the Chorley Guardian by his mother.

Another of the six to lose their life was Lance Corporal 17577 Thomas Riding Chadwick. He was killed in action on the Somme on the 25th March 1918 when the Germans advanced across the Somme Canal at Ham two days before. He was aged 25 and is buried in Ham British Military Cemetery at Muille-Villette, south of Ham on the road to Noye. Started by the 61st (South Midland) Casualty Clearing Station, the cemetery is next to a German cemetery first started when they occupied the area in 1917. At the time of his death, Thomas was in the 2nd Battalion of the Cameronians and probably saw action further north on the Somme battlefield at Trones Wood and Flers in October 1916. The entry in the register of marriages at Brindle St. James’ Church records that he married Dorothy Ann Marsden, a spinster of Brewith (now Breworth) Fold in Brindle on the 22nd June 1915; he gave his address as Fort Matilda in Greenock.  Their son, Richard, was born later in the year on Christmas Eve.


Whilst Fred Berry and Thomas Chadwick saw action in the trenches of France and Flanders, Private 17578 Thomas Stott did not leave these shores. He was posted to the 4th Battalion of the Cameronians on the 5th January 1915 but was discharged from the army and active service on the 22nd June. His pension records show that he contracted rheumatism in his arms and legs in March 1915, which continued for a month. The Medical Board put this down to “wet and damp in hutments”. On the 20th September, a few months after his discharge he returned to his job as a paper wheeler at Withnell Fold Paper Mill. In 1920, he approached the Parish Council for support to build a parish institute as a suitable memorial for the men from the village who served in the War (see Chapter 29). Thomas was born in Brindle on the 29th August 1893 and lived all of his life at Top o’th’ Lane. He went to the parochial school in the village from the 3rd February 1902 to the 31st August 1906, leaving to go “full-time” at Wiggins Teape Paper Mill. He died on the 8th August 1963 and is buried in the churchyard at St. James’ Church.

The last of the six to join the Cameronians was Private 17579 George Marsden who served in the 10th Battalion. He was recorded as living at Ollerton Fold Farm in Withnell, just across the Leeds-Liverpool Canal from Brindle. Like his fellow ‘Pal’ Thomas Chadwick, he married to a girl from Breworth Fold in St. James’ Church during the War, marrying Sarah Jane Fowler on the 3rd January 1916. George worked at Withnell Fold Paper Mill as a bleach house hand and the mill records show that he had his leg amputated in a military hospital in Cardiff on the 19th May 1917; he returned to work at the mill on the 9th November that year. Born in Nottinghamshire, he died on the 27th June 1939, aged 47 and is buried in the churchyard at St. James’ Church.


Dear Douglas


Please find below details of the six men from the village of Brindle near Chorley in Lancashire who joined up together in the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) in January 1915. The information is from my 2008 book about the men from the village who fought in The Great War. I also attach photographs accordingly, which you are welcome to use.


Bit of a long shot, I have yet to find a photograph of 17576 Pte. Frederick Berry who was transferred to another Regiment – any ideas?


Best regards


Steve Williams


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