Rossendale Branch - Lancashire Family History & Heraldry Society

Rawtenstall War Memorial Obituaries

Gunner Charles WESLEY  -  Corporal John WHITHAMLance Corporal Gordon WHITTAKER
  -  Private John Ed. WHITTAKER  -  Private R. WHITTAKER  -  Private R. WHITTAKER

Gunner Charles WESLEY - killed in action 6th September 1916

Mr. and Mrs. William Wesley, of Oakley-street, Spring-terrace, Rawtenstall, have received information that their only son, Gunner Charles Wesley, of the Royal Field Artillery, has been killed in France, whilst bringing up ammunition. Gunner Wesley, who was 24 years of age, joined the colours on the 17th of January, and after training at Leeds and Woolwich, went out to France about seven weeks ago. He was last in Rawtenstall on leave about four months ago. Prior to enlisting in the artillery he was employed at Holden Wood Bleach Works. Gunner Wesley was born at Wood Top and was very well-known in the Rawtenstall| district.
Mr. Wesley on Sunday morning received two letters, the first he opened being from his son who stated that he had received a pair of socks from the Comforts Fund, for which he was thankful. It was written on September 3rd. The second letter was dated September 6th and was from Major A. W. Digby. It stated:-"I am deeply grieved to have to report to you the death of your son, Gunner C. Wesley, who was killed by a shell while bringing up ammunition to the battery early this morning. I do not think he suffered any pain, as he was killed instantaneously. His battery had been split up and the section he was in had been put into my battery. He died doing his duty, but I fear that is little consolation for your sad loss. A few personal belongings of his are being sent to you in a parcel".

Source: R.F.P. 16th September 1916 p8 c2
Commonwealth War Graves Commission details
Corporal John WHITHAM - killed in action 9th May 1915

The above is a photograph of Lance-Corporal John Witham, of Cloughfold, who was killed in action on May 9th, having joined the 2nd East Lancashire Regiment soon, after the outbreak of war. He was under very, heavy fire at Neuve Chapelle for two days whilst carrying dispatches. His death was caused by the bursting of a shell from a Jackk Johnson. Lance-Corporal Witham had previously been for twelve years in the 2nd Scottish Rifles (Cameronians), and served 2 years in the South African War. He had the Queen's and King's medals, with three bars.

Source: R.F.P. 5th June 1915 p5 c4 - 11th September 1915 p2 c1
Commonwealth War Graves Commission details
Lance Corporal Gordon WHITTAKER - killed in action 30th July 1915

News has been received at Crawshawbooth by Mr. Thomas Whittaker, of Stoneholme Terrace, that his son, Lance-Corporal Gordon Whittaker, was killed on Thursday, July 29th. Deceased, who was twenty-nine years of age, was in the 8th King's Royal Rifles. He had previously been wounded, and gone back to the trenches. He was a native of this district, and an ardent supporter of Tariff Reform. Besides lecturing all over the valley, he was a frequent contributor to the columns of this paper on the subject. He was highly respected in the district, and his early death will be regretted by a large number of friends.

In a letter from France, Sergeant B. Handle wrote saying that Gordon had been killed in action when by his side. A German shell struck him, and he died instantly. The sergeant says that every one of them were cut to the heart, when they heard of his death. He was a Britisher to the backbone, and proved a hero when he returned to the trenches after being wounded. In a very kind and sympathetic letter Sergeant Kindle tells the doings of the day, and the hard struggle at Ypres. They (the Sergeant and Gordon) slept together, and were awakened by a heavy bombardment. They found a big battle tak¬ing place, the Huns having used burning acids on the British troops. They took up a position just in the rear of the firing line, waiting to be sent to the support of the men in front. Hundreds of shells were flying in all directions, and when the fatal shell struck Gordon, both the Sergeant and the deceased were buried in the ground. He (the Sergeant) was horrified on getting free to find his friend dead. The Sergeant describes very vividly the severe fighting which they had to do at tremendous odds, and by the time they got to their trenches they had not enough men left to hold them, and had to retire again. The Sergeant assures Mr. and Mrs. Whittaker that their son was a splendid soldier, and died doing his duty as only a British soldier could, and he expressed the sympathy of all who knew him in the regiment.

In a letter to his parents, written on the 25th July, Lance-Corporal Whittaker said they had just come out of a rough trench. They had got wet through, and it was raining very hard still. He then describes how the German Artillery made an attack. First came their trench motors, then they began to shell, with the result that he got wounded. Some of their men were buried beneath the parapet, and he helped to dig them out Fortunately they were alive, and only suffering from shook. Their trench had been blown to level country. The commanding officer congratulated him on their work. He had to see a doctor, who healed his wounds, and he was longing to get back again in the trenches. Later Gordon writes of going in the trenches, which were blown up, and how he lost everything but that he stood up in. He also refers to a Crawshawbooth friend, Joe White, who was only 200 yards, away and came out safely. A certain pathos is attached to the remark that he was looking forward to being home again ere long on furlough, if the rumours were correct. We received several letters from Lance-Corporal Gordon Whittaker whilst he was in training. The most interesting of these was the following: Sir, It gives me great pleasure to write and let you know that I am A1 and in the pink. I am doing well down here. We have some good pals, and good instructors. We have been drilled rather hard since we came to Surrey. We keep in the best of health, and though we have to rough it, we feel much better when we think of the reason we are here. I think that the 8th K.R.R.'s will have their revenge when they get out at the front. They are supposed to be the finest shooters in the British Army, and 1 feel honoured in being attached to such a fine regiment. We are all trained to make the Germans fly with very little casualties on our side. Out of the whole 8th Battalion there are very few who do not want to go to the front and do their little share. Anyhow, we shall soon have the chance. It behoves each and every able-bodied citizen to join the Army and give the Germans a crushing defeat. The larger our Army is and the better it is for us. You can get trained ready for reinforcement, if necessary, but I think the Germans will be laid low before it comes the turn of those joining now. I may say that we are fully expectant of meeting the Germans. We are practising skirmishing and the art of warfare, and I think we shall get to put it to a test. Trusting to hear of a large number of recruits to replace those who have the honour to go out and fight - Yours faithfully, GORDON WHITTAKER.

Source: R.F.P. 7th August 1915 p5 c5 - 11th September 1915 p2 c6
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Private John Edward. WHITTAKER - killed in action 14th January 1918
John Edward Whittaker

Deep sympathy will be extended to Mr. and Mrs. H. Whittaker of 12 Cribden-st, Rawtenstall, in sad loss they have sustained by the death of their only son, Pte. John Edward Whittaker (20) of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

The news of his death has been received in a letter from a lieutenant and also from a chaplain who officiated at the interment.

In the course of the lieutenant's letter he says that on the 14th inst. Pte. Whittaker was temporarily attached to the Royal Engineers of his, the lieutenant's company and had formed one of a small working party. Having finished their appointed task they were returning to billets when a shell fell among them and killed Pte. Whittaker instantly.

The deceased soldier joined the forces on the 28th September 1916 and went to France in June 1917. In July he was wounded in the thigh and was returned to England. He was home on furlough eight weeks ago, after which he was drafted to the front.

Pte. Whittaker, who was of a quiet and un-assuming disposition, was formerly employed at Messrs. Hoyle, Hoyle and Coy's slipper works as a clicker, and was associated with Longholme Wesleyan Chapel. A memorial service will be held at the Longholme chapel tomorrow (Sunday) morning.

Source: R.F.P. 26th January 1918 p8 c4 - 2nd February 1918 p5 c1
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Private Robinson WHITTAKER - died 3rd May 1917

No information available

Private Robert WHITTAKER - killed in action 22nd July 1916

The casualty list for the Waterfoot district was added to on Thursday by the receipt of official intimation of the death in action of Pte. Robert Whittaker, of 22 Booth Road.
The deceased soldier, who was 19 years of age last November, had been brought up from being a baby by Miss Schofield at the address stated, and was well known. He was an employee at Mr. J. H. Hirst’s, Whitewell Slipper Works, and was an attendee at Newchurch Unitarian Sunday School.
He enlisted in October of 1914 in the Royal Garrison Artillery, and had been in France just twelve months. He was over at Waterfoot last Christmas on leave, having up to then served some six months in the fighting. His guardian was accustomed to receiving letters regularly, but for a fortnight these have been missing. The official intimation which reached her on Thursday said that Pte. Whittaker was killed on July 22nd.

Source: R.F.P. 12th August 1916 p8 c3 - 19th August 1916 p8 c4
Commonwealth War Graves Commission details