2nd Battalion

Ploegsteert - Le Touquet - Armentieres.

14 September 1914 - 22nd April 1915.
Three more 2nd Bn LF's have been found

Thinking over the information about the three 2nd Bn LFs whose bodies have now been identified, I felt that I had seen the Sgt's name somewhere before.

Sure enough, I found what I was looking for about 0130 hrs this morning!

This is what I discovered:-

Le Touquet 18th October 1914.

Second Battalion XX The Lancashire Fusiliers.

Early in the morning ,"B" (Captain W. Higgin-Birkett) and "C" (Captain R. Luker) Companies advanced on the left of the Le Bizet— Le Touquet road, with "A" Company in support and "D" Company in reserve. The village was strongly held, the houses were loopholed and trenches were dotted about over the open ground outside the village. Moreover the enemy was able to bring a cross fire of artillery and rifles from the east bank of the River Lys and from the loopholed buildings of Frelinghien. As a result, progress was very slow, "B" and "C" Companies lost touch and a platoon of "A" Company under Second-Lieutenant L. B. L. Seckham, with Serjeant W. Evans, was sent up to restore contact. But the enemy fire was so heavy that it was found necessary to reinforce this platoon by Lieutenant J. K. C. Cross's platoon of "D" Company, which moved across country under heavy fire. Though Cross himself was hit in the head by a piece of shrapnel he rushed forward another thirty yards, but was then obliged to drop out. While his wound was being bound up behind a haystack by Seckham, a German shell carried away the top of the stack.
By 10.00 a.m. the battalion had crossed the railway and was approaching the outskirts of Le Touquet, but by 10.30 a.m. its advance was definitely held up by shrapnel which appeared to be fired from the direction of Frelinghien at point-blank range. Shortly after, Woodman sent Evatt along the railway line to O.C. "B" Company with an order that he must get his company on to the Le Touquet—Le Gheer road, clear the former village at all costs at the point of the bayonet and if possible push on to Frelinghien.

NOTE:-
Insert by Captain (retd) J Eastwood BEM CQSW late of the Lancashire Fusiliers.
www.lancs-fusiliers.co.uk

The following Paragraph is of great importance in view of the recent discovery of the bodies of three Lancashire Fusiliers of the Second Battalion.

Sgt Parkinson and Pte Pulford are two of the men whose bodies have now been identified.

It is also of great interest that the man named as J Lynn would later win a Victoria cross.

This proved to be impossible, although gallant and valuable work was done by a machine gun manned by Serjeant E. M. Parkinson and Privates H. Pulford, J. Lynn and Yates. The first two were unfortunately killed by two consecutive shots two days later.
When O.C. "B" Company represented his inability to advance in view of the lack of artillery support, Evatt was sent to him with an intimation from Woodman that there was no such word as "can't" in the army ! Nevertheless no further move was in fact feasible, and at 12.35 p.m. orders were issued by 12th Brigade for a systematic bombardment of Frelinghien to be carried out and for the attack to be resumed at 2.3o p.m. This time, the Le Touquet—Le Gheer road was reached and "B" Company established itself precariously on a line just north of the level crossing. Enemy shelling was by now heavy, particularly on the crossing ; and six men who were sheltering under a culvert close to it were killed by the concussion of a bursting shell. At about 5 p.m. the battalion received orders not to press its attack unless further progress was made by the l0th Brigade which had been held up on the right. Some slight advance was, however, possible and by dusk the battalion had secured a firm grasp of the whole village of Le Touquet with the exception of a few houses at the road junction, which were at first occupied but had to be abandoned as they were set on fire by enemy shelling.

Report in the manchester Evening News
3rd December 2010

Click on it to enlarge it

Latest News
4th Dec 2010
To date a nephew of Sgt Parkinson has been found.
more news as it comes in

 

 

14/12/2005
Fusilier is finally laid to rest after 87 years
Pte Harry Wilkinson
2nd Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers


Re-burial of Pte Harry Wilkinson 2nd Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers
(20th Foot) who was killed on 10 Nov. 1914,
he was buried at Prowse point Cemetery, near Ypres, Belgium. The
remains of Pte Wilkinson who came from Bury,
Lancashire, were discovered at Ploegsteert Wood, Belgium. MOD & CWGC
personnel confirmed his identity through
forensic examination and artefacts found with him. The funeral with
full military honours was carried out by


1st Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.

BURY Fusilier Private Harry Wilkinson was finally laid to rest close to where he was killed nearly 87 years ago.

Three generations of his family were joined at Flanders by civic dignitaries, military representatives and members of the public as they watched his coffin, draped with a Union flag, a wreath of poppies and a beret bearing the primrose hackle of the Lancashire Fusiliers, was carried into the churchyard at Prowse Point Military Cemetery near Warneton, Belgium.

Pte Wilkinson's remains were carried by six members of his former regiment.

During the service on Wednesday, tribute was paid to the soldier's sacrifice and, as his coffin was lowered into the ground, a single bugler sounded the Last Post.

A volley of shots was then fired over the graveside by members of the 1st Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, to remember the Bury soldier and father who died in the 'war to end all wars'.

The Wilkinson family, who were traced as a result of work carried out by the Bury Times, said they were extremely proud that their brave relative had finally been honoured.

Nine-year-old Jay Wilkinson attended the funeral with his mother, Annette Wilkinson and his great-aunt, June Brammer, the Fusilier's 59-year-old granddaughter.

Nine-year-old Jay Wilkinson

Young Jay was given the honour of wearing his great- great-grandfather's three military medals, the Mons Star, the War Medal and the Victory Medal, as he laid a wreath following the service. It read: "Harry, lost but now found. God Bless."

Five hundred people, including the Duke of Kent, packed into the small, wind-swept cemetery, which lies along the former Flanders front line.

The Duke, who is the Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, senior military officers from the regiment, and other members of his family also laid wreaths at the graveside. Mrs Wilkinson said: "It has been nice to put him to rest at last."

Pte Wilkinson's remains were the first to be identified in 25 years in both Belgium and France, after they were discovered in January last year.
Last Post

The Last Post was played as the Duke
and members of
Mr Wilkinson's family laid wreaths at his graveside.


Private Wilkinson's family gathered for the service in Belgium

Later on Wednesday Mr Wilkinson was due to be honoured again with the playing of the Last Post at the Menin Gate in Ypres.

Since 1928 the Last Post has been played each day at 2000 to remember those commemorated on the gate war memorial.

To mark the 25,000th sounding of the Last Post, a short service will take place at the gate on Wednesday afternoon, attended by the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Phillipe of Belgium.

As part of the commemoration a different soldier, sailor or airman killed during the 1914-1918 War is to be honoured each day for a year.

Mr Wilkinson, who was killed during


According to military records, the 29-year-old cotton mill fire-beater had been shipped out to the front on August 23, 1914. He left behind his pregnant wife, Eva, and his six-year-old son, Harry, at their Lord Street home in Bury.

He was then involved in non-stop action at Le Cateau, Marne and Aisne. His unit moved by train to the Ypres Salient and saw more combat at LeTouquet.

Seven hundred of the 1,100 Fusiliers he had sailed to France with were either dead or wounded.

Pte Wilkinson met his death, along with two other soldiers, during a raid on German-held trenches at a farm house in Ploegsteert Wood on November 10, 1914. His body was buried in a shallow shell crater by his brothers-in-arms.

His remains lay under the earth until they were uncovered by Belgian amateur war historian Patrick Roelens, after the ground had been ploughed for the first time in 85 years.

His metal military ID tag, and other Lancashire Fusilier artifacts were also discovered with Pte Wilkinson's remains.

The Wilkinson family, from Luton, now intend to return on another pilgrimage to Ypres to honour Pte Wilkinson.

They will also be meeting friends they have made as a result of the discovery of their ancestor's remains.


"Pic of roadside memorial taken by John Hickie 11th June 2011."




Pte Richard Lancaster

World War I soldiers re-interred in Belgium
4 Jul 07
Over 90 years after he was killed in action, Private Richard Lancaster of The 2nd Battalion The Lancashire Fusiliers, has been re-interred at Prowse Point Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Belgium today, Wednesday 4 July 2007.


Artefacts belonging to Private Lancaster are handed over to his granddaughter Doreen Grimshaw following his re- interment at Prowse Point Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Belgium
[Picture: Rob Pollard MOD]

Pte Lancaster's remains were discovered by archaeologists in 2006 alongside two unknown soldiers who were also re-interred during today's ceremony.

Born in Lancashire in 1882, Pte Lancaster served in the Regular Army from 1901-05, when he married Phoebe Porter in Burnley. The marriage certificate lists them both as weavers. He was mobilised in August 1914 and embarked for France, where he saw action at Le Cateau and Armentières.

Pte Lancaster was killed in action on 10 November 1914 during a counter-attack south of Ieper (Ypres), near Ploegsteert Wood, only a few hundred yards from where the Christmas Truce would take place a month later.



Private Richard Lancaster of The 2nd Battalion The Lancashire Fusiliers with his eldest son Richard (Junior)
[Picture: MOD]


The service in Ypres was attended by Pte Lancaster's granddaughter, Doreen Grimshaw, along with other family members. Doreen, aged 71, from Accrington, explained how she first heard that her grandfather's remains had been discovered:

"We got to know on Good Friday last year," she explained. "I was just totally surprised and amazed. Then things just snowballed from there as the arrangements for today began to take shape. At the time I wasn't thinking about actually going to Belgium myself but it's good to be here."

Doreen knew very little about her grandfather:

"I discovered through my grandmother that he died during the First World War. He was my dad's father, but my dad never really knew him as he was only four when his father died."


Family and relations of Private Lancaster read the tributes at his graveside and those of two unknown soldiers, re-interred during the same ceremony
[Picture: Rob Pollard MOD]


Doreen admitted to being apprehensive as the day of the ceremony drew nearer:

"I had mixed feelings; I've been a little nervous and was just hoping that the weather would hold today. Everybody involved has been really fantastic though, particularly Sue Raftree and her team.

"It's been a very emotional ceremony. Lots of soldiers were present in their ceremonial uniforms. Some people have travelled all the way from the UK, people that didn't even know my grandfather.

"His name is commemorated on a plaque in a church in Burnley and some of the regulars to the church saw the story on the TV last year. They recognised my grandfather's name and decided they would come over to Belgium on the ferry and pay their respects by laying a wreath."

Doreen Grimshaw
The Honour Guard and Buglers at today's ceremony were from 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. They accorded Pte Lancaster and his comrades full military honours.

Sue Raftree, from the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre based at RAF Innsworth in Gloucester, said:

"Today's events were especially moving and very professionally done by all those involved. The task at Prowse Point Cemetery was made a little harder by the fact that there were three coffins.

"Although Private Lancaster was found with his identity discs, the other two soldiers were not, so we had to check through the records to establish exactly which of the bodies was Private Lancaster."

In a separate service at nearby Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery, the remains of an unknown Lancashire Fusilier were also re-interred today. The remains were found in May 2005 during archaeological excavations on the former Ypres-Roulers railway, 300 metres from Tyne Cot cemetery.


Soldiers of The 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers prepare to lower Private Lancaster's coffin into the grave
[Picture: Rob Pollard MOD]


On 9 October 1917 six battalions of the Lancashire Fusiliers took part in a final push to take the railway and the ridge at Poelkapelle. 307 men were killed in action; 247 of them have no known grave and are commemorated on the rear wall of the cemetery.

Following the ceremony the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 unveiled a plaque on the spot where the soldier was found and where a preserved section of the wartime railway has been restored. This now forms part of a walking and cycle path.

The re-interments in Belgium come eight days before the state ceremony to mark the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele, also at Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery.

Click here for the BBC report on the Funeral


Mike Glovers Report on the funeral
On Wednesday 4th July four soldiers from the First World War were laid to rest in Belgium. One was clearly identified as Private Richard Lancaster of the 2nd Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers who died on the 10th November 1914. He was found with two other bodies who may have been LFs but there was not enough evidence to prove it. The other body was that of a soldier, possibly and officer from the TA Fusilier Brigade in the 66th East Lancashire Division. He was killed on the 10th October 1917 during the battle for Passchendaele.

The Drums Platoon from the 1st Battalion provided the Carrying and Firing Parties and throughout maintained the best traditions of the Regiment. Richard Lancaster and the two unidentified bodies were buried at the Prowse Point Military Cemetery near "Plugstreet Wood" to the south of Ypres. The unidentified officer was buried at Tyne Cot Military Cemetery. For future reference a permanent memorial to the LFs at Passchendaele will be created at the spot were the officer was found on the old railway line close to Tyne Cot cemetery. The evening of the 4th saw the Drums Platoon performing at the Menin Gate Ceremony. Their performance was first class and they have been asked back for the 11th November.

The Regimental Museum was instrumental in the identification of the body and finding surviving members of Richard Lancaster's family. Indeed the funeral reunited several members of the Lancaster family who had never met. As requested by the Joint Compassionate and Casualty Centre, the MoD department responsible for the overall coordination of events, on the Tuesday before the funeral, the Museum provided a briefing and tour of the battlefield for the family . Following the funeral on Thursday, the Museum provided a tour of both battlefields for the Fusiliers from the 1st Battalion who were also accompanied by members of the Lancaster family, uniformed members of the Great War Society and the local archaeologists who discovered the body of Richard Lancaster.

The event generated considerable media interest and article appeared on television, radio, national and local newspapers. There are a further 15 LFs recorded as being buried in that area with no official grave, so watch this space.

Mike Glover


A YouTube video on the finding of Pte Lancaster


Another link on the Richard Lancaster Story