On this page it is our intention to promote all the achievements of the society, which includes those that were concluded since 2003, as without which, this society would never have evolved. The ‘heritage succeses’ of 2003 / 4 were not the conclusions of committees, nor of government funded resources under a soundbite heading ‘Cool Britannia Heritage’ but of an individuals campaign of four years, with a similar endeavor by three people intent on keeping a memory alive, demonstrated again by a commitment with much perseverance over a period of years. Nor was it a lottery funded P C ‘sop’ provided to sway that undeniable belief we were losing our sense of military pride as a country, as we seem to care more for minority ideologies and pacification of those who constantly tell us remembrance day is ‘warmongering’ and red poppies are shameful. Without this ‘going it alone’ we would never have reached the production of this website.
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The ‘missing’ men on Lathom & Burscough Memorial.
I first visited the Somme in 1996, first sight of Thiepval made hair stand up, it still does after countless viewings. I located two graves of local men, thought that was amazing almost 450 miles and i find two local men amongst thousands ! On returning home if ventured into Ormskirk library the belief there would be a record, naive of me as nothing existed, they didn’t even then have a copy of Soldiers Died, until some five years later when i uttered those ‘immortal words’ then and only then did they acquire one.
I set about seeking more information, first stop the war memorial on Liverpool Road, second stop Comrades Club (there’s another story) Taking down the names from that memorial at Burscough still lives long in memory… Abel Baldwin x 2 now that has to be an error, not so, in fact both their fathers are also called Abel ! Visiting a military fair in Chester one day i encountered a medal dealer (still dealing today) he pushed across a CD at me Soldiers Died in The Great War. From that moment using the memorial at Burscough as a benchmark it became obvious that Lathom & Burscough had omissions of names circa 35% omitted.
That was the start of what was to become a roller coaster ride of many emotions… the bad ones, condemnation, accused of running a scam, raking up the past, disturbing memories best left alone, promotion of war, to name some of the good ones. Amongst all this was some support too, I met folk who had evidence in there own areas of men missing, they too had encountered mixed responses. One had found 240 men in town not far from here, a town that had a close community, built on terraced houses and back to back streets, when you scratched a ‘Molyneux’ or an ‘Topping’ they all bled red syndrome.
That was one reason thrown at me, “if what i was saying was true, it would have come to light by now” said one veteran of an ex service men’s club, not so. He, the historian of that particular town became my motivation, he did it the hard way, ‘soldiers died’ in book form, page after page in alphabetical order, then by battalion number order, 84 volumes… modern comparison is telephone directories, phew. At least i had a computer. ( just needed lessons to use the thing)
Also at this time i met local historian from Bickerstaffe, sadly he is no longer with us, he above all else created within me the sense of passion and desire that you need to undertake projects like this, his name was Ronnie Taylor. He created the best biographical military archive I have ever seen, only small, but then Bickerstaffe was also small, patriotic but small ( good things in small parcels) The archive is Bickerstaffe Remembers today it is ‘web’ published, I saw it when it was three private volumes, long before it went ‘web world wide’ 1 for Ronnie, 1 for the church, 1 spare… I wish.
He built the archive in the 70’s 80’s when close relatives of the dead were still very much alive, prime source material is scarce, any medal collector worth his salt, will tell you the value of such, that’s if hes a collector, not a metal hoarder. To Ronnie Taylor thank you for adding to my interest in military history in the way you did, your passion for local history was evident from the moment we met. Your infectious passion for commemoration of those who have fallen is my inspiration.
From discovering the 40 odd missing men late 1999, which eventually became 38 names added, it was four years almost to the day when the ice broke, or the wall came down. I have no desire to revert back pre- November 2003, you will be able to make your own judgements from the editions and editorials in the photos below.
I must here thank most sincerely the Burscough Parish Council in particular Brian Bailey Chair of said council, for his unswerving support in listening (if not always welcomed due to financial constraints) of any soldier i promote, as to be considered for inclusion on the war memorial. I would like to think that any suggestion of a name has credibility, is fully justified to be considered, otherwise i would not propose. I am very conscious to be correct, one has to be utterly clinical when proposing names.
The chair and his fellow councillors have continued to be fully supportive of the ongoing work in this aspect of research, it never stops as you will see below, as in 2008 additional names were added, with another in 2011. As with all research of this ilk, it can never be said to be completed. As i mentioned above the work undertaken a decade ago evolved into the ‘Lathom & Burscough Heritage Society’ The Burscough Parish Council too there great credit, have had a large part in that process.
Enough retrick from me, please feel free to comment on the reports below.
20th November 2003.
27th November 2003.
November 2003 Pte John E Walker ‘fought his last battle’
Great uncle of David Lea… following David’s timely discussion with reporter Gary Stewart of the Advertiser, in respect of Pte Walker. The then deputy editor, Cifford Birchall asked if i would confirm with Gary, the story that David had told, that of Walker being missing from Burscough Memorial.
“Yes its true, he is missing, along with 37 others”
The Ormskirk Advertiser ran the story for weeks, the then local MP Colin Pickthall backed it, public support was indeed very good. In January 2004 following a Parish Council Meeting attended by the Lea family amongst others, a presentation was delivered by Richard Houghton…. the show of hands to ‘propose’ the motion, was only ‘bettered’ by the show of hands to ‘second’ the motion, which was duly carried, the rest is history.
Finally in October 2004.
‘The Missing Men of Lathom & Burscough’
Above the ‘insert’ panels of granite which are identical to the original granite used in 1920. Containing the 38 men added in 2004, with the additional 3 names the Fraser Brothers, Riley plus Rimmer in 2011. This was the culmination of the research work undertaken by Richard Houghton.
Above The WW2 names Dean, Charnock, Culshaw, Melling, Yates.
The result of further research undertaken by Richard Houghton.
Sarah Bryant. Iraq 2008.
It is appropiate to congratulate the stone mason John Smith of Crosby Memorials for his excellant work in the stone selection together with his recreation of the original style of naming, which is engraved then raised in lead. The names of 2004 are now identical to those original names of 1920, due to natural ‘weathering’ over the last eight years.
Above Sarah Bryant first female casualty of war since 1947. Lived for many years at the Red Lion Inn on Liverpool Road, Burscough.
The Battle of Fromelles 19th / 20th July 1916.
Fromelles Project 2009 to 2010.
Ptes Birchall & Crompton both former ‘Kingsmen’ men of the (Kings Liverpool Regt) were serving with the 2/7th Warwick’s part of 61st Inf Brigade, In support of the Australian 5th Division, who led the advance. The casualties were enormous with over 5,500 (1,780 dead*) Australian & 1,540 (503 dead *) British. Only small sections of the line were breached by the 8th &14th Australian Brigades, the German casualties were little over 1,000 * The attempt to draw pressure from the Somme offensive had failed, as by 8.00 pm the second day the battle was over, the Germans remained in their original positions. The Australian soldiers that breached the line and subsequently killed and those in no ‘mans land’ were buried by the Germans, In mass graves, amounting to eight pits. This has become known as ‘Pheasant Wood’ the cemetery which has been created has taken that name. Note * official MOD figures.
Official invitation for the work in the identification of the birthplace & residence of the 450 or so British casualties who have no known grave. Without this information no means of where to search for relatives could be persued, in order to identify by DNA any possible living relatives of the British dead.
The MOD were unable to identify by themselves those soldiers without relative entries as shown on Commonwealth War Graves, these entries often referred to as ‘skeletal entries’ can only be corroborated by using ‘Soldiers Died in The Great War’ then verified by cencus, it was this work, that was undertaken on behalf of ‘The Cold Case Review Team’.
The background to this cold case review was following claims made by an Australian private interest group known as ‘Friends of the Fifteenth Brigade’ who asserted that up to 400 Austrailian / British dead were buried near to Pheasant Wood. A team of eminent researchers was created to study these claims, the result of that was, the Glasgow University Achological Research Division (GUARD) were assigned to conduct an ‘on the ground study’
In July 2007 GUARD concluded beyond reasonable doubt that the perception of the private group had foundation, and presented its findings. In May in 2008 it concluded after limited trench surveys had been completed, that a significant number between 225 & 400 Australian & British dead were present in a series of pits at Pheasant Wood.
Royal Naval Air Station Burscough
HMS Ringtail Monument
In 2000 Lawrence Critchley started a campaign to have a memorial erected to commemorate those who served at HMS Ringtail Fleet Air Arm Air station 1943 – 1946.
At that time very little was known about the history and heritage of the station and what remained was fast disappearing beneath an ever expanding industrial estate.
I felt that a focal point was needed in relation to the War time Air Station and those who served there .
In 2003 Burscough Parish Council kindly agreed to support the idea and provided funds.
Monies were also donated by local people and businesses .
In 2004 the new monument was dedicated with special ceremony that attracted hundreds and much media attention.
It was a wonderful day and from then on the interest in the story of HMS Ringtail continues to grow and. It is this that gives me the most satisfaction and the fact that through my involvement in the monument, i met Richard Houghton my co founder of this Society and its ethos which we both share a passion for.
Thank You Lawrence Critchley
For more details on the HMS Ringtail monument and the annual ceremony held there please click on War Memorials ( Home page of this site ) then Ringtail Monument.
Also see Video Footage of Monument Dedication on home page .
and Film Footage on Military Establishments ( Home page of this site )
then click on HMS Ringatil ( Film Footage )
Click on images below to view larger picture.
Monument Dedication 10th October 2004
Awards received but not expected as I only fulfilled a task that needed doing
Honorary Membership of Fleet Air Arm Association
(Greater Manchester Branch )
Honorary Membership of National Fleet Air Arm Association
Community Hero award
Sponsored by Scottish Power – Ormskirk Advertiser – Rotary Association
For Film of the monument dedication go to home page under menu video
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