Battle of Givenchy Centenary Tour Saturday 7th – Wednesday 11th April 2018

‘… the atmosphere that was created was very moving’ – comment by a year 9 pupil after a trip to the Somme, July 2016

55 Rose

 

The Hundredth Anniversary of the first day of the Battle of Givenchy – when the 55th (West Lancashire) Division fought off a massive German attack – will occur on 9th April 2018. It will be a good moment to visit the ground upon which so many soldiers from the North-West of England fought and are commemorated.

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We will explore the landscape by either minibus or small coach (depending upon numbers) and on foot, taking in remnants of the battlefield and the many associated memorials and cemeteries. Real soldiers’ stories will be woven into our visits, giving many opportunities for discussion, reflection and commemoration. Continue reading

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Carnforth Sailly Sur La Lys Research Project

Carnforth is twinned with Sailly Sur La Lys in Northern France, a town which was occupied by both German and Allied forces during the Great War. During 1918, it featured in the Battle of the Lys, in which the 55th West Lancashire Division, containing units from the Lancaster area, fought. It has been decided by members of both twinning associations that we should work together to research the histories of our respective towns during the Great War and to compare our discoveries, stories and themes. We aim to publish the results bilingually in the form of information panels, maps, guides and possibly a book. In addition, we hope to arrange appropriate commemorations, in both France and England, of the Battle of the Lys, during its centenary in 2018. Continue reading

Kendal War Memorial

I taught history in Kendal for 13 years. During that time, I, my colleagues and my pupils carried out several interesting projects relating to the Great War. In about 2005, I challenged my year 9 pupils to research the lives of the soldiers recorded on the town’s war memorial. Two young men embraced the challenge with gusto and wrote notes about every local soldier who is buried in Parkside Cemetery. One of them told me that he had never learned so much history before, which is exactly what I wanted to hear.

Parkside Cemetery March 2014

Kendal Parkside Cemetery March 2014

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Thomas Ernest De Maine of Morecambe

Thomas’s name appears on the Morecambe War Memorial. The first source to mention his existence is the 1901 census:

Demaine Family on King Street, Morecambe in 1901

Demaine Family on King Street, Morecambe in 1901

We see that Thomas’s parents were Henry and Mary De Maine and that Thomas had a brother called John McClure Demaine who was born in about 1893. The next source is the 1911 census: Continue reading

Private Farrell G. Dixon of Morecambe

Private Dixon appears on Morecambe War Memorial and was mentioned in the ‘Lancaster Guardian’ of 25th March 1916 as follows:

Farrell Dixon 'Lancaster Guardian' 25th March 1916

‘Lancaster Guardian’ 25th March 1916

The article is typical of the time and gives us a brief, but useful introduction to the experiences of one Morecambe family during the Great War. We notice the following facts:

  • In 1916, the Dixon family lived at 65 Edward Street, Morecambe.
  • Farrell was serving with the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment.
  • He was killed in action ‘in France’ on 2nd March 1916 aged 24.
  • He went to France at the beginning of the summer of 1915.
  • He had been on leave a month prior to his death.
  • Farrell’s father, George, served in the Royal Army Medical Corps.
  • His brother, Leonard, was an ‘Old Territorial’, who was also on active service and had been seriously wounded in the left arm.
  • His brother, George Frederick, was a sergeant in the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, also on active service.

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Two George Yoxalls Of The Cheshire Regiment

George Yoxall on Middlewich War Memorial

The First George Yoxall on Middlewich War Memorial

The Second George Yoxall on Middlewich War Memorial

The Second George Yoxall on Middlewich War Memorial

For a couple of years, we had a base in Middlewich. It was a remarkable coincidence because my wife and I are sixth cousins via the Yoxall family, which must have begun in the village of Yoxall in Staffordshire, but, in the 18th and 19th centuries, lived in the Cheshire village of Sprowston near Middlewich. We are descended from Moses Yoxall (born in about 1700), our six greats grandfather. During my frequent strolls around Middlewich I noticed the town war memorial and saw the two Yoxalls –  G. and G.W.; there is also a George Yoxall on nearby Winsford War Memorial; his inscription appears at the top of this post. I wanted to know firstly whether they were related to each other and secondly whether they were related to my wife and I.

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