Percy John SOUTHWORTH
Rank: Private
Number: 4710
Unit: 1st Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment
Date of Death: 25 September 1915
Age: 18
Cemetery: Loos Memorial, Pas de Calais, France

Percy lived with his parents, John & Elizabeth, at 31 Charles Street, Cheadle.

He enlisted in Stockport, originally serving with the Manchester Regiment (service no. 2092), before transferring to the Lancashires quite quickly.

In mid September 1915, the Battalion had been in reserve positions at Lozinghem in northern France, but was then moved forward to Marles-les-Mines for the forthcoming Battle of Loos. The Battalion War Diary notes that the men bivouacked in a field which was fairly well hidden from the enemy's view by the surrounding high ground. They were very comfortable due to the warm weather and the fact they had managed to find straw paillasses to sleep on. During the evening of 24 September, they moved forward to assembly trenches ready for an attack the next morning. Throughout the past days, the British artillery had been shelling the German trenches.

At 5.50am, gas was released in the direction of the Germans, but, almost immediately, the wind changed and it blew back onto the Lancashires, causing many casualties. At 6.35, Percy and his comrades left the trenches, initially in four lines with probably 200 men in each line. The gas was still lingering in the area, as the wind had now dropped, and the men became disorientated. The lines became mixed up with the battalion on their right, but they continued to advance. They reached the German wire but found it uncut and could go no further. Desperate attempts were made to cut the wire, as two enemy machine guns opened up on them. There was no option but to return to their own trench. The Colonel regrouped the men and led them out again, but it was no use. The two machine gun officers took their teams out, almost to the German positions. These soldiers manned the four guns and tried to provide cover for the remnants of the Brigade to advance again, but this again failed.

By late afternoon, the most senior officer left, a 2nd Lieutenant Collins, regrouped the Battalion. This now comprised Lt Collins, two other officers and 159 other ranks. The attack had been a failure. Percy and 117 of his comrades had been killed. Two other local men, Frederick Reid and John Gleeson were also amongst the dead. None of the three Stockport men has a known grave.

(NB: Original research by John Hartley for the Cheadle & Gatley War Memorials website)

   
           
   
     
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