Gilbert Kershaw FARNWORTH
Rank: Private
Number: 243972
Unit: 1/5th Battalion CHESHIRE REGIMENT
Date of Death: 8 May 1917
Age: 35
Cemetery: Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France

Gilbert Farnworth had been born in Blackburn between December 1881 and February 1882. His father, Richard D Farnworth still lived there, but it is thought his mother, Annie, had died. The Census of 1901 showed Richard to be then aged 61 and Annie aged 59. Richard was the Secretary to a limited company.  Gilbert lived with his wife, Ann at Ashdale, Cheadle.

He enlisted at Stockport, probably in the winter of 1914/15 originally having the service number of 4612. He was perhaps wounded early in the war as he returned to the Cheshires at some point with a service number of 15062. In 1917, the troops were in Territorial battalions were issued with new six-digit numbers.

The 5th Battalion were Pioneers - fighting troops but those also charged with the construction of defences. On the day he was killed, the Cheshires were in the vicinity of the village of Guemappe, some 15 miles to the south west of Arras. "A" and "B" Companies were repairing support and communication trenches at a section of the line known as Cavalry Farm. Although no mention is made, in the Battalion's War Diary, of what happened, it is presumed that German artillery shelled the position. Two soldiers were killed outright and a further 19 wounded (12 with only minor injuries). Gilbert was one of three men posted as "missing". His body was never recovered and identified - perhaps he suffered a direct hit from a shell and there was no body left to recover. It was a common occurrence!

He left £820 in his will - a not insignificant sum at the time - worth approximately £26000 at 2004 values.

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

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