Blackburn Soldiers Striking Record.
Five birthdays in the trenches and only once slightly wounded, though he has fought almost continuously since the war broke out, is the remarkable record of Private Henry Jukes of the Coldstream Guards, whose home is at 78 Cherry-street, Blackburn. He celebrated his thirty-second birthday in the line on Monday with bayonet fixed and participating in the present great push. He was following his employment at Messrs Yates and Thom's Foundry when as a first-class army reservist with almost thirteen years' service in, he was called to the colours a week or two before his twenty-seventh birthday, and was one of the first batch of French's “Contemptable little Army" to accept the challenge of the Germans in Belgium.
With the exception of the usual furloughs, he has been fighting almost without interruption, and having regard to the fact that he has from and including the memorable retreat from Mons figured in almost all the big engagement, it is something of a miracle that he has only once been wounded, and then only so slightly that he was able to resume after treatment at a field dressing station.
The battles Private Jukes has participated in includes, Mons, Villascotre, the Aisne, St. Julian, La Bassee, Armentieres, Loos, Landrecies, the Marne, Super, Rouhil Wood, Neuve Chapelie, Ypres, Laventie and the Sommie, so that of the excitement of war he has had plenty. With him “going over the top" became a familiar habit, and ass to be expected, he has had an abundance of hair-breadth escapes. He was once carrying in his haversack two bombs when the haversack was struck with a shot. The material started to burn, but, with the presence of mind of a hardened soldier, he removed the bombs, and after placing them in safety proceeded to extinguish the burning haversack. A less experienced soldier might have removed haversack and bombs together, with consequences of a very different character. During the battle of Ypres, he was buried on three occasions, and was in in each instance extremely fortunate, inasmuch as the shells which caused his temporary internment did not in any instance explode. Many gallant soldier's have fallen on either side of him, and he wonders how it is that he has been so much more fortunate than many of his comrades.
Just prior to an engagement on July 31st last year he shook hands with Richard Smith, of Holehouse, a member of the Blackburn Borough Police Force, who had previously won the D.C.M., and each wished the other the very best of luck. Jukes came out of the ordeal, severe as it was, unscathed, but Smith was killed.
A Short Biography of Henry Jukes
Henry Jukes story was not unique. Many soldiers went through the entire war sustaining only minor injuries only a few would have their stories printed. Little of conditions and the life he led in the trenches is given in the article, and even though the names of the battles he fought in are given the bloodiness and ferocity of these engagements are simply brushed over. Other than a small rather blurred photograph was printed with the article it is still not imposable to get a picture of the man. I have done some research on Henry Jukes and now share it with you.
Henry Jukes was not a Blackburn man. Born in 1886 at Madeley, Shropshire he was the son George Arthur Jukes and Fanny Corfield, and named George Henry Jukes. He was the eldest son and second eldest child of 7. Between 1892 and 1898 the family moved to Manchester and by 1901 they had again removed to Newton-street, Blackburn. The census for that year shows Henry as a warehouse boy. On the 28th November 1904, when he was 18 Henry joined the army choosing the Coldstream Guards. There is something of a mystery surrounding this, on his attestation papers his name is given as Dukes, underneath this it says “Alias Jukes", he also signs his name Dukes. On a paper from his pension record dated 13th August 1914 there is a note which says; “Pte G.H. Jukes (has been permitted to change his name from Pte G.H. Dukes)". I cannot find any reason why he might have called himself Dukes. Could it be that he did not have permission from his parents to enlist in the army? He was under twenty-one, the age of consent, at the time. We also learn something of how Henry looked from his army records; he was 5ft 7in tall weighing 118lb after six months he had grown 1in and put on 16lbs. His complexion was fresh, he had grey eyes and brown hair, his religion is Congregationalist. He was accepted into the army and became Private 5868 George Henry Dukes of the Coldstream Guards. Henry's, first battle experience of WW1 took place almost immediately after he landed in France, that was the battle and subsequent retreat from Mons. On the 22nd of October probably at the battle of La Bassee he got a shrapnel wound to the head, which was not serious and he was soon back in the fray. On the 31st July 1917, the beginning of the battle of Ypres, the article says he met and shook hands with Richard Smith of the Blackburn Borough Police the article says that Smith died but there is no Richard Smith on the police Roll of Honour and I can find no other information about him.
He received his discharge papers out of the army on 31st March 1920, having served 14 years as a soldier and reservist. The medals he was presented with were the 1914 Star with clasp, the Victory Medal and British Medal.
Henry had married Elizabeth Ogden Heatley, on the 18th November 1909, at Blackburn Congregational Church, Chapel Street. They had three children, George Robert, b. 1910, Norman Ogden, b. 1911 and Walter Stanley, b. 1913. There address at the time of the 1911 census was 2 Fawcett Street, Blackburn. In 1914, Elizabeth and one son, Walter Stanley, 7 months old at the time, went to America arriving in June of that year she is on the American census for 1920 and on a paper in Henry's pension record is this note; “Next of Kin (wife) Elizabeth 442 Sawyer St. New Bedford Massachusetts USA." In 1918 Henry was “Granted leave to America" from March to April. It seems, however, Henry was back in Blackburn and living in Cherry-street by the 31st August 1918 when the above article was written. Whether he went back to America later I cannot say, however I cannot find any record that he ever did. It is also a mystery as to why his wife went to America with one son, leaving the rest of the family behind.
George Henry Jukes died in Blackburn on the 18th of June 1933.
If anyone has further information about this man or his family please contact Cottontown
Lance Corporal William Heyes - 1/4 East Lancashire Regiment
(Service Number 201254) - Killed in Action.
William Heyes was my paternal Grandma's (Clara Cumpstey),
youngest brother and my Great Uncle. William was born in Blackburn in 1889, the
youngest child of Thomas and Ellen (nee Withrington) Heyes who lived in
Avondale Street, Blackburn. William married Ellen Hoole, also from Blackburn,
in 1913 at All Saints CE Church, Blackburn and they subsequently had two
children, James born in 1913 and Ellen born in 1915.
At the onset of the First World War, William voluntarily
enlisted in the 1/4 East Lancashire Regiment and, after initial training,
sailed from Southampton to Alexandria in Egypt, arriving on 25 September 1914.
William fought throughout 1914 to 1916 and was involved in the disastrous
William continued to see active service at Helles, Krithia
and the Battle of Romani which involved some hazardous trekking in loose sand
and scorching heat. In March 1917, William moved with his Division to the
Western Front which involved trench warfare; a far cry from the conditions
experienced in Egypt and Gallipoli.
Having been involved in fighting at Havincourt, facing the
severity of the German Hindenburg line at Cambrai, William was then involved in
the Third Battle of Ypres or, as it became known, the Battle of Passchendaele.
This offensive was launched on 31 July, 1917 in the most appalling and
deplorable conditions. Heavy rain had fallen on ground already destroyed by
artillery which rendered swamp like conditions.
After enduring so much in the service of his Country,
William was killed in action on the first day of Passchendaele. His body was
never recovered but his service, bravery and supreme sacrifice is acknowledged
with his name on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.
It is interesting to me that William would have fought
alongside another of my Great Uncles, Corporal Walter Shorrock, who was my
maternal Grandma's youngest brother. Walter, however, survived the War and lived to the age of 88
years. My tribute to Walter is recorded under the "Surviving
Fred Cumpstey, 2018, Great Nephew of William Heyes.
1st Battalion, Irish Guards, 5233
In 1915, my great grandfather John Murphy was killed during the First World War. He was missing in action for three months, and his body was never found. His story was lost, but now it is being told. John was born in Blackburn in 1888. His mother Annie Cranston was Irish. She came to England with her family in the 1870s when she was a teenager. She was from a small village called Tempo in Fermanagh in Northern Ireland. They settled in Fleetwood, where her father worked on the docks. John’s father was born in Blackburn, but he was from an Irish family. His father also worked at Fleetwood docks. John’s parents married in Fleetwood but they then moved to Larkhill in Blackburn.
As a young man, John worked as a labourer in the Greenbank Iron Works in Gorse Street, which was owned by Henry Livesey Ltd. They manufactured cotton looms, including the Northrop looms. John married Margaret Walsh in 1908. Two years later, their only child Florence was born. She is my grannie. They must have been very poor, because when the 1911 Census was taken, they were boarding in a terrace house on Fisher Street in Cob Wall. However, their one year old baby daughter was living with Margaret’s parents in Crabtree Street, which is now where the entrance to the Tesco superstore is. Before the First World War, John was an Army Reservist and he served with the 1st East Lancashire Regiment. His Regimental Number was 8888. Within six weeks of the beginning of the First World War, he had joined the 1st Battalion of the Irish Guards. This was quite unusual because most lads joined their local regiment. He was a tall man, being 5 foot 11 inches. His Regimental Number was 5233. When he enlisted, he was working as a deckhand on a steam trawler in Fleetwood, but he was now living with his wife’s family in Crabtree Street, with nine people living in a 2-up 2-down terrace house!
John’s death on the battlefield in shrouded in mystery, and it makes little sense. Officially, his death is recorded as being on 18 May 1915. This was during the Battle of Festubert in France, when the Irish Guards went ‘over the top’. The day before, the Worcestershire Regiment had been wiped out in the same location. Just imagine how terrifying that must have been. The Irish Guards were next. The day didn’t start well. A low mist descended over the trenches, and it was impossible to see where the enemy was. The early morning start was postponed, but the Irish were made to stand there in the open trenches all day. During the day, whilst they waited for the weather to clear, forty men were killed in the trenches as they were constantly bombarded by enemy trench mortars. What a waste. It was late in the afternoon when they took their turn to die, and left the trenches to walk over no-mans land towards the enemy. At this time during the war, soldiers were ordered to walk towards the enemy and not to run, so that they would all arrive at the enemy trenches at the same time. Madness. John’s body was never found.
His army service records are ambiguous. One record states that he was ‘killed, missing in action’ on 18 May 1915. However, his Casualty Form - Active Service record states:
9 September 1915 - ‘unconfirmed report Killed in Action by CSM McVeigh, can death be confirmed?’
16 September 1915 - ‘Missing believed killed’
29 February 1916 - From the War Office – ‘In accordance with the decision of the Army Council, this soldier is to be regarded for official purposes as having died on or since 18 May 1915’
John is listed as being a Category C2 Casualty.
It is well documented that the Irish Guards fought in the Battle of Festubert on 18 May 1915. The Irish Guards’ war diaries from the frontline and from the Battalion Headquarters were later transcribed into a best-selling book called ‘The Irish Guards’, which was written by Rudyard Kipling. His son was an officer in the regiment, and he was killed in September 1915. Rudyard Kipling then devoted his life to finding his son, and after the war he immersed himself within the regiment. From the book, we know that on 9 September when John is recorded as being killed in action, the Irish Guards had been billoted away from the front line. They were recovering in a small village several miles from the battlefield. So, it is safe to say that John Murphy wasn’t killed on 9 September. It is probable that he was indeed killed on 18 May 1915 when the Irish Guards went over the top.
John Murphy is commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial in Calais, along with 53 of his comrades from his regiment who have no known grave, and who were killed on 18 May 1915. It is not known how many in total were killed on that day.
The Blackburn Times newspaper printed John’s obituary on 21 August 1915. This proves that the army records are incorrect, because this is three weeks before he was reported as being missing. The obituary states that:
‘Private John Murphy of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards was officially reported missing some months ago, and it was not until Tuesday morning that his wife learned that he was killed in action so long ago as 18 May 1915. The information was contained in a letter from an officer who stated that he had made the fullest investigation concerning his fate and he expressed sympathy in her loss. He leaves one child.’ That child was my grandmother, who was only four years old at the time.
John’s wife Margaret was awarded a widow’s pension of 15 shillings a week, with effect from April 1916. When the war was over, the families of those that were killed were awarded a posthumous ‘War Gratuity’ from the government. Margaret was awarded £3 in October 1919. In the Army’s ‘Register of Soldier’s Effects’ she is now listed as Margaret Marsden because she had remarried, just 18 months after John was killed. John had also saved £4 and 3 shillings whilst he had been at war. Margaret’s new husband also worked in an iron foundry, so he very probably knew John. They had two sons together, and my grandmother was brought up with a new family.
John’s story was never told in the family. My grandmother Florence died in 1965, the year that I was born. When my grannie got married, John Murphy is recorded as her father on her wedding certificate as being a ‘deceased steam trawler hand’, so she clearly knew who he was. My father was never told about his grandfather’s death, and he never mentioned his family at all. I studied war poetry for my O Levels at school, so I developed a fascination with the Great War. It was only recently when I researched my family tree that I discovered all of this.
John’s death isn’t recorded in this country, so I made an assumption that he was killed abroad during the war.
As you can imagine, there were countless men called John Murphy who were killed during the war, so it took a great deal of research to properly identify my great grandfather. All I had was his name. A book was published after the war called ‘Ireland’s Memorial Records 1914-1918’. There is a short record entry for every Irishman who was killed during the war. It contains a record for:
‘John Murphy, Regimental Number 5233, Private, Irish Guards 1st Battalion, killed in action 18 May 1915, born Blackburn’. Blackburn was the magic word! Was this him?
I then searched using his Regimental Number, which then produced his Army Will. This showed his wife’s name, Margaret. She had remarried and was now called Marsden. I then searched for and found a Murphy/Marsden wedding in Blackburn in 1917. This took me to the 1939 census where they were living in the same house which is shown on my grandmother’s wedding certificate. I then applied to the government John’s Army Service Records. I then found his Blackburn Times obituary in Blackburn Library after his photograph was uploaded onto Cotton Town’s website.
John wasn’t missing anymore.
Colin Worswick, Hoghton, November 2019.