Tale of Chorley Pal's wartime bible

Statue honouring the Chorley Pals
Statue honouring the Chorley Pals
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Soldier who joined the Chorley Pals had his Army pocket testament returned thanks to the efforts of German carer

At this time of year, stories resurface with regards to the Frist World War and global conflicts thereafter and our thoughts turn once again to remembrance and commemoration.

Lawrence Singletons Victory Medal

Lawrence Singletons Victory Medal

One particular story that has come to light is particularly emotive with regards to reconciliation.

Lawrence Singleton was born in Croston in 1898 and worked as a weaver.

Although underage, he enlisted into the Chorley Pals (East Lancashire Regiment) in October 1914.

Before leaving the town to head off to war, Lawrence (who became a corporal) was presented with an Army Pocket Testament by the Bishop of Whalley, Dr Rawstorne.

St Michaels Church in Croston

St Michaels Church in Croston

The little Bible from Croston travelled with Lawrence through the trenches and remained amongst his possessions up to the point of him being wounded in action.

He was badly injured during the Allied advance in April 1918.

Having been taken to a hospital near La Basse, from April 11-14, Lawrence was cared for by Wilhelm Knorr, of the 68th German Infantry Regiment.

Such was Lawrence’s condition at the time that as a sign of gratitude for the care shown to him, he gave Wilhelm his little pocket testament which was gratefully accepted.

Lawrence Singletons grave at St Michaels Church in Croston

Lawrence Singletons grave at St Michaels Church in Croston

Fast forward to November 1935 and when members of the Royal British Legion from Brighton and District visited German ex-servicemen to exchange greetings, Wilhelm Knorr gave up the Testament, hoping it might find its way back to a relative of Lawrence.

Captain McCabe who was in charge of the visiting party, saw the inscription inside the cover and got in touch with the Bishop of Blackburn.

Dr Herbert, in turn, communicated with the Rector of Croston, the Rev R A Rawstorne, son of the Bishop of Whalley and so the Testament eventually came back home.

As it happened, Lawrence survived his wounds, presumably without Wilhelm knowing, and in due course he was repatriated back to England.

Lawrence remained in the Army and transferred into the 3rd (Depot) Battalion of the East Lancashire Regiment.

However, sadly, having survived the wounds received on the battlefield, Lawrence died of sickness on 23rd February 1921.

A poignant conclusion to the story is that Lawrence is buried in the church yard of St Michael’s Church in Croston, where he attended and received his treasured Bible.