Private Moses Sharples and Private Austen Naylor

Private Moses Sharples was killed in action at Festubert in northern France in June 1915.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 7th July 2014, 4:18 pm
The men of the 1/4th Loyal North Lancashire Regiment at the Somme in 1916
The men of the 1/4th Loyal North Lancashire Regiment at the Somme in 1916

Following an appeal in the Chorley Guardian Brindle historian and World War One expert Steve Williams said: “He was born in Chorley in the summer of 1895, he was an apprentice joiner for Mr Hall at Whalley Street in Chorley when he enlisted in the Territorial Army at the Drill Hall on Devonshire Road on June 3, 1912.

“His service record, held in the National Archives, shows that he went to Camp at Kirkham near Preston in the summer of 1912 and 1913 and his unit, the 1st / 4th Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, were on Camp at Kinmel Bay in North Wales when war was declared in 1914.

“Lance Corporal Moses Sharples was officially mobilised on August 5, 1914, duly signing on for active service two days later.

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“Known as ‘The Chorley Terriers’, the men were based down in Eastbourne on the South coast and the Battalion left Folkestone on May 4, 1915, going straight to the trenches in France.

“On the morning of June 15, 1915 some 250 men of the Chorley Terriers attacked German trenches near the French village of Festubert – most lost their lives in what is now known as ‘The glorious charge at Festubert’.

“Moses Sharples was a single man and lived with his mother at 24 Bolton Road in Chorley.

He has no known grave and is one of 13,389 men commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial, close to the battlefield where he fell.”

Mr Williams, historian and Secretary of the Chorley Pals Memorial, said: “Many people think that because a man from Chorley served in the army during the First World War he was a ‘Chorley Pal’.

“Over 2,300 men from the town were known to have served during the First World War but the original Chorley Pals were 225 men who joined Y Company of the 11th Battalion, East

Lancashire Regiment in September and October 1914.

“The Chorley Terriers, like today, did a vital job in supporting the regular army. They were part-time soldiers but served in the front line in France, Belgium and Turkey in 1914 and 1915 - well before the volunteer ‘Pals’ Battalions on the Somme in July 1916.”

Historian Stuart Clewlow added: “A Chorley Guardian article at the time related said: ‘Private Moses Sharples, of Bolton Road, is reported by many of his comrades to have been killed, but no official intimation

“On the same Guardian page is a similar write up about 20-year-old Austen Naylor of Spendmore Lane, Coppull. Son of the midwife Nurse Naylor.

“Austen was Private number 2078 and also of the 1/4th Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.

“The men died in a famous bayonet charge during the battle of Festuebert and the Battalion

happened to be commanded by the Mayor of Chorley at the time, Ralph Hindle.”

Records at the time said the two men: “...crowned themselves with undying fame and glory by their fearless and undaunted courage in the action of June 15th.

“No story of heroism could be more thrilling than theirs ... through a hail of bullets they sped on with fixed bayonets ... our men advanced heedless of the certain danger that beset them ... to maintain the great and glorious example of the 4th Loyal North Lancashire Regiment should be the aim of every men in Chorley and district.”

Many other men from Chorley and the surrounding area who were part of the Territorial battalion were either killed or wounded in this attack.”