In the 25th August 1917 edition of the Rossendale Free Press, John and Mary Lord, of 41, York Street, Crawshawbooth, wrote a short poem to the second of their six sons to be killed in action in France, along with a prayer to God, for them both to rest in peace:
‘He sleeps beside his brother,
In a hallowed grave unknown,
But their names are written in names of love,
In the hearts of those at home.’
For the Lord family ‘those at home’ numbered ten: father, mother, six brothers and two sisters; all ‘born and bred’ in Crawshawbooth’, living and working locally and parishioners of St James the Less church. They had just been informed of John’s death, just six months after being told of Joseph’s.
Born in 1884, Joseph was the oldest child in the family, five years John’s elder. Both of them, like all their siblings, were baptised at St James the Less.
The Lords lived in at least 2 houses on Primitive Terrace, Crawshawbooth, before moving to York Street, sometime before 1911. According to the census of that year, John and Mary had also lost one child by then, infant mortality being a sad reality to many families. Both Joseph and John were working; Joseph as a labourer in the building trade and John as a cotton weaver.
Much of the detail needed to present a picture of both brothers’ war service is unavailable, quite probably because of the vast numbers of records destroyed during the Second World War. Both of them joined the East Lancashire Regiment; it is not possible to say when but John enlisted at Haslingden and went into the 7th Battalion and Joseph into the 11th.
Probably best remembered of all the volunteer battalions as ‘The Accrington Pals’, the 11th was formed by men of Accrington and its surrounding towns. Decimated on the first day of the battle of the Somme on 1st July 1916, the battalion strength was subsequently replenished and continued to the end of the war. Whether or not Joseph was there on that terrible day is unclear, but what is known is that the area in Puchevillers British cemetery in which John was buried in December 1916, was prepared for casualties from the first battles of the Somme and that he had been taken from the trenches to the military hospital there Puchevillers, where he died from disease.
John, in the 7th Battalion, is shown on his medal record as entering the France and Flanders ‘Theatre of War’ on 17th July 1915 so the brothers would have both been on the Western Front at the same time. The 7th Battalion was to remain there until 1918 and took part in many battles over those 3 years. One such battle was the third Battle of Ypres which commenced on 31st July 1917 and in which John was killed in action on, or about, that first day, with his body, like thousands of others, disappearing in the quagmire conditions, never to be found.