A substantial upgrade to the biographical notes on men named on the First World War memorial in Oak Hill Park, Accrington was completed in November 2020. The work enabled the home addresses of 854 men to be plotted on a Google map that is embedded below; clicking on the icon in the top-right corner will open a larger map which enables searching by (for example) name or street.
Of the names originally inscribed when the memorial was unveiled on 1st July 1922, and disregarding a number of duplicates and even survivors of the war, 35.2% lost their lives with the East Lancashire Regiment. Other prominent regimental affiliations include the Royal Field Artillery (6.0%), among which were men of the 158th (Accrington & Burnley) Brigade, King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment) (4.1%), Lancashire Fusiliers (4.0%) and the Manchester Regiment (3.0%).
Perhaps surprising to many is that only 14% could be regarded as "original" Accrington Pals, those who joined the battalion between September 1914 and January 1915.
Above: Accrington men who lost their lives in the First World War and who are named on the memorial in Oak Hill Park - breakdown by regiment.
The impact of the opening days of the 1916 Battle of the Somme on the town of Accrington is very obvious from the chart below, yet this was not solely attributable to the losses suffered by the Accrington Pals; 38% of the fatalities of July 1916 came from other units. Also noteworthy is that the number of fatalities in 1916 was almost met in the following year, and exceeded in the final year of the war.
Above: Accrington men who lost their lives in the First World War and who are named on the memorial in Oak Hill Park - number of deaths by month.
The first to lose his life in the war was 31-year-old Private Walter Harry Withall, a police constable with the borough police force, killed in action with the Queen's Bays at Nèry on 1st September 1914.
The last to be killed in action was 21-year-old Eldred Terrill Towler (1/5th East Lancashire) at Forêt de Mormal on 6th November 1918.
Above: Accrington men who lost their lives in the First World War and who are named on the memorial in Oak Hill Park - number of deaths by year, broken down according to age at time of death.
The youngest to die was 15-year-old Private Robert Harold Cunliffe, born on 30th November 1899 and killed in action in the Gallipoli campaign on 22nd September 1915 with 6/East Lancashire.
The oldest to lose his life was 55-year-old Private James Barnes who died of dysentry on 16th May 1916 while serving with the 8th South African Infantry Regiment in East Africa.
© Andrew C Jackson 2021