I had an interesting email from Joanne Wilcock, Chairman of the Affetside Society. Affetside is in Tottington, Lancashire. There is a plaque in the parish church which lists 15 local men who died in the First World War. A Turton Local History Pamphlet (no 15) called Affetside an Historical Survey written by the late James J Francis, mentions Harry Warburton of Smithy Fold, Affetside as being one of the local lads who died in the war. However Harry Warburtons’s name is not on the church plaque.
Research has shown that Harry was born about 1890, the illegitimate son of Alice Warburton of the Tottington Clan. He appeared in the clan tree but with no details apart from his birth date. In the 1891 census Harry is one, living with his mother, a single cotton weaver. They are boarding with his Aunt, Alice’s sister Rachel and her husband Cyrus Smith. By 1901 Alice has married John Bury Brooks, a farmer at Mumm’s Harris Farm in Affetside. Harry still bears the Warburton name, and in 1911 he is working on the farm. Alice and John reported having no children in the 1911 census. They subsequently moved to Buckley Close Farm.
Harry served in WWI as a Private soldier, initially in the Northumberland Fusiliers where joined as a gunner, and then in the Yorks and Lancashire Regiment. He was killed in action less than a month before the end of the war when his battalion tried to cross the river Selle in Northern France. From Jonathan Ali’s book Our Boys page 71: ‘Harry Brooks was killed during the advance as his battalion tried to cross the River Selle. Even at this late stage the Germans were putting up a stiff fight. The regimental history makes it clear, “As soon as the leading platoon came over the sky line they were met by machine gun fire from the front and from a wood on the flank, and about 8.50 the enemy barrage came down on the ridge…causing a good many casualties.”
There were 330 casualties from a battalion of 1000 men who had marched into a strong line of German machine guns without any artillery support. Private Brooks’ body was never found and he is remembered on the Vis-en-Artois memorial to those missing from the Advance to Victory.
It would seem that he took his step-father’s name when he enlisted, and so is listed on both the Vis-en-Artois memorial, and the plaque of the fallen of WWI at Affetside Church as Harry Brooks.
I have added his details to the Tottington clan.