Sunday 7 January 2018

Sunday WW1 Remembered...

Ordinary Lives of the First World War

In the First World War so many families had loved ones who were fighting on the Western Front. 

My husband's family were no exception.

This is the story of  " A Fighting Poolstock Family: Four Sons in the Army"

At the start of the First World War in 1914, when most commentators said that the conflict would be “over by Christmas”, male members of families throughout the Country signed up in their tens of thousands with no thought or imagination of the horrors to come over the next four long years of fighting.

One such family of six brothers aged from 15 to 31 lived in Poolstock,Wigan, most at their family home with their mother, father and sisters in Milton Street. 

One brother, James, was disabled and unable to serve, and Samuel, aged only 15 at the outbreak of War, was too young to serve, but the other four all left their jobs and signed up to serve King and Country; Edward, the eldest at 31, joined the 10th Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment as an Infantryman; Andrew, aged 30, joined the Guards Division of the Royal Field Artillery as a Shoe-smith, as did William, aged 25, serving as a Bombardier; Walter, aged 19, joined the Royal Horse Artillery becoming a Driver. All four were sent to France early in the conflict, leaving their other two brothers and the rest of their family at home in Poolstock, Wigan to await their return.

In November 1915, the Wigan Examiner ran one of many such family stories about the War in France, entitled “A Fighting Poolstock Family: Four Sons In The Army”. The full page article, with photographs of the brothers in uniform, gave details of their current service, citing that they were ‘somewhere in France’, apart from Edward, who had been injured on the first day of the Battle of Loos, September 26th, and was recuperating in hospital in Scotland.

Wigan Examiner, 1915
"A Fighting Poolstock Family"

Samuel, having only recently turned 16, reading of the exploits of his four older brothers, then decided to run away to War. Going to Preston, where many troop trains departed, he signed up, lying about his age, boarded such a train heading South, and when it passed slowly through Wigan, he shouted to some boys at the side of the track: “It’s Sam Whalley from Milton Street, tell me ma I’ve gone to war!”

Army Photograph

Sam initially worked as a stable lad with the 17th Lancers, particularly looking after the General’s horse, and he eventually joined up officially with the Royal Fusiliers, with whom he served at the Battles of the Somme and Third Ypres, where he was gassed and invalided out of combat for a while to a hospital on the French coast.

17th Lancers
Brass Spurs

Sam returned to his unit and served with the occupying army after hostilities ended in 1918, eventually returning home to rejoin his four brothers again in Wigan.

Sam Whalley
WW1 Medals and 17th Lancers Cap Badge


All the five brothers survived their experiences of the Front, married, had children and lived into their 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s.

Sam Whalley was my husband's Grandfather.

©JD Barton. 

Thanks to John Barton for sharing this family history with Jaffareadstoo today.



  1. So very proud of my Grandad and his brothers, and although I knew him 'till I was 14, I never knew of his exploits, as he kept quiet about his experiences as did so many more.

  2. So very proud of my Grandad and his brothers, and although I knew him 'till I was 14, I never knew of his exploits, as he kept quiet about his experiences as did so many more.

    1. Thank you for sharing this poignant story with us today.


Thanks for taking the time to comment - Jaffareadstoo appreciates your interest.