Throughout the years, Bolton as a community has commemorated the 10 men who lost their lives in the two World Wars. With the passing of time, knowledge of the individuals had been lost and sadly they had become but names on the Rolls of Honour. With the approach of the Centenary Anniversary of the First World War, I felt that it was time to find out more about each of the ten men, and if successful to produce some form of permanent record.
Fortunately, in today’s world of technology the task was not as difficult as might have been faced by our predecessors. It is easy to access the Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site; but then difficult to decide which of the many men of the same name is the one you are looking for. Fortuitously, our local library hosted a major task where volunteers scanned the local newspapers of the time and produced lists of all those men reported to have died during the war. Again, a great help once you know which of the same names you are looking for. In some cases, the associated newspaper reports provided invaluable information – and some leads for the others that I was searching for.
My research started in earnest in September 2013 and thanks to several very helpful responses to letters asking for help in the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald, I was able to get off to a flying start. We know that the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald newspaper is widely read throughout the county; but it came as a big surprise to get very quick responses from distant parts of the country including Worcestershire and Shropshire.
Within a very short timescale I could get detailed information on 9 of the 10 men and was able at the Remembrance Service on 11th November 2013 to give the assembly much appreciated backgrounds surrounding their deaths.
Tracing the 10th – John Dixon – was a challenge. I had found an individual of the right name who lived in Bolton for a time and who had joined the Border Regiment, but there was no corresponding record of a death that fitted his details. A further letter in the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald resulted in offers of help from two ladies in Workington who in time became equally puzzled. Contact with the Borders Museum resulted in some disappointing news for my research – but good news for that John Dixon – that he had survived the war. Eventually, it came to light that another family of Dixons had lived in Bolton on two occasions and this then led to the tracing of the John Dixon listed in this document.
Clearly, there is no limit to the quantity of information that might be gleaned about each individual and their families. Hopefully, what is included here will prove enough to keep memories of each individual alive and set the scene within which each of them lost their life and perhaps give other researchers a good starting point if they seek more information on our War Dead.
Since production of the first document, produced for the Centenary Anniversary Remembrance Service on 11th November 2014, Bolton has continued to honour the memory of its fallen heroes by holding very well attended Remembrance Services in All Saints Church. Each service has included participation by children from Bolton Primary School who along with their chosen readings have also laid posies as each man’s name was read out.
I felt that it was important not to lose other information discovered during my research and this is now included in an expanded version of the document. I have also incorporated the previously issued separate document that included the report from 1923 when Bolton Memorial Hall was opened. [Derick’s full document can be seen here as a pdf