680665 SGT. W. PARTINGTON. R.F.A.
Wilfred Partington was born in Preston in the third quarter of 1895. His father was William Partington (b. 1858 in Brindle), a hoistman in a cotton spinning mill. His mother was Margaret Massam (b. 1860 in Ainsdale). William was previously married to Elizabeth Cuerden (b. 1855 in Preston) and they had two children, Richard (b. 1880) and John (b. 1882), before Elizabeth died in 1884. William and Margaret were married in 1887 and they had 8 children, though one died in infancy. The survivors were: Francis (b. 1890), Mary (b. 1892), William (b. 1894), then Wilfred, then twins Vincent and Matthew (b. 1897), and finally Robert (b. 1899). In 1911, Mary had moved out and was in domestic service and in fact she died in 1915. So in the 1911 Census, William and Margaret were living with their six sons at 191 Fylde Road, Preston. Wilfred was a machine hand in a soap factory. In 1914, Wilfred married Sarah Jane Shaw (b. 1887 in Preston) and the following year the couple had a daughter, Mary (b. 1915). They lived at 78 Fleetwood Street, just round the corner from Wilfred’s parents.
Wilfred enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery in May 1915. He was assigned service number 680665 and posted to “A” Battery of 286 Brigade. At some point Wilfred was promoted to Sergeant.
This photo is of the Sergeants in A/286, taken around January 1917, just before they left to fight in France. Standing, second right, is my great-uncle, Francis Schultz. At the time, Francis was 20 years old, and just a few months older than Wilfred, who is more than likely in this picture as well.
He landed with his Division in France in 1917 and was engaged in the defence of Armentières in the early part of the year and later at the Second Battle of Passchendaele. In April 1918, the Division was engaged in the Battle of the Lys, when they were forced by the Germans to retreat from Armentières towards Hazebrouk. Wilfred was killed in action on 17 April. The War Diary describes what happened:
14.04.18 The Brigade supported the 2nd Battalion Australians in rushing a farmhouse near MERRIS. This operation was successful, 40 of the enemy being killed. The batteries were shelled and they withdrew to positions 1000 yards west. Harassing fire was carried out by day and night. 4 OR killed, 13 OR wounded.
17 April. Counter preparation fire was put down at 4.30am. The enemy put down a very heavy barrage on a large front scorching and weaving back from the front line to the Batteries. This was followed by an attack which was completely repulsed by artillery fire. The enemy heavily shelled the Brigade HQ and a new HQ was opened N.W. of BORRE. 1 O.R. killed; 12 O.R.s wounded.
Wilfred was the “Other Rank” who was killed. He was 22 years old.
Service No: 680665
Date of Death: 17/04/1918
Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery, "A" Bty. 286th Bde.
Grave Reference: Plot 4. Row A. Grave 5.
Cemetery: LE GRAND HASARD MILITARY CEMETERY, MORBECQUE
Additional Information: Husband of Mrs. S. J. Partington of 78 Fleetwood Street, Preston, Lancs.
Sarah Jane never remarried after the War. She died in Garstang in 1986 aged 99.
I have found military records for some of Wilfred’s brothers.
Francis (b. 1890) may have served but I haven’t found a definite record. He died in Preston on 29 November 1918.
William Partington (b. 1893) joined the Scots Guards on 8 September 1914. He was demobilised on 20 March 1919. He was assigned service number 10713. William completed a musketry course but in June 1915 he was transferred to the RTO Office at Waterloo, where he spent the rest of the War, so he had no service overseas.
Twins Vincent and Matthew both served in the Royal Field Artillery. They were born on 24 February 1897 and it looks as though both signed up in the Territorials, possibly when they turned 17 in early 1914. Vincent’s initial service number was 1156, Matthew was 1722. They followed different paths during the War.
Vincent was posted to “A” Battery of 276 Brigade. He landed in France on 30 September 1915, although he was still only 18. His service number was later changed to 680187. 276Bde formed part of the Divisional Artillery for 55th (West Lancashire) Division. A description of their wartime engagements can be found here. In September 1916, the Division had been engaged in several phases of the Battle of the Somme but at the end of that month they were moved north to the Ypres Salient and they remained here for about a year. They spent some of that time in action near Poperinghe but they spent some time in billets at Houtkerque a few miles to the west and just over the border with France. While there, Vincent met a local girl, Marie Eugénie Zélie Sonneville (b. 1894 in Bavinchove) and the couple were married in Houtkerque in January 1917. After the War, when Vincent was demobbed, the couple moved back to Preston. In 1919, they had a son, Wilfred Francis (named after Vincent’s two brothers who had both died in 1918), and they had another son, Ignatius John in 1921. Vincent worked as a locomotive driver and the family lived at Aqueduct Street in Preston. Marie died in 1956 and Vincent died in 1965.
I can’t be 100% certain but I am fairly sure that Matthew was 696719 GNR. M. PARTINGTON. R.F.A. Matthew’s service number indicates that he was in 57th Divisional Ammunition Column. Bear in mind that Wilfred’s 286Bde was attached to 57th Division, so that means that Matthew and Wilfred fought in the same Division. Matthew survived the War and in 1923 married Sarah Ellen Fielding (b. 1893 in Preston). Matthew was a bus driver and he died in 1961.