680961 GNR. L. H. ROBERTS. R.F.A.
Laurence Henry Roberts was born on New Year’s Day 1885 in Longridge and baptised there on 27 January. His father was John Roberts (b. 1849 in Whittingham), a railway labourer. His mother was Mary Bailey (b. 1859 in Goosnargh). John and Mary were married in 1883 and they had five children, though one died young: Laurence was the oldest, followed by John (1887-1892), William (b. 1889), Annie (b. 1891) and Andrew (b. 1893). John died in 1908 and in 1911, Mary was living with her four adult children at 10 Severn Street, Longridge. Laurence was a warehouseman.
Laurence served in the Territorials before the War and he attested he was willing to serve abroad on 24 May 1915. His initial service number was 2694, later changed to 680961, and he was posted to “B” Battery of 286 Brigade. After training, Laurence landed in France with 57th Division on 8 February 1917 and he served initially in the defence of Armentières and then he fought in the Second Battle of Passchendaele. Here he was shot in the right elbow on 1 November 1917. He was somewhat “lucky” as his wound was relatively slight and he was sent home on 14 November. He seems not to have fully recovered, however, as he did not return abroad. First he was posted to No. 2 Royal Garrison Artillery Cadet School, possibly in a training capacity, but he was eventually discharged as no longer fit for military service on 28 September 1918. His military records say that he was also suffering from some form of “mental instability” though it’s not clear what the cause of this was. When he returned home, he lived at 17 Napier Street, off New Hall Lane, in Preston. Laurence had returned to work as a cloth-looker in a cotton mill when he died of influenza on 12 March 1919. He was 34 years old.
Service No: 680961
Date of Death: 12/03/1919
Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery, "B" Bty. 286th Bde.
Grave Reference: B. 5.
Cemetery: LONGRIDGE (ST. LAWRENCE) CHURCHYARD