681128 GNR. J. DORAN. R.F.A.
Joseph Doran was born in March 1891 in Walton Le Dale. His father was Michael Doran (b. 1854 in Co Laois, Ireland), a flagger and slater. His mother was Ellen Delaney (b. 1854 in Walton Le Dale). It seems Michael came to England in the early 1870s and he and Ellen were married in Walton Le Dale in 1875. They then had 18 children but lost 8 in infancy. The 10 survivors were: James (b. 1876), Matthew (b. 1877), Catherine (b. 1879), Robert (b. 1883), William (b. 1885), Margaret (b. 1889), then Joseph, then John Vincent (b. 1893), Herbert (b. 1895) and finally Henry (b. 1897). In 1911, Michael and Ellen and five of their children were living at 22 Walton Green, Walton Le Dale. Joseph was not with them, however, as he was lodging with a family in Ashton under Lyne and working as a rope twister. Michael Doran died in 1912.
Joe came back to Preston to enlist in the Royal Field Artillery. From the service numbers it looks as though he enlisted in 1916, probably after conscription had been introduced. He was assigned service number 3039, which was later changed to 681128. These 681xxx numbers were assigned to men who enlisted in Preston and some of them were posted to “B” Battery of 276 Brigade, but many of them were dispersed throughout other artillery batteries. Joe was posted to “C” Battery of 241st Brigade. 241Bde was part of the divisional artillery of 48th (South Midland) Division. I don’t know when Joe was posted to join them but we do know where 48th Division was at the time Joe died. In August 1917, they were fighting in the Battle of Langemark, 16-18 August, (a phase of the Third Battle of Ypres). Langemark was horrendous, even by the appalling standards of warfare at the time. Wikipedia describes the situation as follows: An unusually large amount of rain in August, poor drainage and lack of evaporation turned the ground into a morass, which was worse for the British and French, who occupied lower-lying ground and attacked areas which had been frequently and severely bombarded. Mud and flooded shell holes severely reduced the mobility of the infantry and poor visibility hampered artillery observers and artillery-observation aircraft. Rainstorms and the costly German defensive success during the rest of August, led the British to stop the offensive for three weeks. Joe was wounded in this action and he died of his wounds at Dozinghem on 22 August. He was 26 years old.
Service No: 681128
Date of Death: 22/08/1917
Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery, “C” Bty, 241st Bde.
Grave Reference: IV. G. 21.
Cemetery: DOZINGHEM MILITARY CEMETERY
Joe’s brother, John Vincent, also served in the army and was killed the following year.
260062 PVT. J. V. DORAN. BORD.R.
As noted above, John Vincent Doran was born in 1893. In 1911, John was living with his parents and working as a cotton weaver. There are two sets of attestation papers for John and it seems he attested in March 1916, expressing a preference for the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment but at the time, he was working as a munitions worker so was not called up. In April 1917, he married Jane Robinson (b. 1895 in Preston). It seems he was called up in 1917 and on 6 July 1917 transferred to the Border Regiment, with service number 260062. John remained at home in the reserves and had a further period of leave from 12-21 January 1918, and he finally joined 8Bn the Border Regiment in the field on 15 May 1918. 8Bn Border Regiment formed part of 75th Brigade in 25th Division. In early 1918, 25th Division had suffered severe losses in the German Spring Offensive especially during the Battle of the Lys, but at the beginning of May they were moved to Fîmes, near Soissons, in Champagne. This area had been very quiet since the spring of 1917 and it was expected that a tired division such as the 25th would be able to recuperate there. However, on 26 May they received intelligence that the Germans were about to launch a heavy assault – this would be the Germans’ final effort to break through the allied lines. The attack was launched at 1am on 27 May, with heavy shelling and gas. John Vincent Doran was reported missing in action on 27 May and later presumed dead. He was 25 years old and had been at the front just 12 days.
Service No: 260062
Date of Death: 27/05/1918
Regiment/Service: Border Regiment, 8Bn
Commemorated at: SOISSONS MEMORIAL