RFA West Lancs Bdes
681930 GNR. A. BLUNDELL. R.F.A.
Albert Blundell was born in the last quarter of 1895 in Preston and baptised at Preston St Matthew on 12 September. His father was James Blundell (b. 1864 in Leyland), a cotton weaver. His mother was Mary Turner (b. 1870 in Leyland). James and Mary were married in Leyland in 1889 but had moved to Preston by the following year. They had four children: William (b. 1890), Albert (1894-95), then our Albert, and finally James (b. 1899). In 1911, they were living at 14 Landseer Street, Preston. Albert was a weaver.
Albert was probably in the Territorials before the War as when he enlisted he was given an old-style service number, 1708, and he was probably first posted to “A” Battery of 276 Brigade, but he did not go to France with this cohort in September 1915. His service number was later changed to 681930 and he was transferred to “D” Battery of 110th Brigade. 110Bde formed part of the divisional artillery of 25th Division. I can’t be certain but my guess is that Albert was posted to France in late 1916 or early 1917. 25th Division spent the first quarter of 1917 at Ploegsteert, a relatively quiet part of the front but this period was also punctuated by frequent raids and minor operations. In June, the Division took part in the Battle of Messines.
From The Long, Long Trail:
The Battle of Messines
25th Division was selected to be one that would make the assault and was placed in the front line between the Wulverghem-Messines and Wulverghem-Wytschaete roads. The New Zealand Division was on the right and the 36th (Ulster) Division on the left of 25th Division. The attack was made by 74th Brigade on the right, 7th Brigade on the left, with 75th Brigade in close support. In addition to its own field artillery, the Division enjoyed the support of the Guards Division artillery and 34th, 93rd and 2nd New Zealand Army Field Brigades RFA. Two of the huge mines exploded at the start of the attack – those at Spanbroekmolen and Ontario Farm – fell just outside the boundaries of the Divisional front. The Division lost no fewer than 24 infantry company commanders during this action. In total, the losses in this successful action were 145 officers and 2907 men killed, wounded or missing. A further attack was carried out on 14-15 June, designed to advance the line another 800 yards. The Divisional front for this action was between the Blauwepoortebeek stream and the river Douve. Again, this was a successful action and the Division reached the line through Gapaard, east of Messines. On the night of 22-23 June, the Division began to withdraw and moved to rest in the area of Bomy, near St-Omer.
Albert was wounded, probably in the attack on 14-15 June, and he died of his wounds at Bailleul on 21 June 1917. He was 21 years old.
Service No: 681930
Date of Death: 21/06/1917
Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery, “D” Bty., 110th Bde
Grave Reference: III. D. 78.
Cemetery: BAILLEUL COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION, NORD
Albert’s father, James, died in 1912 and in 1917 his mother, Mary, re-married. Her new husband was John Hodgson (b. 1870 in Preston).
Albert’s older brother, William, moved to Nelson/Colne in about 1910. He attested he was willing to serve in the Army on 2 December 1915 and was posted initially to the Reserve, with the East Lancashire Regiment. He was mobilised on 16 February 1916 but he failed the medical inspection and was discharged as unlikely to become an efficient soldier on 9 June 1916.