HARRY AND PERCY BOUSFIELD
We would like to tell you about two brothers who appear on our war memorial, Harry and Percy Bousfield.
Before we do that we would like to take you back to last year when we told you about Phoebe Mercer. At the time we could not tell you where Phoebe was buried but now we know she is interned at the Kan chan aburi War Cemetery in Bangkok. We found this out due to the power of the internet, when a lady called Dawn Taylor, who lives in Philadelphia America, was visiting the cemetery she noticed one woman’s grave amongst five thousand men.
The Bousfield brothers were born in Feniscowles and lived their early years at a house that was once known as the Crow’s Nest but is now called The Hollows. If you don’t know this house, it is the one down the dip on the Preston side of the church hall. At the time the house was split into three and the Bousfields were one of three families living there. Mother and Father were Mary and James and they had an elder and younger sister Nancy and Margaret and a younger brother James. They also shared the house with an uncle and a boarder. In the three cottages a total of twenty people lived. The five siblings where the surviving children of the ten that Mary Bousfield had borne and James was also to die when he was only two. We can sometimes easily forget how easily children died in the days before antibiotics when even measles was a fatal disease.
They all went to Feniscowles school and had a long walk in the morning through the gate in the wall to school. The teacher at the time was Mrs Alice Holden who lived in the cottage with her husband Walter.
A few years later they moved house and in 1911 they were living at 25 Kings Road as Dad who was a farm labourer moved with his job. By the time war broke out in 1914 they had moved back down to Broadhalgh Farm which is where the present day Coverdale estate is.
PTE. 2366 BOUSFIELD, PERCY
When they left school, probably at the age of eleven, Percy went to work in the cotton mills and became a weaver and Harry was an apprentice shoe maker. We know that their younger sister Margaret was a weaver at the age of 13. When the outbreak of war was looming Harry went to work at the Lancashire Explosives Works at Withnell which later became part of the Royal Ordnance Factory.
At the outbreak of war Percy, aged 22, was the first to join up, which he did at Canterbury Street barracks in Blackburn.
In fact he was in the first batch of lads to join the newly enlarged Territorial regiment and to be sent off to see service overseas.
PTE. 3156 BOUSFIELD, HARRY
The 1/4 regiment did their basic training at Chesham Fold Camp near Bury and after this they sailed on 10 September 1914 from Southampton for Egypt where they landed at Alexandria on the 25.
In fact the cap badge of the East Lancs. Regt is a Sphinx and it was in the middle east that the regiment seen most of the actions they took part in.
While he was in Egypt Percy was based at Cairo and on one occasion he was one of the guard of honour when the new Sultan was installed.
In February 1915 he took part in the action that repulsed a Turkish attack on the Suez Canal.
May saw Percy embarked at Alexandria with the rest of the battalion and set sail for Gallipoli where they landed at Cape Helles.
At around this time his brother Harry, who was 19, was joining up at Darwen and was sent off to do basic training at Chesham Fold Camp.
The 1/4 East Lancs. were now lining up to take part of an assault with the objective of taking the village of Krithia which was protected by five lines of Turkish trenches.
On the morning of the 4 June a bombardment of the enemy lines started using army guns and also from warships sailing close to the shore. This went on until noon when the signal to advance was given and the first wave of British troop went into action.
They quickly reached the first of the Turkish trenches where they found the Turkish troop either dead, wounded or badly dazed by the bombardment. But they did not give up without a fight and shovels were swapped for bayonets to finally take the trench. The second wave swept through and set about taking the second Turkish trench line which was a further 500 yards behind the first.
They also achieved this objective as they were supported for the first time by naval armoured cars fitted with Maxim Machine guns.
By the end of the day the centre of the line had been taken right back to the Turkish fifth line of trenches but not as far as the village of Krithia.
The next day the Turks had regrouped and counter attached and vicious fighting, a lot of it hand to hand, ensued for the rest of the day. At first the British had to give way on two of the formerly Turkish trenches but they were able to retake them by nightfall.
It was during this fighting that Percy was mortally wounded and despite being evacuated to hospital back in Cairo he died of his wounds.
About this time his brother Harry had finished his training and was embarked at Southampton to sail for Gallipoli. Here he joined the regiment at Cape Helles some two weeks after his brother had died.
One of the largest causes of death was disease and it was here that Harry contracted dysentery and only two months after his brother he died.
We now know that the cure for dysentery is simply clean water.
By the end of August, the division had lost about 2/3rd of its men through battle casualties, injuries or sickness.
So within two months Mary and James had lost their only two sons, once they had marched from Canterbury Street Barracks to the train at Blackburn Station they were never to see them again, little did they know as they waved them off it was forever. They were two of the hundreds of thousands of parents who did exactly the same.
Percy is buried at Cairo and Harry at Alexandria. They are 100 miles apart but 3,000 miles from home, another part of a foreign land that will be forever England.
In one way they were fortunate as there were 50,000 allied deaths at Gallipoli and only 10,000 of them have known graves.
The Last to Leave
The guns were silent, and the silent hills
had bowed their grasses to a gentle breeze
I gazed upon the vales and on the rills,
And whispered, “What of these?’ and “What of these?
These long forgotten dead with sunken graves,
Some crossless, with unwritten memories
Their only mourners are the moaning waves,
Their only minstrels are the singing trees
And thus I mused and sorrowed wistfully
I watched the place where they had scaled the height,
The height whereon they bled so bitterly
Throughout each day and through each blistered night
I sat there long, and listened – all things listened too
I heard the epics of a thousand trees,
A thousand waves I heard; and then I knew
The waves were very old, the trees were wise:
The dead would be remembered evermore-
The valiant dead that gazed upon the skies,
And slept in great battalions by the shore.
Leon Gellert, Australian Gallipoli veteran, 1924