‘Forgotten’ Ribble Valley soldier’s story uncovered

Historian Melanie Warren has uncovered a new war victim from the orphanage

Historian Melanie Warren has uncovered a new war victim from the orphanage

First published in News Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A PROJECT to commemorate 10 Ribble Valley men who lost their lives during the First World War has uncovered the story of an 11th forgotten soldier.

Historian Melanie Warren has been working with Salesbury School and Child Action Northwest to commemorate the soldiers known as ‘James Dixon’s Children’ from the old Blackburn Orphanage.

The Heritage Lottery-funded project has seen pupils studying the war through the lives of the orphanage boys who went to war and did not return.

Mrs Warren said: “While going through the files for the school, I found a letter from the family who wrote to the charity in 2002 to ask for the records of Harry Watson because they were doing their own family history.

“It seems Harry had been married for four years, had a son called James who was just one when his father went to war in 1914. When he enlisted Harry gave the army what he thought had been his father’s name, ‘Christopher Watson’, hence the mystery around his death.”

Harry’s life and 10 other ‘old boys’ will now be marked in a special church service and tree planting ceremony as part of the First World War anniversary events on Sunday, July 13.

Harry enlisted in the Lancashire Fusiliers and was sent out to Macedonia in the 22nd Division.

His battalion was involved in the Battle of Doiran, north of what is now known as Thessalonika.

He was killed in action in May 17 and is buried in a war cemetery in Greece.

Project co-ordinator Harriet Roberts said: “This information has come as surprise to the charity and Harry’s story will now be remembered along with the other 10 boys.

“We originally received funding for 10 cherry trees for the project but we are now appealing for donations to fund the final tree to remember Harry Watson whose family have been invited to the event.”

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