PRIVATE Willie Kershaw of Rossendale was just 21 when he was killed in WWI, while carrying wounded on the field.

Attached to the Royal Army Medical Corp 56th Field Ambulance, he was hit by a shell and died instantly in July, 1916.

Information of his death was first received by his aunt, Miss M Kershaw of 3 Paradise St, Waterfoot, who had brought him up. Miss Kershaw found the official letter from the Record Office behind the door when she returned from holiday.

The officer commanding the 56th Field Ambulance also wrote to his father George, who worked at Messrs J Trickett’s clog-iron works, in Waterfoot.

It read: “It is with sincere regret that I write to inform you of the death of your son, Pte Kershaw, who was killed by a shell whilst carrying wounded on the field.

“His death was instantaneous. Pte Kershaw always proved himself a good soldier and was very much liked by both officers and men, on whose behalf I tender my deepest sympathy in your sad bereavement.

Prior to enlisting, Pte Kershaw worked at James Taylor’s dye works, Roebuck and was a scholar at Newchurch Wesleyan Sunday school, where he had taken many prizes. He went out to France in July, 1915 and had never been home on leave.

He celebrated his 21st birthday in the trenches in September of that year. Willie had two brothers, Joseph and George, who also fought in and survived the Great War.

Joseph’s grandson Barry Kershaw, told us this story of his great uncle, saying: “Willie has been my hero since I was old enough to say his name.”