Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Rushton, Ralph - Private (26555)

Private Ralph Rushton
1st Battalion,
East Lancashire Regiment,
Reported missing on the 18th October 1916 and presumed to have been killed on that date.
Age 32
Commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

Ralph Rushton was born in Accrington in 1883. He was the son of William and Elizabeth Rushton of 12, Hoyle Street, Rising Bridge. In 1901, Ralph was living at 12, Belgrave Street, Rising Bridge with his parents, brothers James, George, Thomas, Henry, Joseph and William and sister Jane. At this time he was employed as a cotton weaver. His father, William died on 14 August 1913, and was buried in Stonefold Churchyard. At this time the family resided at 13, Hazel Street, Rising Bridge.
 Prior to joining the army he was employed as a weaver at Nicholas Worsley’s Alliance Mill, Baxenden. 
Ralph joined the 1st East Lancashire Regiment, but went missing on 18 October 1916, during an attack on the German trenches on Le Transloy line during the Battle of the Somme, and was later presumed dead. He was 32 years of age. He was single and prior to joining the army he resided with his mother and brothers at 13, Hazel Street, Rising Bridge. Mrs Rushton had seven sons, three of whom (besides Ralph) – Henry, Joseph and William - had joined the Army and were serving in France.

"On the 15th (October, 1916) orders were issued from XIVth Corps Headquarters for the 4th and 6th Divisions to make another attack, on the 18th, on the trenches of the Le Transloy line. The 4th Division was to attack of the right and the 6th Division on the left. The task allotted to the 4th Division was to capture the trenches of “Frosty”, “Hazy”, “Rainy”, “Dewdrop” and some gun pits. A tank was attached to each Division but both were bogged down in early action. The objects of the battalion were Rainy and Dewdrop trenches and some subsidiary trenches beyond these two. The ground was in the most appalling condition due to heavy rain during the preceding weeks. At zero hour a barrage was put down on Dewdrop trench, which lasted for 4½ minutes. At the same time the battalion and the 1st Rifle Brigade floundered into the mud of “no-man’s-land”. The men, wearing full equipment and carrying extra bombs, made slow progress; some were utterly exhausted and scarcely mobile, only to be shot down, drowned in shell holes or rounded up at daybreak.
The advance was by the left. “C” Company on the left had the Les Boeufs-Le Tresnoy road to guide it. “A” Company on the right, in the darkness went too far to the right and somehow got mixed up with the Rifle Brigade. Directly the first wave advanced it was met with heavy machine gun fire and casualties were numerous. Moreover it was difficulty to find Dewdrop and Rainy trenches as they had been heavily shelled by our artillery. The few men who did reach Dewdrop trench, and beyond, withdrew to Rainy trench where “D” Company had arrived, having also had many casualties. The Company Commander, then seeing that his two leading waves were practically wiped out, and that German machine guns were trained on the trench, withdrew to the original front line trenches".
From – History of the East Lancashire Regiment, by L. Nicholson.

It was during this attack that Ralph Rushton was killed. As his body was never found Ralph is commemorated on Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, on the Somme in France.

Newspaper Memorials:

In loving memory of Private Ralph Rushton, East Lancashire's, who made the great sacrifice, October 18th 1916.

"This day brings back the memory,
Of one who was called to rest,
And those who think of him today,
Are those who loved him best.

But the hardest part has yet to come,
When the heroes home return,
And among the crowds we miss,
The one we loved so well."

"Ever remembered."

From his Mother, Sister, and Brothers, Harry, Joseph, and William in France.

"God knows how much we miss you,
More than loving words can tell,
Not one day have we forgot you,
Since you bade this world farewell.

We have lost and heaven, has gained,
The best of brothers this world contained;
A good life is often too short,
But a good name endureth for ever."
"One of the best."

Sadly missed by his dear mother, brothers, and sister, Jane Alice, 13 Hazel-Street, Rising Bridge.