SAMUEL BLACKBURN 

Rank: Private
Service Number: 1906.
Regiment: 1st/5th Bn. Cheshire Regiment Killed In Action Monday 2nd October 1916 Age 24County Memorial Runcorn
Commemorated\Buried THIEPVAL MEMORIAL
Grave\Panel Ref: 3C
France

Samuel was the son of Joseph and Sarah Blackburn. He was born in Over, Winsford, where the family lived before coming to Runcorn to work at the Salt Union Works. Three others on the memorial followed this route, W Bolt, P Kitchen and E Piggott.

In the 1911 census, his occupation is listed as that of a blacksmiths striker at the salt works. His father, Joseph was a salt drawer. 

He had 5 brothers and 2 sisters according to the 1911 census. His older brother, Thomas was also a blacksmiths striker, listed as being employed at a chemical works.

 He was a member of the territorial’s, so at 6pm on the 4th August,  Samuel, Albert Miller and others of “G” company reported to their drill hall in Runcorn after orders were given to mobilise.  They were under the command of a Cpt Weissmuller and then went to Norfolk to undergo training and also digging defences.  Samuel was assigned to “C” Company with his friends from Runcorn, and entered France on 15th February 1915.

Samuel would have been involved in a lot of the heavy fighting in 1915, when his battalion where involved in the 2nd battle of Ypres. His service record doesn’t survive so we don’t know if he received any injuries. In 1916, the 5th Battalion were located to the Somme area as a pioneer battalion. Their key role now was to build trenches and fortifications, and on the 1st July 1916, they were the only battalion of the Cheshire Regiment to go over the top as support troops, to shore up the captured trenches and quickly build fortifications at Gommecourt, the northern sector of the Somme offensive. The only Company to be involved was “A”, who where in the third wave of the attack assisting the Queens Westminsters. “C” company where in reserve on the 1st  July, and although one platoon was requested to support the London Scottish, this was countermanded by the officer on the spot and they rejoined the rest of “C” company. We can only assume that Samuel was still part of “C” company. After the first day, the battalion had lost 3 officers and 90 men, 110 injured.

After the battle they were withdrawn from the front line, and instructed to assist in construction of the brigades new HQ.

They then spent most of their time digging new trenches in the dead of night, trying to go undetected by the enemy, numerous casualties were sustained from shell fire and sniping.

At the time of Samuels death, they appear to be digging trenches and constructing strong points near Le Transloy, just NE of Morval where 7 days earlier Thomas Jones had won his VC.  It can be assumed that Samuel was either killed outright or died very quickly as he was not brought back to one of the larger casualty stations.

His father died on 13th Dec 1930 aged 66, and his mother on 8th April 1928 aged 62.

Of his brothers and sisters, Catherine died on 6th November 1918 aged 19, Sam on 2nd October 1916 and Charles on 2nd March 1921 aged 17.

Compiled By Graeme Ainsworth with assistance from Percy Dunbavand

His other three brothers all appear to have worked at the salt works, and joined up. They are in the Salt Union Roll Of Honour that lists all employees who served in WW1.

Thomas Blackburn joined the Cheshires as Reg No 31709 and then the Royal Welch Fusilliers as Reg No 70694.

George Blackburn enlisted with the Duke of Edingburghs Wiltshire Regiment as Reg No 23397, he was injured and discharged in March 1917.

James Blackburn joined the Royal Garrison Artillery as Reg No 132047 in July 1916, and was a gunner with “3” field battery. His service records survive and he appears to have suffered from his time at the front. He requested a war pension based on Rheumatism, but this was rejected. He was also once confined to barracks for 3 days for not turning up for 7am parade.

© Cheshire County Memorial Project
2016