Written by Local Heritage Officer Hannah Turner. This article first appeared in Past Forward, the local history magazine produced by Wigan Museums & Archives.
Many local residents have been encouraged by the centenary of The First World War to share stories of their ancestors.
The first is from Derek Timmins from Hindley Green. Derek has shared his family’s archives with Past forward. His ancestor Walter enlisted into the Royal Field Artillery in January 1915. He later transferred to the South Wales Borderers. Walter served in Gallipoli at Sulva Bay and Cape Helles. His regiment was sent to Egypt were Walter became infected with Malaria. Walter later went to France and during the Battle of the Somme was wounded in nine places by shrapnel. Walter lay in a shell hole for 36 hours before being discovered. His arm was later amputated. Walter returned home to a “royal welcome” in August 1916 and was honourably discharged a few months later.
Before the war Walter worked at Nook Pits in Astley but he did not return their in peace time. After receiving treatment Walter became the postman in the Bedford area of Leigh for many years until his death in 1945.
The second is from Alan Platt from New Zealand. Alan’s ancestor, Gunner Joseph Platt, died from wounds in April 1918 and is now buried in northern France in Borre Churchyard with nine other casualties. Before enlisting, Joseph lived in Etherstone Street and worked as a baker for the Leigh Co-operative Society. He was married to Florence and they had a son. Joseph was a member of the Leigh Road Primitive Methodist Choir. Joseph had several brothers, two of them Harry and John (also known as Jack) are believed to have been in the army during the war. One of them John (also known as Jack) served in the Manchester Regiment. Both Harry and John were coal miners. After the war they returned to Leigh to live with their family at 2 Widdows Street.
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