We pause our look at lost buildings this week to remember some of those brave local men who tragically lost their lives during the two World Wars.

Each person has their own back story and below as we read those stories, just a small handful of so many, maybe we stop to think about what these heroes sacrificed for our freedom.

Northwich Guardian: James RathboneJames Rathbone (Image: Supplied)

Private. James Rathbone was born in 1891, the son of Frederick and Fanny Rathbone of Winnington, Northwich. James was one of nine children and they lived at 24 Hemming Street, Winnington. His father was a chemical labourer at Brunner Mond. By 1911 they were living at 3 Faraday Road and James was an apprentice cabinet maker.  He enlisted into the 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards in Knutsford soon after war was declared and went to France on 11th of August 1915, sixteen days after the full battalion had arrived. In October 1915 the battalion was involved in the fighting near to Loos and the Hohenzollern Redoubt.  By March 1916 the battalion was near to Ypres. James was listed as killed in action on the 31st of March 1916 and was one of the casualties as they passed through Potijze during the relief of the Scots Guards.

Northwich Guardian: Arthur John BerryArthur John Berry (Image: Supplied)

Sergeant. Arthur John Berry MM was born in 1896, one of 4 children, to parents John and Ellen Berry. John’s father was a railway worker. The family initially lived at 298 Concrete Terrace, Cross Town, Knutsford, and later moved to 8 Green Street Knutsford. When Arthur was 15 years old, he worked as a hall boy at Toft Hall in Knutsford, which at the time was a menial role like a scullery maid, working 16 hours a day, 7 days a week. Arthur enlisted in March 1915 at the Manchester Recruiting Office, becoming a private in the 1/6th battalion of the Manchester Regiment, later being promoted to Sergeant. He arrived at Gallipoli at the end of October 1915. By 1917 Arthur was in France. He was awarded the Military Medal when, following an attack on enemy lines and noting that all officers had fallen, he took command and won through the difficult situation which called for a huge amount of resource and courage. Arthur was killed on 22nd April 1918 when he was returning from a bombing raid on a German machine-gun post when a bomb, maybe a grenade, was accidentally dropped by one of his own comrades killing Arthur instantly. 

Northwich Guardian: Joseph RustageJoseph Rustage (Image: Supplied)

Private. Joseph Rustage was born at Ninehouses, Anderton, Northwich in 1892. By 1914 the family had moved to 30 Beeston Street, Castle. Joseph worked at Brunner Mond’s Winnington Works before enlisting in the Cheshire Regiment at the Darwin Street Drill Hall. He was with his younger brother Charles, and it was September 1914. After training on the 26th of June 1915, Joseph embarked on HM Tug Ivernia bound for Gallipoli. During his service in the Dardanelles, he was badly wounded and evacuated back to England to recover. He later returned to battle and was killed when three parties were attacking the crossroads at Longueval, near Delville Wood. They were caught in long-range crossfire from two machine guns and then swept by an intense artillery bombardment.  No trace of any of the men or the two officers was ever found. After Joseph’s death, his parents relocated to 28 Slade Street, Northwich to try to have a fresh start away from the memories that haunted them.

Northwich Guardian: Ronald George BlackhamRonald George Blackham (Image: Supplied)

Lance Corporal. Ronald George Blackham from Weaverham, a Lance Corporal with the 3rd Battalion of the Coldstream Guards, was just 22 in 1943 when he was killed in action on the 25th of September. He is commemorated at the Salerno Cemetery in Italy. His remains have only recently been found and were to be identified through the DNA of his brother. He was buried at the same cemetery which is just north of the village of Bellizzi in March 2017 along with two unknown soldiers.

Northwich Guardian: William BuckleyWilliam Buckley (Image: Supplied)

Private. William Buckley was born in 1899, the son of William and Mary Alice Buckley of 181 Witton Street, Northwich. He enlisted just after his 18th birthday, and prior to this worked at Messrs Bates and Sons Iron Founders on Station Road as did his father. William joined the Denbighshire Yeomanry before transferring to the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and was attached to the 16th Battalion. He was sent to France on the 14th of April 1918. On the 2nd of Sept that year William was wounded during a counterattack at Sailly Saillesil as were 16 others, two died and one was missing. Later that month his mother received a letter from Nursing Sister J Gray who advised that Private W Buckley had died at the hospital.  A comrade also wrote to William’s mother stating that prior to William receiving his own injury he assisted and bandaged another soldier’s wound and helped him to get to the dressing station before returning to his post.

To compile this short list of local heroes, research has included information from The Cheshire Roll of Honour (with special thanks to the relatives and local historians who helped to contribute to that site).