Local Stories

We asked members of the community to share their own WW1 stories with us.

Martin Jones formerly a Governor at Thomas’s Primary School, Lydiate, inherited a box of WW1 documents during the house clearance of a friend. The box contained a remarkable archive regarding the life and death of John Westhead, who was the Grandfather of Martin’s friend.

Martin now gives talks about John Westhead. He can be contacted at:  jonesmartin566@gmail.com

Below is a resume of  John’s story.

The John Westhead Story


Born in 1872 John was born in Scarisbrick, the first son of Hannah Cave. He followed his Step Fathers profession and after serving an apprenticeship became a Blacksmith/Farrier.

In 1914 The Remount Depot was set up at Lathom House (the home of the Earl of Lathom). Blacksmiths and Farriers were needed in great numbers to work with the horses being trained for war duties. 

John was the Blacksmith at Newburgh in 1913. He closed the Smithy and joined the staff at the Remount Depot as a civilian. He signed up in 1915 and was sent to Woolwich, London for training and eventually went out to France in March 1916. Alas in 21st October 1916 he was asleep in his tent when a stray piece of shrapnel hit his tent and killed him.

Many letters were sent to the family following his death.  All of them indicating he was a respected individual and liked by all who knew him.

He had no need to sign up for war duties as the upper age limit was 40.

He was 42 years of age when he signed up and 44 years of age when killed.  He was a family man and left a wife and four daughters at home in Newburgh.

Some letters indicate he was a true Christian. May be this was the reason he volunteered for war duties.  He paid the ultimate sacrifice and gave his life for King and Country.

The photographs below show:

  1. John Westhead at his marriage to Eliza Charles in Halsall Paris Church, 1894
  2. When he was a farrier in Newburgh, Lancs.
  3. At the remount depot, Lathom House (2nd from right)
  4. After signing up for the army
  5. Notification of his death sent to Eliza
  6. John Westhead’s grave