Bronze plaque for ‘forgotten’ Simonstone soldiers

Three “forgotten” Great War heroes whose names are missing from Simonstone village war memorial are finally set to be honoured.

Historians discovered the soldiers’ names were not etched on to the memorial at St Peter’s Church which pays tribute to 36 men from Read and Simonstone killed in the First World War.

East Lancs Regiment Pt. Gilbert Yates, who died from wounds in 1915; weaver L/Cpl Robert James Breckell, killed serving for the Canadian Saskatchewan Regiment in 1916 and cotton mill owner Ernest Thistlethwaite, of the Household Cavalry, who died of wounds in 1917 in Etaples, were absent from the stone roll call of the dead.

So far efforts to trace the descendants of the “missing men” by leaders of the parish council have proved unsuccessful.

But plans are to erect a bronze plaque bearing the names of the “missing men” at the church in School Lane to mark the 100th anniversary commemorations of the conflict.


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Coun. David Peat, who is chairman of the parish council, said: “Despite appeals in the Burnley Express we have not been able to contact the descendants of the three soldiers,

“However, we have written to regiments and associations relating to the three men.

We have applied to the Church of England Diocesan Authorities as we are placing the plaque on the wall of St Peter’s Church, Simonstone.

“We have contacted the North-West office of the Royal British Legion and await a response. The Parish Council are working to order the plaque in early summer and dedicate it in November.”


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The parish council has contacted the High Commissioner of Canada in the UK who sent details of L/Cpl Breckell’s enlistment into the Canadian Army Saskatchewan Regiment and details of the current successor body; the Royal Regina Rifles,who are organising fund-raising events from current and former soldiers.

The Household Cavalry was contacted as its association for the North-West and West Yorkshire are raising funds for Trooper Thistlethwaite.

An oak tree from the Ribble Valley Borough Council will be planted in the parish garden to commemorate the conflict and schoolchildren and parishioners to sow poppy seeds in the garden and on parts of Simonstone Lane and Whalley Road.

Please could readers contact Mr Roger Hirst, Clerk to the Council, on 01200 428742 with any information.