James Henry Pellow
Reminiscences of James Henry Pellow
This is a transcript of a conversation I had with James Henry Pellow in the late 1980’s. He would then have been in his late eighties, a remarkable man whose only concession to age was that he was hard of hearing.
Looking back on it now I wished I had asked so many other questions!
It was a privilege to meet you
“I was born on the 8th March 1894 and lived at 35 Pear Street off Oxford Road and went to Fulledge School when I was three and a half. When I was about six I remember buying the halfpenny “pink” and reading about the Boer war with my father. When I was about 10 years old we moved to 69 Albert Street facing Walton’s Mill (I was about 10 but still went to Fulledge School)
My mother was born in Newchurch in Pendle and my father in Blythe in Northumberland; he went to work at the pit when he was nine years old, opening doors for the ponies. He had to work because his mother was a widower.
At the age of 12 I went to work half time at Primrose Mill Harle Syke and walked to work at 5 o’clock in the morning, past Widow Green. We started at 6 o’clock. I helped a weaver with six looms tenting for her by bringing weft and carrying pieces and was paid 3 shillings and sixpence per week. She used to let me go home at quarter past twelve instead of half past to get to school. I worked mornings or afternoons on alternate weeks and every Saturday from six till twelve o’clock with half an hour from eight till eight thirty for breakfast.
Later John West built another factory on Queens Street old factory which was split into four little holdings; I stopped with Frank Atkinson (who married John West’s daughter. The Hargreaves, Crowthers and Atkinson’s all married a John West daughter and each got one alleyway.
I joined up in February 1915, me and George Sutcliffe ( who also worked at Queens Street) we went to the Barracks and enlisted and then went to Blackburn in billets for five weeks. I joined the Burnley Territorial's, East Lancashire Artillery who were stationed at Blackburn. We then to Southport for about six months, then to Forest Row in Sussex (near East Grinstead) which was a little village up on the hills. We were there for about twelve months before we moved to Colchester where we trained other gunners.
George Sutcliffe was with me up to Forest Row, then he went to Bettersfield in Wales whilst the 5th and 6th batteries went to Colchester. He survived the war and later kept a toffee shop in Worthsthorne village.
We then went to Bethune in Belgium into a French barracks and then onto Polygon Wood, through Ypres. At first we used horse drawn waggons, but these got stuck in the many shell holes, so in the end horse packs were used to move the munitions over duck boards. The horses would follow behind ammunition columns and then they would be loaded with eight shells on each horse. On the way back we put the empty shell holders onto one horse and rode the others back for one mile past Ypres. Sometimes Jerry heard us and shelled us as we came through Ypres and other times we fell asleep on the horses.
We used to go to Kemmel hill which was on the same wagon lines as Ypres. Once going up a young lad from London was in the lead with a gunner to help with the remount horses, the gunner had just arrived from Calais. We had almost reached our gun positions when the Germans shelled us, the remount horses refused to move so they were unhooked and the gunner told to take them back. We told him not to pull on the reins as they will take themselves back, when we got to the gun position the Major asked why there were only four horses so I had to explain.
There were six guns to a battery and we used to have two guns in advance waggon lines which we took up to the third line trenches. We were billeted in a shelled farmhouse and I remember Jimmy Reed from Blackburn shouting to me from the cellar “see what I have found”. He had found a vat full of wine and we all got drunk, including Sergeant Harry Croasdale from Accrington. We later got a visit from the Sergeant Major and Harry got reduced to a Corporal
On the 21st March 1918 there was a big German push and we lost all our guns, all the gunners and the Major were captured. We then put all our waggons on all the roads to make the Germans think we were moving guns, but actually we didn’t have any.
In July 1918 I got
my first leave, two weeks and came back to Burnley. Later I went into
hospital in France and then transferred to Solihull (Birmingham) and eventually
discharged in early 1919. When I arrived home I went back to work at Atkinson’s
on six looms, with no tenter. I married in September 1919 and moved to
Blackpool, where I lived for twenty five years, working at Blackpool airfield
replenishing army lorries
Some of my pals were Percy Barker, Joe Charters and Billy Ingham
I had two brothers who served on the Somme, Cecil (who was gassed) and William Ashworth who was my half brother, he came back to work on essential services at Rowley pit. Arthur, my youngest brother served in the navy in the second world war and was torpedoed three times"