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The Fallen of Kirkby

Mark Grigg

Le Touret Memorial
Le Touret Memorial
  • Son of Adam and Agnes Grigg of Grizebeck.
  • Private, 2719, 1st/4th Battalion KORLR.
  • Killed in Action, 15th June 1915, near Rue d’Ouvert, aged 30.
  • Commemorated on Panel 5, Le Touret Memorial, Pas de Calais, France and on the Burlington Stone Quarry Memorial.

(Note: The family name was sometimes spelled ‘Gregg’. Also, for some unknown reason Mark Grigg’s Army Service Record has him as ‘William Grigg’ of Grizebeck.)

Mark Grigg’s father, Adam, worked at the quarry, was injured in 1907 and became a weighman. Mark himself was a river and slate-dresser, and his younger brother George also worked in the quarry. Their older brother, John, was in farm service; there were other siblings, Agnes and Joseph, and two older married sisters, Elizabeth Crowe and Jane Brockbank. Mark’s mother had died in 1907, aged 60, and Adam died in 1921, aged 71.

Thanks to Mark Grigg’s army records surviving the blitz during the Second World War, we know quite a bit about his military service, which totalled just 252 days. He enlisted in Ulverston on 7th October 1914, probably with fellow quarry workers Addison Bell of Lowick, and Edward Greenhow of Gawthwaite. Although all three went into the 1st/4th Battalion of their local regiment, part of the Territorial Force, Grigg’s army record shows he declared that he had not previously been in the Territorials. (In fact the Territorials had been mobilised two months earlier.) The three quarry men may have stayed together through their whole war, only the last six weeks of which was spent in France: Bell was killed on the same day as Grigg, and Greenhow died of wounds two weeks later. All three are named on the Burlington Stone War Memorial, and Bell and Greenhow are on the memorial in Lowick churchyard. In June 1917 a memorial service was held at St Cuthbert’s Church for Grigg, William Relph, Eric Rothery, Thomas Heaton, Isaac Hudson and Joseph Fleming.

Mark Grigg was in B Company of the 1st/4th Battalion, and the war diary shows that they went into the line at Le Touret on 14th June 1915, in preparation for a planned offensive by the British. The attack began at 0600 on 15th and by 0620 the Company was reporting that two lines of enemy trenches had been taken. The Germans counter-attacked on 16th June and the 1st/4th Battalion came out of the line at 6pm, being relieved by the Liverpools, but by this time Grigg and Bell were “missing” and Greenhow had been wounded. In that action the battalion lost 5 officers and 147 other ranks, killed, missing, wounded or taken prisoner.

In October 1919, his wife already dead, Adam Grigg received his son’s British War Medal, followed in March 1920 by his 1914/15 Star, and, in 1921, by the Victory Medal (the set being known affectionately as ‘Pip, Squeak and Wilfred’). By the end of the year, Adam himself was dead.

(Another Kirkby man, William Sykes of Marshside was killed in the same battalion action but in A Company. Although he himself worked for the Furness Railway, his father, David, was a slate loader at the quarry, and must have known Adam and Mark Grigg. Thomas Martin of Soutergate and Lewthwaite Shaw of Head Cragg may well have taken part in the same action but survived to die later, Martin on the Somme in 1916 and Shaw in hospital in Barrow-in-Furness in 1919.)

Le Touret Memorial

Le Touret Memorial bears the names of 13,400 British soldiers killed between October 1914 and September 1915, when some of the heaviest fighting of the first year of the war took place in this area. Their bodies could not be identified, so they have no grave. The names are organised by Regiment, and the Kirkby and Burlington Slate casualties are named on Panel 5.

The memorial is in Le Touret Commonwealth War Graves’ Cemetery, which is on the south side of the Bethune to Armentières road, the D171, about 1km on the Armentières side of Le Touret village.

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