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The Fallen of Kirkby

Norman Bernard Vernon Rothery

  • Son of William Brockbank Rothery and Margaret Hannah Rothery (née Todd-Newcomb), of The Muirlands, Kirkby Ireleth, and 10 Chambres Road, Southport.
  • Brother of Eric (q.v.), marine engineer, who died of illness in Birkenhead, Merseyside, while on war service in the Merchant Navy, bringing horses from America for the war effort.
  • Private, 45261, 8th Battalion, The Cheshire Regiment.
  • Died 3rd November 1917; buried in Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery, aged 23

Vernon Rothery’s military record is among those extensively damaged by enemy action in the Second World War (the so-called “burnt papers”) but his Attestation Paper for short service for the duration of the war partly survives. It shows that he was 21 years old at the time of enlistment in the Cheshire Regiment, probably in reality his local regiment at the time, although he gave his address as The Muirlands, Kirkby-in-Furness, and his mother, Mrs Todd-Newcomb-Rothery, as next of kin. On the other hand, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has Vernon’s (for that was the name he used) last address as Hazelmere, Southport.

The 8th Battalion the Cheshire Regiment, to which Vernon Rothery signed, was one of the New Armies of men responding to the call to arms, and as such they were volunteers, the so-called “Service Battalions”, since their commitment was just to serve for the duration of the war. Vernon was an engineer in Cammel Laird’s shipyard in Birkenhead, which makes it even less likely that he would be called up. Altogether the Cheshire Regiment raised 38 Battalions in the First World War: some saw action in Gallipoli; The 8th were posted to Mesopotamia, which included modern-day Iraq.

Since at the time of writing (2021) the UK Foreign Office advises against all travel to Iraq, the only information we have about the state of Vernon Rothery’s grave comes from Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which is: “owing to difficulty of access the war cemetery could not be fully constructed or properly maintained”. (Unfortunately, for a slightly different reason, the Rothery family grave has not been able to be maintained in Birkenhead either!)

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