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  1. Published on: 06/11/2018 08:52 AMReported by: rogerblaxall
    A full house at The Civic on Friday night listened to the fascinating story of a family man killed in World War 1.

    Ormskirk's Martin Jones told how John Westhead - the Newburgh village blacksmith in 1913 - signed up for was duties aged 42.

    He left for France in May 1916 and was killed in October, 1916; during a house clearance documents were found relating to his war time activities which were described by WW1 experts as like ‘gold dust’.

    They were saved with a view to placing them in the proposed Ormskirk Museum around 2004, however plans for a museum were dropped.

    During 2014 a chance meeting with one local WW1 expert saw the documents examined and explored, which resulted in the creation of a talk about the pre and post war Westhead family history.

    Research back to 1851 revealed some fascinating facts of the family, and the opening of the Remount Depot at Lathom House in 1914 had a big impact on it; blacksmiths and farriers were in great demand, and John answered the call.

    He left a wife and four daughters and set out for France never to return, giving his life for King and Country.

    Some of the documents reveal the procedures put in place to notify a family of deaths in war, and the talk concluded with how the family coped with the loss of a husband and father.

    A cottage was rented from Lathom Estates by his wife, who ran the Post Office attached to the property.

    After Martin's talk, his audience could view the documents and the medals awarded to John Westhead’s wife and had the opportunity to ask questions on a most unusual and interesting account of the effects of war on one West Lancashire family.

    Following his talk, the audience were entertained with a selection of WW1 songs performed by The Pleasure Folk.
           

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