Centenary of Darwen Cemeteries first WW1 burial. Private Richard Aspden Knowles

On Friday 31st October 2014 FODC held a short remembrance service for the centenary of the first casualty of World War One to be buried in Darwen Cemetery.

The service was led by Rev Terry Young  and Wreaths were laid by the Royal British Legion, FODC and Darwen Town Council.

Richard Aspden Knowles was the first casualty of The Great War to be buried in Darwen Cemetery. He was born July 5, 1892 at 5 John Street, Darwen, son of Walmsley Preston Knowles and Margaret Ann (nee Aspden).

His mother died in 1906 when he was 14 years old and his father passed away two years later. By the time of the 1911 census he was living with his brother, Albert and family, at 12 Daisyfield Street, Darwen.

At this time he was employed in the Darwen Paper Mill.

On the outbreak of war he enlisted in the East Lancashire Regiment 4th Battalion (No 1244) and was mobilisation to Chesham Fold Camp, Bury.

The Regiment sailed on September 10, 1914 from Southampton for Egypt.

However Richard had been taken ill and therefore unable to sail. He was sent home where he died on October 31, 1914. Death was due to tuberculosis.

He was interned, on Wednesday November 4th. The coffin was covered with a Union Flag, and eight comrades of the Territorial Force, in uniform, walked by the side of the hearse and acted as bearers. Drummer Bishop, who was invalided home at the same time walked beside the hearse to the Cemetery and saluted over the grave.

Photographs by Laurie Manton
FODC October 2014