In the footsteps of heroes

Lytham War Memorial
Lytham War Memorial
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Take a stroll around Lytham – and find out more about two of the town’s First World War heroes.

That is the invitation from community history specialist Andrew Walmsley, who is leading a walk next week designed to expand on the increased interest shown in the Great War during this year’s centenary of its outbreak.

Lytham War Memorial

Lytham War Memorial

The focus of the walk will be on two local soldiers of vastly differing ranks who both perished in the conflict in 1915 – Major Harry Nickson and Private Graham Reese.

Andrew, community heritage manager for Lancashire Libraries, said: “We will look at their lives and also highlight what the town was like around the outbreak of the war through census records, maps and local 
newspapers.

“The areas around Clifton Street, Market Square, Queen Street, Henry Street, Dicconson Terrace and Central Beach will all be covered during the walk. We have seen a lot of interest this year in First World War history and we hope people will join us.”

Harry Nickson, who lived in Clifton Drive, led the Lytham Territorials to war shortly after its outbreak in August 1914.

Captain Henry "Harry" Nickson

Captain Henry "Harry" Nickson

The Territorials, who lost 14 men at the Battle of Festubert in France in the summer of 1914, were based in the old Drill Hall on Henry Street and were one of the first battalions in the country to go to war.

A blue plaque in their honour was unveiled on the site of the long-demolished building last week, on the centenary of the men setting out for war just 48 hours after its outbreak on August 4, 1914.

Mr Nickson survived Festubert but was killed in action later in 1915, just two weeks 
after his wife had given birth to a daughter. He is buried in the French village of Aveluy.

Graham Reece, of Park Street, was in the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment and originally from Welshpool but came to work in a local shop. He died in 
Mesopotamia.

Cover of Lytham's Saturday Night Soldiers by Andrew Norris

Cover of Lytham's Saturday Night Soldiers by Andrew Norris

Coun Ed Nash, Fylde Council’s Armed Forces member, president of Fylde Veterans and current mayor of St Annes, was among those in attendance at the unveiling of the blue plaque in tribute to Mr Nickson and his men. He said: “This is an important part of the history of Fylde.

“These departures for the front were soon seen in many towns, but Lytham’s was one of the first.”

Tuesday’s walk will last about one and a half hours and Andrew added that there will be refreshments afterwards in the library, with a chance to look at some of the resources available for First World War research.

Details from Lytham Library on (01253) 736745.

The image of Harry Nickson comes from Andrew Norris’ book Lytham’s Saturday Night Soldiers The First 60 Years, which gives a faxcinating insight into the brave men from the town who volunteered to fight for their country

It’s available at a price of £10 by emailing lythamsoldiers@btinternet.com, or calling (01772) 634915. ISBN:978-1-909817-06-7