Private 16345Alex Preston
2nd Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment and joined them in the field from the 25th reinforcements on the 3rd September 1915.
Reported Killed in Action on the 25th September 1915, the first day of the Battle of Loos in the France and Flanders Campaign aged 34 years. Research finds Private 16345 Alex Preston as a Prisoner of War on a list dated the 15th April 1916. The German list states 'unknown details'. Further research is being done by his family.
He is commemorated on the Loos Memorial, Pas de Calais, France, Panel Ref: Panel 42 to 44, and on the family gravestone in Rothley Cemetery.
Son of Robert and Annie Preston of Town Green, Rothley, brother of Eliza, Joshua, Ivy, Arthur, Florence, Miriam and Frank. He married Emma Smith in 1909 and his first child Gladys was born in 1911 and son Alex in 1913.
Named on the War Memorial, Parish Church Roll of Honour, Parish Church Triptych Roll of Honour and Rothley Constitutional Club Roll of Honour.
The War Diary for today records:
At 5.30am the Battn was in position of readiness in accordance with orders in four lines opposite their objective with bombing parties, sandbag parties and carrying parties all arranged and in position. At 6.00am the first line got over the parapet quickly followed by the second, the left had to right form to get in line with the right as the trench ran back from a salient near the centre. As the first two lines went out the third and forth filed into the vacant positions in the firing line. The gas affected a number of our men, and the smoke caused a lot of dense fog and direction was difficult. casualties began at once and the third line was ordered out to fill up gaps. Owing to the thick smoke it seemed likely that gaps would occur on the flanks and at 6.07am the forth line was sent out with special instructions to maintain touch with the units on either flank. At about 6.10am the left were over the German parapet and our flag was seen flying on their lines. The left went forward with such dash that they outstripped the 2nd/8th GURKHAS and came in for a lot of fire from rifles and maxim guns from our right. This caused a good many casualties including all the officers and most of the NCO's of A Coy which was the extreme left. Undeterred the men went on, got over the uncut wire and reached the road with parties of the 2nd/8th GURKHAS and gained their objective. In the meantime our right had not fared so well. They went forward in good line under a heavy fire till held up by the German wire. A number of our men here were collected in the ditch in front of the German wire waiting for developments. Officer casualties. Killed Capt. F.H.ROMILLY D.S.O., Captain E.C.Deane R.A.M.C. Died of wounds 2nd Lt M.W.BROWNE. Wounded Lt Col H.GORDON. D.S.O., Capt W.C.WILSON, Lt H.H.PHILLIPS, 2nd Lt. G.W.TANNER, 2nd Lt H.H.HEMPHILL, 2nd Lt V.E.ELLINGHAM, 2nd Lt C.C.BAILEY, 2nd Lt G.W.GROSSMITH. Slightly wounded Major F.LEWIS, Capt D.L.WEIR. Gassed 2nd Lt W.WILSON. Missing and believed killed Lt W.L.PICKIN, 2nd Lt R.E.S.LODGE. Missing known to have been wounded 2nd Lt C.G.WOODBOURN. Missing and no trace 2nd Lt W.J.WILKINSON, 2nd Lt E.A.WILKINSON, 2nd Lt T.R.LONGCROFT. Rank and file casualties. Killed 72. Wounded 217. Gassed 42. Missing 96. Wounded slightly but did not quit Battn 3. What was left of the Battn were relieved from the front line by the 2nd/39th GARWHAL RIFLES at 6.30pm and moved into support and local reserve just in rear. Before the operations began the Battn worked for a week in strengthening the front line and preparing the defences behind. Four very strong lines were constructed capable of resisting the enemy's bombardment.
Document found on the Geneva Red Cross website listing Private Preston as a Prisoner of War
List of Prisoners of War from the German archives showing Alex Preston 16345
Informal Will showing that Private Preston died in Germany as a Prisoner of War on or since the 25th September 1915
The Medal Card shows Private Preston 'Killed in Action'
Emma Preston, wife of Private Preston
Annie Preston, mother of Private Preston
IN LOVING MEMORY OF
13TH MARCH 1931
AGED 79 YEARS
WHO FELL IN ACTION
25TH SEPTEMBER 1915
AGED 35 YEARS
4TH JANUARY 1905
AGED 2 YEARS
SONS OF THE ABOVE
WHO DIED 24TH MARCH 1949
AGED 91 YEARS
The photograph of Pte Alex Preston was kindly given by his granddaughter, Sheena Shawley, who placed it in the Leicester Mercury in his memory in 2008. With thanks to his family for permission to use this and the family information.
WE WILL REMEMBER THEM