Albert and Arthur James Henshaw


Written by Linda Trim

West Kirby brothers who were both killed in July 1916 on the Somme.

liverpool-pals-badgeKing’s Liverpool Regiment Cap Badge Issued by Lord Derby to the Pals Battalions in 1914

James Phythian Henshaw (1843-1907) and Mary Ann Vicars (1850 -1925) who were both from Liverpool, were married on the 8th of May 1873 in Liverpool by special licence. They were to have 6 children; William, Thomas, Edith, Frederick, Albert (born August 1887) and Arthur James (born  April 1890). James was a corn merchant according to the 1881 census, but by 1891 he has become an insurance manager in the Liverpool area, and the family had moved to Toxteth Park, and had a middle class and comfortable existence.  Both Albert and Arthur James were born in Garston, Lancashire, and spent their early years there. Albert attended the Liverpool Institute High School for Boys but it does not seem as if Arthur James was sent there.  James Phythian died in January 1907 aged 63, and  some time after that  his widow and children moved into West Kirby on the Wirral,  which by then was a well established and desirable community away from the smoke and industry in Liverpool.

In 1911, the census shows Mary Jane Henshaw as Head of household, with her children William, Edith, Frederick, Albert and Arthur James all still living with her. Her widowed sister Hannah had joined the household, and they had one live in servant.  William, the oldest brother was an insurance clerk, and both Frederick and Arthur James were cotton salesmen; Albert was a sugar broker’s clerk working for Edward Gray & Co., Sugar Importers.  Their sister Edith was unmarried and did not work outside the home and they lived in  “Lyndhurst”,  Brookfield Gardens, a comfortable home with nine rooms.

Their cousin Bryan Henshaw, who was a corn merchant salesman from Liverpool, and who was in the 2nd/6th King’s Liverpool Regiment, died in 1917 in France.

1911 Census Arthur & Albert.jpg

1911 Census for the Henshaw family


Albert Henshaw photo.jpg

Albert Henshaw

Albert joined the Army on the 2nd of September 1914, and military records show him as 5′ 3 3/4″ inches tall, 125 lbs and with a 36″ chest when fully expanded. He was 27 years 13 days old, and entered as Private 17194; he was one of the men who joined up to the Pals battalions. The Pals were specially constituted battalions of the British Army consisting of men who had enlisted together in local recruiting drives, with the promise that they would be able to serve alongside their friends, neighbors and colleagues (pals) rather than being assigned randomly to a battalion. He and his battalion, the 18th/2nd City King’s Liverpool Regiment, embarked for France on the 7th November 1915 and arrived in Boulogne the same day. By the end of 1915, the 17th 18th, 19th and 20th Liverpool Pals, which formed the 89th Brigade, 30th Division, had arrived in France.

The King’s Liverpool Regiment was at the Battle of the Somme which started on the 1st of July 1916 and did not end until the 18th of November that year: it was one of the fiercest battles of World War 1 and casualties were high. Albert died of wounds received in action on the 9th of July 1916, having received gunshot wounds in both legs. He served for 1 year 311 days. His mother, who by now was living at 33 Westbourne Road, West Kirby, was his next of kin, and was named as the beneficiary in his will, and his estate of £209 2s 8d went to her. He received the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory medal.

Albert Henshaw snip DA 21 July 1916.JPG

Deeside Advertiser 21 July 1916

Albert is buried in Abbeville Communal Cemetery, Abbeville, Somme, France.

Abbeville Communal Cemetery

Abbeville Communal Cemetery, Abbeville, France

Birth:  20th August 1887 Garston, Lancashire
Death : 9th July 1916 Somme, France
Addresses: 1891 – 51 Island Road, Garston, Lancashire; 1901 – 41 Berkley Street, Toxteth Park, Lancs; 1911 – Lyndhurst, Brookfield Gardens, West Kirby, Cheshire
Occupation: Sugar Brokers Clerk
Unit: 18th/2nd Battalion, King’s Liverpool Regiment
Number and Rank: Private 17194
Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal and 1914-1915 Star
Commemorated: Grange Hill War Memorial, West Kirby; Abbeville Communal Cemetery, Abbeville, France; Liverpool Institute
Sources: DA, CWGC, GH, Henshaws, MC, Prob, SR, WK, Census, 91, 01,11



Arthur James Henshaw photo.jpg

Arthur James Henshaw

Arthur James military record is lost, but we know he joined the 17th Battalion of the King’s Liverpool Regiment aged 24, and may assume that since his military number is 15002, with the numbers for the Battalion starting at 15000, that he was the 3rd person to enlist in Liverpool assigned to the 17th. He too, like his brother Albert, joined as a Pal: the 17th was the first of all the Pals regiments.  Up until his enlistment he had been working for Messrs. John Rew, Cotton Importers as a cotton salesman. The 17th Battalion was formed on the 29th August 1914, so Arthur must have been very keen to join the Army at the beginning of the war.

The 17th & 18th Battalions trained at Hooton Park, Wirral, Knowsley Park (Lord Derby’s Estate) and Granby Hall, Leicestershire before going abroad. Both Albert and Arthur went to France on the 15th November 1915, but it is unknown if they sailed together, it is likely that each one knew the other was leaving Blighty on the same day, and looked out for one another. He became a Lance Corporal at an unknown time. The Battle of the Somme in 1916 included the capture of Trônes Wood (8-14 July). There were heavy casualties and many enlisted men and officers were killed and wounded. Arthur is believed to have died at Trônes wood.

AJ Henshaw DA snip.JPG

Deeside Advertiser 4 August 1916

He was buried at Delville Wood Cemetery, Longueval, France, and was given the British, 1914-15 Star and Victory medals.

Delville Wood Cemetery - Copy.JPG

Delville Wood Cemetery, Longueval, France

Birth: 4th April 1890 Garston, Lancashire
Death: 10th July 1916 Trônes Wood, France
Addresses: 1891 – 51 Island Road, Garston, Lancashire; 1901 – 41 Berkley Street, Toxteth Park, Lancs; 1911 Lyndhurst, Brookfield Gardens, West Kirby, Cheshire
Occupation: Cotton Salesman
Unit: 17th/1st City Battalion, King’s Liverpool Regiment
Number and Rank: 15002 Lance Corporal
Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal and 1914-15 Star
Commemorated: Grange Hill War Memorial, West Kirby; Delville Wood Cemetery, Longueval, France
Sources: DA, CWGC, Henshaw family, GH, MC, SR, WK, Census, 91, 01,11


6 thoughts on “Albert and Arthur James Henshaw

  1. The Henshaw brothers where my Great Uncles, but it was only a few years ago when doing some reseach that I found out about their history, my Mother born in 1917, never spoke about them. I have visited their graves in France and attended the Rememberance Day service at Grange Hill each year since knowing about them. Their parents grave in Toxteth Park Cemetery, Liverpool has an inscription on it in their memory. Thank you for a very interesting and informative article, their photos are the ones I gave to the project coordinator. The family went on to live in Westbourne Rd and Victoria Rd ( Edith died there in 1955)

  2. Thanks for your kind words. If you go to the Remembrance Day service on Grange Hill you have probably seen me handing out Orders of Service as I am with Friends of Grange Hill (we are the group that is trying to restore the Garden of Remembrance and who fundraised for the all ability footpath)

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