Most of us have seen ‘Saving Private Ryan’ the film loosely based on the story of the four Niland brothers from New York who served in the Second World War. After the reported deaths of three of his siblings, Frederick Niland a Sgt in the 101st Airborne in Normandy was sent back to the USA to complete his service and to avoid his mother the pain of losing all her sons.
Wigan has several similar accounts of its own. The First World War names on the Cenotaph at the Parish Church include three families who lost three sons. At least 48 families lost two sons and four families lost father and son. Not included on the Cenotaph as they didn’t live in the old Wigan Borough are the four sons of Rev C.H James, the Vicar of St. David’s, Haigh, all killed in action.
What started as research of casualties of the 1/5th Bn (TF) Manchester Regt at Gallipoli has evolved and grown into another story with the theme of mining, military, medicine and the constantly recurring name of Earlam Johnson.
Thanks to Graham Taylor - local military historian