Our People - Matthew Livesey
1 July 1916
#14164 Private Matthew Livesey
9th (Service) Battalion, King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment)
65th Brigade, 22nd Division
Killed in action 1 July 1916
Blighty Valley Cemetery, Authuille Wood, Somme, France. Ref: II.D.4.
Son of John and Susanah Livesey, of 2, Charnley Fold, School Lane, Preston.
INSCRIPTION: "HE OBEYED THE CALL OF DUTY"
From North to South, from East to West
The King's Own give their very best,
Leaving their homes, Forsaking all,
They answer bravely to the call,
For King & Country, round the Flag
They rally grandly, do they lag,
No, the trumpet calls & off they go
To help their brothers,
Postcard home from Matthew Livesey, 1915
Matthew Livesey was born on March 19th 1889 at 2 Charnley Fold, Bamber Bridge. Like the rest of his family he was a cotton worker at Orr's Mill. A keen amateur footballer, he was a member of Higher Walton Albion's team that won the 1911-12 Preston and District league.
At the outbreak of the war he enlisted in the King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, serving in the 7th battalion with men mainly from Barrow in Furness. He was killed on 1st July 1916 as his battalion marched to the Battle of the Somme. After the war, one of his comrades visited his family to explain how Matthew met his death. As he stopped by the roadside, the ammunition he was carrying accidentally exploded. He was killed instantly.
In August 1920 his younger sister Lizzie and father John set out to France to try and locate his grave. The War Office were unable to provide information of its location, but this did not deter them. Taking a bunch of flowers and a plastic wreath Lizzie and her father travelled, mostly on foot, from one cemetery to another, desperately searching for Matthew. The journey was in vain and they returned home heartbroken. Lizzie left her bouquet of flowers on an unknown soldier's grave, but was unable to part with the plastic wreath and took it back home to Lancashire. Lizzie carefully noted the places they had visited, the people she met, the sights they saw and her feelings about Matthew's death in a journal.
In March 1921 Matthew's remains were located. He had been buried where he had fallen. His body was exhumed and buried at Blighty Valley Cemetery, three miles from the town of Albert. In June 1921 Lizzie returned to France with her father and little sister Hilda, to lay her plastic wreath on her brother's grave.
Lizzie died in June 1976, aged 85. She was buried on 1st July, the sixtieth anniversary of her brother’s death.
Matthew was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. His name also appears on the Brownedge St. Mary's R.C. War Memorial in Bamber Bridge and also a memorial on a family plot within the nearby churchyard.
Matthew Livesey in uniform - studio portrait. Photograph courtesy Andy Bennison
Click on any image to enlarge
By Andy Bennison 2016