ROLLINS, Seth Pte. 15964

Seth Rollins

Seth Rollins

Seth Rollins enlisted at Chorley on the 24th September 1914 and served in No. 11 Platoon.

A series of post cards to and from him in 1915 are still with the family today. The first one was from Caernarvon dated 25th February (two days after they arrived) and said he had a sore heel. Other cards were sent to Seth at private houses in Caernarvon – the Pals were billeted with local people in the town and Seth was with Mrs. Barry at Victoria Street and then with Mrs. Williams at 13 Thomas Street. He was at Penkridge Camp in Staffordshire on the 13th July and his card from Ripon on the 24th September confirmed that the Pals were leaving for Salisbury at 11 o’clock that night.

His card home from Hurdcott Camp on Salisbury Plain, dated 15th November, said it was raining and that he and his mate “Rostron” had boiled ham for tea; he also said that they were going on a 17 mile march the following morning. On the 6th February 1916, Seth sent a post card home with views of Malta; the Pals were in Egypt and he probably purchased the card when the S.S. Ionic stopped, briefly, in Malta at the end of December 1915.

Seth Rollins was killed on the 1st July 1916 during the attack on the German trenches at Serre. His body was found when the battlefield was searched after the Germans retreated to new positions on the Hindenburg Line at the end of February 1917. Seth was duly buried in a marked grave – his grave and that of his cousin Private William Tootell were seen by Private Joseph Sutton in No Man’s Land during March or April 1917. However, official records show that Seth Rollins does not have a known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.

In fact his name did not appear on the memorial until August 1984 – some 68 years after he died. It followed 20 months of correspondence and consultation between John Garwood and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

William Tootell (mentioned above) is buried in Queen’s Cemetery in No Man’s Land at Serre. It was created in the spring of 1917 and it is possible that Seth Rollins is in one of the unmarked graves in the cemetery. Serre village was re-taken by the Germans in March 1918 only for the British to take it back again in August. It may well be that Seth Rollins grave marker was destroyed during that period.

Seth Rollins was born at 10 Pilling Lane in Chorley on the 5th July 1895, the son of Anne and Joseph William Rollins and the youngest of five boys. In 1901 they were at number 3 Pilling Lane but by 1911 they had moved to 33 Bolton Road in Chorley. By the time Seth had enlisted in the Pals in 1914 the family were at 9 Darlington Street in Coppull, next door to fellow Chorley Pal, Owen Parry. Seth worked as a Weaver at Gillett Mill and also played the organ at St. John’s Church in Coppull; in his younger days he was a member of the Boys Brigade.