Ghyll grave marked with headstone after 96 years

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has put in place a headstone for gunner Wilfred Anker, who's grave in Ghyll Cemetery was previously unmarked for 96 years. (S)
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has put in place a headstone for gunner Wilfred Anker, who's grave in Ghyll Cemetery was previously unmarked for 96 years. (S)

The grave of an East Lancashire soldier has finally been marked with a headstone, almost a century after he died.

Bacup-born Gunner L/9165 Wilfred Anker, who served with the Royal Field Artillery, died in hospital at Keighley on the August 13th, 1918, and had been buried in an unmarked grave in Ghyll Cemetery in Barnoldswick.

Knowledge of the grave had seemingly been lost by almost everyone down the years, except for Pendle Council and a war enthusiast from the Manchester area.

A group of interested Barlickers set about locating the grave in late 2011 and once found, applied to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to craft one for Mr Anker’s grave, and it arrived and was put in place in December last year, 96 years on.

Mill worker Mr Anker lived at Lower West Avenue, Barnoldswick, and enlisted at Colne on April 3rd, 1915.

But he was discharged as unfit 18 months later on October 6th, 1916, after having been gassed in action. He went back to mill work but died aged 24.

Barnoldswick historian Peter Thompson says he is thrilled that the grave is finally marked. He said: It’s great. Very pleasing indeed.

“We didn’t know there was an unmarked grave. It was only when a man called Andy Fitton, who we know as Travis who had a boat at Salterforth, said there was a Wilfred Anker buried in Ghyll Cemetery that a group of us started to search the graveyard. But we couldn’t find it.

“I know from a newspaper report that he was buried on a Saturday but I’ve no idea why there was no headstone. I don’t know if it was down to money or maybe he didn’t have a great number of relatives.

“Having been discharged he went back to work in the mill which would have exacerbated his breathing problems.”

Mr Anker was the second son of James and Mary Anker, who had later moved to Co-operative Street, Barnoldswick, and his siblings were brother John and sisters Annie and Sarah Anker.

He married Edith O’Connor at Ghyll Church Barnoldswick in 1917 and they had one daughter, Mary.

Any descendants of Mr Anker who want to contact Mr Thompson can do by calling 813355 or by email him at thomosmech@yahoo.co.uk