Brothers in Arms

Silas as a young soldier
Silas as a young soldier

Six Wells brothers went to war, and five came home. The family at Colne, Lancashire, were relatively lucky compared to some families who lost two, three or more siblings in the slaughter, but they suffered a tragic casualty on the home front.

The lads’ treasured sister Edith, a beautiful young lady in her teens, caught a chill after queuing at a nearby shop for the family’s grocery ration, and became more and more sick until she died, leaving her family devastated.

Family photographs and mementoes from that period have been carefully preserved by Susan Procter, of Nelson, who is the granddaughter of Jimmy Wells, one of the brothers who survived.

Jimmy enlisted with brothers Silas and Jack in the Denbigh Hussars, who for some reason were recruiting in Colne, and fought alongside Silas in the Shropshire Light Infantry.

“They were on the Somme in 1916 when great-uncle Silas was killed,” said Susan. “Grandad saw Silas get his head blown off. Can you imagine how terrible that must have been? In all the years after, he would never talk about it.”

Jimmy lived until 1962 and had a sweet shop on Keighley Road, while Silas is commemorated on the war memorials at Thiepval and at Colne.

A book offering condolences
A book offering condolences from Edith’s former headmaster… Being and Doing – A Selection of Helpful Thoughts
Edith
Edith, who died after queuing for food at a local shop.

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Silas as a young soldier
Silas as a proud young soldier
Wells family
A Wells family photograph from the 1890s. Tragic siblings Edith and Silas are at the front, right and second from right.

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