Search of for relatives of tragic soldier who inspired last-ditch protest

The war memorial at Thornton
The war memorial at Thornton
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A search has been launched for relatives of a tragic soldier who was sent off to war in the face of a desperate last ditch protest.

Joseph Blackburn from Thornton was killed in the First World War having been conscripted to serve on the front line.

This summer, Wyre Council will commemorate a protest by members of the old Thornton Urban District Council, staged when Joseph was sent off to the war.

In March 1916, the government introduced military conscription for the very first time.

Local tribunals decided when men who were already soldiers should be called up but also had the power to make a man exempt absolutely, temporarily or upon particular conditions.

The Thornton tribunal accepted that Joseph was a market gardener and that it was in the national interest that he should follow that trade.

In May 1917, a tribunal in Westminster decided he was not a market gardener and took away the exemption.

On June 26 1917, in protest at the way Joseph and they themselves had been treated, five councillors from Thornton Urban District Council walked out of the council offices at Four Lane Ends.

A special ceremony will make the 100th anniversary of that walk out.

A Wyre Council spokesman said: “To honour Joseph Blackburn and the five councillors who stood against the decision made by Westminster, Wyre Council is appealing for relatives and descendants of Joseph Blackburn to come forward and be part of a number of upcoming commemoration events.

“One of these will be a re-enactment of the ‘walk out’ and will take place just before full council on Thursday June 8.

“This re-enactment is intended to honour those councillors who stood up for their local community during such difficult times.”

Joseph died at the Somme in August 1918.

If you are related to Joseph and would like to take part email communications@wyre.gov.uk