John William GRIFFITHS
Rank: Private
Number: 42479
Date of Death: 30 September 1918
Age: 40
Cemetery: Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium

John was born in Marple in 1878 but the family later moved to Stockport where, in 1901, they were living at 36 Upper Brook Street. John's mother had died by then but he was still living his father, 58 year old george Griffiths (a baker) and his two older siblings, Joseph and Dora.

He enlisted into the army around the middle of 1916, originally joining the Cheshire Regiment. His service number, 54593, does not appear on his medal entitlement records at the National Archives, confirming that he never served abroad with the Regiment. He was, no doubt, transferred to the Fusiliers after he had completed his training.

On 28 September, a large scale Allied advance in Flanders began along a 23 mile front. The Fusiliers started from positions at Hellfire Corner, just outside the town walls of Ypres. There was little resistance this day or the next.

On the 30th, however, they moved towards Gheluwe (about 18 kilometres east of Ypres). During the afternoon, they came under heavy machine gun fire but this was countered by a British Machine Gun Battalion on nearby high ground. At 4pm, the advance was being held up by a strongly defended German position in a farm. Machine Guns were brought up to engage the enemy. "D" Company then attacked the farm, suffering several casualties. A platoon form "C" Company was sent forward to help out.

Meanwhile, the remaining platoons of "C" Company had been trying to flank a German pill box without success. Eventually, they rushed it under cover of fire from the Battalion's Lewis guns (light machine guns), capturing an officer and 13 other soldiers.

By 6pm, the farm had eventually been taken, but heavy machine gun fire form other German positions meant further progress could not be made. Throughout the afternoon, "B" Company had been trying to capture positions held along the nearby railway but had suffered heavy casualties and could achieve their objective.

By early evening, it as realised that further progress that day was impracticable and orders were given to dig-in and consolidate for the night.

Sometime during the day, John had been killed. His body was never recovered and identified and his name is now inscribed on the Memorial to the Missing.

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