John HOLMES
Rank: Private
Number: 1591
Unit: 1/6th Battalion CHESHIRE REGIMENT
Date of Death: 19 February 1916
Age: 19
Cemetery: Dartmoor Cemetery, Becordel-Becourt, Somme, France

There is some confusion about this soldier. The evidence suggests that he is named as above, but the service number (1591) is recorded in Regimental records as being allocated to a James Holmes (with no mention of a John Holmes). The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records John Holmes as serving with the 1/9th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment. No such Battalion existed although there was a 9th (which does not record a John  Holmes). To confuse matters further, the war memorial at Stockport Art Gallery lists a James Holmes, serving with the 1/6th and, separately, a John Holmes.

Unless further information comes to light, it seems reasonable to assume that these men are one in the same and that John Holmes has been inscribed on the Memorial twice - once as John and again as James. Perhaps James was a middle name by which he was known to some.

John had been born in Hazel Grove but the family had moved to 77 Hempshaw Lane, Stockport. After the war, John's father, also called John,was living at 6 Hunt Street, brinksway.

He worked in the fur-blowing department of Christy's hatworks and, in his spare time, had joined the local Territorial army battalion in 1913. He was mobilised in August 1914 and quickly volunteered for overseas service as described here.

After many months away from the front line, the Battalion returned to the trenches on 12 February 1916, relieving the 8th Devons in positions near Fricourt (some 6 miles east of the town of Albert). Due to the continual rain, the trenches were in a poor condition and had to be rebuilt to a large extent. The Battalion History records that, on 19 February, "a party working on the wire attracted heavy machine gun fire, one man being killed and two wounded." The one man was John.

His older brother, Edward, was serving with the battalion and wrote home describing hat happened. "He had gone out with his platoon to repair the wire entanglements in No Man's Land and had been spotted by the enemy who opened up with machine guns. John was hit in the chest by about 10 bullets.....He was doing his duty and died a soldier's death. He died as you wanted him to die, without fear."

Another member of the Battalion had also written home "The worst task I have been engaged in as yet was that of going with a party of men over the parapet one night to repair the barbed wire in front of our trench. Before going out we sent word up and down the line as a warning to our men not to fire on us. Unfortunately, we could not similarly warn brother Bosche. Every time a flare was sent up, we fell prone on the ground as we were only a very short distance from the enemy. We stayed out two hours and put up about 120 yards on new entanglements and we were glad to be able to wriggle back into our trench."

   
           
   
     
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