John BAMFORTH
Rank: Private
Number: 238060
Unit: 9th Battalion ROYAL WELSH FUSILIERS
Date of Death: 7 May 1918
Age: 20
Cemetery: Voormezeele Enclosure No. 3, Ieper, Belgium

The earliest mention that's been found of John is on the 1901 Census when, aged 3, he was living with his parents, Albert and Ellen, and older brother Joseph at 108 Whiteacre Lane, Ashton-under-Lyne. By the time of the War, the family had moved to Stockport and was probably living at 40 Victoria Road (where they are known to be in the early 1920s).

John worked as a cotton piecer at Pear Mill, Lower Bredbury, until he enlisted into the Army on 27 September 1915. His service papers still survive at the National Archives. There was a major fire there in the 1940s and many of the papers were lost or damaged and only scraps of John's still remain. However, they tell us that he stood at just under 5' 5" and had given his religious denomination as Church of England. He was originally assigned to the Army Cyclist Corps (service number 366) but, after training, was transferred to the Welsh Regiment before going on active service overseas on 25 September 1917. His service number, 288107, indicates the transfer was to its 6th (Territorial) Battalion. No doubt while still in camp in France, he was again transferred on 23 October. This time he was attached to the 4th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers and to its 9th Battalion on 4 February 1918.

Even though he had spent comparatively little time away, John was granted leave from 8 March, returning to duty for the final time on 1 April. Battalions of the Army maintained a daily War Diary whilst on active service and the original is now held at the National Archives. It contains scant details of the day John was killed - noting only that they held an outpost line near Swan Chateau, near the Belgian town of Ypres (now Ieper). No casualties are mentioned, but that is often the case.

He will have been buried nearby and his personal effects sent home. They included two notebooks and a wallet containing letters and photographs. In June 1920, Albert Bamforth wrote to the War Office asking where his son was buried. He received a reply saying that they did not yet know. The old battlefields were still being searched and cleared as the land was returned to civilian use. John's body will have been exhumed at some point  from its front line burial spot and moved to the expanded cemetery at Voormezeele. It's not known if Albert ever got to know where his son was buried before he himself died in 1922, aged 51

   
           
   
     
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