John Edward JACK
Rank: Private
Number: 1496
Unit: 26th Field Ambulance ROYAL ARMY MEDICAL CORPS
Date of Death: 26 October 1917
Age: 38
Cemetery: Voormezeele Enclosures No. 1 & No. 2

Edward Jack was born in the parish of St Saviours Church, Manchester, the third child of Thomas and Jeannie. When the Census was taken in 1901, the family was living at 146 Upper Brook Street. Thomas Jack was a successful shirt manufacturer and his income allowed the family to employ a live-in servant. By the time of the Great War, they had moved to “Anster”, Ley Hey Park, Marple. Edward, however, had not moved to Marple with them. He was an inspector for an insurance company and is believed to have moved to the Birmingham area, where he would enlist in the army, to further his career.

The 26th Field Ambulance was a pre-War Territorial unit and Edward’s service is sufficiently low to suggest that he served as one of the “Saturday Afternoon Soldiers” as the Territorials were disparagingly called. If so, then he will have been mobilised when War was declared in August 1914, going overseas in the October.

A Field Ambulance was not just a means of transport as we might think today, but a vital part of the casualty treatment and evacuation process. A casualty would receive treatment from his own Battalion medical officer just behind the front line. From there, the men of the Field Ambulance would take over. They would operate a number of stretcher bearer relay posts about every 600 yards who would carry men back to an Advanced Dressing Station to the rear of the battle sector. This was staffed by doctors and orderlies of the Field Ambulance who would treat the man – just doing enough to allow him to be further evacuated to a Field Hospital, perhaps 20 miles away.

The unit’s War Diary, held at the National Archives, does not record casualties in this period, so it cannot be established when Edward received the wounds from which he died. It does, however, note that the Advanced Dressing Station at “Prowse Point” was shelled by the enemy from the 23rd onwards. Prowse Point was just off what the road from the Belgian town of Ypres (now Ieper) to the French town of Armentieres. It’s about halfway between the two.

It seems likely that Edward was wounded at the ADS and found himself being treated by his comrades. The cemetery where he is buried is about 8 kilometres to the north of Prowse Point, on the way to Ypres. It is probable that he was being evacuated to a field hospital at Poperinghe, on the far side of Ypres, but died before he could reach it.

Further information about Edward can be found in the book “Remembered” by P Clarke, A Cook and J Bintliff.

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