John William LOMAS
Rank: Private
Number: 443376
Unit: 63rd Company LABOUR CORPS (CHESHIRE on mem)
Date of Death: 19 October 1918
Age: 30
Cemetery: Etaples Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France

John was born in Stockport, the son of John and Mary Lomas, 1 Frederick Street, Edgeley. Nothing is known of his early life but, in 1910, he married Gertrude Jones at Christ Church, Heaton Norris. After the War, she was living at 20 Wagstaff Street, in the Brinksway area of town, but it's not known if this was the home she shared with John.

John's inscription on the Stockport War Memorial is amongst those serving with the Cheshire Regiment and, indeed, this was his original unit. The War Graves Commission also notes that he served with the 1st Battalion. This was one of the two regular Army Battalions and his service number, 9990, is low enough for him to have been a regular soldier at the outbreak of War, or a reservist recalled to the colours. If he was neither of these, then he certainly enlisted within days of 4 August and was sent to the 1st Battalion as a replacement for early losses.

At some unknown later point, he was transferred to the Labour Corps. The Corps was mainly comprised of men whose physical condition no longer suited them for the rigours of front line fighting in the trenches. The Corps undertook vital manual work in the rear areas - tasks such as road building, grave digging, unloading ships, etc.

John is recorded as having "died". This is a designation normally indicating a death from natural causes and he is buried in a cemetery used by military hospitals. The autumn of 1918 saw a pandemic of influenza which, in the days before antibiotics, turned to pneumonia killing many millions worldwide.

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