John Calvert PRESTON
Rank: Sergeant
Number: 203423
Unit: 14th Battalion ROYAL WELSH FUSILIERS
Date of Death: 11 October 1918
Age: 29
Cemetery: Rocquigny-Equancourt Road British Cemetery, Manancourt, France

Almost nothing is known of John's early life. He was born locally, in the parish of St Mary's Church, Stockport and was the son of William and Elizabeth.

When War was declared on 4 August 1914, he was quick to enlist, joining the reserve unit of the local Territorial Battalion - the 6th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment - and went overseas to join the front line troops on 25 January 1915. His medal entitlement records, at the National Archives, also indicate his original Fusiliers number was 15020. It's a low number perhaps suggesting that he was transferred to them very soon after arriving in France.

In 1917, he was back in the UK. It's not known if he was on leave or, perhaps, had been wounded. But, whatever the circumstances, he took the opportunity to marry his fiancée, Florrie Want, at St Mary's Church.

October 1918 was a time of almost constant attack and advance for the British Army. The men could not then know that the War had only a few weeks left. It certainly wouldn't have seemed that they were facing a defeated enemy as, although the Germans were retreating, some of the toughest fighting of the whole War would be seen. At 1am on the 11th, the Fusiliers attacked German positions near Beaurevoir. The attack was led by the 13th and 16th Battalions, with the 14th in reserve. The attack was entirely successful on the flanks, but stubborn resistance meant that the troops could not advance in the centre.

At daybreak, the attack was resumed, with the 14th now moving up to work in conjunction with tanks to clear the enemy positions. They were able to press forward to a position known as Angles Orchard, but it had been a costly day. 28 men were missing, probably dead, and another 45 had been wounded. John was amongst the badly injured and was evacuated to a field hospital at Manacourt. This would have been either 18th Casualty Clearing Station or 3rd Canadian Casualty Clearing Station. Both were then based around the village. Unfortunately, there was nothing the surgeons could do to save his life.

After the War, Florrie was living at 50 Crosby Street, Stockport but it isn't known if this was a home she briefly shared with John.

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