John Harry ROPER
Rank: Private
Number: 266145
Unit: 2nd Battalion South Lancashire Regiment
Date of Death: 28 April 1918
Age: 30
Cemetery: Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium

John was born during the first quarter of 1886 in the Macclesfield area. In 1901, when the census was taken, he was aged 15. He was living and working at John Wright's Simonswood farm in Siddington.

In the late autumn of 1908, he married Emma Warburton and he had probably moved to Stockport by that time. When War was declared, he and Emma were living at 4 Lincoln Street, Portwood. John was working as a fireman at the cotton mill of Thomas Reynolds Ltd on Newbridge Lane.

John is thought to have enlisted into the army quite early, in the War and, according to records published in the 1920s, he originally joined the Royal Welsh Fusiliers (service number 8951), although he never served abroad with the Regiment. His above number indicates he also served with the 14th Battalion of the South Lancashires. This was a Territorial unit which was formed for home defence duties only. The demand for fresh troops probably caused John's transfer to a front line unit.

Throughout most of April, the Battalion had been on the defensive, following a major German attack starting on the 9th. On 28 April, John and his comrades were in trenches at La Clytte (about 8 kilometres west of the town centre of Ypres - now Ieper). The Battalion's War Diary records "Morning and afternoon fairly quiet with only little shelling. About 7pm, enemy opened heavy barrage on our left and this continued for some hours. Shelling of Battalion area frequent but not heavy.......Casualties during the day: 1 killed, 5 wounded."

John was the man who had been killed. If it was possible for his comrades to bury him, his grave was lost in the following six months of fighting and his name is now commemorated on the nearby Memorial to the Missing. By the early 1920s, Emma had moved to 9 Walton Street, Stockport.

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