John TEFFT
Rank: Private
Number: 13046
Unit: 15th Battalion CHESHIRE Regiment
Date of Death: 26 April 1917
Age: 22
Cemetery: Chapelle British Cemetery, Holnon, Aisne, France

Between July and September 1886 John Tefft married Mary Ann Cooper in the South Manchester area. This was probably Ardwick where it is known John, junior, was born. His birth was registered between July and September 1893.

The 1901 Census shows the family still living in South Manchester where John, senior, then aged 35, earned a living as a "hair and wool mattress maker". Also listed was Leonard, 5 and Sarah, 9 who were John and Mary's other children. Mary, then aged 33, is believed to have died in the spring of 1902.

By the time of the Great War, the family had moved to Marple and was living at 26 Hollins Street. John's service number indicates he enlisted in September 1914. His brother, Leonard, also served but is understood to have been discharged due to illness. The 15th Cheshires was originally a "Bantam Battalion", made up of men originally rejected because they were under regulation height. It went overseas in February 1916.

In its edition of 24 July 1916, the Cheshire Daily Echo reported that John was in hospital after being wounded. A shell had burst nearby and he had been buried and needed to be dug out. He recovered quickly and returned to the Battalion. On 25 April 1917, John and his comrades went into the front line south of the village of Pontruet, relieving the 16th Cheshires. The village is 10 kilometres north of the French town of St Quentin.

There appears to have been some confusion about the date of John's death. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records it as 26 April, as do Regimental records published just after the War. However, the Battalion's War Diary, written at the time, records that the 26th was a quiet day. Officer patrols, into No Man's Land, during the night of 25/26th had not come into contact with the enemy. On the 27th, however, there is a record that two soldiers were killed when the Germans shelled the Cheshires' trenches. Perhaps the officer writing the diary had been unsure if the shelling had been before or after midnight. In any event, John and Private George Barton, from London, had been killed.

John and George would have been buried very near to where they were killed. After the war, many of these small front line burial areas were closed as the land was returned to civilian use. Their bodies would have been moved to a new Cemetery some 8 kilometres away at Holnon.

Further information about John, including a photograph, can be found in the book "Remembered" by P Clarke, A Cook and J Bintliff.

   
           
   
     
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