John Thomas BOOTH
Rank: Private
Number: 48839
Unit: 17th Battalion ROYAL WELSH FUSILIERS
Date of Death: 31 July 1917
Age: 32 (based on 1901 Census)
Cemetery: Menin Gate Memorial, Ieper, Belgium

Born in Maple, John was the third son of John and Hannah and would live in the village all his life. The 1901 Census shows that, aged 16, he was apprenticed to a plumber and he continued in this trade until he enlisted into the army.

The early hours of 31 July 1917 saw the attack that would mark the first day of the Third Battle of Ypres. It is often better known as Passchendaele. Many local men "went over the top" that day and it would prove to be the Stockport area's worst day of the War for casualties. The main attack was launched at 3.50am, but John and his mates were held in reserve until the first objectives had been secured. The Regimental History describes their attack:

"The advance of our 17th Battalion from the positions held on Iron Cross Ridge to the Steenbeck was the hardest of the day. Most of the houses along the road on top of the ridge and beyond contained concrete machine gun shelters and casualties were very heavy. But though these points held up the troops facing them, others on the flanks pushed forward and one by one the houses were taken and the Steenbeck was crossed."

There had been so many casualties that the Battalion had to be reinforced by a company of South Wales Borderers. From about 2pm onwards, the Germans could be seen massing for a counter-attack which, in spite of a heavy British artillery barrage, they still managed to deliver an hour later. Almost everywhere, it was repulsed by the British who had had time to prepare at least rudimentary defences. Another German attempt later in the afternoon was broken up by the British shellfire. John was one of 61 members of the Battalion who had been killed in the attack. His body was never recovered and identified.

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

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