John James ARCHER
Rank: Private
Number: 41614
Date of Death: 8 July 1918
Age: 19
Cemetery: Houchin British Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France

Jack Archer was born in Marple and lived all his life there until he joined the army. The 1901 Census records the family living at Winson Terrace, Hawk Green and shows John to be the youngest of a large family. His father, George, then 49, worked as calico printer. His mother, Elizabeth was 44. Jack’s older siblings were Margaret (18), Robert (10), Henry (known as Harry, 6), Alice and Jessie (both 5). Harry and Robert would also serve during the war.

The Archers worshipped at Marple Ridge Methodist Church and Jack had also attended the Church’s Sunday School. He worked locally at Goyt Mill. He was, almost certainly, conscripted into the army when he became 18. His service number indicates he was assigned to one of the Regiment’s five “service battalions” (those formed for the duration of the War). Four of these were disbanded in the early part of 1918 and this was, no doubt, when Jack was transferred to the 1/4th (Territorial) Battalion.

The Stockport Advertiser, in its edition of 24 August 1917, reported that Jack was home on leave and that, only the week before, his father had died after an operation at Stockport Infirmary.

On 7 August 1918, Jack and his comrades started another tour of duty in the front line. They were near the La Bassee Canal (a few kilometres south of the French town of Bethune). During the night, they started to repair damage to the trench system and also went out into No Man’s Land to repair the barbed wire. Captain Archer later wrote to Jack’s parents “It is my painful duty to inform you that your son, Private Jack Archer, was killed in action on the night of 7th-8th of July. The same shell that killed your son, killed three others and wounded two. Your son was a very good boy, always trustworthy and very willing at all times. He is badly missed in the Company. Everyone joins with me in expressing the deepest sympathy with you in this dark hour.”

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

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