John Thomas EGERTON
Rank: Private
Number: 90209
Unit: 33rd Company MACHINE GUN CORPS
Date of Death: 16 August 1917
Age: 31
Cemetery: Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium

When the 1901 census was taken, 14 year old John was working as an errand boy and living with his parents, Samuel and Harriet, and his younger brother and sister at Churchley Road Farm, Adswood. Samuel worked as a carter on the farm. They later moved to The Nurseries at Cheadle Heath.

By the time of the Great War, John was working for the Stockport Co-opertiave Society at its Adswood coal depot. He had also married and was living at 5 Heathside Road, Cheadle Heath with his wife and three children. Although it is not possible to be certain that it is him, the family history website, CheshireBMD, records the 1910 marriage of a John Thomas Egerton to Esther Bennett at St Augustine's Church, Brinksway.

Reporting his death, the local newspaper mentioned that he had previously served with the King's Liverpool Regiment. It has not been possible to substantiate this - certainly he didn't serve abroad with the Regiment and military records indicate that, when he joined the army in June 1916, he was assigned to Royal Welsh Fusiliers for training (service number 41767). He will have been reassigned to the Machine Gun Corps when he completed his training.

Companies of the Corps operated 16 heavy Vickers guns, each with a seven man team. One of their main roles was to support infantry attacks by pouring heavy fire onto the enemy trenches so that the Germans could not man their own guns. In this way, some protection was given to the British troops as they crossed No Man's Land.

The Third Battle of Ypres had started on 31 July 1917 and some progress had been made in the first few days. A further major attack was planned for 16 August. On the 15th, the Company moved into positions west of large stream known as the Steenbeck, near a position known as Ferdinand Farm (approximately halfway between the villages of St Julien and Langemarck). They set up their gun emplacements in shell holes.

At zero hour, 4.45am, the infantry "went over the top" and all 16 guns opened their barrage fire. The Germans quickly responded to the attack with a very heavy artillery barrage which put four guns out of action, wounding 22 men. John and two other men were killed. He has no known grave.

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