John William GARNER
Rank: Private
Number: 45024
Date of Death: 24 October 1917
Age: 31
Cemetery: Tyne Cot Cemetery, Zonnebeke, Belgium

John was born in the late spring of 1886, the son of wood turner Daniel Garner and his wife Mary. He was the second of their four children and their eldest son. When the census was taken in 1901, the family was living at 9 Charlotte Street, Portwood and 14 year old John was already working as a hatter. This was, no doubt, at Battersby’s Hatworks in Offerton where he was known to have been working before he enlisted into the army.

At some point, possibly in 1913, he married Margaret and they set up home at 41 Sandy Lane , Heaton Norris where they would have one child together.

When John joined the army, in late 1915, he was assigned to the Northumberland Fusiliers but not to the 1/5th (Territorial) Battalion. His service number confirms that he trained with one of the Battalion which had been formed for the duration of the War only, a so-called “Service Battalion”. The number belongs to a group of soldiers who went overseas only in September 1917 and he will have been transferred to the 5th , retaining his five-digit number, before he left the UK as it will have been in greater need of replacements.

After a period in reserve, John and his mates spent 22 October packing up and preparing to go back into the front line, near the village of Boesinghe, to the north of Ypres. The Third Battle of Ypres had been underway since 31 July and the Fusiliers left camp with orders that they would be undertaking an attack on the 26th. They arrived at Boesinghe by train the next day and made their final preparations. At 4pm on the 24th, they left their overnight camp and moved into the front line at a position known as Pascal Farm, south of the Houthulst Forest, relieving the 11th Suffolks. The times of reliefs, on each side, were often anticipated and it was a favourite time for artillery by the enemy in the hope of catching troops away from the safety of their dugouts. It would seem that 24 October was no exception and John was killed.

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