Rank: Private
Number: 266617
Unit: 11th Battalion CHESHIRE REGIMENT
Date of Death: 18 (or 19) July 1917
Age: 19
Cemetery: Menin Gate Memorial, Ieper, Belgium

John is remembered on the Memorial as serving with the 6th Cheshires but the War Graves Commission records it as the 11th Battalion. A probable reason for the discrepancy is given below, but research tends to confirm that the official records are correct.

He had been born in Bramhall. The 1901 Census records him and his younger brother, Harold, living with their parents, Joseph and Hannah, at 7 Bridge Lane. At the time, Joseph's occupation was as an outdoor porter. John had previously been employed in Mr Jermy's grocery business in Cheadle Hulme and had lived at the School House. After the war, his parents address was given as 227 Union Avenue, Montreal, Canada, but it is not known when they emigrated.

After he was killed, a Lance Corporal Leach wrote to his mother ".........he was first reported missing but was confirmed as being killed on 18 July. He had only been with the signalling section for 4 or 5 days."

Sometime after war was declared, John went into Stockport and enlisted. Very possibly he lied about his age but was accepted - most probably into the 6th Cheshires. The 11th battalion had suffered considerable losses at the Battle of Messines in June 1917 and it is likely that John was transferred to this Battalion, to bring numbers upto strength, when he qualified as a signaller.

Official records differ as to the date of John's death, variously recording it as the 18th or 19th July. During this time, the Battalion was away from the front line around Ypres and was based, a few miles away, at the relative safety of Dominion camp, Poperinghe. The Battalion War Diary makes no mention of casualties on either day. During this time, although the men were not engaged in fighting, they were acting as carrying parties for the Royal Engineers 171st Tunnelling Company. This would have brought them near to the front line and within range of the enemy artillery. The Official History notes that the Germans had excellent observation from "their dominating positions east of Ypres".

It seems likely that John was killed by a shell and it took some time for his body to be found, accounting for Corporal Leach's comment that they thought at first he was only missing. As with so many other casualties, John's grave must have been subsequently lost and he is commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing. Another local man, Emison Wood, was also killed on 19 July whilst with the 11th Cheshires.

(NB: Original research by John Hartley for the Cheadle & Gatley War Memorials website)

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