John began life in the village of Aughton, which used to lie in the parish of Ormskirk in Lancashire. He was baptised in St. Michael’s Church in Aughton and, in 1901, was living with his mother and siblings – Thomas and Doris – on Turnpike Road in Aughton. By 1911, the family was living in a six-roomed house at 4 Westbourne Road in West Kirby. By that time, there were two more children – Ethel and William. Ethel was the first one to be born in West Kirby in about 1910. John’s father was also called John and had been born in Aughton in about 1874. He was a coachman. His mother was Annie Gardner who had been born in Ulverston in about 1867. The couple had married in the September quarter of 1895 in Ormskirk.
John is recorded as having served with the 2nd/8th Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers. However, this unit was formed in Salford on 29th September 1914 for home service. It seems likely, therefore, that John had been transferred to another battalion before serving in the Third Battle of Ypres or Passchendaele in October 1917. The following article from the Deeside Advertiser of 2nd November 1917 gives more details about his death:
Notice how the officer states that John was a good soldier and suffered no pain. We do not know whether he was following standard practice of trying to shield the family from a more distressing reality or whether this is the truth.
Birth: 1897 in Aughton, Lancashire; christened at St. Michael’s Aughton 7th November 1897
Death: 9th October 1917 aged 19
Addresses: Turnpike Road, Aughton, Lancashire (01), 4 Westbourne Road, West Kirby (11-17)
Unit: 2nd/8th Lancashire Fusiliers ?
Number and Rank: 5324 and 307459 Private
Medals: Victory and British War
Commemorated and Buried: GH, WK, Belgium: Tyne Cot Memorial 54 – 60 and 163A
Sources: BR, CWGC, SDGW, MC, DA, Census: 01, 11