Photograph of John in Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre. Reference: MR4/17/313
(L to R) British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal
John was born in Moston, Manchester between April and June 1897. His father's name was Samuel and his mother was Anne. He had a younger brother, Lancelot Wagstaff Allbeson, who was named after their next door neighbour. Samuel worked for a pawnbroker in 1901, but by 1911 he was working at a paper warehouse, and Annie had found a job as a machinist. They were members of the Church of England, but in later life John would become a Methodist. John was always known as Jack, so this is what we will call him.
Jack grew up living at 146 Moston Lane in Blackley, Manchester. He was 17 when the First World War broke out in August 1914 so it is very likely that he still lived with his parents and brother at that time.
Jack was working as a warehouseman when he joined the Army. He was assigned to the Manchester Regiment and given the service number 35660. From this number we know that he did not join the Manchester Regiment until after July 1916. We don't know whether he volunteered for service or was conscripted.
We don't know many details of Jack's service. His mother sent him a Bible at some point. She wrote Jack's address on the inside as 'B Company Machine Gun Section, 16th Service Battalion Manchester Regiment BEF France'. During the second half of the First World War soldiers could be moved from unit to unit quite often. We don't know when Jack served with the 16th Battalion, but by the end of the war he was a member of the 12th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment.
We know that Jack was gassed during the war and was sent to hospital twice.
After the war ended the Army did not need large numbers of infantry, but it did need guards for German Prisoners of War. The 12th Battalion was broken up for this job. Jack was sent to 254 Prisoner of War (POW) Company. He kept his service number, which means that he was still in the Manchester Regiment.
Jack was able to take two weeks leave between the 14th and the 28th July 1919, and then returned to 254 POW Company. He was discharged from the Army on the 9th October 1919 and returned to the UK.
The Army seems to have had trouble with Jack's last name. On his leave ticket from July 1919 he is John Albinson, and on his medals he is John Albeson!
Jack married Nellie Lomax in the Barton-on-Irwell area of Manchester between July and September 1921. They had one daughter, Joan, who was born in 1922.
The family eventually lived next door to Jack's childhood home, at 144 Moston Lane in Manchester. Jack's health was not good and by 1936 he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. By this time Jack had been unemployed for a 'long spell'. After July 1936 he was 'wholly unable to work' because he felt he was a 'danger to self and others'. Jack and his family were sure that his army service, in particular the fact that he was gassed, was responsible for his condition.
Jack and Nellie's house on Moston Lane was a small farmworker's cottage with 2 rooms upstairs and 2 downstairs. They had a tin bath in the kitchen and a toilet at the other end of the back yard. Nellie, who was 'a very strong, intelligent woman', and Joan both worked and supported the family as Jack could not. Joan eventually worked for Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) in nearby Blackley.
They were close to Nellie's sister's family and sometimes went on days out and holidays together. When Joan obtained a scholarship to Stretford Grammar School for Girls she went to live with her aunt and uncle in Old Trafford as it was much closer to the school.
Later in Jack's life the family would often visit the two of them for tea. His grand-niece remembers them eating ham salad and cakes at 'a large table in the front room'. Jack never joined them and 'used to just sit in his battered leather arm chair near the fire'. She 'can't remember him ever saying much and he seemed really old'.
Jack died at home on the 7th July 1961. He was 63 years old. In 1966 Joan moved from Blackely to Harrogate in Yorkshire, transferring to a different division of ICI. Nellie moved with her and they continued to live together. In 1975 Joan went to work for the Leeds Regional Hospital Board.
Nellie died in Harrogate 1981 aged 82. Joan retired in 1982 and moved to North Wales. She never married and died in 2000. Jack's medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in 2008.