(L to R) British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal
John was born between April and June 1897 in Manchester. He was named after his father and his mother was called Mary Ann. He was their eldest child. He had 2 siblings that we know of: Norman and Hilda.
In 1901 John senior worked as a presser for a tailor and the family lived at 89 Sandal Street in Miles Platting, Manchester. Ten years later they had moved to 14 Kenwyn Street in the same area. James now worked as an insurance agent for the Prudential Insurance Company. It is likely he was a door to door salesman, a 'man from the Pru'.
We don't know anything about John junior's life between then and the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914. He joined the 22nd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment in around June 1915. This was made up of men from the Manchester area who wanted to serve in the Army together. He was given the service number 25571.
When John joined the 22nd Battalion it was training at Belton Park near Grantham in Lincolnshire. They had been there since April. During September they moved to Larkhill in Wiltshire. They were based here until the 11th November when they sailed to France.
John didn't go to France with the rest of his unit. We don't know why, or what he did in the UK once his battalion had left. It is possible he was a member of the 22nd Battalion's Depot Company. This trained new recruits and reinforcements. It became part of the 27th (Reserve) Battalion in September 1915. It was stationed at Prees Heath, Shropshire during November, then Southport, Lancashire from December onwards.
John did not cross over to France until 1916, although we don't know exactly when. The 22nd Battalion served around Mametz and Fricourt during early 1916. They took part in small trench raids during this time, and took casualties. It is possible John was sent out as a replacement for a casualty.
During June the 22nd Battalion began to train to take part in the Somme Offensive, which was scheduled to begin on the 1st July. The battalion would attack towards German trenches called Danzig Alley and Bucket Trench near the village of Mametz, which was also held by the Germans.
The attack began at 7:30am. John and his comrades began their advance in the face of German machine gun fire and artillery. The 22nd Battalion reached their objectives and forced the Germans to retreat. Their part of the battle had been a success, but 130 members of the battalion were killed, 111 were missing and 249 had been wounded, out of a total strength of 774. Many of the missing would eventually be found to be dead. John was one of the men lost. He was 19 years old.
John senior and Mary Ann were living at 70 Stuart Street in Bradford, Manchester when they heard about their son's death. His body was never found, so along with 72,202 other soldiers he is now listed on the Thiepval Memorial in France. John is on Pier 13 Face A or Pier 14 Face C.
John's medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in February 2003.