Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

John Shackleton

John Shackleton : Photograph of John in Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre.  Reference: MRP/5D/041

Photograph of John in Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre. Reference: MRP/5D/041

John Shackleton : (L to R) 1939-45 Star; Pacific Star; 1939-45 Defence Medal; 1939-45 War Medal

(L to R) 1939-45 Star; Pacific Star; 1939-45 Defence Medal; 1939-45 War Medal

John was born on the 15th August 1914. His father was called William and his mother was Annie. We don't know anything about the rest of his family or his early life.

By September 1935 William and Annie lived at 68 Lansdowne Road in Oldham, Lancashire. John worked as a cotton operative, but we don't know whether he still lived with his parents. On the 11th September he travelled to nearby Ashton-under-Lyne and joined the Army.

John enlisted in the Manchester Regiment and was given the service number 3528217. He had a 'fresh' complexion, blue eyes and brown hair.

John trained at the Regimental Depot in Ladysmith Barracks, Ashton. He was a member of Peninsular Recruit Squad, led by Sergeant Garlick. John then joined the 2nd Battalion at Strensall near York. He served with them for the next 3 years. On the 10th February 1936 John obtained the 3rd Class Army Certificate of Education.

During John's time with them they converted from an infantry unit to a mechanised machine gun battalion. This used the Vickers Machine Gun to support the operations of other infantry battalions. This meant soldiers needed to be trained in driving, vehicle maintenance and machine gun shooting, as well as their other jobs.

John left the 2nd Battalion, and the UK, in September 1938. He joined the 1st Battalion of the Manchester Regiment as they left Palestine and set sail for Singapore.

In Singapore the battalion spent most of their time building defences on the beaches and training to defeat an invasion. Their main role was to man pillboxes on the beaches of the island.

By late 1941 war with the Japanese was becoming more and more likely. They invaded Malaya on the 8th December, and by the 27th January 1942 the British had been forced back onto the island of Singapore.

By the end of January the British were being constantly bombed, and as the Japanese closed in their position became hopeless. The British garrison surrendered on the 15th February and John became a Prisoner of War (POW).

The tens of thousands of Allied prisoners were first held in Changi Prison in eastern Singapore. After a while the Japanese began to move groups to work on construction projects. At the end of the war surviving POWs were asked to list all the camps they had been held in and when they had been there. John listed 2 locations: Keppel Harbour in Singapore, and 'Camp Number 3'. We don't know where this referred to.

Singapore was liberated in August 1945 and the POWs returned home over the next few months. Most of them needed medical treatment, although we don't know whether John did. He arrived back in the UK on the 27th October.

On the 19th April 1946 John was transferred to the Army Reserve. He was now able to return home and find a job, although we don't know what he did. His conduct in the Army had been 'Exemplary'. He was 'a conscientious, trustworthy man. He is honest, reliable + steady. Well recommended for civilian employment'.

John remained in the Reserve until the 20th April 1948, when he joined the Territorial Army. He enlisted in the 41st Royal Tank Regiment. This was based in Oldham. As member of the Territorial Army John kept his civilian home and job and trained with the 41st during evenings and weekends. He was given the service number 22206463.

We don't know anything about the rest of John's life. We believe he joined the Oldham Branch of the Manchester Regiment Old Comrade's Association in mid 1952.

John died between January and March 1981 in Oldham. He was 66 years old. His medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in October 1987.

Museum of the Manchester Regiment
c/o Portland Basin Museum
Portland Place
Heritage Wharf
Ashton-under-Lyne
OL7 0QA

Telephone: 0161 343 2878
Email: Portland.Basin@tameside.gov.uk
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Tameside Metropolitan Borough logo
Esmee Fairbairn Collections Fund logo
Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council