Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

John Tomlinson

John Tomlinson :

John Tomlinson : (L to R) 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal

(L to R) 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal

John was born in around 1887 in Harpurhey, Manchester. He had a brother named Harry and a sister called Sarah Alice, and they were members of the Church of England, but we don't know anything else about his early life or family.

The First World War broke out in August 1914 and John left his job as a warehouseman to enlist in the Army on the 4th September. He joined the 3rd City Battalion. This was a 'Pals' battalion that was being formed by the men of Manchester so that they could serve together. It became the 18th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment.

When he enlisted John was 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighed 104 pounds. He had a 'fresh' complexion, and brown eyes and hair. He was given the service number 10461 and joined X Platoon in C Company.

The 18th Battalion trained at Heaton Park in Manchester until April 1915, when they moved to Belton Park in Grantham, Lincolnshire. In September they moved to Larkhill in Wiltshire before sailing to France on the 8th November.

John spent the rest of 1915 in training with his battalion. We believe that he first saw front line service in January 1916. He served near the villages of Vaux and Maricourt during January and February.

In March the 18th Battalion was stationed in the front line in the area around the town of Albert. The battalion finished 2 months in the front lines on the 19th March. The next day John was taken ill.

John was admitted to the 58th Field Ambulance suffering from nephritis, or inflammation of the kidneys. He was passed through the 31st Casualty Clearing Station and Number 1 General Hospital at Etretat before being returned to the UK for more treatment on the 28th.

Back in Britain, John was sent to the Red Cross Hospital in Christchurch in modern Dorset. He spent 3 months there and was discharged on the 29th June.

We don't know anything about John's service until the 5th September. On this day he was assigned to a Command Depot at Heaton Park in Manchester. These existed to allow soldiers to complete their recovery from injury before they rejoined a unit. John was based here until April 1917.

Between New Years Eve 1916 and the 7th April 1917 John overstayed his pass, or returned to the Depot later than he should have, on 5 separate occasions. Each time he was punished by being confined to the Depot for 7 days.

On the 19th April John had recovered enough to join the 3rd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment in Cleethorpes in Lincolnshire. From here he would normally have been sent overseas to join a frontline battalion.

This did not happen to John. On the 30th July he was transferred to the Labour Corps and assigned to the 360th Reserve Employment Company at Strensall in Yorkshire. The Labour Corps was made up of men who were not considered fit enough to serve in the front line as infantry. They gave John a new service number: 219745.

John returned to France at around this time. Shortly afterwards he was posted to the 738th Area Employment Company. He was promoted to Lance Corporal on the 11th August.

Area Employment Companies carried out a wide range of tasks including moving supplies, labouring and construction and salvaging equipment from the battlefield. They would support units based in a particular area. We don't know where John and the 738th Company were based.

Between the 8th and the 22nd January John was able to return to the UK on leave. We don't know anything about what he did between then and the end of the war on the 11th November.

During early 1919 John was able to go on leave again. Shortly after he returned, on the 23rd February, he was posted to the 858th Area Employment Company.

On the 3rd April, at Audruicq in northern France John was reduced to the rank of Private. He had been absent from Picquet, or guard, duty between 6:45pm until 9:20pm on the evening of the 2nd.

A week later John was returned to the UK to be demobilised out of the Army. He was transferred to the Class Z Reserve on the 10th May. This existed so that soldiers could be quickly recalled to the Army if fighting had begun again. It never did and the Class Z Reserve was disbanded in March 1920.

When he was transferred John was able to return to his civilian life. He gave his address as 17 Goodier Street in Harpurhey. We don't know what he did when he returned there or anything about the rest of his life.

John's medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in June 2001.

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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Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council