British War Medal
John was born between October and December 1895 in Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire. His father was called Albert and his mother was Mary Jane. He had 2 older siblings: Sarah and Albert, and 5 younger: Alice, Nellie, Alfred, Fred and Harvey. Nellie died before the end of 1901 and one other sibling whose name we don't know had died between then and 1911.
John grew up living at 153 Burlington Street in Ashton. Albert worked as an overlooker in a cotton mill. By 1911 John had begun to work in a cotton cloth warehouse.
In around August 1912 John joined the 9th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. This was a unit of the Territorial Force based in Ashton. John will have continued with his civilian job and trained to be a soldier at the weekend. He was given the service number 1353.
When the First World War broke out in August 1914 the 9th Battalion was called into service and sent to Egypt. They arrived on the 25th September. At the outbreak of war John was a member of the Machine Gun Section, which operated the Battalion's 2 Maxim Machine Guns, later increased to 4 and replaced by the Vickers Machine Gun.
During the 9th Battalion's training in Egypt John was promoted to Corporal. The 9th Battalion took part in the landings in Gallipoli, arriving on the 9th May 1915. They were soon in action. John took part in defending against a Turkish attack near the village of Krithia on the 7th August. During this fighting he was shot in the leg.
John's wound was serious enough that he was evacuated back to the UK. He arrived in Plymouth on the 13th September and wrote to his parents that day. He told them that the bullet that hit him was 'buried in the flesh' and had not hit a bone. The bullet hole was 'too big to heal itself' so he was 'going to have a piece of skin put on my leg'. He was able to 'walk a little' when he arrived in the UK.
We don't know what John did after this. He recovered well enough to return to the front, although we don't know when.
John was transferred to the 17th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment in around January 1917. As he was no longer a member of a Territorial unit he was given a new service number: 48500. We don't know why he was transferred.
At some point John was captured by the Germans and became a Prisoner of War (POW). We don't know when this happened although it is quite likely to have been during the Spring Offensive of March and April 1918 which overwhelmed many Allied units, including the 17th Battalion, leading to thousands of soldiers being killed or captured.
After his capture John was moved into Germany rather than being held in France or Belgium. Prisoners were generally treated well although they were often required to work in exhausting jobs such as quarrying or mining. Combined with a poor diet this left them vulnerable to outbreaks of disease. This was the main reason that around 12,000 of the 300,000 Commonwealth POWs died in captivity.
John was one of these 12,000. He died on the 22nd October 1918 from an unknown condition. After the war John and 2589 other soldiers buried in over 180 different cemeteries throughout western Germany were brought together in Cologne Southern Cemetery. John's modern grave reference is X. J. 8.
John's medal was donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in November 2008. As well as his British War Medal, John was also awarded the 1914-15 Star and the Allied Victory Medal for his Army service.