Service Number 241493 16th Battalion Cheshire Regiment “ The Bantams”.
DOW 23rd October 1917
Address, 17 Sutton Street, Runcorn
John was the son of Anthony (From Mayo, Ireland) and Mary Nolan. He was born in Weston Village and attended St Edwards church and school before being employed at Salt Union works at Weston Point. He had two brothers, James and Anthony and a sister Annie.
He enlisted at Chester at the age of 19 yrs and 11 months on 2nd September 1914. He was given the number 15693 and joined the 10th Cheshire’s, but according to his war record he was discharged under Kings Regulation XI for misconduct. He must have then rejoined later as 241493, obviously they ignored his previous incident. On the 22nd October 1917, the Bantams involved in the 3rd Battle of Ypres, (Passchendaele), attacked the German lines south of Houlthulst Forest.
The ground conditions were as bad as ever, with thick mud covering the battlefield. In his book on the “Cheshire Bantams” , Stephen McGreal describes the objective as being a tough nut to crack in good weather, never mind oozing mud that slowed men down whilst the enemy machine guns fired relentlessly.
The Bantams were part of attack on Marechal Farm and Colombo House, with 14th Gloustershires, 15th Sherwood Foresters and the 15th Cheshire’s in reserve. On the right flank of the 16th, the attack went well and gained Marechal Farm, with few problems. However the centre and left were held up by fire from a concrete block house in the wood 500 yards north west of Colombo House.
On the left, the Glouster’s met strong opposition but occupied their first objective inc Panama House. At 16:39 the Germans launched a counter attack, against the left of the 16th Cheshire’s and broke through. The surviving Cheshire’s fell back 100yds and then back to the original line. The 14th held on, and the German attack met artillery fire. But the Glouster’s fell back with the Cheshire’s.
The casualty roll for the Regiment on this day was 123 Killed in Action; of that number only 11 have known graves. The rest are in unmarked graves or the bodies never recovered. They are commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.
John died the following day, so it can only be assumed he was part of this battle, injured and was evacuated to Ypres. At least another 10 also died within days of this battle, with another 3 being buried with John.
He is buried in Dozinghem Military Cemetery near Ypres, Belgium, Row E, Grave 2.
He is also commemorated on the Runcorn War Memorial on Greenway Road.
Johns older brother by 3 years, James, was involved in the early stages of the war as he went to France on 20th Sept 1914,Reg No 10379 1st Cheshire Regt. He was captured by the Germans at the Battle of Le Bassee during the race to the sea, on 22nd October 1914. He died in captivity on 31st August 1918 and is buried at Niederzwehren Cemetery, Kassel , Germany.