Son of Mr. William Starkey and Mrs. Ellen Starkey of Harding's Bank, Buglawton, Cheshire and 35, Astbury Street, Congleton, Cheshire. Husband of Mrs. Alethea Starkey (nee Longshaw), they were married at St Jame's Church in 1912, she died in 1914. John had three sisters, Eliza, Agnes and Ellen Starkey, along with one brother, William Starkey. In his occupations, he had been a Fustian Cutter, a Cotton Towel Weaver and a Chemical Worker.
John Henry Starkey enlisted into the Cheshire Regiment at Crewe on the 7th of November 1914 at the age of 24. He was posted to the 9th Battalion on the 13th of November 1914. He was then discharged from the army being considered medically unfit for further military service suffering from a de formed right foot. He had served only 18 days.
After a period of some 15 months on the 21st of March 1916, he tried again and enlisted into the 23rd Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers at Wrexham, He was then posted to the 12th Battalion followed by a posting to the 10th Battalion when he embarked for France on the 16th of June 1916 where he remained until the 13th of June 1917. He did not survive the many engagements unscathed however and was twice incapacitated through wounds, the first time during the sanguinary fighting on 16/ 20th of August, 1916. After recuperating, he was again sent up the line and went through the terrible fighting during the Great Advance. He was wounded again on the 13th Of April. 1917, he returned to England with a gunshot wound to the knee. On the 15th of September 1917, he was admitted to the Hospital, Rowan Street, New Brighton, suffering from Psoriasis where he remained until the 18th of December 1917. After a short spell in England he returned to France on the 17th of February 1918 when he was posted to the 13th Battalion at Base Depot which was followed by a posting to the 2nd Battalion on the 22nd of February 1918.
Private John Henry Starkey, was in the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Welsh Fusiliers part of the 115th Brigade, 38th Welsh Division. On the 1st of March 1918 (St David's Day) they were situated in the trenches, where they were relieved by the 17th Battalion The Royal Welsh Fusiliers. They marched to Rolanderie Farm. The Battalion Headquarters were at Artillery Farm. The following day was spent on rest and cleaning up duties. On the 3rd three Companies were sent on working parties on L'Armie Switch, one Company working for the Divisional Signal Officer, this work continued until the 9th of March when the Battalion relieved the 17th Battalion R.W.F in the centre and left sectors of Wez Magquart sector. Before the relief was completed, the Headquarters at Artillery Farm was shelled which delayed the relief, but there were no casualties. Now back in the trenches on the 10th of March, the front line suffered scattered shelling, followed by very heavy shelling of the back areas on the 11th, creating great difficulty in delivering rations. The following day was quiet. In the early morning of the 13th a large enemy raiding party about 300 strong attempted to raid an outpost of which 20 succeeded in getting through the British artillery barrage and attacked Evelyn Post held by "D" Company who repulsed them, inflicting losses and capturing one prisoner. It was during the latter part of this action that John was killed in action.
The sad news has been received in Congleton of the death in action of another of our brave defenders in the person of Private John Henry Starkey, son of Mrs. Starkey, of 35, Astbury Street, Congleton. The demise of Private Starkey brings to mind the many battles in which the Fusiliers have taken part and with the recurrence of these thoughts, one feels a reverential regret that one who had fought so well was not spared. How Private Starkey, imbued with the characteristic fighting spirit of the true British soldier and responded to the terse commands of the Army Instructors, how he became assessed as a soldier of the line and how he went out in the Spring of 1916 to meet the storm needs no further comment than to add that he carried out his duties with exemplary promptitude. That he quite realised what would be expected of him when he was within sound of the guns was proved by his attention to duty. This attentiveness stood him in good stead in the stern fights in which he was subsequently engaged. Thus time rolled remorselessly on and the sound of martial feet and bursting shell in that dreaded area designated The Front were ever in the ears of Private Starkey. It is not necessary for us to describe the many narrow escapes from death he had, nor is it permissible to dwell on the terrible conditions inseparable from trench warfare. Be sure that he and the rest of the Fusiliers were as light hearted as school boys, even though the Grim Reaper claimed many victims, be sure too, that the lads made their presence felt, as the list of honours which fell to the 16th, Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers amply testifies. This unit has perhaps won more honours than any in the British Army and it is worth recording that Private Starkey more than once came under the eye of the O. C. and was mentioned for good work in the field. Now the notification of his death comes to hand much to the regret of the large circle of friends not only in the West Street area, but also those with whom he came into contact with in France. The official information received by Private Starkey's mother on the 22nd of March, 1918. Reads as follows,
It is my painful duty to inform you that a report has been received from the War Office notifying the death of Private John Henry Starkey, of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, which occurred in the field, in France, on the 13th day of March, 1918. The report is to the effect that he was killed in action. Accompanying the above was a message of sympathy from Their Gracious Majesties the King and Queen.
We tender our sincere sympathy to Mrs. Starkey and family in their sad bereavement.
Cheshire County Memorial Project would like to thank John and Christopher Pullen for researching and compiling John's story.