Son of Mr. Thomas Galley and Mrs. Hannah Galley of 8, Holford Street, Congleton, Cheshire, and 64, Pear Tree Bank, Congleton, Cheshire In 1901, he went to live with his grandmother Mrs. Catherine Kilgannon, at 2, Silver Street, Congleton, Cheshire and he remained with her until his enlistment to the colours. His parents at that time still resided in Pear Tree Bank. He had two sisters, Martha, known by the family as Pattie, his other sister Marion who was born in 1903 sadly died in 1904. He also had eight brothers, Fred, Walter, Harry, Alfred, Arthur, Thomas, Sidney and Arnold Galley. Prior to enlistment he was employed as a Silk Dresser at Messrs' Reade and Company. Five of his brothers served in the Great War, Alfred in the K.O.R.L. Arthur in the Worcestershire Regiment and Fred, Thomas and Walter in the Cheshire Regiment. All survived the war.
Private John Galley enlisted in the 7th Battalion, the South Lancashire Regiment in September 1914 and went abroad in the first week of July 1915. He was subsequently transferred to the 54th Trench Mortar Battery. It had been formed from the large number of recruits who flocked to the Colours as a result of Lord Kitchener's appeal in August 1914. On the 11thof September, the formation of the Second of the New Armies was authorized and one of the six divisions thus constituted was the 19th (Western) Division. The 7th Battalion was included in the 59th Brigade of this Division and carried out its preliminary training on Salisbury Plain. Final training was carried out at Tidworth and on the 17th of July 1915, the Battalion embarked for France, landing at Boulogne the same day. They proceeded to billets near St Omer where they remained until the end of July. The first time they went into the trenches was on the 14th of September, north of Festebert where they remained for 21 days without relief. They were eventually relieved by the Royal Worcester Regiment and the history records that nothing of further note happened for the remainder of 1915. The opening months of 1916 saw them still in the Lys sector, which was relatively "quiet" and so they did the usual round of tours in the trenches, rest periods, training, cleaning up, etc. On the 13th of April they were relieved and marched to Lingham for training, remaining here until the 6th of May when they moved to the Somme area in preparation for the forthcoming offensive. At the beginning of June, they moved to billets at Fleselles for a period of intensive training which lasted until the end of the month. At 01:00 hours on the 1 st of July, the Battalion moved from its huts in Henencourt Wood to trenches behind the Tara-Usna line, astride the Albert Bapaume Road, in readiness to occupy these at zero hour. After the initial bombardment, the Battalion was in position by 09:15 hours and remained there until 14:30 hours in the afternoon. They then received orders to support the 7th Battalion, the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and moved up just after 15:00 hours. But confusion reigned and they moved around to conflicting orders for the remainder of the day without engaging the enemy. Early the following day they were instructed to fall back to a railway cutting south west of Albert where they rested for 24 hours. On the 3 rd of July, the Battalion was told to prepare to attack La Boisselle, and this eventually took place at 21:30 hours. The village was finally cleared at bayonet point by 15:00 hours the following day, albeit with very heavy casualties. La Boisselle itself was quite unrecognizable as a village, its strength lay underground in a series of dug outs and connecting passages, twenty to forty feet deep. No shell could reach these deep shelters and unless they were "mopped up" systematically, their garrisons could emerge after the attackers had left and pour machine gun bullets into their backs. Clearing such a labyrinth was an exhausting and slow business, attended by considerable danger to the bombing and bayonet parties as they pursued their tortuous way into the very bowels of the earth. The Battalion remained in La Boisselle until they were relieved early on the 6th of July when they marched back along the Bapaume to Albert Road without incurring any casualties. After a brief rest in Albert, on the evening of the 7th of July, the Battalion relieved a Battalion of the King's Own in the La Boisselle area. Private Galley's death might have occurred at any time during this period of time, noting that he was reported as missing on the 7th of July, yet his official death is stated as the 13 th of July. Due to the confusion taking place at the time, Roll Calls would have been made when conditions were more favorable. Information received later revealed that Private Galley had been killed by a bursting shell while coming out of the trenches.
Extract from the Congleton Chronicle 1916
News has been received that Private John Galley of Pear Tree Bank, Congleton has been killed in the Great Advance. The first information of his death was conveyed in a letter received from the Officer Commanding which read in the following terms.
I regret to have to tell you that your son was reported missing on the 7th of July after he and his comrades had been carrying ammunition to the firing line. He had already done much good work at this necessary task. He was very popular in the Battery and was always willing to do his best. I can only offer you my deepest sympathy. Private Robert Mountain of the East Lancashire Regiment sent a letter of condolence to Mrs. Galley which reads as follows,
It is with deep regret that I write to let you know that your son, Private John Galley was killed while coming out of the trenches, along with three others who belong to my regiment. They were in the act of leaving the trench when a shell dropped in it killing all four of them. The next day I helped to bury them just behind the spot where they fell. My mates did the very best they could for him. At the time I found him I was looking for some of our men who were missing. I belong to the 7th Battalion the East Lancashire Regiment. I am sending the photographs I found on him. Our regiment and his had been in a very severe battle the day before. In addition to the photographs, I found his pay book which I have handed over to the proper quarters. I have nothing further to add except that your son was an hero and died fighting for his country. You have my deepest sympathy. When this letter was received there had been no official notification of Private Galley's death.
On the 21st July 1916 there was another article placed in the chronicle.
Cheshire County Memorial Project would like to thank Carole Galley and John and Christopher Pullen for the research on John