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John Robinson was born in the September quarter of 1898 to John and Margaret Robinson (nee Jones). His father was a mill labourer and he married Margaret Jones in Preston in 1887. The couple had several children but not all of them survived infancy.

In 1901 John and three of his siblings; Joseph (1891), Ann (1895) and Alice (1899) were living with their parents in Albyn Street East in Preston. John`s father was still labouring in a cotton mill and his mother was also working in a mill as a cotton weaver. His maternal grandmother Ann Jones was living with the family at the time and her occupation was noted as `housemaid duties`, presumably she was looking after John and his siblings while their parents went out to work.

Sadly, John`s mother Margaret died at the age of 41 in 1905. In 1911 John Robinson Snr. and his four children were still in Albyn Street East. John was still at school in 1911 but his three older siblings, Joseph, Annie and Alice had all started working in a mill although Alice was a `part-timer`.

John was only 16 years and 2 months old when he enlisted into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on the 26th October 1914. The recruiting officer recorded his age at the time as being 19 years and 2 months old so someone added three years on. John confirmed his address as Albyn Street East and that his occupation prior to enlistment had been a weaver at Calvert`s Flatts Mill in Walton le Dale. His was allocated the service number 3028 which would later become 200866.

John signed his agreement to serve abroad in the event of a national emergency on the 4th January 1915 at Blackpool.

While he was doing his training he found himself in trouble on a number of occasions;

  • 27/4/15 – Absent from 7am parade – punishment 2 days confined to barracks
  • 6/7/15 = Improperly dressed on parade – punishment 3 days confined to barracks
  • 19/7/15 – Dirty on 6.30am parade – punishment 2 days confined to barracks
  • 22/7/15 – Not complying with an order – punishment 7 days Field Punishment No.2
  • 6/11/15 – Late for 7am parade – punishment 3 days confined to barracks
  • 15/11/15- Absent from 7am parade – punishment 4 days confined to barracks

At 7.30 am on the morning of the 7th February 1917 John left Blackdown for Southampton and sailed to France later that same day on the “Duchess of Argyll” with the 2/4th Battalion. According to information in the newspaper cutting John had also at some point been transferred into the Trench Mortar Battery.

Sadly on the 21st July 1917 John was killed after a shell burst near to where he was working with a gun crew, the Battalion at the time was in the Armentieres area.

After his family received the news of his death the following article appeared in the local paper. 200866 Private John Robinson

Extract from the 2/4th Battalion War Diary 19th – 22nd July 1917

19th July – Enemy was extremely active with trench mortars directed on our left. Preparations were again made for a gas attack but abandoned as wind was unfavourable.

20th July – Battalion was relieved by 2/5th L.N.L. Regiment without incident, and after quiet day. Four platoons occupied the subsidiary line.

21– 22nd July – Battalion resumed company training. Commanding Officer inspected Company`s on 22nd. Killed in action 1 other rank – attached 170th Trench Mortar Battery. 1 other rank discharged from hospital.

Just a few of John`s personal effects were returned to his family in Preston and these included; letters, photos, pocket book and pocket case.

As he has no known grave John is remembered on the Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing in Belgium.

After the war his family received John`s British War and Victory Medals.

Rank: Private
Service No:200866
Date of Death: 21/07/1917
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 2nd/4th Bn.

Note: The date of death in the newspaper article states John died on the 20th July. The C.W.G.C. and his papers both give John`s date of death as the 21st July 1917.

Janet Davis
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