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John Jackson was born at 3 Irvin Street in Preston and was baptised on the 14th October 1891 at St. Luke`s Church in the town. His parents John James and Ellen Jackson (nee Nuttall) married at St. Thomas` Church in Preston on the 19th July 1886 and after their marriage the couple moved into 16 Shuttle Street in Preston. Later Census information states that they had seven children but of those only John and two brothers Thomas (1888) and William (1901) survived infancy. The 1901 Census shows the family resident at 13 Irvin Street where John`s father was a general labourer and his mother a cardroom hand, his elder brother 13 year old Thomas was also working in a mill.

By 1911 the family had a new address, now living at number 25 Ribbleton Lane in Preston, and like his father John was now working as a general labourer, his mother was a cotton rover. John`s brother Thomas married Sarah Ellen Heaps in 1910 and the couple are also shown as living with the family along with their 2 month old daughter Ellen, Thomas was also a mill worker.

John enlisted at Preston on the 8th December 1914 signing on for four years` service with the 4th Battalion (TF) of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. He was allocated the service number 3419 which would later become 201125. His medical inspection noted that he was 5`6” tall and he was in good physical condition. John confirmed his home address as 155 Delacy Street in Preston and named his parents of the same address as his legal next of kin. Later information notes that prior to his enlistment he was employed at the Leyland Motor Works. John signed his agreement to serve abroad at Blackpool on the 15th December 1914.

He embarked for France with the main body of the 1/4th Battalion on the 4th May 1915, a week after landing in France the Battalion becoming part of the 154th Brigade of 51st (Highland) Division. Towards the end of May 1915 the Battalion saw their first action of the war and also their first casualties, one man was killed and several wounded. The Battalion then went into action around Festubert on the 15/16th June 1915, this was later often referred to as `the great bayonet charge`, casualties were high, a total of 431 men killed, wounded or missing but John survived.

In January 1916 the Battalion left the 51st (Highland) Division and transferred into the 164th Brigade of 55th (West Lancashire) Division. Trench life was beginning to take its toll and on the 29th March 1916 John had to report sick to a field ambulance suffering from scabies, re-joining his Battalion some two weeks later on the 23rd April. On the 23rd July 1916 he was appointed Lance Corporal and then two days later the Battalion proceeded south to play their part in the ongoing Battle of the Somme. By the end of July the 55th Division had taken up its appointed place in the line opposite the village of Guillemont, a place that had already proven to be a thorn in the British side, having held up more than one attack. The need to capture the village of Guillemont became extremely important to the success of the general advance and a further attack entrusted to the 55th Division was therefore scheduled to take place on the morning of the 8th August 1916.

Battalion account of the actions 8th August 1916

After a night in bivouacs, preparations were made to go over the ground prior to an attack on GUILLEMONT on the 8th. The Battalion returned to the line that night and assembled in trenches east and west of the road which ran south from the corner of TRONES WOOD, C Company being detailed to consolidate the right of the enemy line and D Company the left on the west side of GUILLEMONT. A and B Companies acted in conjunction with the 1/4th Royal Lancasters and the 1/8th Liverpool Regiments respectively.

The attack was not a success. The right was held up from the start by the switch line which had been reported by our patrol on the 6th, such report either having been overlooked or ignored, and the men had to fall back to the original line, though the 1/8th Liverpools went through the village on the left and D Company of our Battalion commenced to consolidate, but were driven off by the enemy coming behind them and cutting them off from the Liverpools.

Considerable confusion was caused owing to the mist and the employment by the enemy of smoke bombs, the four platoons in reserve not being called upon, for this reason, though all their Officers were killed and they suffered many other casualties. The operation was a costly one. Nine other ranks were killed, 97 wounded and 107 reported missing; whilst of the Officers, Captain E.M. Rennard and Captain H. Lindsay were killed, Second Lieutenants O.H. Ducksbury and J.H. Holden missing (afterwards found to be prisoners of war) and Lieutenants De Blaby and A.T.D. Evans and Second Lieutenants E.L. Fairclough and T.A. Bigger wounded, Lieutenant De Blaby died the following day.

Sadly, Lance Corporal John Jackson was one of the 107 men posted as missing, his parents later publishing the following plea for any information on his whereabouts in the Preston Guardian;

As John was still considered to be officially missing when the Territorial Force was renumbered in January 1917 John was issued with his new number 201125. His parents would have had to wait several months before finally their sons` death was officially confirmed as having occurred `on or since 8th August 1916.

For his war service John was awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals which his father signed for. They would also have received his Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice.

John was originally buried out on the battlefield but his grave along with others was discovered in 1920 and his remains exhumed and then reburied in Delville Wood Cemetery, Longueval.

Photo taken July 1916

Rank: Lance Corporal
Service No: 201125
Date of Death: 08/08/1916
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, ‘B Coy’, 1st/4th Bn.

Janet Davis
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