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John a.k.a. Jack Gregson was born in Preston on the 15th February 1897 to Joseph and Margaret Alice Gregson (nee Chambers). His parents married in Preston in 1889 and they had eight children, five of whom survived;

  • Mary Edith (1890-1890)
  • William (1892)
  • Joseph (1893-1894)
  • Alice Ann (1895)
  • John (1897)*
  • Joseph (1899-1903)
  • Frank (1907)
  • Bertram (1908)

In 1891 Jack`s parents lived at 66 Upper Kent Street in Preston where Joseph was listed as a mechanic and Margaret a cotton weaver. By 1901 the Gregson family had moved to 108 St. James Street South and in this Census Jack`s father is recorded as being a musician.

On the 2nd May 1904 Jack started his school life at the age of 7 attending St. Augustine`s Roman Catholic School in Preston where he remained until the 21st March 1910 before going into full time work. By 1911 Jack and his family had moved house again, this time to 30 Lex Street in Preston. His father was working as an Assurance Club Collector, brother William was a `drawer in` (cotton mill), sister Alice was a cotton weaver and 14 year old John was a messenger boy in a warehouse.

Unfortunately Jack`s service papers are not available so precise information on the timing of his enlistment is uncertain but he did volunteer, enlisting into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment with the service number 203522. Prior to his enlistment he had been employed as a `boot-clicker` at Berry`s Kent Street factory in Preston. The family had also moved house again and by the time Jack enlisted they were living at 47 Fishwick View in Preston.203522 Private John Gregson MM “B” Coy 10th Battalion

From later information it would appear that Jack went to France in around February/March 1917 and at some point thereafter he joined “B” Coy of the 10th Battalion LNL.

On the 15th October 1917 the Battalion, together with the 8th Battalion of the East Lancashire Regiment moved into Ypres for work on the roads. Whilst here they were temporarily attached to the III Australian Corps. The first half of December was spent in the front and support trenches just outside of Ypres at La Clytte and during the early morning of the 9th December, the garrison of one of the posts held by the Battalion became involved in a heavy enemy raid. 

Extract from the Battalion War Diary – 9th December 1917

“At 3.30 a.m. the enemy raided our No. 7 Post and received a good reception. The post was approached by two parties on the north and south, a barrage being put down just behind the post, and under cover of this the wire was cut and the raiders attacked. The garrison of the posts consisted of 25238 Cpl J. Grindrod (in charge), 32897 Pte. G.E. White, 31792 Pte J. Linton, 31957 Pt. J. Crompton and 203522 Pte J. Gregson. As soon as the bombs began to fall and the raiders were seen, the garrison rushed forward to meet them. Private White engaged single-handed two of the enemy, and though severely wounded by the butts of rifles and with his head cut open, he fought on and eventually killed one and took the other – a Sergeant Major – prisoner. One cannot speak too highly of this man`s determination and gallantry, and his action was undoubtedly responsible for the success. Corporal Grindrod displayed coolness and judgement, working his Lewis gun with deadly effect, and he was most ably supported by the rest of the garrison who beat off the attack, causing very heavy losses – three being killed and two captured. The strength of the raiding party was from twenty to twenty five. As the party retreated Corporal Grindrod followed them firing his Lewis Gun and caused several more casualties.

It is hard to estimate the destruction done owing to the swampy and almost impassable nature of the ground. 2/Lt C.F. Catterall was in command of this group of posts and displayed coolness, judgement and initiative showing a ready grasp of the situation and posting his men accordingly. The dispositions of his men during the attack were excellent and had the enemy attempted a further attack, they would have been met with the same resolute spirit and suffered a severe reverse”.

In late December 1917 the news that Jack was to be awarded the Military Medal for his part in repelling the enemy raid filtered back to his family in Preston and the following announcement was made in the Preston Guardian;

203522 Private John Gregson MM “B” Coy 10th Battalion 2

On the 21st March 1918 the German Spring Offensive (Operation Michael) began and the following day Jack was captured and taken prisoner. The Prisoner of War records state that he was captured at Hargincourt (Aisne) and that by the 18th April 1918 he was an inmate at Munster II Prisoner of War Camp in Germany. After originally being posted as missing in action, Jack was able to send a postcard home to let his family know that he was still alive and was now a prisoner of war. The Lancashire Evening Post reporting;

3rd May 1918 – Lancashire Evening Post

“Mrs M.A. Gregson, 47 Fishwick View, Preston, has received a postcard from her son Private Jack Gregson, LNL Regiment, from Limburg in Germany, stating that he was taken prisoner on March 22nd.  Private Gregson was previously reported missing. He was awarded the Military Medal and later a bar to the medal for gallant work in action. Before joining he was employed at Mr. J. Berry`s Kent Street works as a boot clicker. His father and brother are both serving in the Royal Defence Corps, his father being bandmaster of the West Lancs National Reserve before they were mobilised”.

According to the Red Cross POW records, Jack was an inmate at a camp at Metz from the end of May 1918 where, according to later information, he remained until the French arrived and took possession of the camp.

Three weeks after the Armistice was declared Jack was on his way back to England, arriving in Dover with a number of other repatriated prisoners of war on the 1st December 1918.

On the morning of the 14th December 1918 Jack was presented with his Military Medal on the steps of the Town Hall in Preston. The Lancashire Evening Post once again reporting;

14th December 1918 – Lancashire Evening Post

PUBLIC PRESENTATION OF MILITARY MEDAL TO PRESTONIAN

“This morning the Mayor of Preston (Alderman Cartmell) from the Town Hall steps, presented the Military Medal to Private J. Gregson, 10th L.N.L., 47 Fishwick View, Preston who was one of five men who when in an advanced post were surprised by a German patrol 30 strong. “They meant to take the post” said the Mayor, but instead “the post took the patrol. The five men took the 30, and in that way they found out from the prisoners that an attack was intended on the following day, and they prevented it. The five were all awarded the Military Medal, and I understand that in addition to the medal now to be presented, Private Gregson is recommended for the bar” (cheers from the crowd).

The Mayor further explained that Gregson was taken prisoner at St. Quentin on March 22nd. He was removed to Metz where he remained until the French took possession.”

After the war Jack was also awarded the British War and Victory Medals in recognition of his service for his country.

On the 1st September 1924 John Gregson, son of Joseph Gregson, a musician, married Jane Carr the daughter of grocer William Henry Carr at St. Matthew`s Church in Preston. The couple do not appear to have had any children.

In 1939 Jack and Jane were living at 127 Ribbleton Avenue in Preston and Jack was still working as a boot and shoe operative.

Jack passed away in 1972 at the age of 75, his wife Jane having passed away eight years earlier in 1964.

Photograph of John Gregson reproduced with the kind permission of Shelagh and Neil Graham, John was Shelagh`s paternal Great Uncle.

Janet Davis

Janet Davis

Janet Davis has been researching her family history for many years and through this she discovered many relatives who served in WW1. This interest then led Janet to do many walking the battlefield tours with her husband. In April 2013 she discovered this website and volunteered to help. Janet believes that there are lots of stories still to be told, most of them very sad but at the same time they are a fascinating insight into the men, their families, what they did and where they came from.
Janet Davis

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2 Responses to 203522 PTE. J. GREGSON. L.N.LAN.R.

  1. Neil Graham says:

    Many thanks to Janet Davis for not only being a part of such an excellent project as this but also for helping me research the family history of my wife as John/Jack Gregson is her great uncle.

  2. Janet Davis says:

    Hi Neil, It was my pleasure to write the article and thank you for the kind words, they are very much appreciated.

    Many thanks once again for giving us permission to use the wonderful photo of Jack, it was very kind of you both.

    Kind Regards
    Janet

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