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germansmallJohn German was born in Leigh in around 1896.

Aged 15 in 1911, he was living at 10 New York, Deane, Bolton. He was living with his parents Richard and Ellen and attended the local Deane schools. His father was a domestic gardener. At this time, John was working a piecer in a cotton mill. He had three younger brothers and two younger sisters.

John enlisted in the Territorial Army on 10th February 1915, joining the 5th (Territorial) Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. In 1917 he was given the ‘new territorial style’ service number 241633.

John landed in France in February 1916, and was quickly promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal. He was a signalman and went out on patrols across no man’s land in teams of three or four men, the objective being to tap the German wires.

Memories of the family

John German was also a very talented flyweight boxer who fought exhibition matches against Tipper Darkie and Jimmy Wilde (both world champions around that time) to entertain the regiment. I was told that he was, at one point, he was the flyweight champion of the British Army.

John was wounded multiple times during the War. It has been passed through the family that John was one of the first to benefit from the Thomas splint.

john german mm

He was very severely wounded during the Battle of Messines in 1917 which suggests he was transferred at some point to either the 7th or 8th Battalion.

John was awarded the Military Medal, this was gazetted in 16th August 1917.


The announcement of him being awarded the MM appeared in the London Gazette;


John was invested with the MM by the King at Aldershot on 8th June 1918. He was congratulated by his Divisional Brigadier General for acts of gallantry and devotion to duty at Ploegsteert during 4th-11th June 1917.

John German was discharged on 12th August 1918 due to his wounds. He was issued the Silver War Badge number 437189.

Memories from his family

He underwent 13 operations on his leg and spent a year in hospital recovering from his injuries. My grandmother says she met him the day he came out of hospital in 1919 (Cf. the photo showing him with the Thomas splint and his military medal).

As a result of his injuries, family members in Massachusetts found him work in a textile mill in New Bedford. There was a sizeable Lancashire community in the area (numbering around 10,000). His old job in Deane was apparently too painful for him and he was apparently having serious difficulties adapting to civilian life. The job he accepted in New Bedford was apparently easier on his leg.  As it says in the newspaper clipping, he and the family returned to England in 1938. My father explains that he missed England and his family.  

Unfortunately his WW1 service papers have not survived.

During the Second World War, back in Deane, John was employed as a part-time air-raid warden; he was awarded the George Medal (GM) for his actions during a bombing raid in 1940. His investiture took place at Buckingham Palace in May 1941.


John German returned to New Bedford, USA in 1947, he died on 31st January 1953 aged 57. As he was a member of the Canadian Legion he was given a military funeral.



Article updated May 2015 thanks to additional information from Garry Farmer.

Paul McCormick
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One Response to 241633 PTE. J. GERMAN. L.N.LAN.R

  1. John Clarke says:

    My grandad Joseph Clarke came from Bolton and served in the 1/4th Loyal North Lancashire Regiment during WW1; he was a drummer. Small world eh? I wonder if my grandad knew this guy as Deane isn’t far from where granddad lived? All my granddads military records were destroyed by bombing in WW2 (I checked with MoD) and the Red Cross have incomplete records on POWs from that era. I have his medals (marked with his name & number) and a Bolton Evening News “Tea & Entertainment” brochure dated June 21st 1919 in excellent condition; a fascinating document for an evening of entertainment for all returning Prisoners of War funded by the Bolton Evening News prisoners of war fund. The event was held at the Drill Hall, Silver Street and the document lists all the regiments, names and address of those who served. (My dad, also called Joseph hardly ever talked about his dad but I’ve been researching the family and the few small items dad kept are priceless!) My granddad is listed as living at 96 Reservoir Street, Bolton; an address he was in for the 1911 census and the address on documents concerning his funeral and his burial. Granddad died in 1950 at the age of 57, 10 years before I was born; last month I finally traced his grave! (BTW John German isn’t mentioned in the document so presumably he wasn’t a Pow. However while looking up all the G’s in the document I found a possible relative on my mum’s side of the family; a Grundy from Little Hulton. Small world!

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