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John was born in Preston in 1885 and was the son of William and Elizabeth Gillibrand (nee Moizer). William and Elizabeth were married on the 22nd February, 1873 in St. John`s Parish Church, Preston.

John was one of nine children born to William and Elizabeth, the first six were all born between 1873 and 1890, three girls; Isabella, Elizabeth Ann and Jane and then three boys all named James. Sadly of the six children only Isabella (1873) survived. William and Elizabeth then had a son William in 1883 and after John was born in 1885 another son Edward was born in 1888.

In 1901 William, Elizabeth and sons William, John and Edward were living in Lockhart Road in Preston. William senior was working as an Iron Moulder and the eldest son William was doing the same job, Edward was an apprentice biscuit maker and John was employed as an apprentice tinplate worker. Isabella had married Josiah Wallace at St. Marks in Preston in 1898 and was living a couple of streets away in Lovat Road.

On Boxing Day 1908 John married Isabella Forbes at St. Mary`s Church, St. Mary`s Street in Preston. Two sons were born, John in 1909 and then Thomas in 1911.

In 1911 John, Isabella and the two boys were lodging with Isabella`s mother Margaret Forbes and Grandfather Henry Bond in a three roomed terraced property at 17 Witton Street, Preston. John had left his job in the tinplate works and was now working as a car varnisher and painter with the United Car Company on Strand Road in Preston.

On the 4 December, 1915 John attested at Preston and given the number 37623 and was then posted to the reserve. He was mobilised on 3 April, 1917 and posted to the 3rd Battalion. At his medical inspection it was noted that he was 5`7” tall and weighed 107lbs. He embarked at Folkestone with a batch of reinforcements on 20 June, 1917 and was then posted to the 9th Battalion joining them in the field on the 7 July, 1917.

The 9th Battalion had previously taken part in the Battle of Messines which was launched on the 7 June, 1917 with the detonation of 19 underground mines. The Battalion had suffered serious losses with 12 Officers, 272 non- commissioned officers and men wounded and 12 other ranks missing.

On the 25th June, 1917 the 9th Battalion marched to Radinghem in the Bomy area, south of St. Omer for some rest and training and it was here that John would have joined them when the Battalion received five drafts of much needed reinforcements numbering 255 men.

The Battalion continued with rest and training until the 26th July when they moved into billets in Abele (Poperinghe area). By the 3rd August they had moved into the Railway Dugouts (Zillebeke) and then on the 6th they went into the trenches after relieving the 11th Battalion Cheshire Regiment.

It was here on the 9th August that John Gillibrand lost his life, the War Diary entry for this date just states: “Bombing raids on enemy strong points”.

The following article appeared in the Preston Guardian a short while after John`s family had been notified of his death. 


None of John`s personal effects were returned to his family in Preston. He was awarded the British War and Victory Medals for his service to his country.

John`s body was never recovered and so his name is remembered with honour on the Menin Gate in Ypres. He is also remembered on his local war memorial in St. Mary`s just around the corner from where he lived with his family and where he had married Isabella on Boxing Day in 1908.


Rank: Private
Service No: 37623
Date of Death: 09/08/1917
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 9th Bn.

Janet Davis
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2 Responses to 37623 PTE. J. GILLIBRAND. L.N.LAN.R

  1. Sarah Yates says:

    Hi I’m a volunteer researcher with the museum of Lancashire and this roll of honour is held at St Mary’s church which is now part of the museum conservation studios. We are currently researching all the stories of the 80 men. In the summer of next year the museum are holding an exhibition all about the men and their stories

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