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John Sergeant was born at 17 Pitt Street in Preston which was the home of his maternal grandparents, and was baptised at Christ Church in Preston on the 22nd January 1899, the son of Thomas and Margaret Sergeant (nee Holden). The marriage of his parents had taken place in the same church on the 21st August 1898. John was the eldest of three brothers, the other two being; Thomas (1903) and Horace (1909).

When the 1901 Census was recorded John and his parents were living with his widowed paternal grandmother Ann Sergeant at 38 Wellfield Road in Preston. His father Thomas was a blacksmith by trade. Also present in the household was his Uncle, John Sergeant and also his married Aunt, Jane Lindsey and her five year old son Arthur.

By the time of the 1911 Census the family had moved into their own home at 11 Waterloo Terrace in the Ashton on Ribble district of Preston.

John was called up for service on the 3rd June 1917 when he was 18 years and 6 months old, at the time his home address was 3 Webster Street in Preston. He had previously been employed as a horseman on Mr. Kellet`s Pilling Hall Farm and on enlistment in answer to the question “have you any preference for any particular branch of the service, and if so which”, John replied, “horse guards”. He was quite a tall chap standing at five feet ten and a half inches with a chest measurement of 35” and had sandy hair and grey eyes. John named his father Thomas as his official next of kin. He was allocated the service number 41284 and posted to the 48th Training Reserve Battalion. According to his service record John appears to have suffered from an allergic reaction to his vaccinations which resulted in 37 days in hospital (17/6/17 – 23/7/17) and then he spent another 19 days in Prees Heath Hospital in Shropshire suffering from pneumonia (9/9/17 – 25/9/17).

Unfortunately John`s preference for the “Horse Guards” as he put it or indeed anything to do with horses appears to have fallen on deaf ears and on the 12th December 1917 he was transferred to the 4th (Reserve) Battalion LNL. On the 2nd April 1918 he sailed for France from Folkestone and after disembarking in Boulogne he was sent to the Infantry Base Depot. Two weeks later on the 16th April 1918 he joined the 1/4th Battalion LNL, who at the time were in billets at Lozinghem. The 1/4th Battalion came under the command of 164th Brigade in the 55th (Western) Division and by the 23rd April 1918 the Division had gone back to the front line after relieving the 1st Division in the Givenchy and Festubert sections.

The War Diary makes no mention of any casualties but it seems that John was wounded on the 10th May 1918 and subsequently admitted to a field ambulance with gun-shot wounds to his thigh. He was then transferred to number 22 Casualty Clearing Station where he remained until the 8th July 1918 when sadly he finally succumbed to his wounds. John was later laid to rest at Pernes British Cemetery which at the time was where 22 CCS was situated.

John`s death was announced later in the Preston Guardian;

Quite a large number of John`s personal possessions were later despatched to his parents in Preston, these included; ID Disc, letters, 2 wallets, 1 note case, matchbox case, 2 shoulder titles, 1 belt, 1 purse, metal watch chain, 3 small keys, metal ring, photographs, cards, a charm, 3 dice and 2 farthings.

Not long after receiving the news of his death, the Lancashire Daily Post published the following notice submitted by his parents, under the date 16th July 1918;

SERGEANT – John Sergeant of the L.N.L. Regt. in his 20th year, died of wounds at the 22nd Casualty Clearing Station, France on July 8th 1918, the beloved  and eldest son of Thomas and Margaret Sergeant, 3 Webster Street, Ashton, Preston;

“He died that we might live”

After the war Thomas Sergeant signed for the British War and Victory Medals that his son was entitled to, he would also have received his Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice.

John is remembered on the Roll of Honour in the Harris Museum in Preston and he is also remembered on his local church war memorial board at St. Michael and All Angels in Ashton on Ribble, the church that he and his family attended;

St. Michael and All Angels War Memorial Plaques

Paul McCormick
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Paul McCormick

Paul McCormick is the creator and administrator for the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment website. Since 2010 he has been researching the soldiers that served during the First World War and sharing their stories on his website. You can contact Paul through the website 'Contact Me' page or on Twitter and Facebook.
Paul McCormick
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