Date of birth: 3.12.1915
Date of death: 31.5.1942
Regiment: East Yorkshire
Family information: Son of Alma Jacobs
Service number: 4543450
John Jacobs was serving in the 4th Battalion East Yorkshire Regt as a Private when he died on 31st May 1942 age 28. He is commemorated at the Alamein Memorial Egypt Column 58.
The campaign in the Western desert was fought between the Commonwealth forces (with, later, the addition of two brigades of Free French and one each of Polish and Greek troops) all based in Egypt and the Axis forces (German and Italian) based in Libya. The battlefield, across which the fighting surged back and forth between 1940 and 1942, was the 1,000 kilometres of desert between Alexandria in Egypt and Benghazi in Libya. It was a campaign of manoeuvre and movement, the objectives being the control of the Mediterranean, the link with the east through the Suez Canal, the Middle East oil supplies and the supply route to Russia through Persia.
The Alamein Memorial forms the entrance to Alamein War Cemetery. The Land Forces panels commemorate more than 8,500 soldiers of the Commonwealth who died in the campaigns in Egypt and Libya and in the operations of the Eighth Army in Tunisia up to 19th February 1943, who have no known grave. It also commemorates those who served and died in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Persia.
A story of his death was handed down by another Knottingley man, Jess Tinkler, who was born on 29th September 1915 and lived with his parents at 2 Hillgarth. He worked as a Joiner at Jackson Glassworks, and John Jacobs had been a friend of his from school days in Knottingley. Jess served with 2nd Bomb Disposal Company in the Royal Engineers. He was in the Western Desert and on 31st May 1942, probably in the Battle of Gazala, he dived for cover into a trench, and to his surprise when he looked up, next to him was John Jacobs, his old school pal!! Jacobs stood up to shake his hand and was unfortunately shot. Five days later Tinkler was reported missing and had been taken prisoner by the Italians. He was later transferred to Stalag X1A in Germany, so from 4 June 1942 to 17 April 1945 he was a prisoner of war.
On repatriation he visited Jacob’s mother to relay what had happened, and although they had received the standard British Army ‘killed in action‘ letter, they still lived in hope.
John Jacobs was born on 3rd December 1915 in Manchester, the son of Alma Jacobs. Formerly Alma Smith, she was born on 24th June 1879 and baptised on 13th July1879 at St Andrew’s Church, Ferrybridge. She was the daughter of George Smith, a labourer in Willow Garth and Priscilla (nee Burrell) who married in the second quarter of 1871 and their marriage was registered at Hemsworth.
In 1901, registered at Chorlton, Lancashire, Alma Smith married Albert George Jacobs, by whom she had 5 or 6 children. He died in 1911, so it would seem that John Jacobs was an illegitimate son.
Alma Jacobs returned to the Knottingley area and on 10th November 1924, at St Botolph’s Church, Knottingley, she married John Williams, a hairdresser in Aire Street. John Jacobs worked as a bench hand at the Pottery.