Date of birth: 1896
Date of death: 24.07.1917
Regiment: King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
Family information: Son of James Robert and Mary Elizabeth Paisley
Service number: 201976
John Paisley was employed at Wrenthorpe Colliery when he volunteered for the army, joining the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. After a period of training Private John Paisley was posted to the 1/4th KOYLI as a replacement for one of the battalion’s many casualties. He landed in France on the 11th December 1915, probably joining the battalion at their camp at Beaumaris, near Calais, early in 1916.
The 1/4th KOYLI, attached to 148th Brigade, 49th (West Riding) Division, had joined the British Expeditionary Force on 13th April 1915. Since July 1915 the 49th Division had been deployed to the sector between Ypres and Boesinghe, which was the left of the British Army line in Flanders. On 19th December the /4th KOYLI had suffered over 500 casualties during gas attacks on their positions and the battalion, in brigade, was withdrawn from this sector.
On the 1st July 1916, the opening day of the battle of the Somme, the 49th (West Riding) Division was initially in Reserve, but was later used in a support capacity. On 6th July the 1/4th KOYLI went into the “A” Line trenches and at 02.00 hours the following morning the enemy opened an intense bombardment on their positions, resulting in numerous casualties. An enemy bombing attack followed and there was heavy fighting until the forward companies were forced to retire to the original British front line. Later that day the battalion was withdrawn to Hedauville.
The 1/4th KOYLI did not return to the trenches until the 21st July, when they re-joined the 148th Brigade, deployed in the Leipzig Salient. On the 23rd July, part of the battalion was ordered into attack but suffered heavy casualties crossing “No Man’s Land” and was forced to retire. The 1/4th KOYLI remained within the Somme battlefield for the rest of the year, carrying out the everyday duties associated with life in the trenches.
After a period in the trenches opposite Bailleuval, in March 1917, the 1/4th KOYLI, in Brigade, moved to the Neuve Chapelle sector. At this time the enemy was making its strategic withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line. On 30th May the enemy released gas along the sector occupied by the 148th Brigade, which heralded a period of intense fighting, lasting over three weeks.
In July 1917 the 49th Division took over the Nieuport sector on the Belgian coast, with the 1/4th and 1/5th KOYLI battalions going into the front line at Lombartsyde. Just before midnight on 21st July both battalions suffered a heavy enemy bombardment of shells of all calibres and a large quantity of mustard gas. The town of Nieuport was drenched in gas. Both battalions suffered greatly, the 1/4th KOYLI, who was in support, incurring 441 casualties, most of whom were gassed. The immediate effect of the gas was irritation of the nose and throat, inflamed and painful eyes, followed by vomiting. The enemy repeated the attack on the evening of the 23rd July, resulting in a further 76 casualties. The 1/4th KOYLI was relieved on the 24th July and taken by bus to Ghyvelde.
Private John Paisley died from wounds on 24th July 1917, probably at one of the Casualty Clearing Stations at Oosthoek. He was buried in the nearby Belgium Military Cemetery at Adinkirke, a village close to the town of Veurne, near the French border. The Adinkirke churchyard extension has two small plots containing 67 Commonwealth graves, one of which is the grave of John Paisley.
At the time of his son’s death his father, James Paisley, was living at Steeples Buildings, Leeds Road, Outwood. John Paisley is not remembered on either of the memorials at Outwood. However he is remembered on the Wrenthorpe Colliery Memorial at St John’s Church, Wakefield.
John Laurence Paisley was born in 1896, the second of four children born to James Robert Paisley and his wife Mary Elizabeth, formerly Judd, of Wakefield. His father, James Robert, who was born in Scotland, was employed as a dyers labourer. Their fourth child was born in 1903 but died shortly after his birth. At this time the family was living at Haddingley Hill, Sandal. At the time of the 1911 census John Paisley was employed as a rope lad and living with his father and widowed grandmother at 43, Bishopgate, Wakefield.