Date of birth: 01.04.1894
Date of death: 28.07.1916
Regiment: Northumberland Fusiliers
Family information: Son of John Henry and Elizabeth Savage nee Walker
Service number: 18962
John enlisted in March 1915 at Pontefract into the Northumberland Fusiliers, at the same time that 16 other men from Bagley’s also joined. Training was in the Northumberland area.
He served with the 12th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers. The Battalion went to France as part of the 21st Division. This Division of Kitchener’s Army was sent out to take part in the Loos Offensive. The main body sailed from Folkstone on 15th September, equipment went with the Battalion Transport and sailed from Southampton.
The Battalion landed in France 20th September and over the next 5 days marched towards Loos. By the time they arrived they were ill- prepared and tired. The Battle began on 25th September and the 21st Division were in reserve. When they were called forward on 26th September it was to the attack on the German stronghold on Hill 70. The attack failed and there were many casualties. The 12th Battalion recorded 24 Officers and 450 other ranks killed wounded or missing.
John was part of the draft sent out to refill the numbers, arriving and serving from 12th October. The Battalion spent the winter of 1915/1916 in Houplines, a suburb of Armentiers, training and in support to the Front Line.
In the Somme offensive of 1916 the Battalion were in the Fricourt Area. They were part of the 62nd Brigade of the 11th Division. On 1st July the Battalion were the support to 10th Yorkshire Regiment (The Green Howards) led by Major S W Louden-Shand, who was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for his actions on that day. The 12th Northumberland Fusiliers were saved many casualties by the heroic efforts of The Green Howards. They were sent in later to relieve the exhausted 64th Brigade.
On 2nd July they were tasked with mopping up areas around a group of small woods, particularly Shelter Wood. The German machine guns replied from the sheltered positions in the several small woods around. It is likely that John was wounded here. He was sent back to England via Casualty Clearing Station and Base Hospital. In London he was treated for gunshot wounds to the head in The King George Hospital. His brother George was able to visit him before he died 28th July. He was given a Military Funeral at home.
John was buried in Knottingley Cemetery in the grave of his parents John Henry and Elizabeth. In later years the ashes of his sister Annie were added.
The headstone has a mistake. The date should read 28th July 1916 instead of 1918.
John would have been awarded the 1914-1915 Star, The British War Medal and The Victory Medal. The Victory Medal is the only one the family have. Perhaps the other two are somewhere in Knottingley!
Other casualties from Knottingley in the 12th Northumberland Fusiliers in this action were:-
Pte Charles Wright died 3rd July 1916, and is remembered on The Thiepval Memorial
Pte William Munsford Mason died 19th July 1916 in Hospital at Abbeville from wounds suffered at the same time.
Perhaps these Knottingley men, along with others who survived and continued to serve, were near or next to each other in the early days of July.