John Jackson, Private 4564, 1st Battalion, Royal Welch Fusiliers
Died of wounds 19th December 1914 in France, aged 22
John Jackson was born in early 1891 in Bollington, the son of Harriet and Joseph Jackson, a carter, of Pools Yard, High Street, Bollington. John appears on the 1891 census at the age of one month with his parents and older siblings William and Elizabeth. In 1901, John is living in John Street with his 73 year old widowed Grandmother, an Oatmeal Cake Baker, and siblings Willie (Assistant Baker), Lizzie (Cotton Coupler) and younger brother Joe. John’s parents and remaining siblings Annie, Harry and Doris are living in Water Street, and Joseph Jackson is also working as an Oatmeal Cake Baker. The 1911 census records John, then 19 years of age, employed as a general labourer and living at 45 Water Street, Bollington with his parents and younger siblings Annie, Joseph, Harry, Doris, Tom, Harold and Wilfred, with Joseph Jackson employed as a Coal Carter. John later gained employment as a cotton piecer, prior to joining the Army.
John’s Army service records show that he enlisted into the Army in Macclesfield in January 1912, joining the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion, Royal Welch Fusiliers. He is described as 5’ 4” in height, weighed 130 pounds and had a 33½ inch chest, with a fresh complexion, grey eyes and dark brown hair. John also had two anchors and ‘J.J.’ tattooed on the back of his left forearm. He obtained a reference from his former employer Mr Hedley V. Snape, a Spinning Master of Bollington, who stated that he had known John Jackson all his life, had employed him as a Piecer for six years until January 1910, confirmed John to be a sober and honest man and stated that “He is all right”.
As a part-time soldier, John was mobilised on the outbreak of war in August 1914 and posted to reinforce the 1st Battalion. John’s medal index card states that he arrived in France on 2nd November 1914. The 1st Battalion, Royal Welch Fusiliers was stationed in Malta before the War and returned to England in September 1914 before deploying to France the following month. John joined the Battalion soon after its arrival in France. By mid-November, the Battalion was occupying trenches at Bois-Grenier, south of Armentieres and spent the following weeks alternately manning front-line trenches and resting in billets behind the line. On 18th December, the Battalion was the reserve force for a Brigade attack. The battalion war diary records some 1st RWF soldiers being sent forward in support of the operation, which was unsuccessful. Casualties were sustained, with one soldier killed and 17 injured. It is likely that John Jackson was one of these casualties.
Private John Jackson is buried with other British and Canadian casualties in Sailly-sur-la-Lys Churchyard, some 5 km south-west of Armentieres in Pas-de-Calais, France. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for John Jackson, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.