John Blanton, Private 9170, 2nd Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
Killed in action 8th May 1915 in Belgium, aged 26
John Blanton was born on 29 October 1888 at Hankelow and baptised on 14 November 1888 at St James Church, Audlem, the son of Sarah and William Blanton, a farm labourer. John had a younger brother, William (born 1891), and three sisters: Lilian Linda (born c.1880), Sarah Ann (born c.1884), and Ann (born c.1894).
John was admitted to St James Church of England Primary School, Audlem on 12 March 1894; the family’s address at that time was Cox Bank, Audlem. He was readmitted to the school on 9 May 1895, by which time the family had moved to Salford, Audlem.
By the time of the 1901 census John’s father had died, and John was a pupil at Macclesfield Industrial School; his brother William later joined him at the school. John left the Industrial School in 1904, and worked for Mr Roberts of Higher Fence Farm for some time.
On 16 February 1909, John enlisted with the Cheshire Regiment with service number 9170. In his service records, he was described as 5 feet 5¼ inches tall, weighing 121 pounds with a 32½ inch chest. He had a fresh complexion, grey eyes and dark brown hair; he also had circular scars on the back of the neck and on his hips, and an indistinct tattoo on the back of his left forearm. His brother William joined the same regiment a few months later and they served together for some years.
Whilst serving at Secunderabad, India during 1910, and at Jubbulpore, India in 1911, John was reprimanded a number of times, for such misdemeanours as: Using obscene language whilst on parade; Gambling outside the Company’s Bungalow and Continuing to gamble after being ordered to cease; Quitting his guard without permission and Losing by neglect 5 rounds of ammunition; Creating a disturbance in the Regimental Library; Not getting out of bed when ordered.
John’s medical records show that he suffered from tonsillitis in June 1910 and had a tonsil removed, and in 1912 and 1914, whilst still in India, he was treated with quinine for malaria.
The 2nd Cheshire Regiment was still at Jubbulpore, India, in August 1914. The Battalion returned to England in late 1914, landing at Devonport on 24 December. The battalion then came under the orders of the 84th Brigade, 28th Division, and landed at Le Havre on 17 January 1915. By May 1915 the battalion was in the region of Verlorenhoek, near Bruges in Belgium, and it was here that John was killed in action on 8 May 1915.
He is mentioned in a report in the Macclesfield Times of 19 June 1915, about his brother William being awarded the DCM: His brother John, who left the [Industrial] school in 1904 and who was with Mr Roberts, of Higher Fence Farm, for a few years, was also in the same regiment and has been killed in action.
John’s medals were sent to his married sister and her husband, Lilian Linda and Charles Albert Sheldon, of 47 Cross Street, Prescot, Lancashire; later of 46 Hunter Street, off Byrom Street, Liverpool; and in 1921 of 45 Cliff St, Red Bank, Manchester.
Private John Blanton has no known grave and is commemorated on panel ref. 19-22 of the Menin Gate memorial at Ypres in Belgium. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private John Blanton, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
Locally, Private John Blanton is commemorated on the Macclesfield Industrial School war memorial.
Brother of William Blanton, who also served with the Cheshire Regiment and was killed in April 1917.
Cheshire Parish Baptism Registers: St James Church, Audlem
National School Admission Registers and Log-books: St James Church of England Primary School, Audlem
Census (England & Wales): 1901
WWI British Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects
WW1 British Army Service Records 1914-1920
WWI British Army Medal Rolls Index Cards
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Macclesfield Times: 19 June 1915