John Henry Worrall, Private 13644, 6th Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment
Accidentally drowned 14th July 1917 in Mesopotamia (now Iraq), aged 21
John Henry Worrall was born in Macclesfield in the summer of 1895 and baptised at St Peter’s Church on 26th January 1896, the son of Alice and William Worrall, a Fustian Cutter of 11 Court, Bank Street.
In 1911 at the age of 15, John was working as a silk room cleaner and living with his mother, stepfather George Henry Wilshaw and younger brothers James and Harold Worrall and Allan and Earnest Wilshaw at 36 Knight Street.
John enlisted at Manchester and after training was drafted with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force to Mesopotamia. He was reported wounded on 29th September 1915, but presumably recovered and rejoined his regiment.
John was accidentally drowned on 14th July 1917: the place of death was not stated. His death was reported in the Macclesfield Times on 17 August 1917:
ACCIDENTALLY DROWNED – YOUNG SOLDIER’S TRAGIC END
The distressing news has reached Mrs Wilshaw this week that her son, Private John Henry Worrall, East Lancashire Regt, has been accidentally drowned, the place not being stated. Mrs Wilshaw resides at 22 Bank St, Macclesfield, which was also the home of the deceased prior to the war. He was 21 years of age, born in Macclesfield, and was educated at St Paul’s School. He was a scholar at the Centenary Sunday School and worshipped at Brunswick Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, where a memorial service has been arranged to take place on Sunday morning. In civil life he was employed at a flax mill in Manchester, and previously worked at Bollington as a fustian cutter.
Joining the East Lancashires soon after war broke out, Private Worrall was first stationed at Preston, and he went to the Dardanelles two years ago last Easter. He was twice wounded in action, one injury being to the foot, and he had also suffered from dysentery, enteric fever and pneumonia. When the troops left Gallipoli, the deceased went to Egypt, where he had the pleasure of meeting his brother-in-law, Private Charles Herbert Heath, Cheshire Territorials, and later he was sent to India and Mesopotamia. It is presumed he was en route for another station when he was drowned. Private Worrall belonged to the Boys’ Mission in Bank Street and was a local footballer.
His younger brother, Private James Worrall, has been serving twelve months and is now stationed in Suffolk with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Private Heath, his brother-in-law, was mobilised with the Territorials, with which he had been connected for some years, and was at the landing at Suvla Bay. He accompanied the battalion to Egypt and Palestine and fought at Gaza. Mrs Heath and her children also live at 22 Bank Street.
Mrs Wilshaw received the last letter from her dead son when he was stationed at Amara, with the Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force; and a previous communication, addressed from India, stated: “We are going back to Mesopotamia and have had to prepare rather hurriedly. I have had nearly twelve months away from the line, so I think it is about time I was having another trip. There has been very little doing since Bagdad was taken. I am glad I am going back to Mesopotamia, as it would be hard lines to get back to another front when we have had the roughest to contend with up here. This will be my fourth time of going out; tell my friends I am going for another trip. Bagdad first stop! It’s fine – Cheer up and keep smiling, for I’ll get the pan boiling when I come home.”
Private John Henry Worrall has no known grave and he is commemorated on Panel 19 of the Basra Memorial, Iraq.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for John Henry Worrall, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
Brother of James Worrall, who enlisted with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and later served as Private 30901 with the Royal Lancaster Regt, and brother-in-law of Charles Herbert Heath, who served as Private 290023 (formerly 492) with the local 7th Battn. Cheshire (Territorial) Regiment.