John Broomhead, Sapper 542309, 81st Field Coy. Royal Engineers
Died of wounds 19th September 1918 in France, aged 32
John Broomhead was born in 1885 and baptised at St Michael’s Church on 2 April 1887, the son of Eliza and William Broomhead, a plumber and glazier of 13 Market Street, Macclesfield. In 1891, five-year-old John was living at that address with his parents and brothers William (14), Thomas H (13), Walter (9), and Alfred (8). Ten years later in 1901, the family home had expanded to also occupy 11 Market Street and included two more children, (Sarah) Elizabeth (9) and Arthur (6). John had left school and was employed as a grocer’s errand boy.
By 1911 John’s mother had died and the three eldest boys in the family, Walter, Alfred and John, were all working as plumbers in the family business.
John enlisted in Macclesfield in May 1915, joining the King’s Liverpool Regiment with service number 54905, and later transferred to the Royal Engineers with service number (T) 3375. Subsequently he served with the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry with service number 49465 and was finally transferred to the Royal Engineers with service number 542309.
It is not known exactly where Sapper Broomhead was wounded on 18 September 1918, and he died of his wounds the following day at No. 129 Field Ambulance Station.
Sapper Broomhead’s death was reported in the Macclesfield Times on 22 November 1918:
SAPPER JOHN BROOMHEAD, Royal Engineers, has died of wounds sustained in action on September 18th. He was the son of the late Mr William Broomhead, 13 Market Street, Macclesfield, who passed away in 1916, and was formerly employed by his father as a plumber.
Sapper Broomhead joined the Engineers in October 1916, and went to France eleven months later with his brother Alfred, who was also serving in the same corps. Thirty-two years of age, he was educated at Mill Street School and worshipped at the Parish Church. Two brothers are serving, one being in France and the other in England.
Lieut. J H Johnston writes: “Sapper Broomhead was struck on the head by a piece of shell, which rendered him unconscious immediately. His wound was dressed at once and he was carried to a dressing station 200 yards away, where he received all the attention possible under the circumstances. He was carried from there by some sappers of the section to a motor ambulance not very far away, so I think he was as well looked after as it is possible for any wounded man to be when hit so near the front line. Although he had only been in my section about a fortnight I had in that time found what an efficient and reliable sapper he was. Not only that, but he was always so cheerful and smiling under all circumstances, however trying, so I was very sorry to lose him. It is very hard luck that he should have been hit just when the end of the war is in sight, though he died doing his duty towards ending it.
Sapper John Broomhead is buried at Rocquigny-Equancourt British Cemetery, France, in grave ref. II. A. 6. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Sapper John Broomhead, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
In Macclesfield, Sapper John Broomhead is commemorated on the Park Green, Town Hall and St Michael’s Church war memorials. He is also remembered on a family grave, plot G5772, in Macclesfield Cemetery: SAPPER JOHN BROOMHEAD, DIED OF WOUNDS RECEIVED IN ACTION ON SEPT 18TH 1918 AGED 32 YEARS AND WAS BURIED NORTH EAST OF COMBLES, FRANCE.
Brother of Alfred Broomhead, who served as Sapper 442207 with the Royal Engineers; and Arthur Broomhead, who served as Private 466008 with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.
Cheshire Parish Baptism Registers: St Michael’s Church, Macclesfield
Census (England & Wales): 1891, 1901, 1911
WWI British Army Medal Rolls Index Cards (Ancestry)
WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls (Ancestry)
WWI Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects (Ancestry)
WWI Britain Absent Voters’ Lists (Find My Past)
Lives of the First World War website
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Macclesfield Times: 22 November 1918