John Fred Buckley, Captain, 3rd Bn. Lancashire Fusiliers
Died of pneumonia 23rd February 1919 in Chatham, Kent, aged 28
John Fred Buckley was born on 1 November 1891 and baptised on 17 January 1892 at St John’s Church, Statham St, Macclesfield, the son of Mary and George Buckley, a silk finisher of 31 Union St, Macclesfield. He was usually known as Jack.
By 1895 the family had moved to 24 Paradise St and Jack was attending St John’s School. In 1901 the family had moved again, and nine-year-old Jack was living at 87 Paradise St with his parents and siblings Sarah (16) and George (14).
After leaving school Jack obtained employment with the Civil Service and in 1911 he was lodging at 24 Church Street, Maidstone, Kent and employed as an Inland Revenue Clerk. In 1914 he obtained employment with the Chinese Criminal investigation department and worked in China.
On 27 November 1915 in Shanghai, China, Jack married Annice Louise MacGregor, daughter of Roderick MacGregor, who worked for the Chinese Maritime Customs. Jack must have left China to enlist very soon after his marriage, as the journey took him about three months and he was in Macclesfield by early March 1916. His wife remained in Shangai and later gave birth to a daughter.
On 10 March 1916, the Macclesfield Times carried the story of the journey undertaken by Jack in order to enlist:
TRAVELLED 26,000 MILES TO ENLIST – MACCLESFIELD MAN’S JOURNEY FROM CHINA
There can be few men in the British Army who have made a longer journey in order to take their part in the present struggle, than Mr Jack Buckley, one of the sons of Mr George Buckley, 67 Newton Street, Macclesfield, who is now spending a few days at home previous to taking up a commission. Mr Jack Buckley, one of the two sons of Mr Buckley has travelled from China for that purpose, and owing to the fact that his vessel was unable to pass through the Suez Canal and had to make the journey round by the Cape, he has voyaged 26,300 miles, spending no fewer than 94 days at sea.
Mr Buckley and his elder brother George – who was in Tasmania when the war started and enlisted with the Australians – were both educated at Mill Street School, Macclesfield… Feeling the growing insistency of the home call at this time, Mr Buckley applied for active service leave, which was granted. Within a few hours of landing in this country he had reported at the War Office and next week goes into training at a Lichfield cavalry school previous to taking up a commission in an Indian Cavalry regiment.
The homeward journey was not only long but adventurous, for the vessel had the experience of being chased by both the “Moewe” – the German commerce raider – and by an Austrian submarine. The voyage was completed without mishap, however.
Mr Jack Buckley’s brother, George, also came from the ends of the earth in response to the call of his native land. He spent eight years as an engineer in the service of the Standard Oil Company in California, and then proceeded to Tasmania to superintend some of the company’s borings. He had been in Australia some time when war came, and he promptly enlisted with the Anzacs. After six months in Egypt he took part in the Suvla Bay operations, where he was wounded in the head and foot. He was sent to Gibraltar to recuperate, and there developed appendicitis, which necessitated an operation. Subsequently Mr Buckley was sent home on sick leave, and he is now attached to the Quartermaster’s staff at Weymouth…
Jack enlisted with the Lancashire Fusiliers in 1916 and after training was drafted to France on 20 March 1917. At some time he was attached to the Chinese Labour Corps.
Captain Buckley died of pneumonia at Fort Pitt Military Hospital, Rochester, Kent on 23 February 1919; his death was reported in the Macclesfield Times on Friday 28 February 1919:
INFLUENZA VICTIM – DEATH OF CAPT J BUCKLEY – PROMISING CAREER IN CHINA
After emerging safely from the dangers of active service in France, Captain Jack Buckley, attached Chinese Labour Corps, son of Mr and Mrs G Buckley, 67 Newton St, Macclesfield, has fallen victim to pneumonia. The circumstances of his death are exceptionally sad, for only a fortnight ago he was home on leave from France. He returned on 13th inst, having some business to transact in London prior to rejoining his unit. On Saturday morning his parents received news that he had been admitted to Fort Pitt Hospital, Chatham, and at night a further message came stating that Captain Buckley was dangerously ill. His mother and sister immediately left to visit him and arrived at the hospital on Sunday morning. They found Captain Buckley conscious, and he recognised them and spoke. Mrs Buckley and her daughter remained until the end, which occurred at 4.15 in the afternoon. Captain Buckley was first taken ill with influenza, but pneumonia supervened. He leaves a wife and one child – a little girl.
Captain Buckley, who was twenty-eight years of age, had every promise of a brilliant career. He was educated at Mill Street School and afterwards obtained an appointment in the Civil Service, in which he spent six years. Five years ago he resigned his position on obtaining a responsible post in the Chinese Criminal investigation department. Captain Buckley was afterwards engaged upon important work in the East, and in the course of his duties travelled extensively in the Chinese Dominions. During part of his time in China he was sent to Shanghai to specialise in fingerprints and anthropology – the Bertillon system of identification – and he had many important missions to undertake. In 1914 he had the distinction of being chosen to represent Great Britain in the Eastern Olympic games at Shanghai*, in which teams from most of the nations of the world took part. He acted as goal-keeper for the English team, which carried off the cup and medals.
Captain Buckley travelled from China to take part in the fight for freedom… [he] was gazetted as Second-Lieut. (Special Reserve of Officers) to the 3rd Batt Lancs Fusiliers. Whilst in the battalion at home he was appointed specialist officer in physical training and bayonet fighting, having taken a certificate as such at Aldershot. He went out to France early in 1917, and shortly afterwards was transferred for duty with the Chinese Labour Corps. Captain Buckley was specially adapted for such work as he possessed a thorough knowledge of the Chinese language and people. As a Captain he had control of over 500 Celestials [or “Children of the Sun”, as the Chinese were sometimes referred to at that time].
Captain Buckley’s brother George was wounded at Suvla Bay whilst serving with the Anzacs. He answered the call of the Motherland in Australia, where he had been for some months prior to the outbreak of war. He has also served in France.
Captain Buckley’s body will be brought from Chatham by rail on Saturday, and interred in the Macclesfield Cemetery on Monday [3rd March].
An “In Memoriam” announcement for Jack Buckley was placed in the same newspaper by his family:
BUCKLEY – In proud and everlasting remembrance of John F (Jack) Buckley, Captain, 3rd Lancashire Fusiliers, the very dearly beloved son of George and Mary Buckley, who died Feb 23rd, aged 27 years – 67 Newton St.
The end of a perfect life,
His duty nobly done.
Captain Jack Buckley is buried in grave ref. B. 1479 in Macclesfield Cemetery. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Captain Jack Buckley, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
*Correctly known as The Far Eastern Championship Games.
Brother of George Buckley, who served as Private 3750 with the Australian Forces.
GRO (England & Wales) Index: Births
Diocese of Chester Parish Baptisms (Find My Past): St John’s Church, Macclesfield
Census (England & Wales): 1901, 1911
UK, Foreign and Overseas Registers of British Subjects RG33 (Ancestry)
WWI British Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects (Ancestry)
WWI British Army Medal Rolls Index Cards (Ancestry)
Australian Imperial Force Embarkation Roll 1914-1918 (Find My Past)
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Lives of the First World War website
Macclesfield Times: 10 March 1916, 28 February 1919, 23 September 1921 (photo supplement)