John William Salt Died 18th November 1918

LeciestershirePrivate 48206. Leicestershire Regiment

John William Salt was born in January 1885 in Caverswall, the son of Henry and Emma Salt, the oldest  of their three children.  In 1891 the family were living at 17 Belle Vue, Leek, Staffs.  (1891 Census).  In 1901 John (aged 17yrs), was working at Kill Hill Farm, Bosley, Nr Macclesfield, for Elizabeth Brindley (Farmer) as a ‘Stockman – Cattle Farm’.  (1901 Census).   

In 1911 John (aged 26 yrs) was living with his parents at Greenhead, Kingsley Moor, near Cheadle, and was employed locally as a Blast Furnaceman.  The Census indicates that he was ‘Married’, albeit his wife is not recorded on the census. (1911 Census).  It seems likely that this was a clerical error by the census compiler as later army records, completed with information directly from John William Salt, make no reference to him being married.

It would appear from the available information that John William Salt had three separate stages of army service. Army records indicate that:

  1. John William Salt initially served for a period of 6 years 4 months in the North Staffordshire Regiment.  (Army Records).  (This was presumably in the the period between 1901 and 1911 although it may be a later period whilst serving as a Territorial Soldier)
  2. On 11th September 1914, John Salt, then aged 29 years 8 months, enlisted in the British Army for a 3 year Short Service Term, Service No. 37224, being posted to the Royal Regiment of Artillery (RRA).  In a pre-enlistment medical at Leek, he was described as 5 feet 9 inches tall, weighing 9 stone 11 lbs, with a 35 inch chest.  He was ‘Profusely tattooed back and front of both forearms. The middle finger of his left hand was missing.  Records indicate he discharged on 11th November 1914, after 55 days, as ‘Not being likely to become a good and efficient soldier’.  (Army records).
  3. From the limited information available it seems that at some later stage, possibly on 10th December 1915, (indistinct reference to this date in Army Records), John William Salt rejoined the army and was allocated to the Leicestershire Regiment, Service No. 48206. (Army records).

John William Salt was involved in active service in France with the Leicestershire Regiment, 7th Battalion, (CWGC Certificate).  Records indicate he died of Influenza on 18th November 1918, one week after the war had ended.  (Army records).

As an indication of the 1918/19 post war confusion the Army wrote to John Salt’s family asking if they were aware of his whereabouts.  His father replied that he was last seen, ‘Over on home leave in September 1918’ and that he ‘Died in France on the 18th November 1918 …. (illegible)…… Leicester Regiment’.  (Army records).

From the period of when he was last home on leave to the date of his death the regiment were still involved in fighting. According to the War Diary in September 1918 34 men were killed, 231 were wounded and 18 listed as missing. October 1918 saw over 100 casualties with 26 other ranks killed plus a number of officers wounded and killed.

Following the Armistice the Battalion retired to the rear and on the date of John Salt’s death were involved on a route march in full fighting kit. There is of course no mention of John Salt. The month’s end casualties detail 38 men wounded in action and 2 killed. There is no mention of men dying through illness.

Of course 1918 / 19 saw the great flu pandemic that killed up to 1 in 20 of the world’s population and clearly John Salt was one such victim.

The end of 1918 saw the Battalion winding down with the first 150 men returned to England identified as ‘miners’ suggesting their need was now at home in the coalfields.

John William Salt is buried in the Caudry British Cemetery in France. The cemetery is situated south east of Cambrai and Arras.

According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Salt is recorded as SALIT and he is also known to the Leicestershire Regimental website by that name and also Salt.  However his medal card is recorded as J W Salt. Whether this is a spelling mistake we shall perhaps never know as his Leicestershire war record has not survived. However his earlier service makes no mention of his subsequent service and clearly the Royal Regiment of Artillery had no idea where he was hence the letter they sent asking for information.

He may have joined under a false name or he may have joined under his correct name once the standards for service had lowered. The 1918 Voters Lists show his mother and father still living on Kingsley Moor but there is no mention of John Salt even as a Naval or Military voter.

As always if anyone can shed any light on his service etc please do get in touch.

Footnote 1.  The 7th Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment, formed part of the 110 Brigade, 37th Division, (The Leicester Tigers), who saw continuous active service on the Western Front in Northern France for the duration of the war, including action at Ancre, Menin Road Ridge, Passchendaele, Havrincourt, Cambrai and Sambre.  (The Long, Long Trail).  

Footnote 2.  In early November 1918 the regiment were involved in heavy fighting near the Sambre River.  At the time of the armistice, the regiment were withdrawn to Brigade HQ at Berlamont, North West France. (Regiment War Diary).

Footnote 3.  It seems a particularly cruel irony that John William Salt survived the duration of the war only to die of Influenza a week after the German surrender.

Armistice Day 2015

Today at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month Kingsley remembered those men who had died in three conflicts including the 28 men who died in the First World War.

Local school children from St Werburgh’s joined villagers both young and old in paying their respects with a silence followed by the laying of wreaths and the placing of wooden crosses with the names of the fallen written on to them. One of the wreaths laid this year was from the project team.

Present were members  of the project team, the Royal British Legion and relatives of some of the men who lost their lives as the result of  the First World War.

The solemn event even saw two HGV drivers stop to pay their respects with one joining the gathering around the war memorial.

This was the first Armistice Day event since works around the war memorial were completed which includes cutting back some of the vegetation around  the site.

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Project Team Attend Cheadle Remembers

The project team were delighted last weekend to showcase some of the work we have been doing at the Cheadle Remembers event.

Due to both space and the sheer volume of detail we have unearthed during the project only a sample of our work was displayed but it was well received.

On display were a sample of photographs of the men we featured along with before and after pictures of the war memorial.

We also had the opportunity to see for ourselves the work done by the Cheadle team and to meet like minded individuals like Levison and Janice Wood from the Blythe Bridge and Forsbrook Historical Society who gave us some tips on research and we hope to reciprocate as regards Heritage Lottery Funding.

We would like to thank project team member Pat Nutt who brought all her skills in arranging displays  to ensure our research was displayed in an organised manner.

Pictured below is the display at the event.

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War Memorial Works Completed in time for Remembrance Day

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Members of the Project Team and Kingsley branch of the British Legion pictured at the site.

The project team are pleased to announce that the works around the War Memorial have been completed in time for the act of Remembrance on 11th November.

Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund the path from Dovedale Road up onto the Memorial has been dug out and replaced by a paved pathway that gives access to the Memorial for all regardless of ability and also on to the Staffordshire Way that crosses the site.

A paved surround has been laid around the memorial itself and also a new fence erected to the rear of the site. In addition a new Kissing Gate has been installed. The works have been finished off by the installation of a new seat that has been re positioned to give improve views of the site, the Churnet Valley and across to Kingsley Holt.

All that remains now is for the installation of an interpretation panel to detail some of the history of the memorial and the parish of Kingsley.

Said project lead Martyn Hordern ‘we really wanted the works to be done in time for this years Remembrance Day so are pleased we have achieved that’ he added ‘the works have really enhanced the site and made it easier for the elderly and less able to get to the memorial but also provides a path that can be used by walkers and the like’

Ken Unwin a member of the project team and also Chair of the Parish Council said ‘We are delighted with the work which has done around the Cenotaph which makes it more accessible and tidies up the area.  We are grateful to the adjoining landowners David and Josie Clowes who have allowed the rear fence to be moved back a metre into their field to allow clear access around the cenotaph’

The site needs  time to recover in terms of the grass and the project team working with the Parish Council will look to continue work around the site to improve on what is an excellent memorial to those who died as a result of three conflicts from World War 1 to Korea in 1950’s.

The project team is a partnersdhip of members of the public, the British Legion, St Werburgh’s Church and of course the Parish Council who have all worked together towards this project.

 

William Brindley Died 2nd November 1918

Private 55087.  Lancashire Fusiliers, 15th Battalion

William Brindley was born 1896 at Old Furnace (Farm), Greendale, Nr Oakamoor, Staffs.  It is possible, indeed likely, that his mother was Gertrude Blanche Brindley, who was aged 17yrs at the time of his birth; his father is unknown.  William assumed his mother’s family name, Brindley.  William (and Gertrude) lived with his Grandmother, Catherine Brindley.

In 1911 the family were living at Quarry Cottage, Stockton Brook, Stoke on Trent, at which stage Gertrude was employed locally as Domestic Servant but living with her employers. William was listed as his grandmother’s child and was working as a carter in the stone busines.  (1911 Census).  Prior to enlisting William lived with his Grandmother Catherine Brindley at 6 The Green, Kingsley. (CWGC Records).

In the 1918 Voters Register for the area William and his grandmother were shown as registered voters at 6 The Green. Interestingly Williams entry makes no mention of him being in the services which would have been the case had he been.  The voters register would have been compiled it is assumed in the autumn of 1917 indicating that William had yet to join.

Records show that he joined the Lincolnshire Regiment initially before moving to the Lancashire Fusiliers with the service number of 55087.

His enlistment place is given as Froghall which may indicate he was working at the copper works which might  have been a protected occupation?

Full Army records required.

On the day of his death William’s battalion were in the line at Happegarbe (also known as Happegarbes) in north-east France near to the Belgium border. They were according to the war diary holding the line prior to a planned attack. On that day the battalion attacked supported by three tanks and took ground and prisoners with many enemy killed.

However the Germans counter attacked with heavy machine gun fire and many casualties were sustained by the Fusiliers. This carried on until 4th November when the battalion was withdrawn from the line. In a cruel irony this was their last action of the war.

William Brindley died on 2nd November 1918, aged 22yrs, only nine days before the end of the war.  He is commemorated at the Landrecies British Cemetery, Nr Valenciennes, Northern France.

Quite how William met his death is unknown although it is likely to have been due to machine gun fire during the German counter attack. Casualties were high on the day he died with 45 men from his battalion recorded as having died on that day on the Commonwealth War Graves website.

A Sergeant James Clarke of the 15th Battalion was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery on the  2nd of November 1918 and following days. The nature of the action on those days is indicated in his citation for the award.

“For most conspicuous bravery and initiative during the attack at Happegarbe on 2nd November 1918, when in command of a platoon, he led his men forward with great determination, and, on being held up by heavy machine-gun fire, rushed forward through a thick, strongly held ridge, captured in succession four machine guns and single-handed bayoneted the crews.

Later, he led the remnants of his platoon to the capture of three machine guns and many prisoners. In the later stages of the attack on the same day, when his platoon was held up by enemy machine guns, he successfully led a Tank against them over very exposed ground. Continuing the attack on 3rd November, after capturing many prisoners and gaining his objective, he organised his line most skilfully and held up the enemy. On 4th November, in the attack on the Oise-Sambre Canal, under heavy fire from the Canal bank, he rushed forward with a Lewis gun team in the face of an intense barrage, brought the gun into action, effectively silenced the enemy’s fire, thus enabling his company to advance and gain their objectives.

Throughout the whole of these operations Sergeant Clarke acted with magnificent bravery and total disregard of personal safety, and by his gallantry and high sense of duty set an inspiring example to all ranks.”

 

Footnote 1.  The Lancashire Fusiliers, 15th Battalion, were known as ‘The Salford Pals’.  Following training the battalion was deployed to Boulogne on 22nd November 1915 as part of the 96th Brigade, 32nd Division.  The Battalion saw active service on the Western Front in North West France and were involved in a number of notable campaigns.

Footnote 2.  In November 1918 Allied Forces were making a final push to break through the long established German defences.  During the period 1st – 11th November the 15th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers were involved in the ‘Battle of Sambre’, named after the Sambre River / Canal which formed a natural line of defence and was the scene of heavy fighting, located in the Nord De Pas Calais area of Northern France.