‚ÄčRoyton Roll of Honour

Service No:1416
Date of Death:04/06/1915
Regiment:Manchester Regiment
Unit:1st/10th Bn.
Helles Memorial
Panel Ref:Panel 163

John (Jonathan) Fitton was born in Royton in 1894, his parents being Joseph & Martha. He was the youngest of their five children who survived infancy, the others being Mary, James, Albert and Ernest.  Joseph died in 1897 at the age of 36 when John was only 3 years old. In 1901 the family have moved away from Royton and are living in Failsworth, Martha is listed as being the housekeeper for James Smith, a Steam Engine Fitter, and all five children are living there with them. Not longer after that Martha & James got married. John ended up back in Royton and at the time of the 1911 census is staying over along with brother Ernest with relatives at 5 Cambridge Street - the now married Martha & James Smith are over the road at number 2 and it is there that he is listed as living when he went to war. The family were parishioners at St.Paul's.
John worked at the Park Mill and was a member of the local Territorial Army (then known as Territorial Force) unit - the 10th Battalion Manchester Regiment who were based in Oldham. John was engaged to be married, it's currently unknown who to.
The Oldham men of the 1st/10th Manchester Regiment were quickly mobilised upon the outbreak of war and a short while after sailed from Southampton in September 1914, arriving in Alexandria on the 25th of that month. Then followed over seven months of training in Egypt.
The Oldham Chronicle of November 21st 1914 has the excerpts of two letters home from John. First to his mother (in which he mentions Thomas Teare, a workmate from the Park Mill):

"We are having a fine time over here,but the sun is broiling, and it feels like a bakehouse all day. It is rather too warm for any food, and the men are being taken to hospital every day through the heat. I wish we were at the front in France. I have seen an Oldham Chronicle which has been sent over here and I saw the news of Thomas Teares being missing from his regiment and of George Gibson being wounded at the front. I have seen George Blomley over here. He is in the barracks. We are in the sandy desert. We can scarcely tell the native men from the women as they all wear shirts. Sometimes they are very awkward. I would sooner be in Park Mill than here, as I cannot stand the heat very well. When we come home we shall want the door closed all the time as it will feel so cold"

the next was to his fiancee:

"It is a lovely place but too warm. There are nothing but black faces here, and the females wear a sort of mask. We are not allowed to speak to them....we had a letter from the vicar of Royton, and he wants a list of the Roytonians over here...."

On May 2nd 1915, the battalion received notification that it was heading to the Dardanelles. The British had landed there on April 25th and had fallen far short of their initial aims.
Carried on different vessels the men of C & D companies landed at Gallipoli on May 9th. John was with A Company and they and B Company landed on the 13th. For the remainder of the month the battalion got used to life in the front line and by the end of May they'd suffered over 50 casualties - 14 dead and over 40 wounded.The men had no doubt suffered but their real baptism of fire was yet to come.
On June 4th the British were to make another attempt (the Third Battle of Krithia) to attain the objectives of Day 1 back on April 25th. Two regular battalions - the 2nd Royal Fusiliers and 2nd Hampshires had suffered terrible losses since landing in April and needed the extra manpower of the 10th, and also two territorial battalions of the East Lancashires to boost their numbers. As part of this scratch force,this was to be the Oldham Territorials first frontal assault and it was to be a predictably costly affair.
The morning of June 4th saw a massive naval bombardment of the Turkish positions in front of John and the rest of the 10th Manchesters.At 11:20 the shelling stopped and the British, all battalions en-masse along the line, poked their bayonets above the parapets as if they were about to launch their assault. This was a ruse to get the Turks out of their deep dugouts and back into their open trenches and ten minutes later the naval bombardment began again. Thirty further minutes of the Turkish lines being pounded and then it really was time for the Oldhamers to go over the top.
The original charge swept into the Turkish trenches but during ferocious fighting over the next couple of days the lines were forced back almost to the point from where the men had started. The losses of the men from Oldham on that day were estimated at 94 dead and 320 wounded. John Fitton was dead, his body never identified.
That same day two others from Royton died with the battalion - James Shaw & Frank Smith. A short distance away two others, Edwin Hyde & James Mudd were killed with units of the Lancashire Fusiliers. Those losses were dwarfed by those of Royton's neighbour to the south. When the full scale of the casualties became known the town of Oldham was rocked and for many years the name of Krithia was engraved in it's consciousness. In one action the old pre war Oldham Territorials had been torn apart, suffering something approaching to 50% casualties.
The CWGC lists the following men dying that day along with John Fitton, James Shaw & Frank Smith (including the brother of Royton man Cornelius Newrick,himself to die later in 1915):

ADAMS ROBERT 29  Lance Corporal 1497 from Oldham
ALTY HAROLD 22 Private 2066 from Oldham
ASCROFT  ROBERT 19 2nd Lt. from Oldham
BAILEY HARRY 21 Private  2214 from Ashton-under-Lyne
BAIRSTOW SUTCLIFFE 19 Private 1662 from Oldham - brother of Cornelius Newrick
BARDSLEY JAMES Private 870 from Oldham
BARKER ALBERT 31 Private 1945 from Chadderton
BARNES JAMES Private 1921 from Werneth, Oldham
BELSHAW JAMES Private 546 from Oldham
BOCKING WILLIAM  21 Private 1489  from Derker, Oldham
BROWN EDWARD 21  Private 1269 from Chadderton
CHANDLEY GEOFFREY 33 Private 1900 from Oldham
CHEETHAM TOM 22  Private 2305 from Oldham
CLANCY JAMES 17  Private  2052 from Oldham
CLEGG HUGH 21 Private 1837 from Oldham
CLEGG JOHN HAMER 28 Captain from Werneth, Oldham
CONNOLLY ARTHUR  20 Private 1740  from Oldham
CREW THOMAS 21 Lance Corporal 1470 from Oldham
DALTON ALBERT 19 Private 1190 from Oldham
DORAN JOHN 22 Private 1655 from Oldham
DUNKERLEY FRED 35 CSM 50 from Oldham
EMMOTT JOHN  25  2nd Lt.from Greenfield
FITZGERALD GEORGE 22 Private 2108 from Oldham
FLETCHER ALBERT  27 Private 2314  from Chadderton
GLEDHILL HARRY  24 Private 1722 from Oldham
GORBUTT  FRED 20  Lance Corporal 1757 from Oldham
GREAVES  LEWIS 20 Private 1887 from Oldham
HADFIELD ALBERT  19 Private 2111 from Oldham
HADFIELD FRED 45 Corporal 1975 from Werneth, Oldham
HAYES GEORGE Private 2113 from Oldham
HINCHLIFFE HARRY Serjeant 560    
HOLDEN SQUIRE 28 Private 1763 from Oldham
HOWARD ORLANDO  Private 1906 from Oldham
HURLEY HERBERT 23 Private 1548 from Oldham
JACKSON  HARRY Private 1980 from Oldham
KELLY JAMES Private 1663 from Glodwick, Oldham
KIDD WALTER 22  Corporal 829 from Oldham
KIRK TOM 25 2nd Lt.from Heaton Moor
KITSON  TAYLOR  33 Serjeant 213  from Coppice, Oldham
LYNN JOHN 25 Private 2264 from Oldham
MACGREGOR JOHN  31 Lance Corporal 455 from Oldham
MASON WILLIAM 37 Corporal 2150 from Werneth, Oldham
MEAD JOSHUA Private 2152 from Oldham
MILLS HERBERT 19 Private 1528 from Oldham
MILLS WILLIAM Private 2320 from Oldham
MONKS GEORGE 21  Private  2155 from Oldham
MORGAN THOMAS 20 Private 1677 from Oldham
MURPHY JOHN 27  Private  755 from Oldham
NANSON  WILLIAM 34 Serjeant 1745 lived Oldham.Boer War veteran.England RU International
PICKERING HARRY  22 Private 2273  from Oldham
POWELL HARRY 17  Private 1936 from Werneth, Oldham
RATCLIFFE ROBERT 27 Lance Corporal 2275 from Oldham
REGAN JOHN 23 Private 1919 from Oldham
RENNIE JOHN Private 1680 from Oldham
ROBINSON THOMAS HENRY 17 Private 1617 from Oldham
ROSE JOHN  39  Corporal 342 from Oldham
SAINT HENRY 22 Private 2173 from Chadderton
SLINGER  HARRY 33 Private 2178 from Oldham
SMITH ROBERT 33  Serjeant 1473 from Oldham
STANTON  THOMAS  24 Private 1333  from Oldham
STOTT ERNEST 20  Private 1776 from Oldham
STRACHAN THOMAS  22 Private 1542 from Oldham
STYLES HARRY 22  Private 1611 from Oldham
TAYLOR JAMES 18 Private 1925 from Oldham
TAYLOR JOHN 24  Private 2285 from Oldham
TAYLOR WILLIAM  Private 2194 from Oldham
TURNER JOHN 21 Lance Corporal 1239 from Chadderton
WALKER JAMES 28  Private  2017 from Oldham
WALSH PATRICK  Corporal 1632 born Darwen, enlisted Oldham
WARD THOMAS 21 Private  1236 from Oldham
WATSON HAROLD 22 Private 1152 from Chadderton
WHEWELL GEORGE Lance Corporal  2201 from Ashton-under-Lyne
WHITWORTH JOHN  24 Private 1313  from Oldham
WHYATT  FRED 18  Private  1749 from Oldham
WOOD ARTHUR 25  Private  987 from Oldham
WOOD JOHN  40 Serjeant 2019 from Oldham