‚ÄčRoyton Roll of Honour

Date of Death:26/04/1917
Service No:27777
Regiment:King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment)
Unit:8th Bn.
Arras Memorial
Panel Ref:Bay 2

John Healey's memorial inscription at Royton Cemetery

John Healey was born in Royton on February 19th 1885. John's parents were James and Sarah. James was a cotton spinner and was originally from Ireland, Sarah hailed from Oldham. John's elder siblings were James, Christina, Emily & Maria. Another brother Thomas followed three years later.At the time of the 1891 census, when John was six, the family were living at 10 Albion Street in Heyside, later that year John's father James died. Two years later his brother Thomas died aged five. Later that decade another half brother arrived, Ernest being born in 1895. In 1901 John, then 16 and working as a piecer in one of the local mills was living at 17 Hill Street in Heyside with his mother and Ernest.
John married Sarah Ellen Dawson on May 27th 1907 at Coldhurst Parish Church and they were to set up home at 55 Oldham Road in Royton. Their only child, son Thomas Dawson Healey, was born in Royton on June 24th 1908. John worked at both the Grape and Vine Mills, being described later in the Oldham Chronicle as being a packer at the Vine and working in the warehouse at the Grape. John's mother Sarah passed away in 1913.
John Healey enlisted in Royton on December 10th 1915 and then went into the army reserve. He was not called up for duty until July 6th 1916 and went to join the 4th Reserve Battalion of the King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment at Oswestry. In November of that year he was sent for active service, arriving in France on November 13th 1916. That same day the 8th KORL took part in a failed attack at Serre, trying to advance through mud waist deep in parts whilst under German fire. John became part of the replacement draft of men to make up their losses. By this time four Royton men had already lost their lives serving with this battalion - John William Shirt, Edgar Fitton, John Walsh and William Thomas Whitworth.
After John's arrival the Battalion saw no major combat until the Battle of Arras which began on April 9th 1917.  On Easter Sunday,April 8th,1917 the 8th King's Own formed up in Arras in the snow before moving up to the assembly trenches. B Company was hit by a shell at this time killing 6 and injuring 23. The battalion then took over some reserve trenches from the 1st Cameronians.The men of the 8th were not to be part of the first wave of the attack on April 9th and assembled by a prisoner of war cage west of the village of St.Catherine at around 06:00. Morale was high at this point, the noise of the British artillery bombardment was stupendous and through the  morning the first German prisoners of war started coming in reporting that their first and second lines had been obliterated. At 10:10 the men of the 8th moved off along the left bank of the River Scarpe towards the fighting. They remained in support until 19:00 when they were finally called upon to head to the new front line. In the confusion of the battle communication to the 8th had failed and they had no knowledge as to their objective or how far the distance to the line was. It turned out to be some 3000 yards and by the time they got there they met scattered groups of British soldiers returning from the failed attack that they should have been part of. The 8th KORL then dug in all night, making a good trench from which other units launched attacks the following day. The following morning they were relieved from this position.
After something of a false start to it's involvement in the battle the 8th were in action on April 11th when with the 2nd Suffolks they moved off before dawn to attack the village of Guemappe. Again a shell fell amongst the assembling troops killing 3 and wounding 8. A Captain Wallace of the RAMC was to receive a Military Cross for his work in the trench which included having to amputate a man's leg using only his nail scissors. At 07:00 the two battalions advanced down a grassy slope in broad daylight with the village some 2000 yards away. Behind the village was a wooded hillside which afforded excellent cover for the German machine gunners and riflemen. Casualties were predictably heavy and the men were soon forced to ground, taking shelter in shell holes. They clung to these positions for nine hours, heavily shelled throughout. They then received word that they were to join the advance of the 1st Gordon Highlanders who were to pass through for a fresh attack. The Highlanders set off at 16:30 and were mown down, some reached the shelter of the shell holes occupied by the King's Own and Suffolks, none progressed any further than that. The misery of the men of the three battalions was then compounded as snow began to fall. They endured until 01:00 the following morning when they were relieved. At a position known as the Harp they received rations along with hot tea and rum. On the night of April 13th they moved to billets in Arras. Since April 9th the casualty list of John Healy's battalion
was 43 killed,175 wounded and 28 missing.
After some much needed rest in Arras the 8th King's Own returned to the line on April 23rd, taking over trenches in front of Monchy. The men were disheartened to find the trenches were on the forward slope of a hill and plainly visible to the Germans, whose own trenches were concealed in folds of the terrain below. To compound the problem the area had been very heavily shelled and the trenches were little more than groups of shell holes. Enemy snipers and machine gunners prevented any movement by day but by night the men worked to link up the various shell holes to form a viable front line. At 23:30 on April 26th the Germans launched an assault on the position held by C Company. The men of the King's Own held fire until the enemy were almost on top of them, the effect on the ranks of the Germans of the sudden burst of fire at close range was devastating and the the attack failed. John Healey was one of the men of the battalion killed on the day - whether during the German night attack or from a shell earlier in the day isn't known.
It wasn't until early July that John's widow Sarah Ellen was officially notified that he was missing in action. Then on March 2nd 1918 the Oldham Chronicle reported that she had finally received the official news that he could be considered to have been killed. John's body, like most of his comrades killed that day, was either never found or identified and his name can be found on the Arras Memorial to the missing. In 1917 his 16 year old sister in law, Ethel Dawson, had also died and John is commemorated on her gravestone at Royton Cemetery. John's surname is recorded on the new memorial in Royton Park as Healy, this is unfortunately incorrect.
The other men of the 8th KORL killed on the same day as John were:

BELL JAMES 19 Lance Corporal 201241 from Barrow                
BRADSHAW JOHN Lance Corporal 241816 enlisted Lancaster                
BROOKER GEORGE 30 Lance Corporal 9949 from London                
BROWN JAMES Private 241968 from Burnley                
CAREY JAMES Private 15363 from Manchester                
CATLOW ARTHUR 34 Private 24900 from Blackburn                
CHADWICK ALBERT Private    24836 from Blackburn                
COLLIER ROBERT 27 Private 27562  from Manchester                
COPPS DANIEL 35 Private 24889 from Blackburn                
DERBYSHIRE RICHARD Private 30140 enlisted Barrow                
DERBYSHIRE THOMAS 29 Private 14962 from Rawtenstall                
DOLBY WILFRED 26 Private 30182 from Salford                
DOUGLAS MATTHIAS Private 24339 from Workington                
DURIE CHRISTOPHER 19 Private 17853 from Liverpool                
DUXBURY WILLIAM Private 24959 from Blackburn                
FELSTEAD JAMES Private 27572 from Leicestershire                
FLETCHER SIMEON Lance Corporal 23728 born Burnley,enlisted Barrow                
FURLONG ERNEST 36 Private 27759 from Manchester                
GERRITY JOHN 39  Private 30187 from Rochdale                
GOUGH WILLIAM 27 Private 12121 from Salford                
GREEN BENJAMIN Private 24393 born Barnsley,enlisted Blackpool                
GRIFFITHS THOMAS 26 Private 30007 from Atherton                
HALL JESSE Private 23044 born Congleton,enlisted Stockport                
HARDING GEORGE 25 Serjeant 10174 from Bristol                
HASKINS RICHARD Corporal 19754 from Manchester                
HAYTON EDWARD 34 Serjeant 8512 from Carnforth                
HELLAWELL JOHN 24 Private 15518 from Oldham                
HOLDEN JAMES Serjeant 15974 from Darwen                
HUDSON GEORGE 19 Private 201951 from Burnley                
HUDSON JAMES 23 Private 242233 from Burnley                
HUSSEY FRED 20 Private 22941 from Middleton                
INGHAM FRED 26 Private 2477 born Rochdale,lived Burnley                
JACKSON BUTLER 28 Private 22759  from Blackpool                
JACKSON  THOMAS Private 22103 from Manchester                
KELLETT  JAMES Private 14338 born Ashton under Lyne,enlisted Manchester                
KILLEEN  MICHAEL  Private  22873 born Dublin,enlisted Warrington                
KNIGHT ARTHUR Private 30164 born Darwen,enlisted Mancheter                
LEIGH THOMAS 25  Private  23059 from Warrington                
MORRIS FREDERICK Private 27480 enlisted Bolton                
MULLANEY LAWRENCE 27 Private 240440 from Fleetwood                
McCOOL JAMES Private 30192 from Heywood                
NICHOLLS ALFRED 19 Private 242453 from Barrow                
PACKER WILLIAM 39 Private 33089  from Barrow                
PEYTON CHARLES Private 1783 served as Woods.Born Warrington,enlisted Lancaster                
PRINCE EDWARD 20 Private 240263 from Lancaster                
RAINFORD NOAH 27 Private 30065 born Hindley,enlisted Bolton                
ROYLE JOHN 37 Private 27615 from Patricroft                
RUSSELL FRANK Private 30195 born Rochdale,enlisted Bury                
SPENCER EDWARD 24 Private 24064 from Southport                
SUMNER WILLIAM 29 Lance Corporal 23212 from Fleetwood                
TAYLOR JOHN 27 Private 15711 born Shaw,enlisted Oldham                
TAYLOR WILLIAM H. Lance Corporal 23661 from Dalton in Furness                
TAYLOR WILLIAM 22 Private 30010    from Manchester                
THOMAS FREDERICK Private 14455 born Sheffield,enlisted Manchester                
TOWNSEND ERNEST 21 Private 21437 from Darwen                
VICKERS JAMES 19 Private 23354 from Deal                
WALTON FRED 28 Private 27485 born Winsford,enlisted Manchester                
WARBURTON JAMES 34 Private 24974 from Blackburn                
WATSON EDWARD 23 Private 241421 from Carnforth                
WAUGH SIDNEY Private 15155 from Manchester                
WILKINSON JAMES 19 Private 30116 from Dalton in Furness                
WILLIAMS JOSEPH Private 19181 born Barrow,enlisted Dalton in Furness                
WILSON JOSEPH 26 Private 27769 from Barrow                
WOOLLEY  FRANK 27 Private 27491 from Leigh