John Scholes was born in Chadderton in 1895, his parents being Alcimus and Sarah Ellen. Alcimus was a stoker and later a mill engineer who originally hailed from near Bury. Sarah Ellen was an Oldham native. John was the third of five children, the others being Lily, Elliott, Alcimus and Nellie. The family had lived in Oldham before John's birth and they had returned there by the time John's younger brother Alcimus was born in late 1900 or early 1901. The Scholes moved to Royton between then and the birth of Nellie in 1907. At the time of the 1911 census the family was living at 32 Park Lane and sixteen year old John was working as a piecer in one of the local mills - probably the Thornham Mill where he was working at the time of his enlistment in the army. John was a parishioner of the Bethesda Chapel in Royton.
John enlisted in Royton in January 1916 into the Manchester Regiment. He was first sent to the 27th Battalion, a reserve and training unit, based in Southport and then spent time with another reserve unit, the 4th Battalion who were part of the defences around the Humber. It's not known when John was sent out for active service with the 11th Battalion. Many of the Royton men who joined the Manchester Regiment at the same time as John found themselves going over the top with the 22nd Manchesters on the first day of the Battle of the Somme on July 1st 1916, with several being killed, so it's possible than John was also out in France by this time. It seems likely though that he did not join them until later that year, possibly as part of a replacement draft after they had lost many men fighting in late September 1916 during the Battle of the Somme around the German positions of Zollern Redbout and Zollern Trench. The 11th suffered 309 casualties during this period.
Before arriving in France the 11th Battalion had seen service at Gallipoli, fighting which claimed the lives of John William Buckley and James Edwin Wild.
Throughout October and the first half of November of 1916 the Battalion was stationed out of the line at Fransu. Here they re-fitted,received new drafts of replacement troops, probably including John Scholes, and carried out training exercises. They were back in the front line again in late November in very wet weather, taking quite a few casualties under constant shell and sniper fire. Their next spell at the front was north of the River Ancre between December 17th and 21st when they extended and consolidated a series of positions in the British frontline. They were then relieved and placed in reserve before they were sent into billets at Forceville on Christmas Day where they stayed until January 2nd, going up into reserve again. Their turn in the line came again on January 6th, which saw them endure a considerable amount of shelling. Seeming relief came on January 10th when they were relieved by the 5th Dorsets but this latter unit were then ordered to launch an attack on a series of German outposts some 350 yards out ahead with the 11th Manchesters in support. The men of the Dorset Regiment took their objectives but almost immediately were pushed back by a German counterattack. By this time two platoons of the 11th Manchesters were holding the frontline trench that had been vacated by the Dorsets and they came under an increasingly heavy bombardment from the German artillery. 9 of the Manchesters were killed, John Scholes being one of them.
John was at first reported as being missing but then in late March 1917 his mother received the official notification that he was now presumed to have been killed in action.
The following notice appeared in the Oldham Chronicle on January 11th 1919:
In loving memory of Private John Scholes (28840),
11th Manchester Regiment, killed in action in France Jan.11th 1917,
For him no mourning friends were there,
Save for God's messenger, who offered prayer;
No "volley" fired, no "last post" sound,
For there his last long sleep shall be profound.
From Mother and Father and Sisters and Brothers
and Sister and Brother-in-law
John's parents later moved to 293 Rochdale Road and whilst still resident there Alcimus died in 1937 aged 69, Sarah Ellen followed in 1941 aged 72. They are buried together in Royton Cemetery along with John's brother Elliott, his wife Lily and son Frank.
The men killed alongside John were:
BROOKS ERNEST 23 Corporal 34929 from Herefordshire
CARTER WALTER 25 Private 12034 from Cheadle
CHAPPELLS WILLIAM Private 2311 from Hyde
COOK FREDERICK Private 41107 from nr.Chorley
KING CHARLES 23 Private 8696 from Manchester
LITTON GERVASE 34 Lance Corporal 36584 from Manchester
LOGAN DAVID 19 Private 41269 from Warrington
MINNIS CHARLES Private 47303 from Stockport
Date of Death:11/01/1917
Cemetery:Serre Road Cemetery No.1