‚ÄčRoyton Roll of Honour

Date of Death:20/11/1916
Service No:52778
Regiment:The King's (Liverpool Regiment)
Unit:1st Bn.
Warlincourt Halte British Cemetery
Grave Ref:IV.B.11

John Wilson was born in Darwen in 1894, his parents were James and Ann. He was their eldest child, younger sisters Alice(1895), Nellie (1897) and Mary (1898) followed. Nellie died at the age of two in Royton in 1900, the family having moved there at some point since Mary's birth. At the time of the 1901 census they were living at 273 Shaw Road and then in 1911 at 10 Houghton Street. Next door was John William Ashton's family. By that time John Wilson,aged 17, was a piecer in one of the local mills - most probably the Delta as this is where he was working before he enlisted in the army.
John enlisted in September 1914 in Oldham, joining the new local territorial unit - the 2nd/10th Manchesters. The original local battalion - the 1st/10th - had set sail for Egypt that month and were later to be in action at Gallipoli. The 2nd/10th left Oldham in November 1914 for Southport and where there until May 1915 when they moved to Crowborough in East Sussex. Some 300 men left in July of that year to Gallipoli to make up losses suffered by the 1st/10th. In March 1916 the 2nd/10th relocated to Colchester. The battalion would eventually get to France in February 1917 but John and many other local men were sent out to the front in the summer of 1916. To the surprise of the draft of men that included John Wilson they were not to join another battalion of the Manchesters but were to become members of The King's Liverpool Regiment.
The 1st King's had been decimated in an attack on Guillemont on August 8th and needed a large influx of new men to bring it's numbers back up. On August 20th John Wilson was one of a group of 20 officers and 750 other ranks who joined the battalion, these new men were all from the Manchester Regiment. The largest group of which were from the Oldham district. The 1st Battalion of Liverpool's local regiment now had more Oldhamers in it than Liverpudlians. The new commanding officer of the battalion, Lieutenant-Colonel S.E Norris, related that there was a great deal of discontent amongst the new men at being sent to a strange unit rather than to a battalion of the Manchester Regiment. He later wrote:

"I remembered my regimental history, and this gave some hint of the best thing to do in the big task of pulling the battalion together again. I assembled the whole of the new officers and men and told them how closely the King's and Manchesters were related, in addition to their recruiting areas being neighbours in South Lancashire. How, in 1758,the 2nd King's was constituted a separate regiment and became the 63rd Foot, the 63rd Foot now being the 1st Battalion, The Manchester Regiment. Instead of being drafted, as the imagined, to a strange regiment, they were simply coming back home again, and the old 8th Foot welcomed them back as the descendents of it's 2nd Battalion which went away so many years before.
Before I had spoken many minutes I could see the men were thoroughly interested. The impression my remarks made was profound, and company commanders told me later that when censoring letters home they noticed that nearly every man mentioned the incident. The new officers and men settled down quite contentedly, and in a very short time the 1st King's was again an effective fighting battalion. I was greatly assisted in the above incident by Second-Lieuts.Bannatyne and Walsh, both of whom had read and remembered the Regimental History

One other Royton man had already been killed with the battalion - Thomas Henry - but there were to be several more. Although the large majority of the men had no experience in trench warfare they were in the front line just six days later on August 26th. They spent four days there in the Serre sector getting used to their new environment. The Germans were fairly active during this time and casualties in the battalion were reported as being frequent but not numerous. September and October saw the men in and out of the front line, when they were out they were stationed in Couin and other nearby villages.The 1st King's were to go into combat on November 13th, the first day of the Battle of the Ancre. This was the final large British attack of the Battle of the Somme. The British artillery had begun it's bombardment of the German positions on November 6th and by the start of the battle had cut much of the barbed wire and many enemy defensive positions. It hadn't destroyed the dugouts built deep below the villages near the front line though.
At nightfall on August 12th all units were notified that zero hour was at 05:45 the following morning. At 20:00 the battalion marched out from Mailly-Maillet to their assembly positions which they reached before midnight. The 1st King's were one of the four infantry battalions of the 6th Brigade. The 13th Essex and 2nd South Staffords were to form the first wave with the 1st King's supporting the Essex and the 17th Middlesex the South Staffs.
The objective of the 13th Essex and 1st King's was through a strongly fortified position on the northern flank of Beaumont Hamel, known as the Quadrilateral. This position was in a hollow between the slopes leading up to Serre on the left and Beaumont Hamel on the right. It formed a German salient in No Man's Land and was well protected with thick belts of wire in front of it. As for No Man's Land, thanks to rain and constant shelling it was an almost impassible quagmire of mud. That morning the area was covered in thick fog, the men could only see 20 to 30 yards ahead of them but in turn that hid them from German view. However, once the troops went over the top the front two battalions of the 6th Brigade begain to suffer heavy casualties in front of the Quadrilateral. Behind the 17th Essex the men of the 1st King's had advanced in good order but it soon became apparent that due to the amount of mud the Essex were in difficulties. The two battalions then advanced together and made many desperate efforts to get through or around the bog and into the enemy trenches. All the while the area was swept by machine gun fire and shellfire.The men on the left of the advance were forced to dig in and take shelter behind a small ridge about 30 yards from the German front line. They then received orders to hold on and draw enemy fire while those on the right could advance. On that flank a mixed group of Kingsmen and Essex had successfully advanced to their objective. Troops from the 99th Brigade then worked around the side of the Quadrilateral. As night fell the 1st King's had dug in across No Man's Land and the following morning a group of 50 or so Kingsmen were in action with the 22nd Royal Fusiliers from the 99th Brigade as they pushed into the Quadrilateral. Enemy trenches were cleared, communication trenches blocked and strong points formed. The main German position in the Quadrilateral was now cut off and other troops were able to advance past it and onto their objectives. On the morning of November 16th the 1st King's were relieved and marched out of the line.Their losses were 2 officers killed, 8 wounded and 245 other ranks killed, wounded or missing. 70 of those were dead with approaching half of those losses from the Oldham district. Counting the wounded there were probably over 100 casualties from the area. One of those killed was John Starkey. John Wilson had been seriously wounded and passed away in a casualty clearing station on November 20th.
The Oldham Chronicle reported on December 2nd that his mother, by now of 13 Briton Street, had received official confirmation that he had died of his wounds. Before that information reached her she had received word from an army chaplain that John had been seriously wounded in action. After his death the same chaplain wrote:

"I am so sorry that John's wounds have ended fatally. No doubt you have heard already. I write to send you my very deep condolences. John rallied after his operation and then complications arose. I gave him and two other men in his ward the Holy Communion on Sunday morning, and saw him frequently"

The men killed in the action that led to John's death were:

ANDERSON FREDERICK 32 Private 52973 from Manchester
ASHWORTH ALBERT Private 52491 from Oldham
BAILEY SAMPSON Private 52496 from Oldham
BALL MARVEL Private 52497 from Shaw
BARRETT  THOMAS Lance Serjeant 27976 from Liverpool
BIRD THOMAS 22 Private 53000 from Manchester
BRADFORD JOHN 27 Lance Corporal 52519 from Chadderton
BRADLEY GEORGE 24 Private 53035 from Manchester
BRIERLEY ERNEST Private  52523 from Middleton Junction
BROADBENT THOMAS 22 Private 52990 from Manchester
BROEDERLOW OSCAR 38 Private 52276 from Liverpool
CAFFERY JOHN 28 Private 52535 from Oldham
CALLAGHAN GEORGE 24 Private 52536 from Oldham
CARTMELL JOHN 23 Private 52538 from Shaw
CASSIDY MARTIN Private 27292 from Manchester
CHORLTON WILLIAM Private 52543 from Oldham
COLLIER  FRANK Lance Corporal 52545 from Oldham
COLLINS JAMES 19 Lance Corporal 52546 from Oldham
COMPSTON FRED Private 52547 from Oldham
COOPER WILLIAM 24 Lance Corporal 53011 from Manchester
CROMPTON ERNEST  26 Lance Corporal 28005 from Manchester
CROSS A  Second Lieutenant        
DONOVAN BEN Private 52570 from Oldham
DOYLE JOHN 19 Private 38805 from Liverpool
EVANS JOHN 27 Serjeant 52586 from Oldham
FARRAR ERNEST Lance Corporal 52590 from Oldham
FLOOD ARTHUR Serjeant 13790 from Liverpool
FRASER JAMES 34 Private 53045 from Manchester
GRANT THOMAS Private 10636 from Liverpool
GREAVES CHARLES  28 MM,Mentioned in Dispatches Serjeant  9503 from Liverpool
GREAVES PERCY Private 52606 from Failsworth
GREEN DANIEL 21 Second Lieutenant from Colchester
HALL GEORGE 35  Corporal 31376 from Ashington
HALL GEORGE 23 Private 52609 from Shaw
HEWITT  THOMAS Private 52619 from Oldham
HEYWOOD  WILLIAM  21 Private 52618 from Oldham
HICKS HORACE 23  Private  53006 from Manchester
HIGHTON   WALTER 20 Private 31595 from Wallasey
HOERTY JAMES Private 28193 from Manchester
HOPKINS ALBERT 21 Serjeant 11800 from Dartford
HOWARD AUGUSTUS Private 37583 from Manchester
ISHERWOOD CHARLES Lance Corporal 52634 from Hollinwood
KELLY JAMES 27 Private 52638 from Oldham
KINSLEY ELLIS 26 Private 52297 from Liverpool
LEIGH WILLIAM Private 30377 from Preston
LEVIN ABRAHAM Private 53180 from Manchester
LISLE ARNOLD 20 Private 52655 from Oldham
LUDLOW WILFRED Corporal 52657 from Oldham
MELLON WILLIAM Private 52663 from Oldham
McFARLANE ALEXANDER 26 Private 52301 from Liverpool
PENNILL GEORGE 24 Private 28043 from Manchester
PIPE HARRY MM Corporal 11614 from London
PROUDFOOT JAMES  Private  52308 from Liverpool
REARDON    ARTHUR Private 27851 from Liverpool
SAUNDERS JOHN Private 52721 from Oldham
SCHOFIELD BEN Lance Corporal 52722 from Chadderton
SLATER JOSEPH Private 6983 from Liverpool
STARKEY  JOHN 20 Private 52739 from Royton
STEMP GEORGE Private 52740 from Oldham
SUMNER CHARLES Private 34561 from Bootle
SUTCLIFFE HARRY Private 52745 from Oldham
TATTERSALL ALFRED 29 Private 25109 from Liverpool
TURNER HAROLD Lance Serjeant 52754 from Oldham
VALENTINE WR 28 Private  52757 from Chadderton
WATSON WALTER Private 53178 from Manchester
WEST ARTHUR Serjeant 52763 from Oldham
WILLIAMS THOMAS 29 Private 52775 from Oldham
WINWICK  WILLIAM 20 Private 17511 from Liverpool
WORTHINGTON RICHARD 41 Private 52786 from Oldham
YOUNG CHARLES 24 Private 28074 from Manchester