Today we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the death of John William (Jack) Perry of Bourne and the 17th battalion, Sherwood Foresters.
Jack was born in Bourne late in 1898 to William Thomas Perry, an Insurance Agent born in Hilgay Northamptonshire and his wife Edith Amy Creasey born in Swineshead.
They were married in 1896 in the Boston area and had two children, Violet Amy born in Bourne in 1897 and Jack.
On census night 1901 Jack and his sister Violet are living with their maternal grandparents in Bicker, his mother having died earlier this year and his father boarding in Peterborough.
By 1911 Jack and Violet are living with their uncle, Christopher Creasey in Bicker.
At some point Jack was adopted by his mother’s widowed sister Harriet Bannister nee Creasey.
On the 11th November 1915 Jack enlisted into the 3/4th Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment and following training eventually posted to France in June 1916.
Whilst serving with his Battalion in October, Jack was gassed and hospitalised. Following his return to fitness he was posted to the 17th Service Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters (Welbeck Rangers) and served with “D” Company.
By June 1917 Jack’s new Battalion were serving in the Ypres Salient in the area around the Ypres-Yser Canal Bank and Irish Farm working every nightime hour possible. On the 1st of July moved to Moulle in Northern France via Poperinge.
They stayed in the Tilques area undertaking training in advance of planned operations until the 22nd of July when they were bussed back to the Ypres area.
On the 29th July they were moved up to the Canal Bank area and on the 30th “Y” day they were resting prior to the attack. At 10:30pm the Battalion moved up to the place of assembly in the Hill Top Trenches.
Assembly was complete by 1:15am on “Z” day 31st July and the Battalion Diary reports that no casualties occurred whilst the Battalion was in assembly.
Zero Hour was at 3:50am on the 31st when the 3rd Battle of Ypres (Battle of Passchendaele) started. The 6th Army Corps in which the 39th Division and hence the 17th Sherwood Foresters were posted were to attack on a one and a half to two mile front.
The Battalion Diary offers the following report of actions on the 31st July;
“Yesterday we carried all before us, it was one of the Battalion’s greatest days lines etc, formation. we penetrated the enemy defences, which he had held for over 2 years, to a depth of 2 miles. It was a glorious feat and worthy of the Sherwood Foresters’ record. The day is very bad and the ground full of water and mud. We have secured the crossings of the Steenbeek and have dug in, the enemy is expected to counter attack. The Battalion is quite prepared to resist to the end.
In total the men and officers of the Battalion were recommended for the following gallantry awards for actions on the 31st July 1917, the first day of the battle of Passchendaele.
26 x Military Medals
1 x Military Medal Bar
1 x Distinguished Service Order
9 x Military Cross
1 x Distinquished Conduct Medals
The Battalion held firm against counter attacks, shelling etc until they were relieved on the 5th August.
Private John William “Jack” Perry was killed in action during the first day of the battle of Passchendaele.
All official records state that he fell on the 30th July however one newspaper record states that it was the 31st, which if you take the information from the battalion diaries makes more sense.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
In memory of Private John William Perry, 70021, 17th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment) who died on 30 July 1917 Age 18. Adopted son of Mrs H. J. Bannister of 3 Victoria Place, Bourne, lincs. Remembered with honour, Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.
Rest in Peace