Liverpool Pals Who Died on This Day
| Pte 88128 John William Rimmer |
From: Southport, Lancs
Died (103 Years this day)
Thursday 19th September 1918.
33 years old
John William Rimmer was born in Southport on 18th February 1885, the son of Richard Rimmer and Alice (née Evans). He was baptised on 19th April 1885 in St. Andrew’s, Southport, his parents living in Eastbank Street, and his father’s occupation bricklayer.
When he was 27, John married Mary Jane Rimmer, age 36, on 16th November 1912 in St. Andrew’s, Southport, giving his occupation as chimney sweep and his address as 14 Virginia Street. Mary Jane’s father was also a Richard Rimmer, labourer.
John enlisted in Southport as Private 41836, ‘C’ Company, 4th Bn King’s (Liverpool) Regiment. (The 4th Extra Reserve battalion was made up of former Reservists, and arrived in France on 6th March 1915.)
Mary Jane gave birth to their son, also named John William, on 20th December 1916. It is not likely that John ever met his son.
Records show that 41836 Pte J. PW. Rimmer was admitted, on 29th December 1916, to 18th General hospital (at Camiers on the coast north of Etaples) and discharged on 11th January 1917.
John was transferred to the Labour Corps, as Private 280800, most likely after recuperating. He was subsequently transferred to the 18th Bn K.L.R, as Private 88128, then to ‘B’ Company, 17th K.L.R.
At the end of 1917, the 17th and the other Pals battalions leave the Ypres Salient and move south to take up positions opposite La Fré and, after some battalion reorganisation, the battalion moves back into the line at St. Quentin.
On 21st March 1918 the German Spring Offensive begins. This was Ludendorf’s plan to strike a sudden, massive blow with 60 divisions, including fresh, specially trained storm troops, to create a gap through which the Germans could reach the Channel ports and so prevent Britain from continuing the war. The assault begins at 4:30 a.m. and the Pals battalions are ordered to take up battle stations. On the 22nd the 17th deploys around Aviation Wood, near Atilly and are later ordered to pull back to Ham. Despite a daring counter-attack by the 17th Bn., the front could not hold and over the next few days, fighting a rearguard action, the Brigade, after being nearly surrounded, was ordered to form a defensive line near Roye. After a German attack had been beaten off on the 28th, the Brigade was relieved and withdrew to Rouvrel. The line was held.
In the ten days after the Spring Offensive began, 12 officers and 207 men from the three Pals battalions had been killed in action or died of wounds, and a further six hundred wounded and/or captured.
German records show John was captured, wounded, on 29th March 1918 at Le Quesnel, 11 miles east of Rouvrel. He had suffered a fracture of the right thigh from a gunshot wound. John’s name appears in the Weekly Casualty List as Missing on 28th May 1918.
His name appears on the International Red Cross list of POWs held at Saarbrücken POW camp, 260 miles east of Le Quesnel. He had previously been held at Beaufort Feld Hospital.
Private 88128 John William Rimmer died from his wounds on 19th September 1918. He was 33 years old.
John now lies in Cologne Southern Cemetery with over 1,000 other Allied prisoners who died in captivity. His body would have been exhumed and reburied after the war when graves were concentrated, as Cologne is 260 miles north of Saabrücken.
His son was not yet two years old when John died. Mary Jane, living at 21 Manchester Road, Southport, received his effects, including a War Gratuity of £13, and a weekly pension for herself and child.
In 1939 Mary Jane and son John William are living at 15 Palmerston Road, Southport. John is a baker; also in the household is Eugenia Houghton, who John William married in 1942. John had a son, and died in 1994. Mary Jane never remarried and died in 1948 in Southport, aged 74.
John is commemorated on The Monument, Southport Memorial