1885 - 1916
CPL David Wallace Crawford
1887 - 1916
Lce-Corpl John Joseph Nickle
1894 - 1916
Pte 17911 Morton Neill
1897 - 1916
Lieut Edward Stanley Ashcroft
1883 - 1918
Pte 23897 John Henry Wright
- Age: Unknown.
- From: Bodfari, Denbigh
- Regiment: The King's (Liverpool Regiment) 20th Btn
- K.I.A Sunday 30th July 1916
- Commemorated at: Thiepval Memorial
Panel Ref: P&F1D8B &8 C.
John Henry Wright was born in 1896 in Bodfari, Flintshire, Wales (Ruthin district). He was the son of William Wright, and his mother’s maiden name was Roberts, but records have not been found to definitively identify his mother. There is a marriage in Ruthin district for William Wright, marrying Margaret Ann Roberts in 1896.
His father William Wright seems to have died when John was very young; there is a death in Ruthin in 1899, William Wright age 31.
In 1901 John, age 4, is living with his widowed maternal grandmother, Anne Roberts, 60, in Waen Shop, Bodfari (Waen Shop appears to be a shop cum public house). Also in the household are her single daughters Diana, 26, and Sarah, 24, as well as son Henry Th, 20, single (who John will later live with in Liverpool). In addition to grandson John, there are two other grandchildren in the home, William Henry Roberts, age 5 (who also dies in the war), and Diana Roberts, age 2. The children and grandchildren are all born in Aberwheeler, the community incorporating Bodfari.
In 1911 John is living in Liverpool with his uncle and aunt, Henry Thomas and Ellen Roberts, and their baby son William, at 94 Granby Street, Toxteth Park. His uncle manages a butcher’s shop and John, 14, is a butcher’s shop assistant. His cousin William Henry is now living in Liverpool with his father, John Edward Roberts, at 20 Beaconsfield Road.
In 1912 John, age 16, is found on a crew list, as office boy on the ‘Matador’, a Harrison Line steamer. This is John’s first voyage. He is 16, gives his address as 94 Granby Street, and earns £1 10s per month, balance of wages to be paid on discharge: £4 3s 10d. It is not known how many voyages John made, as no other crew lists are found.
Unfortunately, John’s service record has not survived, but we do know that he enlisted in Liverpool, as Private 23897, 20th (Pals) Battalion of The King’s Liverpool Regiment. After training locally, the battalion moved to Belton Park Camp in Lincolnshire. Whilst there, John was involved in an automobile accident, when he and other soldiers were walking towards the camp at night. John was clipped on the hip by a car, and L/Cpl Green, of the same battalion, was knocked over and taken to hospital. John and L/Cpl Griffiths, of the 19th bn, were witnesses in the court case reported on 1st May 1915 in the Grantham Journal. (The driver was found guilty.)
By September 1915 the battalion had left Belton Park for final infantry training at Larkhill Camp on Salisbury Plain before being sent to the front. John shipped to France with his battalion, disembarking at Boulogne on 7th November 1915.
Whilst there is some confusion around his date of death it seems certain that John fell on 30th July 1916 and not the 20th July as outlined in SDGW. The CWGC record his death as 30th July 1916 as do his pension records including the dependant's pension card.
John survived the deadly month of July 1916 on the Somme, until the 30th, when three Pals battalions are involved in the attack on Guillemont. This is the deadliest day of the war for the Pals and the City of Liverpool, with casualties of over 500 men killed, missing, or who would later die of their wounds. For most, their bodies were never recovered, or subsequently lost, and John is one of the many commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme. He was 19 or 20 years old.
John was reported Missing; it is not known when his family were informed of his fate. It wasn’t until sixteen months later that his uncle placed a notice, on December 1st 1917, in the Denbighshire Free Press:
“In loving memory of Private John Henry Wright, reported missing, now reported killed in the battle of Guillemont, July 30th, 1916, the beloved nephew of Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Roberts, Waen Shop, Bodfari, the only child of the late William Wright, of Tynycelyn, Bodfari.
It may be a soldier’s glory,
For his country’s cause to fall,
But we cannot remember the glory,
For the pain it has caused us all.”
He also placed an In Memoriam notice for his own son, John’s cousin:
“In loving memory of Private William Henry Roberts, Denbighshire Yeomanry, the beloved son of Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Roberts, Waen Shop, Bodfari, who was killed whilst on patrol, Wednesday night, November 22nd, 1916, and was laid to rest with military honours in the British Cemetery, Bethune.
We knew the travail of his soul;
Lord, we thank Thee for his rest,
And may he lead us to his goal,
The pure, the true, the best.”
William Henry Roberts, 20, was accidentally killed by Lewis Gun fire while on patrol. The soldier responsible (an Acting Corporal) was tried by Field General Court Martial, found guilty, and sentenced to five years penal servitude; sentence was commuted to ‘reduction to the ranks’.
John’s pension and effects went to his next of kin, his mother, Mrs. Margaret Ann Hughes, of 300 Parliament Street, Liverpool. In 1911 and for many years after the war, an Owen Hughes and his family lived at this address. His wife died in 1914, and Owen Hughes appears to marry Margaret Ann Wright in 1915. His mother is listed in electoral rolls at 300 Upper Parliament Street in 1920, 1925, and 1930.
John is commemorated on Liverpool’s Hall of Remembrance, Panel 32 Right
Killed On This Day.(103 Years this day)
Sunday 27th January 1918.
L/Sgt 34298 Samuel Armstrong
34 years old