Biddulph & District Genealogy & Historical Society Biddulph Grange

Biddulph and the Great War

'There Shall Be In That Rich Earth A Richer Dust Concealed'

'We Will Remember Them'

Private John (Jack) Wilshaw

2489, 1st/5th Bn. King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry died on May 25th 1915 Age 22

One of three Wilshaw brothers to serve in the Great War, Jack had left his family at Ewters Hall Farm, Braddock’s Hay, before the war to live and work in Goldthorpe, Yorkshire, along with other Biddulph miners. He was the eldest son of Thomas and Mary Ellen Wilshaw.

Jack enlisted in the 1/5th King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. We believe that this was at Doncaster in October 1914. His battalion trained at Doncaster, Gainsborough and York. Training complete the battalion attached to the 49th West Riding Division and went to France on April 12th 1915, sailing from Folkestone.

On arrival at Boulogne they moved forward to their concentration area at Estaires-Merville before going into battle in early May at Auber’s Ridge. This was a baptism of fire for Jack and his pal William Cottrell as they had only been on the Western Front about one month. This was a short but fierce action; another disaster with little gain.

After the battle the 1/5th King’s Own remained in line in the same area and on the May 25th 1915 near to the village of Fleurbaix the battalion endured shrapnel shelling. It was here that Private Wilshaw, on Whit-Monday, was sadly killed in action aged 22 years. William Cottrell had lost his mate and within a month he too was to become one of the brave fallen.

An account and photograph was published in the Chronicle which reported that Jack had not long been at the front. He had also been “a member of the Biddulph Unionist Club and a prominent athlete of the defunct Knypersley Gymnasium Club.

Now at rest, Jack Wilshaw lies in the White City Cemetery, Bois-Grenier, Armentieres and is also remembered on the churchyard cross and memorial board at St. Lawrence and the town’s cenotaph.

Mike Turnock

A list of all the medals awarded to the men of the Biddulph area has been compiled and can be viewed here.


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