John Thomas Alderson

Private John Thomas Alderson, 8th Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment. Service number 32528.

Inscription on the Reeth War Memorial

John was born in West Hartlepool in 1883 and his birth was registered in Hartlepool in the second quarter of the year.
His parents were James and Elizabeth Alderson. He was christened there on April 18. He was eight years old in the 1891 census and his parents had moved the family to Vale Mill Lane on the Lees side of the valley along with his sister and three brothers. Their father James was a clerk for a worsted manufacturer.
In 1901 he was eighteen years old and they had moved to 37, Station Terrace. His father was a bookkeeper and John was now a butcher.
By 1911 John was twenty-eight and living at Reeth in North Yorkshire with his parents, all three worked in their own shop which was a grocery, provisions merchant and fruiterer.

On February 11th, 1916 at the age of 32 years and 11 months he enlisted with the York and Lancaster Regiment at Reeth. He wasn't called up until the next year and on January 26, 1917 he was mobilised. He was posted to the 2nd Training Reserve Battalion on January 28th, with the service number TR 5/4989.
Towards the end of his training he was posted on April 10th to the 3rd Battalion with the service number 5/9939 and two weeks later transferred to the British Expeditionary Force on April 27th and went overseas to France. On May 12th he was transferred to the 8th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment with a new service number 32528. The next month he was wounded in action on June 7th and posted missing for the same date. He was never found and his death was eventually presumed on the date he went missing.
He is named on the Menin Gate at Ypres along with 55,000 other missing men.

War diary extract for the 8th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment. June 1917. Mount Sorrell.
6th. Trenches. The 9th York and Lancaster took over the line on the night of the 5/6th. We took up assembly positions - B & C Coys MAPLE ST, A & D MT SORRELL dugouts, Battalion HQ same place as A & D. Another quiet day.
7th. We shared in the great victory by the 2nd Army. Zero hour 3.10 am. The 9th Y&L took their objective in fine style, and at 6.50 am we left their new line to attack the final objective (ZILLEBEKE map - IMAGE CRESCENT I.36.b.0.3 to I.30.d.5.1. approx) This we took, with a strong point about 50 yards in advance of the right flank, also the KNOLL, an eminence in NO MANS LAND in front of our centre. Our Officer Casualties were 3 killed, 6 wounded. Estimated Other Ranks Casualties 300. No counter attacks after the position had once been consolidated.

John was awarded the British War Medal and Victory medal for his war service.

He is remembered on the Oakworth War Memorial, Reeth War Memorial and St Andrew's Church memorial at Grinton, North Yorkshire.

Oakworth War Memorial inscription.

On August 28th, 1918 John left £2 6s 9d to Miss Millicent Smith from his soldier's will. We do not know exactly who she was, but there was a Millicent Smith living at 18, Park Avenue in Oakworth in 1911. She was two years younger than John and her family was from Denholme. If this was her she was living at 14, Hebble Row with her mother in 1939 and she died unmarried in 1963 at the age of 78, registered in the Worth Valley.

Source information:
Birth, marriage and death records.
1891, 1901 and 1911 census.
WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920.
Army service records.
Keighley News archives, Keighley Library.
National Archives war diaries WO95-2188-1
War memorial photos by Andy Wade.

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