John was born on the 31st March 1896 at Cavershall to the Rev John Gordon and Mrs Ethel Addenbrooke.

The 1901 census shows John living at the Vicarage, Cavershall with his father, mother and three younger sisters along with 4 servants.

Rev Addenbrooke was the Minister of St Wenn Parish Church from 1908 to 1916. During this time John was educated at Yarlet Hall, Stafford and Marlborough College from January 1910 to March 1913.

  • In January 1914 John was articled to a chartered accountant in Bristol though soon after the outbreak of the First World War John joined the ranks of the Royal Fusiliers as a Private in the 19th Battalion comprising public school recruits.
  • The Royal Fusiliers landed in France November 1915. His battalion was finally disbanded in April 1916 and most of the men went to officer training.
  • John trained in Cambridge and was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in September 1916 and gazetted to the North Staffordshire Regiment.

The Somme offensive commenced on the 1st July 1916 signalled by the explosions of several massive mines. The first was fired at Hawthorn Ridge, Beaumont Hamel- see below.

  • John returned to the front after office training in October 1916 when he was attached to the 11th Battalion Manchester Regiment just at the end of the Somme offensive. The final battle took place in mid November and was known as the Battle of the Ancre, named after the river in that area.

John’s Battalion was in the area at this time. A history of the 11th Manchesters states the Battalion moved to a position just south of St Pierre Divion on the 21st November where they were accommodated in a large but crowded former German dug-out.

St Pierre Divion

On the 23rd November the Battalion headed off to take over the line between St Pierre Divion and Grandcourt.

An officer and 2 soldiers were killed and 8 wounded during this move. This officer must have been John, who was shot and killed by a sniper. John is buried at the Hamel Cemetery in sight of the Hawthorn Ridge mine fired on the opening day of the Somme.

Hamel Military Cemetery

The Somme offensive went on for nearly 5 months claiming over 1 million men killed or wounded.

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