PRIVATE JOHN HENRY HUNTER
15/488, 15th (Service) Battalion (1st Leeds), The West Yorkshire Regiment.
Killed in Action, 1st
No known grave, therefore, commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial
to the Missing, Somme, France.Pier
and Face, 2A, 2C and 2D.
John Hunter, or Jack as he was known to the family, was born in 1888 in Beckett Street in Leeds. He was the only son
and eldest of three children born to the marriage of Thomas Hunter and Ann, or Annie Hunter (nee Wright). Jack’s sisters
were Ethel Wright Hunter, known as Cis (b.1891) and Annie (b. 1893). Thomas Hunter was in the Brewing trade and progressed
from being a Brewers Clerk in 1891 to being a Brewery Manager in 1901. He died in 1910 aged 53.
Jack Hunter was among the first recruits to the battalion raised
as the ‘Leeds City Battalion’ but which later became better known as the ‘Leeds Pals’. The Pals battalions
were raised nationwide, but predominantly in the industrial towns and cities of the North of England with the basic premise
that men who volunteered to join the Army together would be trained together and would fight together.
|The Arms of the City of Leeds, used as the badge of the Leeds Pals
Jack Hunter was Killed in Action on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, which remains to this day the
bloodiest day in the history of the British Army. On that day alone the British Army suffered very nearly 60,000 casualties,
of which almost 20,000 were killed. The Pals battalions’ system ensured that not only did men that joined together,
trained and fought together, they also died together, in huge numbers. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists 278 men
from Leeds in their records who were killed on this date; there will be more, however those listed have next of kin details
provided which include Leeds in their address. It is easy, therefore, to understand the stories that whole areas of densely
populated towns were plunged into mourning.
For years after his death, Jack’s sisters, Cis and Annie, placed an ‘In Memoriam’ notice in
the Yorkshire Evening Post. Jack’s body was never recovered after the war, or if it was he could not be identified and
his name is engraved alongside those of 72,190 (at January 2012) other men who are still missing on the Somme Battlefields.
|Private Jack Hunter's name on the Thiepval Memorial
A Union Flag hangs on a wall inside the parish church of All Saints’ in Barwick in Elmet. This flag
once flew atop the Thiepval Memorial alongside its French Tricolore counterpart. Below the flag is a framed photograph of
the Thiepval Memorial and a listing of five men from the villages in the parish. Research has shown that of these five men,
only two are actually named at Thiepval. George Myers is named on the Loos Memorial, William Atkinson is buried
at Le Touret and Richard Johnson is actually buried in the churchyard outside.
|Thiepval Photograph Memorial in All Saints' Church, Barwick
|The Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.