1914 - 2023

The Marston Lads

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John Hollas Mathews

Killed in Action
28th March 1918

Aged 29

17th Battalion
The Kings Liverpool Regiment

26 Ollershaw Lane

John Hollas Mathews would be the third Marston Lad to be killed within this last week of March 1918. John Hollas Mathews was also the second son of John and Elizabeth Mathews to be killed during the First World War. Stanley Mathews was killed 2nd December 1916. Two sons lost in less than 4 months.
John Hollas Mathews married Annie Poole on the 12th July 1912 at St Paul's Church, Marston. A daughter named Phyllis was born 29th January 1913 and a son named Sydney born 23rd September 1916. John was working with his father as a Saddler.

At this point, I will mention that John's wife Annie would lose not only her husband in 1918. but also two of her brothers, and her brother-in-law in the First World War. Walter Poole on the 14th November 16, and James Poole on the 29th October 1917, and her husband's brother Stanley Mathews on the 2nd December 1917.

Unfortunately, John Hollas Mathews enlistment records are missing despite an exhaustive search, presumed destroyed during the 1940 London blitz. He also appears to have served with The Cheshire Regiment before the First World War. A record was found of an entry with the correct name and address. He may well have been a member of the 1909 Territorial Army which was set up following a possible invasion threat. Until full records can be located, I have to presume that's what his role was.
I have been unable to determine when John Hollas Mathews attested for military service. A conservative guess would be around January 1916 once conscription was in place.

We do know about the 17th Battalion of the Kings Liverpool Regiment. It was formed in Liverpool on 29 August 1914 by Lord Derby, in the old watch factory at Prescot and has the distinction of being the first of the ‘pals’ battalions to be formed.

17th Battalion - The Kings Liverpool Regiment History.

On the 30 April 1915, it came under the orders of 89th Brigade, 30th Division.
It first landed at Boulogne on 7 November 1915.
On the 14 May 1918, it reduced to cadre strength.

It's would between November 1915 and May 1918 that John Hollas Mathew would have joined this battalion.
The Kings Liverpool Regiment 1918

The 17th Battalion took part in the Battle of Cambrai in November 1917 and in March 1918 to defend the German advance towards Northern France titled Operation Michael

This battle was intense. Operation Michael was a major German military offensive during the First World War that began the Spring Offensive on 21 March 1918. It was launched from the Hindenburg Line, in the vicinity of Saint-Quentin, France. Its goal was to break through the Allied (Entente) lines and advance in a north-westerly direction to seize the Channel Ports, which supplied the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and to drive the BEF into the sea. Two days later General Erich Ludendorff, the chief of the German General Staff, adjusted his plan and pushed for an offensive due west, along the whole of the British front north of the River Somme. This was designed to first separate the French and British Armies before continuing with the original concept of pushing the BEF into the sea.

The offensive ended at Villers-Bretonneux, to the east of the Allied communications centre at Amiens, where the Allies managed to halt the German advance; the German Army had suffered many casualties and was unable to maintain supplies to the advancing troops.

Allied loses were 254,816.

John Hollas Mathews was killed during this battle on the 28th March 1918. His body was never found.

John is remembered with honour at The Pozières Memorial France.

The Pozières Memorial France
Tony Hayes