Corporal/Lieutenant John Bennett 15/1383

Corporal/Lieutenant J.Bennett 15/1383

Born - , Geelong Australia 13th January 1895.

Died - Australia, 20th September 1970.

John Edward Bennett was born in Horsforth Leeds, He had studied wool textiles at Leeds Technical College before emigrating to Australia in 1887. He later returned to England where he married his sweetheart Caroline Mayhall (also of Horsforth) they then  returned to Australia, where their son  John  was born on the 13th January 1895. John was educated at Geelong Primary School, before the family moved to Melbourne where he continued his education at St Paul’s Cathedral, and sang in the choir. The Bennett family then moved to Warrnambool, where his father had been appointed Manager of the Warrnambool Woolen Mills. It was here that John joined the Mounted Rifles (a chance to ride horses), which became the Light Horse. (The Commanding Officer, Colonel Tom Price, was credited with inventing the Australian slouch hat with the up turned brim.) In 1913, age 18, his father paid for him to travel to England to study wool textiles at Leeds University (in later years two sons and a grandson would also attend). He left university to enlist in the Pals in the spring of 1915 and was immediately promoted to Corporal (probably because of his time in the Australian Light Horse), posted to Section 10 of 11 platoon, C Company, as a Platoon Bomber under the command of Lieutenant G. S. Ward. He served with the “Pals” at Colsterdale, Egypt and in France and always maintained that a cigarette case that he carried in his pocket during the war had saved him from a German bullet. In the winter of 1917, he was sent to “C” Company, Officer Cadet Battalion and on the 29th January 1918, commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant with the 5th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment, with whom he served the rest of the war (alongside Lieutenant Samuel Meekosha V.C.) When the war was over he returned to his native Australia, where he met, and married Jessie Louise Brown, at Warrnambool on the 15th February 1920. He later borrowed capital from family and friends and bought a woolen mill that was in receivership renamed it North Western Woolen Mills and through continued hard work built the Mill into a highly successful family business which was sold to a German company in 1998. John died on the 20th September 1970 at the age of 75. His wife survived him by 4 years. The Leeds pals Web site is indebted to their son Graeme in Australia, who donated information, documents and a large amount of photographs for use on this and other pages on the site.

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