PTE JOHN HAYHURST 15/1281

Born LEEDS 1896
Killed in action may 22nd 1916
Buried Sucrerie Military Cemetery,France.

John and Sarah Elizabeth Hayhurst moved to Leeds in the early 1890s from Burnley Lancs. where the Hayhursts had been well established as watchmakers for many generations he had served his apprenticeship under his father which was the custom at the time, after working locally as a Jobber and finisher in the local watch trade he set up is own business, by this time his wife Sarah had given birth to two children, John and Doris, these were to be the only children from the marriage.

At the outbreak of the 1st World War John jnr was working as an apprentice watchmaker and jeweller in his fathers business at 51,Otley road Headingley Leeds, he volunteered to serve with the Pals on September 3rd 1914, he served with the pals at Colsterdale Egypt and France until his death on the 22nd of June 1916.

John was part of a wiring party that in the early hours of may 22nd were working out on no mans land when they were attacked by a German patrol, enemy grenades and machine gun fire caused the party to retire sadly leaving many wounded Pals behind, the Germans then tried to enter the Pals front line trenches, the were met by Lieutenant Valentine Oland who had gathered a bombing party and having rallied the wiring party, counter attacked, forcing the Germans into the sights of one of the Pals Lewis gun teams.
For this action Valentine Oland was later awarded the Military Cross.

Diary of 15/1523 Pte Bernard Gill, B Company:

22 may 1916- Set off for wiring at 7 30 pm, got coils of wire and took equipment off. Took bandolier, gas helmet and rifle only. Everything quiet. No firing from enemy as all first part got out. Heard a few bombs burst an A companys section, then suddenly was plastered, gradually got covered with dirt and then whole sandbags, Heard a chap behind me yell out that his arm was off, He crawled over top of us and left trenches, ( NB SEE FOOT NOTE ) Things quietened down in about 40 minutes so worked myself loose and got up, got a rifle with a fixed bayonet and manned parapet ready for attack, opened rapid and machine gunfire.

Diary of 15/231 Pte George Cosby B Company :

22 may 1916- A terrible night, Front trenches shelled for over an hour, Battalion suffers greatest loss so far- about 50 casualties. Bombardment took place about 10.30. An unforgettable experience.

This was the first occasion the Pals had been involved in close combat with the enemy and whilst they acquitted themselves admirably they had suffered 15 killed, 35 wounded and 3 men missing, among the dead was Sgt Herbert Kerton who’s body could be seen hanging on the barbed wire as day broke, His brother Sydney had to be physically restrained from going out to bring him in until it was dark.

Footnote,
This was probobly 15/475 Pte Edward Hopkin, who died later that day after amputations.

See also: 15/795 Pte J N Sen

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