Dedicated to the memory of all the men and women of the Bridgnorth area who died during the two World Wars.
John Francis Fletcher was born at Ebrey Wood, Astley, Shropshire on 14th August 1893 and was baptised at Wrockwardine on 10th December. He was the son of Alfred Fletcher, a farm labourer, and his wife, Jane Esther. In 1901 the family were living at Ackleton, Worfield but by 1911 Alfred was boarding as a farm labourer in Brockton, Shifnal, but Jane and the children were living with Jane's Father, Joseph Hodgson, at Oakwood, Ditton Priors.
John enlisted at Shrewsbury in the early months of the war. He served with the King's Shropshire Light Infantry, going to France with the 6th Battalion in August, 1915. At some point he was transferred to the 7th Battalion. He was killed in action on 14th July, 1916, during the Battle of Bazentin Ridge. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
THE BATTLE OF BAZENTIN RIDGE
The attack took place at 3.30 a.m. on July 14th. The 7th K.S.L.I. and 8th East Yorks were the assaulting battalions, the 1st R. Scots Fusiliers in support, and 2nd Royal Scots in reserve. The 7th K.S.L.I. were on the left with the 13th King's Liverpools, 9th Brigade, on their left. The night assembly and deployment of the assaulting battalions went without a hitch, and by 11 p.m. on the 13th the battalion was in position in No Man's Land waiting for the dawn. The objective of the attack was the enemy front trench, and support line, running through Bazentin le Grand, a distance of about 1,500 yards. Owing to the undulation of the ground the enemy trenches were not visible. At 3.20 there was a brief preliminary bombardment, lasting for five minutes, which was mostly very short, and caused a number of casualties amongst our own men. Unfortunately the attack ran into exceptionally strong, and quite uncut, wire about 600 yards from the enemy front trench. Not a man of the first wave succeeded in getting through this wire, of which there were two rows, each ten to twenty yards deep. The succeeding waves of the attack closed on the first and the enemy had an easy target. After vain attempts to penetrate the wire, the remnants of the attacking force fell back to the shelter of a sunken road about 200 yards from the enemy trendies. Meanwhile Colonel Negus, with Ptes. Arrowsmith and Morgan, lying wounded in the wire, were captured by the Germans, and carried by them to a dressing station in their support line. About 11 a.m. the remains of the battalion, under the senior officer, Captain W. L. Lloyd, attacked again and, assisted by bombing parties from the flanks, succeeded in cutting their way through the wire, reaching the enemy trenches in time to join with the bombing parties in clearing them, and in rescuing the Colonel. [Wood p.227]
Private John Fletcher, 15352 KSLI, was awarded the Victory and British War Medals and the 1915 Star.
This memorial has mostly been compiled from official sources. It would be good to be able to expand it with more personal material - memories, stories, photos, etc. If you have any suitable material or any corrections please contact Greg. For news of updates follow @BridgnorthHeros on Twitter.