South Staffordshire War Memorials

Dedicated to the memory of all the men and women of the South Staffordshire area who died during the two World Wars.

Cpl John T Colley, King's Shropshire Light Infantry

John Thomas Colley was the son of George Moreton, a bricklayer, and his wife, Sarah Elizabeth. He was born at Moreton, near Newport, where he was baptised on 13th September, 1896. By 1898, when John's sister Sarah was born, the Colleys were living at Great Chatwell.

In 1911 the Colley family consisted of George and Sarah and five children - of which John Thomas was the oldest. They had moved to Brineton and George and John Thomas worked as farm labourers.

In October 1914 John went to Shrewsbury where he enlisted in the newly formed 6th Battalion of the King's Shropshire Light Infantry - a unit of Kitchener's New Army. After initial training he went to France with his Battalion on 22nd July, 1915.

With the 6th, John would have taken part in many battles: Loos in 1915; Mount Sorrel, Guillemont and Transloy Ridge in 1916 - the last two are phases of the Battles of the Somme, 1916; Langemarck, Menin Road Ridge (phases of the Third Battles of Ypres) and Cambrai in 1917.

The 6th was in action on the Somme again during the Battle of St Quentin on 22nd March 1918. The enemy attacked and drove back the regiments holding the line in front of the 6th, then got into the trenches of the 6th and took many prisoners. After making an unsuccessful counter-attack the 6th withdrew and, on 29th, went to support the 59th Brigade round Meziers. They were heavily attacked on 31st but succeeded in halting the advance for a time, causing severe loss to the enemy.

At some point during the battle - which lasted from 21st March until 1st April - John Thomas was killed in action. He was buried where he fell but his body was later exhumed and reburied in the Moreuil (Allied Extension) Cemetery, near Amiens.

Corporal John Thomas Colley, 12980, 6th Bn. King's Shropshire Light Infantry, was awarded the Victory Medal, the British War Medal and the 1914-15 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.