John William Collins

33644, Private, 9th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment

Missing in Action on the 5th August 1917 aged 22

Private John William Collins

John was born on the 19th June 1895 the son of John & Annie Collins of 48 Alleynes Road, Stevenage. After leaving school he worked for seven years as a Milkman for Francis Franklin of Rooks Nest Farm, Stevenage, and later lived with his wife, Daisy, & child at 29 Alleynes Road.

He was to lose his life during a major British offensive, the Third Battle of Ypres, commonly known as the Battle of Passchendaele. On the 2nd August 1917 the Battalion left its billets at Dickebusch Camp and moved to positions in a location known as the Old French trench. By then it had been raining for three days and conditions were very bad with troops’ waist deep in water and liquid mud. In addition, the German artillery added to the misery by intensely shelling the area, causing a considerable number of casualties. On the 5th August John Collins was among a group of 30 men who were in several forward listening posts. They were attacked by a German raiding party which consisted of about 25-30 heavily armed men. A Lewis gun was used in an attempt to drive off the raiders but this was dropped and became jammed by thick mud. Eventually, the men in three of the posts withdrew through Jordan Trench to a position known as Alarm Weg. A total of fourteen men had been left behind either killed or wounded, including John Collins.

His body was never recovered and he has no known grave and, as such, his name is recorded on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium. (Panel 34.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

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