John Thomas Fairless (1897-1917)
Weardale shepherd who served with the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment
John Thomas Fairless was born on 23 February 1897, son of Thomas, a grazier and butcher, and Charlotte Fairless of 51, Daddry Shields, near Saint John’s Chapel. He had three sisters and one brother. He went to school first at Westgate, but moved to St John’s Chapel School on 16 August 1909. After leaving school on 6 December 1911 he became a shepherd.
John Thomas enlisted in the 8th Battalion Durham Light Infantry (DLI) as a private, on 22 November 1915. His regimental number then was 4977. In the summer of 1916 he was posted to the Loyal North Lancashire regiment, 5th Battalion, unit number 26685.
He embarked for France with the Expeditionary Force on 19 July 1916.
In December 1916 John was sent home for medical treatment for boils on his buttocks and was hospitalised for 29 days, which indicates he was suffering from a serious infection. He was granted 10 days’ leave at his home in Daddry Shields in February 1917. After this, he appears to have been based in Felixstowe, awaiting his return to France, for records show that he was punished for overstaying his leave there by two days.
John returned to France to the 7th Battalion, Loyal North Lancashires, on 26 April 1917 and served there until he was killed on 19 May 1917.
His effects were eventually returned to his family and included the following: 2 discs, letters and cards, a note case and wallet, a religious book, tobacco pouch, cigarette holder, purse, one farthing, a broken watch and chain and one silver coin.
He was buried at Klein-Vierstraat British Cemetery, West Flanders, Belgium.
John was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
Civil Parish: Stanhope
Birth date: 23-Feb-1897
Death date: 19-May-1917
Armed force/civilian: Army
Residence: 51, Daddry Shields, Westgate
Education: School in Westgate
Family: Father: Thomas Fairless
Mother: Charlotte Fairless
Sisters: Lizzie Fairless, Hannah Fairless, Lottie Fairless
Brother: Cecil Hugh
Private, 26685, 5th and 7th Battalions, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment
Medal(s): British War Medal
Memorial(s): Klein-Vierstraat British Cemetery, West Flanders, Belgium
Saint John’s Chapel, village green, war memorial
Saint John’s Chapel, town hall, roll of honour
Contributed by John B | Mel Brown