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John Robert Whisker (1888-1946)

Stanley miner served in the RAMC awarded the Meritorious Service Medal

Born on 24 July 1888 John Robert Whisker, also known as Robert, was one of seven children born to John and Isabella Whisker. Five of these children were still alive in 1911, of whom John Robert was the oldest. By 1891 the Whisker family had moved from John’s birthplace of Pelton to Tanfield, where John’s father was working as a coal miner. In 1901 John was not living with his parents and brothers in Stanley, but instead was living with his grandparents John and Annie Carr in Pelton.

John Robert’s father died in 1908 and by 1911 John had moved back to live with his mother and four brothers. Along with two of his younger brothers, he was working as a coal miner.

John’s exact date of enlistment into the army is unclear but we know he joined up in the first few months following the outbreak of war. He began his service in France as a private with the Royal Army Medical Corps on 18 November 1914. John was attached to the 4th Cavalry Field Ambulance, 2nd Cavalry Division, with the service number 33299.

John was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, announced in the London Gazette on 4 June 1917. This medal was given to men and non-commissioned officers for acts of gallantry. John was discharged from the army on 29 January 1920.

In the last few months of 1920 John married Mary H. Geibel. In 1924, they had a son, John RV Whisker, but sadly he died the following year. A daughter, named Jenny, was born in 1926. At the time of the 1939 Register he was working as a colliery wagonway man below ground. There is a closed entry on the register, likey to be Jenny who would have been 13 at the time. Seven years after this register John Robert died on 14 November 1946 in a colliery accident whilst working at Craghead Colliery.

John’s brothers also served during the First World War. Roland and Samuel served in the Durham Light Infantry (DLI) and were both discharged following injury. Samuel died in 1929 from illness caused by a shrapnel wound he sustained in France. John’s brother Norman served in the Royal Navy.

Civil Parish: Tanfield

Birth date: 24-Jul-1888

Death date: 14-Nov-1946

Armed force/civilian: Army

Residence: Cross Lane, Tanfield, Stanley (1891 Census)
18 Edward Street, Pelton (1901 Census)
9 Shafto Terrace, Shield Row, Stanley (1911 Census)
35 Roseberry Street, Beamish (Address on discharge, 1920)
29 Mary Street, Stanley (1939 Register)

Employment: Miner – Rope Lad (1911 Census)
Colliery Wagonway man (1939 Census)

Family: Parents: John Whisker (1868-1908), Isabella Whisker nee Carr (b 1871)
Siblings: Selina Whisker (1890-1893), Samuel Whisker (b 1893), Roland Valentine Whisker (b 1897), Norman Whisker (b 1899), John Carr Whisker (b 1904)
Grandparents: John Carr, Annie Carr
Spouse: Mary H. Whisker nee Geibel
Children: John RV Whisker (1924-1925), Jenny Whisker (1926-)

Military service:

4th Cavalry Field Ambulance, 2nd Cavalry Division
Service Number 33299

Medal(s): 1914 Star
British War Medal
Victory Medal
Meritorious Service Medal

Memorial(s): Craghead Colliery Memorial

Gender: Male

Contributed by Fiona Johnson - Durham

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