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John “Jack” Carr (1894-1916)

Stanhope steelworker commemorated by an oak tree at Wolsingham Grammar School

John’s story contains information contributed by Charlotte, Chloe and Amber from Wolsingham School.
Born in 1894, John, sometimes known as Jack, was one of five children born to John Thomas Carr and Mary Jane Carr, who married in 1885. John spent his childhood living at the post office in Cowshill, a village in Weardale, where his father worked as both a postmaster and tailor.

By 1911 John had begun working as an apprentice machinist at Wolsingham Steelworks. His older brother Thomas had joined his father in the tailoring business.

John enlisted in Spennymoor in September 1914 and joined the 18th Battalion Durham Light Infantry (DLI). He was sent to Hartlepool to man the defences against a bombardment by the German Navy in December 1914. At the end of 1915 the 18th Battalion left England to begin serving in Egypt, defending the Suez Canal. John began his service in Egypt with this battalion on 12 December 1915. In March of the following year, John’s battalion left Egypt for France to prepare for the Battle of the Somme. The Auckland Chronicle published on 13 July 1916 includes extracts from a diary written by John during May and June of that year. It was not long after writing these entries that John was killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916. John’s diary entries that appeared in the Chronicle are attached below.

John’s older brother Thomas also served during the First World War, serving with the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment.

John is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial and remembered on several memorials in his home village of Cowshill. His parents erected a memorial plaque for John in St. Thomas’ Church in Cowshill. It was unveiled by Major Watson, John’s Company Officer. A newspaper article reporting this unveiling is available on the North East War Memorials Site: Major Watson describes how John “was wounded shortly after “going over” but he struggled on at the head of his men until he was killed.”

Wolsingham Grammar School planted 18 oak trees during 1918 and 1919, each commemorating an old scholar at the school who lost their life serving in the First World War. The following inscription appears on a plaque by the trees: “These trees were planted in memory of Old Boys who fell in the Great War “non timidi pro patria mori”.

John’s death was announced in the Wolsingham Grammar School magazine, The Phoenix. Alongside the announcement was the following description of John: “Jack Carr’s most striking characteristics were manliness and amiability. A colleague wrote of him: – “He was admired by officers and men, and was always conscientious in his work. He never grumbled and was ever ready to volunteer for the most dangerous jobs. If Jack was in charge, volunteers were always ready. We can ill spare him, and we feel his loss keenly.”

Civil Parish: Wolsingham

Birth date: 1894

Death date: 1-Jul-1916

Armed force/civilian: Army

Residence: Post Office and Tailor’s Shop, Cowshill, Stanhope (1901, 1911 Census)

Education: Wolsingham Grammar School

Employment: Apprentice machinist – Wolsingham Steel Works (1911 Census)

Family: Parents: John Thomas Carr, Mary Jane Carr nee Rumney
Siblings: Mary Carr, Ethel Rumney Carr, Thomas Carr, Jennie Rutherford Carr

Military service:

18th Battalion DLI
Lance Sergeant
Service Number 18/246

Medal(s): Victory Medal
British War Medal
1915 Star

Memorial(s): Book of Remembrance 1914-18 DLI, Durham Cathedral
Cross 1914-18 1939-45, Roadside, Cowshill
ROH 1914-18, St. Thomas’ Church, Cowshill
Plaque Carr 1916, St. Thomas’ Church, Cowshill
Plaque 1914-18 1939-45, Grammar School, Wolsingham
Photos 1914-18, Grammar School, Wolsingham
Trees 1914-18, Grammar School, Wolsingham

Gender: Male

Contributed by Charlotte, Amber, Chloe, Wolsingham School