680888 Bdr/Sig John Blanchflower, R.F.A.
John Blanchflower was born on 9 December 1884 at King’s Fold, Walton Le Dale, and baptised at the Wesleyan chapel on 4 January 1885. His father was Elijah Blanchflower (b. 1859 in North Creake, Norfolk), a blacksmith. His mother was Sarah Jane Booth (b. 1863 in Walton Le Dale), a winder in a cotton mill. The Blanchflowers had moved from Norfolk to Lancashire in the 1870s, and Elijah and Sarah Jane were married in 1882 at St Leonard’s. They had 3 children: Mary Ann (b. 1883), John, and Clara (b. 1886). By the 1880s, the family seem to have been in some difficulties. In 1891, Elijah was working away from home and in 1894 Sarah Jane died, so the children were brought up by Sarah Jane’s mother, Mary. In 1901, Elijah was living and working in Barton, near Blackpool and in 1911, he was living and working in St Anne’s but John and Clara lived with their grandmother at 89 Victoria Road, Walton Le Dale. John, now 26, was a cotton spinner.
John enlisted in May 1915 and was assigned service number 680888. He was a signaller and promoted to Bombardier. He served with 286 Brigade, RFA, and was probably in “C” Battery. They landed in France in February 1917 and were initially deployed in the defence of Armentières. It was during action here, probably in June 1917, that he displayed the bravery for which he was awarded the Military Medal. The newspaper article provides some more detail: “Whilst returning from a spell in the front line he noticed two comrades lying in the open. In spite of heavy shell fire, he made his way to them, and found one was dead. The other, who was badly wounded, he brought back to a place of safety. On another occasion, telephonic communication became interrupted, and the gallant soldier swam across a river, again under heavy shell fire, and effected the necessary repairs”.
John continued to serve with 286 Bde for the remainder of the War and was demobilised in early 1919. In 1939, John was living at Rose Lane, Deepdale, and working as a caretaker in a Liberal Arts College. He died in Preston in 1974.