680898 GNR. J. ALMOND. R.F.A.
John Almond was born in Dilworth near Longridge in Lancashire in the second quarter of 1888. His father was Thomas Almond (b. 1854 in Preston), a cotton weaver. His mother was Ellen Dilworth (b. 1857 in Goosnargh). Thomas and Ellen were married in 1879 and they had 9 children: William (b. 1881), Joseph (b. 1883, died in his late teens or early 20s), Robert (b. 1884), Thomas (b. 1886), then John, then Margaret Ellen (b. 1889), Richard (b. 1891), Winifred (b. 1893) and finally Wilfred (b. 1896). In 1911, the family was living at 147 Preston Road, Longridge. The whole family were working as cotton weavers.
John joined the artillery in 1915. He was assigned service number 680898. Most of the men in his cohort (service numbers 680896 to 680993) were posted to “B” Battery of 286 Brigade but possibly during training John was transferred to “D” Battery, the howitzer battery of 286Bde. Also during the training period, John got married to Mary Brown, in 1916. I have no biographical information about Mary.
After training, the Brigades left for France in early 1917 and were involved in the heavy fighting to defend the town of Armentières, on the French-Belgian border. In July 1917 they suffered their first attack by the new mustard gas. In late September the Brigade was relieved from the front line and withdrew for a period of training, and returned to the line at Langemark about 35km north of Armentières, not far from the small village of Passchendaele, which would be the scene of some of the bloodiest battles of the War. On 9 October 286 Brigade returned to action engaging in harassing and destructive fire on enemy strongpoints, but also suffering their heaviest losses of the war so far, with many soldiers being gassed. On 27 October, 285 and 286 Brigades were placed under temporary command of the Canadians as they began the final attack on the village of Passchendaele. On 28 October, the War Diary reports: “Bombardment and barrage against enemy strong-points and harassing fire by 57th Divisional Artillery Group on front of the XVIII Corps. … 11th Bde RFA took part in barrage and bombardment of enemy strong-points on our own front. 1 Other Rank killed in action. 5 Other Ranks wounded.” These operations were repeated on the following day, and 5 Other Ranks were wounded in action, 11 Other Ranks were gassed and 1 Other Rank was missing (later confirmed dead). From 1-7 November, 286 Brigade were at Langemark engaged in the defence of the village and were under heavy shelling from the enemy, including gas attacks every day. John died of wounds at 2nd/2nd Wessex Field Ambulance, on 7 November 1917. He was 29 years old.
Service Number: 680898
Date of Death: 07/11/1917
Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery, “D” Bty, 286th Brigade.
Cemetery/memorial reference: V. B. 54.
Cemetery: BARD COTTAGE CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of Thomas and Ellen Almond, of Longridge, Preston; husband of Mary Almond, of 31 Livesey Street, Preston.
John’s brother Robert enlisted in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. He was 202324 L/CPL. R. ALMOND. He served in 2/4 Battalion, which was one of the infantry battalions in 57th Division. So throughout the War, John and Robert would have been fighting the same battles, John in the artillery, Robert in the infantry. Robert was killed at Passchendaele – he died just 12 days before John, on 26 October 1917.
At 3.40 on the morning of 26 October 1917 2/4 Battalion was formed up in its assembly position and moved off to attack at 5.40 and captured their immediate objectives (Mendling and Rubens farms) fairly quickly and with relatively light casualties. In the process, however, all four company commanders had become casualties. The centre of the attack was then held up by heavy fire from German pill boxes. The pill box was eventually taken and a more dominant position achieved, but further advance was impossible due to heavy German machine-gun fire from all sides. The Battalion captured 18 Germans and destroyed several enemy machine-guns. The ground advanced over was very bad, swampy and covered with shell holes. On 26 October 1917, 306 men from the L.N.LAN.R. lost their lives, of whom 112 men from 2/4th Bn. Robert was 33 years old.
Rank: Lance Corporal
Service No: 202324
Date of Death: 26/10/1917
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment 2nd/4th Bn.
Panel Reference: Panel 102 to 104.
Memorial: TYNE COT MEMORIAL