RFA West Lancs Bdes
680954 GNR. J. NUTTALL. R.F.A.
John Nuttall was born in Longridge in the second quarter of 1892. He was baptised in Longridge on 2 April 1893, the same day as his brother Thomas who was born a few days before but died a few months later. Their father was John Nuttall (b. 1861 in Thornley-with-Wheatley), a cotton weaver. Their mother was Annie Elizabeth Airey (b. 1864 in Holbeck, Yorkshire). Annie and John were married in 1887 and they had two other sons: George (b. 1888) and Walter (b. 1889). Annie died in 1897 and the following year, John married Agnes Parkinson (b. 1857 in Rawcliffe). John snr and Agnes didn’t have any children of their own but in the military records Agnes was recorded as John jnr’s next of kin. In 1911, the family was living at 20 High Street, Longridge and John jnr was working as a cotton weaver.
John enlisted in Longridge in 1915. He was assigned service number 2682 and posted to “B” Battery of 286 Brigade. His service number was later changed to 680954.
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 was presumably wounded or gassed during these later days of action and was in the process of being evacuated back to England when he died at 22nd General Hospital, Étaples, on 26 November 1917. CWGC gives his age as 27 but by my calculation he was 25.
Service Number: 680954
Date of Death: 26/11/1917
Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery, “B” Bty, 286th Brigade.
Cemetery/memorial reference: XXX. M. 33A.
Cemetery: ÉTAPLES MILITARY CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of John Nuttall, of 20 High Street, Longridge, nr. Preston, and the late Annie Nuttall.