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Albert William Jackson

Men of the Royal Army Medical Corps sometimes had to carry casualties for miles, in the conditions seen here, during the Battle of Passchendaele, to where they could receive treatment. Battle of Passchendaele 26th July – 10th November 1917

 

 

 

This year it cannot have escaped anyone's attention that we are commemorating the outbreak of the 1st World War and the BBC are showing a series of programme, as part of their 1st World War season.

Over the past month many of us have been glued to our TV screens, at 9.p.m. every Monday night, watching ‘Britain’s Great War’ presented by Jeremy Paxman, which tells the story of Britain and the British People during the 1st World War, whether it be the women at home or the soldier at the front. This month I would like to introduce you to one of those soldiers who, just a few years prior to the outbreak of war had been just another one of the pupils of Doncaster Road School.

In the summer of 1891 Emma, wife of Albert Jackson, Colliery Engine Driver at Denaby Pit, gave birth to a son, Albert William Jackson, who was to be their only child. When the time came for him to attend school, and as the little family lived at 25 Pitt Street, he would have walked the short distance up the street to Pitt Street School. Which we now know as one of the oldest Board Schools in the UK built just one year after the creation of Mexborough Local School Board in 1875 and was then known, because of the lack of housing in the area, as Doncaster Road Board School. Then at the age of 8yrs. He moved to the newly opened Doncaster Road School with many of the others, from Pitt Street School, under the Headship of Mr. Brown.

Albert William Jackson left school at the age of 12yrs in 1903, and as his father was by now Traffic Manager for Denaby & Cadeby Main Colliery Co. Ltd., he found employment there as a Colliery Clerk. He became an active member in some of the organisations stationed at the colliery, such as the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade, which was greatly encouraged by the management there. He was also a staunch Methodist, as many employees at the colliery were, and a prominent member of the Oxford Road Wesleyan Reform Church, and it was here that he was to meet his future wife.

On 28th July 1914 the unjustifiable invaded of neutral Belgium, by Germany took place, thus causing, on 4th August 1914, Great Britain and its allies to declared war on Germany, and so began one of the bloodiest conflicts known to man.

Many men in Mexborough, hearing of the atrocities committed by the German Troops on the Belgians, particularly the women and children, joined the armed forces. Enlistment for these men came in stages, firstly a physical examination took place, to ensure that the men were fit enough to enlist, this was undertaken by Mexborough’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. John James Huey L.S.A. at his offices to the rear of the Nat West Bank. Following the examination the documentation was completed and Attestation took place, the recruit would raise his right hand and swear an Oath of Allegiance to King and Country, to verify this a document was signed by the recruit, a witness, and a Justice of the Peace or Magistrate. There were two establishments where this was done in Mexborough the first being at the Register Office, within the Old Market Hall/Town Hall and the other was to be found in the old Labour Exchange, now a car park situated on the south side of Bank Street to the east of the fly over. The final part of enlistment took place at the main recruiting offices of either Doncaster or Sheffield.

Albert enlisted soon after the outbreak of war in Sheffield, in September 1914, and as he was an active member of the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade was automatically placed into the Royal Army Medical Corps and at the stoke of pen Albert William Jackson, Colliery Clerk for Denaby & Cadeby Main Colliery Co. Ltd., became Private Jackson Reg. No 32240 of the 102nd Field Ambulance of the R.A.M.C.

The Field Ambulance was not, as some believe, a covered wagon or indeed a vehicle of any description, but a medical unit stationed at the front. A Field Ambulance consisted of 10 officers and 244 men and was divided into three sections A.B. & C. Three Field Ambulances would constitute a Division each with the responsibility of 150 casualties, but in the heat of battle the numbers would greatly exceed this. It was also their responsibility to maintain at least 5 posts along a casualty evacuation chain, these could be: Walking Wounded Collection Stations; Bearer Relay Posts; Advanced Dressing Station; Main Dressing Station and various rest areas and local sick rooms. Besides the men they also had to look after 14 riding horses plus 52 draught or pack horses and mules, used to pull the wagons, water & forage carts, cook wagon and 10 ambulances. An interesting fact about the R.A.M.C. is that they do not carry any form of weaponry or ammunition.

Following his training Albert was given five days leave and during this time married his sweetheart, Emily Worth. The pretty Easter Wedding took place, where they had both worshiped, at the Oxford Road Wesleyan Reform Church and was conducted by A.W. Lewis. Emily wore a flowing, Champagne coloured, crepe dress, the fragile white ostrich feather, like cotton-wool clouds, moving gently in the breeze. Her brother Herbert, was Best Man and her sister Mary, Chief Bridesmaid with Albert’s cousins Annie and Cissie Simpson as Bridesmaids. The marriage took place on Friday 10th April 1915 and by the following Tuesday Albert had to be with his regiment to await embarkation to France. Emily had been with her new husband for just three days in all and she wasn’t to see him again for another two and a half years.

Albert embarked for France on 12th May 1915 and as Le Havre was a main port in France which received both incoming and outgoing allied troops, plus was a centre for medical units, such as: the R.A.M.C. No. 1 Base Hospital; three general hospitals; two standard hospitals; plus four convalescent depots; it therefore seems feasible to assume that Albert would have landed there. He must have come from the peace and quiet of England and walked straight into the maelstrom which must have been Le Havre during the 2nd Battle of Ypres, with thousands of wounded men all awaiting treatment and transportation home.

And it is here among the one and a half million soldiers, which past through the French port of Le Havre during the 1st WW that we lose our hero and we do not hear of him again until the 3rd Battle of Ypres.

The 3rd Battle of Yprse is better known to many as the Battle of Passchendaele, which is a small village in the north of Belgium not far from the city of Ypres, which was affectionately known by the British Troops, who would take their few days break there, as ‘Wipers’. It stood on low-lying, flat ground, surrounded by land drains and other water courses which, because of the constant shelling, were breached flooding the fields for miles around. Added to the unceasing rain, which to add to the men’s misery seemed to pour every new offensive, meant that soldiers were trying to live, sleep, eat and fight in little better than a boggy, swampy, cesspit which, if you were to step off the wooden walkways, known as ‘duck boards, you would become stuck fast in the clinging mud and drowned, which many men, horses and mules did. Then suddenly in September the weather changed to the other extreme, with the sun so hot that it baked the mud as hard as concrete causing dreadful damage to the human body as shells ricocheted and shrapnel flew in all directions.

In 1917 during the planning for this forthcoming offecive, three hospital clearing stations were set up to deal with the vast amount of casuelties which was expected to occur. They were given the comical names of: Mendinghem, Bandaghem and Dozinghem meaning "mending them, bandaging them and dosing them". It is here, at Dozingham, that we next hear of Albert William Jackson, who by now had become a Lance Corporal, and it is news of the worse kind as it here that our hero died, in a casualty clearing station, on 21st October 1917 from wounds received at the Battle of Passchendaele, on 19th October 1917.

You will notice in the whole of this newsletter that there are no photos of him, that is because there are none of him which survive. He died just another faceless Mexborough hero who, like so many in that dreadful war, gave his life for us all and for which we owe so much and will be eternally grateful. He died faceless but not unforgotten as he is remembered, on Mexborough War Memorial with all the other Mexborough fallen heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice, and is remembered by many on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month every year.

But that is not the end of our story. At the beginning of September 1917 Albert had been given leave from his regiment, to spend time at home with his young wife, who he had seen once since their marriage in 1915, and that was their honeymoon. It was soon after she received that dreadful letter telling of his death that she discovered that she was pregnant and on 11th June 1918 she gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, who she named Albert, after his father.

Information Obtained From:
Thanks must go to Ron James for all his help
Mexborough Trade Directories
Books ‘The First Thirty Years are the Worse’ by J.R. Ashby
British & Economic History 1700-1939 by G.P. Hill
Internet
1st WW Forum
Google Maps
Census Returns 1891, 1901,
1911 Births, Marriages & Deaths Index 1837-1915
RAMC Official Website
Ancestry.co.uk
Wikipedia - The Invasion of Belgium, Le Havre, Passchendaele, The Battle of Passchendaele

Copyright: This newsletter may not be reproduced, in part or in its entirety without the permission of J.R. Ashby