Campbell, John

John (Jack) Campbell was born in Chester in 1880 and brought up in the Great Boughton area. He was the second of five children to Duncan Alexander Campbell and Jane Gwyneth (Ledsham).

Campbell family (b)

Duncan Alexander and Jane Gwyneth were both born in Chester and after their marriage in 1876 resided in Great Boughton, Chester.

Emily Campbell

Emily Campbell

Jack married Emily Williscroft at St Oswald’s Parish Church, Bidston, Cheshire on 27th November, 1907. She was born in Colton, Lichfield, Staffordshire in c1879, daughter of John Williscroft, a gardener, and his wife Hannah, of Park Road West, Birkenhead.

In the 1911 census Jack and Emily were found to be living at 136, Harrowby Road, Tranmere with Jack employed as a domestic gardener. By 1914 they were living at Mount Cottage, Waen y Balls, Flint Mountain where Jack was still working as a gardener but was soon to start work at the British Glanzstoff Works, Flint.

They had three children – John Duncan (1913-2002), Jean Mary (1914-2015) and Elsie Gwyneth (1915-2013).

Private Campbell

Private Campbell

Jack enlisted in Flint in circa October 1914 and landed at Boulogne, France on 27th September, 1915.

He was killed in action in France, 17th February, 1916, as a result of the enemy heavily bombarding the battalion trenches for over half an hour from 5.30am leaving twenty-four dead and seven wounded.

He has no known grave but is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Leper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, on Panel 22. He is remembered on two war memorials: Flint Town and St Mary’s Parish Church, Flint.

Private Campbell’s widow received the following sympathetic communication:-

22, Feb, 1916. B.E.F.

“DEAR MRS CAMPBELL – It is with great sorrow and deep sympathy that I write to you, for I am afraid that this letter is the bearer of very bad news for you. It is about your husband, John Campbell, of the 10th Royal Welsh Fusiliers. He was up in the trenches last Thursday, February 17th, when the Germans opened a very heavy shell fire, and I am deeply grieved to say that he was killed instantly with several others of his company. I know what a heavy blow this will be, and that it will take all your courage to bear it bravely; but try to give him up as bravely as he gave himself. He will be sadly missed by all his comrades, for he was a good soldier, and very highly spoken of by his offers. He was always so keen and ready to do his duty, and now he is gone from us. He has made the great sacrifice – the greatest man can make. He has given his life for what is dearer than life itself – the honour of his Fatherland and the safety of his Home. He has indeed followed in the footsteps of His Master, and passed with Him from the storm of war through the valley of the shadow of death to the glorious mansions of the blest beyond. We must not grudge him his well earned rest or his new found joy; he is gone forever, but has made the great journey a little ahead of us. But one day we shall all catch him up again and be re-united never again to be separated. Think of the Great Day, and try to find comfort in the thought of seeing him again under perfect conditions, where sorrow and sighing are unknown and everything radiates with the everlasting love of the Father. May your husband rest in peace and may the God of all mercies comfort you with his own consolation. We all Officers and men alike, offer you our deep and true sympathy in your great bereavement.

In all true sympathy,

Believe me,

Yours very sincerely,

  1. P. G. LEONARD, Chaplain

10th R. W. Fusiliers.”

Private Campbell, having been home on several days’ leave of absence from the Trenches, left Flint on Saturday, February 12th, returning to the Battalion. He had, therefore, only been again in the Trenches two or three days when he was killed.

Emily re-married on 4th March 1919 at St Mary’s Parish Church, Flint, to widower John Roberts (1862-1952), a farmer of Waen Farm, Flint Mountain.

Jack’s father, of 165, Christleton Road, Boughton, died in Chester, after an illness of 18 months, on 27th December 1934, and buried in an unmarked grave in the Overleigh Cemetery, Chester. He was aged 79 and served on the LMS Railway for 58 years. He commenced his railway career as a cleaner when only 11 years of age, and he was promoted step by step until he became an express driver and retired 10 years ago as a No 1 driver at Chester LMS Sheds. On several occasions Mr Campbell had driven Royalty, and tokens of appreciation are proud possessions of the family. One reads: “The King and Queen wish their appreciation of the arrangements made in connection with their Majesties’ recent tour over the London and North Western system conveyed to all concerned, and I have pleasure in communicating their Majesties’ gracious message to you. – Mr. D. Campbell. June 8th, 1917.”

Mr Campbell was an accomplished Scottish dancer and would give lessons to Queen Victoria and family legend has it that they actually had an affair.

Jack’s mother, Jane Gwyneth, died on 11th September 1938, at the age of 82, at the Royal Infirmary, Chester, as a result of an accident. An inquest was held at the Royal Infirmary the following day. It was revealed that Mrs Campbell lived with her adopted daughter, Miss Angela Ledsham, and on September 2nd she was sitting in a chair in the kitchen, and Miss Ledsham left her for a moment to go into the next room. She had only been gone a second or two, when she heard Mrs Campbell calling. She went to her, and found her sitting on the floor, having apparently fallen when attempting to get up from her chair. Dr Woodruffe was called and ordered her removal to the Royal Infirmary, where she died nine days later. Miss Ledsham said Mrs Campbell had been able to walk about without assistance, but was not very steady. She slept downstairs because of her infirmity. On the occasion of the accident witness had only been out of the room for two or three seconds when she heard Mrs Campbell calling. She found her sitting on the floor, and she told witness that she was getting off the chair, but could not save herself from falling. Dr Fallon, house surgeon, said Mrs Campbell was suffering from a fracture of the neck of the left femur. Her heart condition, which was not good on admission, became worse on Saturday, and she died on Sunday from heart trouble. The Deputy Coroner recorded a verdict of “Accidental death,” and expressed sympathy with the relatives. “At this age it is distressing to go out of life through an accident,” he said.

The funeral took place on 14th September and Mrs Campbell was buried with her husband.

Emily and John had a daughter Lilian who, on the 3rd November 1936, aged 15, while riding her bicycle down passed the Coach and Horses Inn collided with two pedestrians and died instantly. At the inquest, held the following evening at the Village Hall, Flint Mountain, the Coroner said “In all probability had there been proper footpaths along this road this bright life would not have been lost. It is a terrible tragedy, and the tragedy is largely due to the neglect of public authorities in not carrying out their duties as they should do.”

Lilian’s half-sister, Elsie, recalled that she was in the back of the car when they took her from the scene, with Lilian lying on her lap. Lilian was buried in Northop Churchyard.

John Roberts died 11th April 1952, aged 90, and Emily 14th November 1963, aged 84, and both were buried with their daughter Lilian.


Learn more about the other soldiers on the Flint Memorial

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