Rank:


Private; Rifleman

Service No(s):


1887; 494555; 533111

Regiment:


London

Unit:

3rd, 4th, 8th London Mounted Brigade Field Ambulance; 13th King’s Royal Rifle Corps (Princess Louise’s Kensingtons)

Returned:

Yes

Place of birth:

Islington

Occupation:

Commercial clerk

Date of death:

Cause of death:

Grave or panel reference:

Name of father:

John Edwards

Name of siblings:

Stanley Page; Leonard Bertram; Herbert George; Beatrice May

Name(s) of children:

Died:

No

Date of birth:

16/09/1892

Place of enlistment:

Event:

Gallipoli; Salonika; Egypt

Age at death:

Cemetery or memorial:

Other memorial:

Name of mother:

Charlotte Edwards, nee Page

Name of spouse:

Lilian Mary Edwards, nee Franklin

Address:

1915- 28 Ennis Road

Biography:

John Edwards was one of eight Edwards cousins from Stroud Green to serve in the war, all of whom returned safely except for his older brother Herbert, killed in action in 1915 and commemorated in the church.

John was one of nine children of John Edwards, a warehouseman, and his wife Charlotte, nee Page. As well as Herbert, he had two brothers, Leonard and Stanley, and a sister, Beatrice. Four other children had died by the time of the 1911 census. The family lived at 28 Ennis Road, and in 1911 John was working as a clerk.

On 26 April 1915 John enlisted for four years in the Territorial Force. His Attestation papers give his religion as ‘Congl.’ i.e. Congregational, which accords with his baptism at New Court Congregational Chapel in 1892. John was passed ‘Fit for Territorial Force Service in Barnet 3rd LMB FA’ – that is the 3rd London Mounted Brigade Field Ambulance, a unit of the Royal Army Medical Corps. He was a Private and granted 5th rate Corps Pay. Like many others, John signed an agreement to serve outside Britain if required, which it turned was the case for all four years of his war. For most of his service John was a hospital dresser with the London Mounted Field Ambulance in the eastern Mediterranean.

In October 1915 John was part of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force sent to  Gallipoli, where he served for just over a year. After a spell of illness himself at Mena Camp in Cairo during November 1916, he embarked on the HT Nitonian for Salonika, now Thessaloniki, in Northern Greece. John was in the Salonika Campaign for 200 days, during which time there were a number of offensives against the Bulgarian Army and German, Austro-Hungarian and Turkish units by the Allies, who now included British, French, Greek, Italian, Russian and Serbian troops. Among the offensives was the First Battle of Doiran (24 April – 9 May 1917) where there were 5,024 casualties. As well as battle casualties, John would have treated many more soldiers suffering from endemic diseases, including malaria, made worse by the extreme heat.

In June 1917, John embarked for Egypt as part of the Egypt Expeditionary Force and served there for nearly two years. His pay was raised from 2d to 3d per day in April 1918 and he was sent to the Royal Army Medical Corps depot at Kantara. This was El Qantara (‘The Bridge’ in Arabic) an Egyptian city on both sides of the Suez Canal, 31 miles south of Port Said.

In June 1918 John’s company of the London Mounted Brigade Field Ambulance was transferred to 13th Battalion, London Regiment, the King’s Royal Rifle Corps. He was now a Rifleman, and, it seems, no longer a medical orderly but a signaller, though he retained his former category for pay. In November that year he joined the 2/13th Princess Louise’s Kensingtons.

In March 1919, five months after the end of the Sinai and Palestine campaign, preparations began to demobilise John. He was examined at Alexandria in Egypt before sailing home and made no claim for disability (a later record shows him to be Medical Category A.) He was of very good character: ‘Sobriety: Irreproachable; Reliable: Yes; Intelligent: Yes.’ He was on final leave in England for one month and passed through the Dispersal Unit at Crystal Palace like so many of his local friends and cousins. He was given the standard cash payment of £2; he would also have received a service gratuity of £1 for each year of service (four in his case) and a war gratuity.

John was Disembodied on demobilisation on 5 May 1919 and transferred to the Class Z Army Reserve. This was a Reserve contingent, created in December 1918, consisting of previously enlisted soldiers, now discharged, who had to be ready to serve again if required. When expected problems with violations of the Armistice in Germany did not materialise, the Z Reserve was abolished on 31 March 1920.

While on leave in April 1919 John was technically still a soldier although he could now wear ordinary clothes. He married Lilian Mary Franklin during this final leave. Lilian had been working as a telephone operator during the war. Her brother Ernest served in the Royal Navy and is also named on the plaque in St Mellitus Church. John and Lilian moved to 8 Danvers Road in Crouch End. In the 1939 Register they were living in Finchley, where John was ‘Director, Chemists and Druggists.’

John’s brother Stanley served in the Royal Navy, including in the Dardanelles. He was married to Flora Pink, whose brother John was killed in the war and is commemorated on the church plaque for fallen soldiers.