Amongst all the commemorations to honour war dead one thing that makes me sad at this time of year is that there is too little said about those who died subsequently, as a direct result of the wounds they received in the line of war time service to King and Country.

This is my Uncle John. Despite his youth he signed up, in 1916, and became a runner, – a messenger boy carrying vital messages between trenches.


One terrible day a smallish pieces of shrapnel penetrated his tin helmet and lodged in his skull where it stayed, unable to be removed, because battlefield medical science was in it’s infancy.

For many years it remained, covered by a silver plate, until, with some sort of cruel inevitability it migrated, the resultant pressure robbing him of his sight, a final act of cruelty, that finished his career in retail, Despite his wound, he attained the rank of store manager at the Coop on Long Lane in , a short distance from his family home

Now I am over 70 I may well be the last person to remember John Middleton who was an unsung hero the like of which we may never see again. His generation faced the overwhelming adversity of the Great War with patience and a stoic resolution that was peculiar to those who grew up during the dawn of the 20th century.

 I am writing this so as create a permanent record of my uncle Even though I never met him personally, his sisters, my mother and my aunts, frequently spoke of John with a fondness that was deeply touching. Frequently recalling such harrowing incidents as his own mother cradling his head on her lap when the headaches, brought on my a foreign object lodged in his skull, became too intolerable

He may not have died in the mud of the trenches but his suffering was no less abiding and intense

In the event I am not the only one who remembers John, or indeed any other of the Middletons or the Harrisons, of the Chadderton and area please get in touch.

John Harrison Whixall, Shropshire…….