Sergeant John William Breakspear of the 1st Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment and his brother Alfred Breakspear both died in the First World War. John was born at Bulwick, Northamptonshire, on 23 December 1885. He had served in the army in India and was in the Reserves when war broke out. He was drafted to France, and was wounded in the early fighting near Mons, around August, having an amazing escape. He was struck on the head with a shrapnel ball. The ball, about the size of an ordinary marble, cut through the top of his cap near the peak, took a slanting direction and instead of burying itself in the head made a deep cut along the scalp, and must have become embedded in the stiffening of the band. It made him, he said, feel a "bit silly" at the time, but after having his head bandaged he retired with the battalion. It was then he felt something inside his cap and asked the man next to him to look at what it was. The shrapnel ball was found on the top of the bandage, having worked out of the stiffening of the cap where it first lodged. He was sent to hospital, made a quick recovery, and went out again to the front. He was wounded twice more, the third time very severely in September 1916, but again recovered and again returned to the front. On demobilisation he took up Post Office work at Shiptonthorpe, Market Weighton, but trouble from his many wounds kept returning and, after some time in hospital, he appeared somewhat better. But a sudden relapse set in and he died about an hour after the arrival of his parents and friends on 13 May 1920, aged 34. He was buried with Military Honours at Shiptonthorpe but because he had left the army he does not have a Commonwealth War Graves record or headstone. He was married and had two children. He is remembered on the war memorial in Langham Churchyard along with his brother.
Photograph courtesy Langham Village History Group
Do you know something about John William that hasn't been mentioned?
You can add any new information and images as a contribution at the bottom of this page.