John William Breakspear

Service number:
Lincolnshire Regiment
Date of birth:
23 December 1885
Date of death:
13 May 1920
Age at Death:

Known information

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

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  • John William BREAKSPEAR
  • Langham church
  • Langham Memorial
  • Langham RR A-C

User contributions

Visited Shiptonthorpe, 28 December 2015, but unfortunately the church was not open. Left a cross for John William at the church door as no grave
By John Stokes on Tuesday 29th December '15 at 7:14am
A Rutlander, living in Belgium
Visited Shiptonthorpe, 28 December 2015, but unfortunately the church was not open. Left a cross for John William at the church door as no grave
By John Stokes on Tuesday 29th December '15 at 7:24am
A Rutlander, living in Belgium
Just discovered this post on Rutland Remembers.I am the great nephew of John William and Alfred Breakspear and now have more information about them than ever before.On behalf of my family I would like to sincerely thank John Stokes for his act of kindness in visiting Shiptonthorpe and placing a cross in his memory. An act I wish to repeat in the coming year.Griff Jones14/11/2016
By Griff on Monday 14th November '16 at 3:08pm
John William was my great grandfather, the knowledge our family has gained about him from your organisation has been amazing we are coming to visit the war memorial on Thursday or Friday this week, my mum is his granddaughter she is 80 this week, visiting the area is something she has always wanted to do, so looking forward to it
By Jan on Monday 7th September '20 at 6:13pm

Rutland and The Battle of the Somme

More than 90 Rutland soldiers died in the Battle of the Somme which lasted from 1 July 1916 until the middle of November. Today they lie in cemeteries across the old battlefield in northern France or are remembered among the 72,000 names on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme. By using our interactive map, you can find out what happened to them.

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