Sergeant John Thomas Medlock
17863  Royal Garrison
2nd Trench Battery

Died 05.06.15   aged 36


      John Thomas Medlock was born in 1879 at Bolton-on Dearne, near Rotherham Yorkshire.  He was the last of five children of Thomas Medlock, an agricultural labourer who had been born at Great Staughton, Huntingdonshire and his wife Jane who was born about 1836 at Narmington.  Of John’s two elder brothers, William became a coal miner and George a farm servant, but John enlisted in the army, to make it his career.  He enlisted at Rotheram into the Royal Garrison Artillery, giving his residence as Pontefract, and by the time of his death he had risen to the rank of Sergeant.  In July 1902, and already a Bombadier (Corporal) he married Isabel Bisby Hollingworth in St. Mary’s church, Andover, obviously while stationed near that town.  By 1905 John was stationed in Malta, where their first child Edna Joan Isabel was born.  The second child, John Nelson Franklin was born in 1907 on Bere Island, County Cork.  Bear Island lies 2 km from Castletown and commands the entry to Bantry Bay.  Following the Wolfe Tone rebellion of 1796 when adverse winds prevented a French fleet from landing in Ireland, the defence of Bantry Bay and its deep-water harbour was considered of paramount importance, and after 1803 and the resumption of the Napoleonic Wars, four towers were constructed to provide a defensive battery protecting the Berehaven anchorage.  A signal tower, a barracks for 2 officers and 150 men, a quay and storehouses were added.  In 1898 further defences were added which remained in place during the First World War.  The three ‘treaty ports’ of Berehaven, Queenstown (renamed Cobh) and Lough Swilly were retained by Britain after the 1922 Anglo-Irish Treaty, and were not haded over to the Irish government until 1938.

John and Isabel Medlock then returned to Malta where Britomarte Corcena, their third child, was born in 1911.  The 1911 census shows that John Medlock was now a corporal (bombadier) in 99 Company, Royal Garrison Artillery stationed at Fort Ricasoli, Malta.  In 1914, the family was again back in Ireland.  The next we know is that the Chumleigh Deanery Magazine for July offered its deepest sympathy to Mrs. Medlock following the death of Sgt. Medlock on 5th June 1915.  We read the useful information: ‘Sergeant Medlock, of the Royal Garrison Artillery, was stationed in Ireland when the war broke out. Only a few months ago he was sent to the front with the Trench Mortar Section’.

      There were three Royal Garrison Heavy Artillery Batteries in Ireland at the start of the war: No. 10 Company at Queenstown Harbour, part of the South Coast Defences, No. 15 Company at Londonderry, part of the North Coast defences, and No. 43 Company, also at Queenstown.  We know that Nos. 10 and 15 Companies were sent to Gallipoli in July 1915, which leaves the possibility that Sgt. Medlock was serving with the 43rd Company, which appears to have remained in Ireland.  On the other hand, we know from his medal record that he served in France only from 12th April 1915, so he could have been attached originally to any one of the three batteries.  Sgt. Medlock might well have looked then for a rather more interesting war by volunteering to join the new Trench Mortar Companies that were just being formed.  If this is the case, having to leave Ireland, and with no longer an army quarter, Isabel Medlock and the children would have, as we suppose, come to live in Winkleigh just before or during April 1915.  The difficulty here is that we have as yet no obvious reason why Winkleigh was chosen.  A family connection might be a possible lead, but here again there is a blank.  At the present time it has been very difficult to trace the roots of Isabel Bisby Hollingworth, although an Elizabeth Bisby Gough witnessed Isabel’s wedding and an Edith Bisby Hollingworth married in 1903 in the West Derby district, possibly Isabel’s sister.  The only trace of Isabel (although the 1911 census states she was born in Bolton-upon-Dearne as was her husband) has been in the 1891 census where Isabel Hollingworth was working as a servant in the Christchurch district of Preston, Lancashire.  Isabel’s stated father Thomas has also been very difficult to trace.  We are hoping that further information might be found or remembered, or that the web-site will eventually be contacted by someone interested in the Medlock, Gough or Hollingworth family histories.

      Leaving Ireland, Sgt. Medlock transferred to the very latest formation of the army, trench mortar batteries.  There was no organisation for trench mortars in the British army in 1914, an astonishing fact in regard to the developments in weaponry made pre-war by Germany.  German mortars were all called ‘Minenwerfer’ (named as ‘Minnies’ by the BEF) and some 160 were deployed at the start of the war.  They were first used by the Germans at Liege and fired a big shell to wreck fortifications.  They were used again at The Second Battle of Ypres to throw poison-gas cylinders, a tin can with 180 lb of high explosive and a rod at the end.  Smaller versions of the same weapon were evolved which had a rifled barrel, was fired with guncotton and threw a shell weighing 81 lbs.  It had an artillery pattern fuse, which alone cost three times as much as the complete shell of the later Stokes mortar.  The British soon realised how devastateingly effective these weapons were in the early trench systems but did not want to copy the German prototype because of its inherently unsafe ammunition.  As a result, the early development of any sort of mortar from 1914 was slow, and organisation into batteries haphazard, with infantry, artillery and the engineers all trying out various experimental ideas.  Twelve 3.7” mortars arrived in France as early as December 1914, but did not serve well being inaccurate and unsafe.  The French were trying the ‘Toby’ mortar, fired with black powder (named after the British officer who acquired them for the BEF) and were used in 1915 at Neuve Chapelle and Aubers Ridge, fired by personnel of the Royal Engineers.  Even catapults were tried, but all experiments proved more dangerous to our men than to the Germans.  New models included the 1.57”, the 2” the 4”, but during the first part of 1915, production of any sort of mortar was very small - 75 between January and March, 225 April to June.  Ammunition was very scarce - 8,816 rounds January to March, 42,753 April to June.

      This was the situation when Sgt. Medlock was posted from the Heavy Artillery to the 2nd. Trench Mortar Battery, 2nd brigade 1st Division in the early part of 1915.  It is possible that in doing so he was rewarded with promotion to Sergeant, with the extra pay and enhanced status this entailed.  He would have trained on the 4” and the 1” weapons, all designated to the RGA.  The 4” had a range of 600 yards, had a rifled barrel, was fired by guncotton and threw a shell weighing 81 lbs.  The 1” mortar worked on a similar principal with a range of 400 yards, throwing a bomb weighing 41 pounds.  Both these weapons were very dangerous, owing to the barrels frequently bursting, because the charge of guncotton had to be dropped into the barrel followed by a blank cartridge and the shell.  There were two 4” mortars allocated to each division, and up to four 1” mortars to a Brigade, all operated by the RGA.

      Trench mortars were an entirely new weapon for the British army and various experiment were in hand to find out how they would be best used, particularly this early ‘gas pipe’ pattern.  1 Corps Staff knew only too well that the Germans were using the ‘Minenwerfer’ to devastating effect, an ideal weapon for troops on the defensive.  The problem for the British and French was how to use mortars for the offensive.  How could this new weapon of short range light field artillery, very heavy to carry and with all the ammunition required to use it to any effect, be brought forward in an attack against barbed wire and machine guns?  From the very first experimental use of trench mortars, it became clear that the weapons could be used in both defensive and offensive roles.  Machine-gun posts and sniper hideaways could be bombed and wire cut more easily than with the field artillery, which was firing at a much longer range and with the danger of hitting our own attacking troops.  The main defect of trench mortars, of course, was their weight and the difficulty of supplying the large amounts of ammunition the mortars consumed and thus the number of men that had to be detailed to supply the weapons.  Each battery consisted of eight mortars, with 4 officers and 60 other ranks.  A report dated January 2nd 1915 (see Related Topic on right), of an early experiment made by the 2nd Division, 1st Battalion Irish Guards on 1st January reported on the damage effected by a mere four shells fired during a trench raid, while at the same time the C.O. takes the encouraging opportunity of denigrating the German version of the weapon.

      It was only after Sgt. Medlock’s death that the break-through came in late June 1915 with the supply of the 3” Stokes Mortar, invented in the January of that year.  Brilliantly simple to operate, a skilled crew could put nine rounds in the air at the same time, up to 40 rounds per minute, a devastating light barrage.  In September 1915 at the Battle of Loos the 4” Stokes gas-shell firing mortar was also intended to be used, but the organisation and supply of the weapons broke down.  The first recorded use of the Stokes was at the Bluff, South of Ypres, on February 16th 1916.  Eventually, by March 1916 an establishment was provided of three batteries of 3.2” Stokes mortars per Division, one battery to each Brigade, each battery consisting of eight guns with four officers and eight other ranks, under the command of Brigades.  Each Division now had a Divisional Trench Mortar officer.

      Trench mortar batteries were numbered according to the infantry brigade to which they were attached.  In the first half of 1915, the 2nd Brigade 1st Division consisted of 4 ‘old army’ regular battalions - 2nd Bn. The Royal Sussex, 1st Bn. The Loyal North Lancashire, 1st Bn. The Northamptonshire and the 2nd.Bn.  The Kings Royal Rifle Corps.  They were joined by two Territorial battalions, the 1st/5th Bn. Royal Sussex in February 1915 and the 1st/5th Bn. The King’s Liverpool Regiment.  The 2nd. Trench Mortar Battery (attached to 2nd Brigade 1st Division) was in the process of formation, and was not fully completed until 27th November 1915. Sgt. Medlock must have been among the very first to be involved.  There is a memorandum in the 1 Corps war-diary dated 8th April 1915 from the Brigadier-General, General Staff, First Army, to 1 Corps regarding the issue of both the 1” and the 4” mortars to 1st Division.  This gives us the useful information that the Corps Mortar School had been established at St. Venant (15 kilometres north-west of Bethune), so it was here that Sgt. Medlock was sent to train on these entirely new weapons.  Dated 8th April 1915 it shows that it must have been about this time that he and the other newly trained men arrived from the Mortar School to join the Division.  An addenda to this account, quoting the entire document, is attached.  It stresses that the mortars will be used ‘not only in actual trench warfare, but also in co-operation with infantry in attack.  The mortar offers an efficient means of attacking houses and defending localities, and if properly handled in an advance will materially assist the infantry, more especially when the latter are unable to obtain effective artillery support’.  From this instruction we can see that it was intended that the mortar section attached to the 2nd infantry brigade at the battle of Aubers, 9th May 1915, the first great Spring offensive in which the 1st Division was involved, was to be used in the initial attack, moving forward with the infantry, and as such was destined to suffer the same fate as the 2nd Battalion Royal Sussex to whom it was attached.  We can assume therefore that it was in this operation that Sgt. Medlock was severely wounded.  An attached report of 2nd Infantry Brigade on the Battle of Aubers informs us that the brigade mortar section was allocated to the battalion of the 2nd. Royal Sussex, situated in the centre of the 1st Division operations, just to the right of the Cinder Track (see attached sketch map from the 1st Division war-diary).

      The plan at Aubers was for a joint Anglo-French offensive in the area north of Arras: the Germans, while holding the line in France and Belgium, had been withdrawing forces to fight in the east, and in consequence the Arras offensive was designed to test the possibility of a breakthrough.  The French intended to capture Vimy Ridge and the heights of Notre Dame de Lorette.  The British were to capture the Aubers Ridge.  The British line, in those early days of the war stretched from just north of Ypres as far as just south of La Bassee, while further demands were being made on our forces by the opening of the Gallipoli campaign on 25th April 1915.  The attack at Helles, Gallipoli, was given to the 29th Division, the last remaining regular army Division remaining in the UK, and indeed the final reserves of the ‘old army’.  Together with the destruction of the 29th Division, 1915 saw the final virtual elimination of our pre-war forces in the battles of Neuve Chapelle (11th March) 2nd Ypres (2nd April), Aubers Ridge (9th May), Festubert (15th-25th May) and finally Loos (25th September).  Aubers Ridge played a major part in this disaster.  The task was given to the British First Army, the plan being of a pincer movement with the 1st and Meerut Divisions attacking south of the ridge on a frontage of 2,400 yards, 1st Division attacking a frontage of 1,600 yards, and 2nd. Division in reserve.  To the north of the ridge were 8th Division, with 7th Division in reserve.  The British were so short of ammunition after the battle of Neuve Chapelle that reliance had to be placed on a 40 minute intense bombardment before the infantry went in.  Some 400 field guns would, it was hoped, sweep away the wire, and the heavy howitzers would devastate the German trenches.  It was intended in each brigade that a mobile force of mounted and cyclist troops together with the trench mortars mounted on wagons, would move forwards in close support of the advance.

      The 1st Division Operation Orders for the battle included the following
Mortars: The following light guns and mortars are allocated to the 2nd and 3rd Brigades to follow the assaulting battalions and to act under the orders of the officer commanding these batteries.  2nd Brigade - two 4” mortars and one 1” mortar.
In the staff planning schedule for the battle a special item that was to be considered by battalion commanders was ‘bringing up the mortars’.  ‘Battalion Commanders to decide exact method of employing the trench mortars, mountain guns and single 18lb guns.  Where they are to assemble, how they are to go out and who is actually to command them and give them instructions according to every situation which may arise.  Arrangements are to be made so that thench mortars and mountain and field guns can be pushed forward in close support of the infantry as it advances.’

      The First Division boundary line ran from Port Arthur to Chocolat Menier.  The barrage opened at 5.00 am, 9th May, and at 5.30 the lead battalions of the two southern assaulting brigades of 1st Division, 2nd and 3rd Brigade, took up positions in no-man’s land 80 yards from the German wire.  Both 2nd and 3rd Brigades began to suffer heavy casualties even as they emerged on their own parapet, the Meerut Division even worse.  At 5.40 the barrage lifted and 2nd and 3rd Brigades attempted to move forward, caught in the cross fire of concealed German machine-gun posts, and in the uncut wire.  Those who got into the front line trenches were all killed or wounded, and the supporting battalions were completely pinned down in no-man’s land as the attack stalled.  Maj-General Haking, CO 1st Division advised Corps not to commit the 1st (Guards) Brigade but he was overruled and a further artillery bombardment was ordered fort 3.20 pm.  A few men only of the Guards Brigade reached the German 2nd line.  The last two fresh battalions of 1st Division’s 3rd Brigade were then destroyed in no-man’s land, and by 5.00 pm 2nd Division had relieved the remnants of the ruined 1st Division.  Haig ordered preparations for a renewed attack at 8.00 pm, which was found impossible to launch because of the chaos of killed and wounded men blocking the front line, support and communication trenches.  Meanwhile in the northern sector the picture was similar, and the following day, 10th May, the attack was abandoned.

      Over 11,000 British casualties, killed and wounded, were sustained on 9th May, the majority within a few yards of the front line.  1st Division lost 3,968 including 160 officers.  In the first wave of its 2nd Brigade, the 1st Northamtons lost 560 including 17 officers and the 2nd Sussex 551 including 14 officers.  In the support waves 2nd King’s Royal Rifle Corps lost 251 including 11 officers, while in the 1st/5th Royal Sussex (Territorials) 202 including 11 officeres were lost.  The battle was a complete disaster, one of the highest rates of loss in the entire war.  No ground was won and no support was given to the French attack 15 miles away to the north.  Lessons were not learned in spite of Haig’s assurances as Corps Commander that the artillery would henceforth prepare the attack more carefully (Private Papers, 11th May 1915).  Closed down on 10th, the battle was renewed at Festubert on the 15th-25th May.  The battle of Aubers Ridge was a major disaster for the British Army, greater even than that of Neuve Chapelle that preceeded it and Festubert that followed.  Together with the battle of Loos in September 1915 it ensured that the old British army, a good part of the Territorials and even the first battalions of Kitchener’s new armies, were gone forever.  Henceforth there could be no quick victories, conscription had to be introduced early in 1916 and a whole new officer corps recruited and trained.

      Wounded on 9th May, Sgt. Medlock was passed down the line, arriving eventually at No.4 General Hospital, Versailles.  The evacuation route for both walking cases and severely wounded led throughout the war led from the Regimental Aid Post to a collection point, to be passed on via a Field Ambulance hospital to a Casualty Clearing Station, and thence by hospital train or river-barge to a base hospital on the Coast, with the lucky ones eventually arriving back in England.  The 1 Corps ADMS (Administrative Director of Medical Services) war-diary allows us to trace the route of Sgt.Medlock’s evacuation (see attached map).  As with everything else in the battles of 1915, the British army was having to learn fast how to fight on such a colossal scale, with new weapons, new tactics and new attitudes, including of course how the Medical Corps could expand and cope with the wounded on a scale unprecedented in any previous experience.  The diary reports:
May 9th ‘The lightly wounded men had to find their own way back to the collecting stations, at Windy Corner and Le Touret which took in the majority of the casualties.  The more serious cases were carried by hand from the Regimental Aid Posts to collecting stations that could be reached by motor and horse ambulances.  From the collecting stations the wounded were taken by motor-ambulances of the 1st Division, helped by those of the 2nd Division and the London Division.  The collecting stations were cleared by motor ambulances to the Field Ambulances established at Bethune.  The Field Ambulances of the 1st Division were first filled, the wounded then being diverted to those of 2nd and the London Division.  The motor ambulances adhered strictly to the traffic routes previously fixed which are shown in the sketch map.  The Field Ambulances were cleared by motor ambulances to No.1 Casualty Clearing Station at Choques and No.4 CCS at Lillers.  Wounds of the chest and those of the head not requiring immediate operation were taken to the hospital barges moored in the canal at Bethune.  These barges brought the men down river to a hospital at St. Omer.

      By noon on May 9th the numbers assisted by the 1st Division Field Ambulances at Bethune had between them accepted 392 wounded, but this was only a start to the thousands who were to follow.  By 9.0 pm a further 560 cases had arrived and there were still hundreds of men still lying out between the lines awaiting the cover of darkness to crawl back or be rescued.  The ADMS Medical Diary of 1st Division reported that even as late as 11.00 pm on 9th May there were at least 400 cases lying at the Regimental Aid posts waiting to be taken to the collection posts and on to a Field Ambulance at Bethune, and the backlog was not cleared until 8.00 am on 10th.  The stretcher-bearers were the heroes, working from the aid-posts for 26 hours non-stop without a break, carrying the wounded by hand, wheeled stretchers not having as yet been made available for the battle.  In 1st Division alone, 1,455 ORs and 30 officers were estimated to have been transported in this way.  The following day 143 officers and 2,854 ORs had arrived at Bethune with 96 officers and 1,967 ORs evacuated to the Casualty Clearing Station at Choques.  During the night 2nd Division took over the front line as the battle was closed down, but the divisional war-diary reported  ‘this caused a great deal of cross traffic and so interfered considerably with the motor ambulances bringing in further wounded’.  In fact, the roads were completely blocked until 11.00 pm.  There was further delay in finding enough hospital trains to take the wounded to the Base Hospitals on the coast.  We learn:  ‘to cope with the number of wounded requiring evacuation from No.1 CCS an empty supply train was improvised as an ambulance train at Choques.  This was ionspected and found to the clean, comfortable and well equipped.  The two hospital barges left Bethune this morning, each with is full complement of 34 wounded.’  A further 546 admissions to Choques were made on 10th.

      The ambulance trains were of course specially fitted out with separate arrangements for officers and ORs, but conditions for many as they passed down the line must have been primitive.  The ‘supply train’, for example, would have probably consisted of cattle trucks, or even open trucks, and it is likely that in this instance many of the men simply were lying on straw.  A letter has survived in the 1st Corps archives from the Director of Medical Services, 1st Corps, to the ADMS 1st Division, which illustrates the point.  ‘The GOC 1st Corps in a certain Field Ambulance discovered some wounded ‘unfit to move’ lying on a blanket or a little straw.  He would like such cases to be accommodated in beds and to wear pyjamas and to be made more comfortable.  In some Ambulances (Field Ambulances) this is done, in others it is not possible; a good deal can be done however to have the men cleaned up, put into pyjamas and on to palliasses, with pillows.  There are 90 palliasses cases in a Field Ambulance and 60 suits of pyjamas, these should be fully utilised and more obtained if necessary.  A few pillows should also be obtained.’ ‘Unfit to move’ means these men were so badly injured that nothing further could be done for them.  What staff and resources were available had to be given to those with a chance of survival, and it seems that in his criticism the ADMS was somewhat out of his depth.

      The majority of casualties at Aubers were caused by Machine guns and shrapnel, and 2nd. Brigade suffered the worst losses.  By May 12th it was found necessary to take over extra buildings in Bethune.  No.2 Field Ambulance was based in the ‘College Jeunes Filles’, known officially as ‘L’ecole Jules-Ferry’, which originally housed a mere 260 beds.  The smaller No.3 Field Ambulance, in ‘L’ecole Paul-Bert’ had only 200 beds, and was found to be so unsuitable that the ‘Ecole Maternelle’ was taken over instead.  Other buildings were comandeered bringing the number of available beds to 10,000, and this was just enough, provided that the average length of stay was for no more than a single day.  However, within a few days the Germans began a systematic shelling of Bethune and the two CC Stations had to move, No. 2 to Annezin and No.3 to Fouquieres.  No.1 CCS at Hinges (later moved to Annezin) acted as a reserve and dealt with cases of sickness, including an epidemic of measles in 1 Corps.

      We can thus trace Sgt. Medlock’s route from the Regimental Aid Post of the 2nd Sussex Battalion to a collecting point, either at Windy Corner or Le Touret (see map).  From there he would have been taken with many hundreds of others to one of the two Field Ambulances at Bethune and thence to the Casualty Clearing Station at Choques.  From Choques he travelled by ambulance train to the No.4 General Hospital, at Versailles.

      The No.4 General Hospital was the first to be established in France with the Expeditionary Force, located at the heart of the French railway system.  Leaving Woolwich on August 22nd 1914 with the 1st Division, the original intention of the War Office was to establish a base hospital for the British Expeditionary Force at Rouen.  However, arriving en route at Nantes, and having de-trained for the transfer to Rouen, orders were recieved to proceed to Versailles instead.  Enormous confusion was caused on the French railways by this change of plan, which were in any case in a chaotic state with trainloads of troops setting off for the front, the first wounded arriving back and the entire government moving out of Paris to Bordeaux.  Finally arriving in Versailles on 12th September, the Officer Commanding had still received no orders as to the location of the hospital.  Attempts to telephone the British Embassy in Paris failed as the Embassy was also on the move to Bordeaux.  The O.C. then took matters into his own hands, walked into Versailles from the station and comandeered the Trianon Palace Hotel as the most suitable building he could find, overriding any protests from the French authorities.  Unloading began at once, as there was no time to waste, and the hospital was set up in record time.  The first hospital train arrived at Versailles station on 23rd September, and from then on casualties of between 150 200 men at a time could be expected.  By 26th September there were already 576 cases in the wards, and tents were being errected in the hotel grounds for the overflows.  A few days later an epidemic of enteric fever necessitated the location of an isolation hospital, and the C.O. selected the Grinon Agricultural School.

      The 1915 battles of 2nd Ypres, Neuve Chapelle, Festubert and Aubers Ridge placed enormous strains on the hospital, the treatment of gas casualties from 2nd Ypres causing particular problems for the doctors and nursing staff unused to dealing with this appaling new form of injury.  On 6th May for example, the No.8 Ambulance Train arrived with 8 officers and 185 other ranks, virtually all suffering from the effects of gas.  The following day the same train arrived back with a further 356 cases including 18 officers and 144 lying cases.  Only five days later the first train arrived at 4.00 am with 189 casualties followed at 9.45 am by a further load of sick and wounded.  The floods of wounded and sick rose alarmingly.  On 15th May No.4 Ambulance Train brought in 306 more cases, of whom 16 were officers, followed by a further 224 wounded the following day.  The battle of Aubers was particularly appalling with men still arriving from the battle on the 9th May having been passed down the line from the casualty clearing stations - on 25th May Ambulance Train number 12 brought in 269 cases, including 11 officers, a mixture of gassed and wounded men.  The last train to arrive before Sgt. Medlock’s death on 5th June came in on the day before he died, when No.1 Ambulance Train brought in 17 officers and 376 other ranks.

      Somewhere within these numbers Sgt. Medlock was included, perhaps wounded, perhaps gassed, and with so many men to care for the pressure on the staff must have been enormous.  Every man that could possibly stand the journey back to England was dispatched as soon as possible on outgoing trains, while the severely wounded or gassed together with those on the point of death had to be cared for as best as possible.  The hospital records in their War Diary make no mention of the numbers or names of men who died, but for those who did not survive a burial ground was found just outside Versailles, in the suberb of Les Gonards, a mere 15 minutes walk from the city centre and the Palace.  Here Sgt. John Medlock was buried.  This vast typically French 19th Century cemetery, complete with its many huge monumental tombs for the wealthy and the smaller graves of lesser folk was extended at its perimeter to allow for the burials of those who died of their wounds, gas poisoning or sickness in the No.4 General Hospital.  There are just over 150 graves, all identified.  It is a beautiful place, five long rows of graves stretched bneath a high bank, the Great Cross overshadowing them.  There was no room for a Stone of Sacrifice.  As the ground beyond the British cemetery slopes upward to the right, there is a French cemetery of 1914-15 and beyond that a French Air Force cemetery, a North African cemetery and at the top German graves of 1944 resulting from the battle for Paris.  The grave of Sgt. Medlock was visited in the summer of 2009, and a tribute was laid to the sacrifice he made and in remembrance of the events of that terrible year of 1915.

      Isabel Medlock continued to live in Winkleigh.  John Medlock’s medal record shows that on 29th November 1920 her application to receive her husband’s war medals was granted to Isabel  He was awarded the British, Victory and 1915 Star.  It is not known why Sgt. Medlock’s name was not inscribed on the base of the Memorial Cross, but there is a sequel to his death that brings his memory up to the present day.  On Easter Sunday 1916 Mrs. Isabel Medlock presented to the Winkleigh Church a communion plate that has been used at all communion services since that date, a very special treasure.  On the plate is inscribed the following dedication:

To the Glory of God and
in loving memory of
John Medlock
Sgt. R.G.A.
Died of wounds in France
June 5th 1915
A devoted Churchman and a brave soldier
Given by his widow Easter Sunday 1916

6 February 2011


Click on an image for a larger picture

Reggimental Line Up
at Aubers Ridge

Evacuation route

Medal Record

Grave stone, Oct. 2009

The British Section
Les Gonards

British, French and German Sections