Sapper John Henry [Jack] THORPE

Royal Engineers
(Also: Army Service Corps)
Railway Operations Division
Service Number:
(Also: 316469 Army Service Corps)
Date of Death:
8 March 1921 - Accidental death
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Reference:

Personal History:

John Henry was born on 10 April 1874, the son of Elliott and Eliza Thorpe of Cartworth, Holmfirth, Yorkshire. He had an older brother, Fred, an older sister, Sarah Jane, a younger sister, Mary Emma, and a younger brother, Herbert. (1881 Census RG 11/4370) Ten years later (1891 Census RG 12/3557) the family had another son, Harvey (?), and had moved to Adeline Terrace, Austonley, Holmfirth.

On 6 December 1897 John married Charlotte Plant, originally of Tissington, Derbyshire (1901 Census RG 13/3239) at Christ Church, Burbage. At the time of the marriage Charlotte's father, Thomas, was living at Lime Row, Burbage.
Jack was employed as a "Railway Signalman" on the High Peak Railway - an occupation that no doubt had a bearing on his subsequent enlistment in the Royal Engineers.

The couple had six children, three sons, Frank [see: Footnote below], John Herbert and Reginald, and three younger daughters, Jessie, Marjorie and Ruby Irene.

There is no record of the family on the 1911 Census, although Charlotte appears to be living with other members of the the Thorpe family at 32 South View Crescent, Sharrow, Sheffield. 'The Buxton Advertiser' of the 19th November 1917 gave the family home address as '31 Lime Terrace, Buxton'.

Military History:
Unfortunately, Jack's Service Papers have not survived, but from a comparison of Service Numbers and the reports in 'The Buxton Advertiser', it seems likely he enlisted late in 1916 or early 1917. Certainly 'Advertiser' reports relating to his son Frank being wounded in November 1917, only refer to his (Frank's) mother, and the report confirming Frank's death, November 1918, stated that Frank's father, John, served with the Royal Engineers in Palestine, and that "... he was suffering from malaria ..." at the time. [see: Footnote below]

It was no doubt due to the nature of his civilian occupation with the High Peak Railway that Jack enlisted in the Railway Operations Division of the Royal Engineers, but after he was discharged he was employed as a "Cattle, Corn and Cake Traveller".

It was not, though, War related injuries or illness that caused his death. Jack died accidentally from a shotgun wound to the head, sustained whilst out shooting rabbits at Pilsbury Top Farm, Hartington, Derbyshire on the 8th March 1921. His death came just a few months before the 'cut-off' date for CWGC recognition, so after he was buried in Burbage churchyard on 10 April 1921 he subsequently received the familiar headstone.

· John and Charlotte's oldest son, Pt. 203711 Frank THORPE, served with the East Surrey Regiment and was killed in action on the
  26 November 1917, aged 18.

· "Buxton, Burbage, Chelmorton, Harpur Hill, Peak Dale, King Sterndale and Wormhill REMEMBERED" - Keith Taylor [2014]
   ISBN 978-1-906789-99-2, p. 363
· The Buxton Advertiser, 10 & 17 November 1917, and 19 November 1918

Commemorated on:

Jack Thorpe died after the names were submitted for inclusion on the Memorials on The Slopes and Burbage Church. His name does not, therefore, appear on any local Memorial.
Link to CWGC Record
Charles Bennett's grave