Private John Beckley

Date of Birth c. 1889
Age at Death 29
Date of Death 28 September 1918
Service Number 43295
Military Service 13th Battalion, Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment)
Merton Address Tramway Terrace, Mitcham
Local Memorial Mitcham War Memorial

Additional Information

John was born in Beddington Corner in 1889. His father William was a labourer from Carshalton, while his mother Isabella was from an old established Mitcham family. The 1891 Census shows the family living at 2 Mill Green Cottages where William was employed as a Gravel Digger. There were several gravel pits in the area, in fact Seven Islands Pond on Mitcham Common was formed due to gravel extraction. John was one year old and shared the family home with his elder sisters Alice 9, Emma 6, and brother William aged 7.

By 1894, the family had grown and in June 1894, four of the children, James, John, Emma and Amy, were baptised together at St. Mary’s Church, Beddington.

In 1901 the family were living at 7 Jarvis Cottages. John was aged eleven. The other members of the family were William, aged 17 and working as a Skin Mill Labourer, most probably at the Eagle Leather Works, Emma 16, James 9, Charles 6 and Charlotte aged 1 year. All the children were born at Beddington Corner.

By 1911 the family had moved to a five roomed property at 14 Tramway Terrace, Beddington. The property needed to be large, as there were ten people living there. William Snr was working at the leather works at Deeds Mill, alongside his lodger Joseph Wynn aged 73 and his wife. Brother James was working for a Market Gardener, Charlie was an unemployed Water Cress Cutter, while the other children, Ernest, Bertie and Nellie were still at school. John was employed as a labourer for the building trade. Records show that sadly four of the family’s ten children had died.

John enlisted at Ealing with the 20th Middlesex Regiment on 17 March 1916. At the time he was living near the family at Willow Lodge, Mitcham Junction, where he was working as a Chemical Labourer. He was described as 5ft 4 ins in height, weighing in at 121 lbs. After a few months training at home, his battalion embarked for Boulogne, France. His Service Records show that, while in the field, he was admitted to hospital for piles in February 1917and a heel ulcer a couple of months later.

On 20 July 1918 he transferred to the 13th Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s Own Regiment. His new company would have seen action during the Second Battles of the Somme, including the Battle of Albert (21- 23 August 1918). During September 1918, the battalion was stationed near Auber. Although the war diary entry reported that there was only “slight hostile shelling” during the morning of the 26 September 1918, sadly John was one of two men killed on that day.

John is buried at Vielle-Chapelle New Military Cemetery, Lacouture, and his grave is marked with a cross. He is also commemorated locally on the Mitcham War Memorial.

After his death, his parents received his last pay of £23.13 plus the War Gratuity of £11.00. They also received his belongings – a small leather purse and a tin box. Another of the family’s sons, James, was killed in action in 1917, and his story is also told on this website.


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