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War Memorials

In Memory of
Private G79404
10th Battalion The Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment)
Who Was Killed in Action on Tuesday, 8th October 1918
Age 21

Plot II Row B Grave 24
Marcoing British Cemetery, Nord, France

Commemorated in Perpetuity
by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Remembered with Honour
Marcoing British Cemetery

Marcoing British Cemetery, Nord, France1

John Philip Abell was born in Beeston, Nottinghamshire in 18952, the younger of two children, both sons, of George Mottram Abell (b. 1870, Beeston) and Annie Jane, his wife (b. c1869, Burnley, Lancs née Watson). George was the youngest son of Thomas Abell who had traded as a butcher in the shop on the corner of High Road and Union Street which was, in more recent times, well known as George Hogg's butchers shop. By the early years of the 20th century, Thomas's business had run into difficulties and his son George, after first following his father in the butchery trade, had at been forced looked elsewhere to make a living3. In 1901, he was working at the Humber cycle works and lived with his family nearby Humber Grove4. By 1911, however, George and his wife were trading as tripe dressers at 125 Queens Road, Beeston5. The 14 year-old John Philip, however, was living with Thomas Abell, his grandfather, at 16a Union Street, Beeston and had started work as a greengrocer's assistant6.

From 1916 onwards, conscription into the armed forces had become compulsory for all single men when reaching the age of 18, and they would then be eligible to be sent abroad on reaching age 19. Accordingly, John Philip, who was 18 in 1914, should have enlisted immediately. For some reason however, he did not enlist until March 1917. It appears likely that, after basic training, he served first in home duties with the Royal Army Service Corps7 However, by mid-1918, the demand for men at the front was such that, on 17 July that year, he joined 4th Battalion Middlesex Regiment in France but, after less than three weeks, on 3 August, he was transferred to 10th Battalion Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment)8 which was part of 111th Brigade of the 37th Division. Later in August the battalion took part in the Third Battle of Albert which successfully pushed back the enemy lines along a 50-mile front. In the battle as a whole, Albert was taken and, in continuing action by New Zealand forces, Bapaume was taken on the 29th. The enemy was attempting to withdraw to the Hindenburg Line but that itself was broken in parts and, to exploit the evident decline in enemy fighting will, the Battle of Havrincourt by British forces, including 10th Battalion, was launched on 12th September, the town was taken and the enemy the heavy defeat further demoralised the enemy. With this series of successes, the Hundred Days Offensive which was to finally end the war, was now well established. On September 27th August, units from Canada, New Zealand and Britain - including 10th Battalion - launched a successful four-day offensive known as the Battle of Canal du Nord, in support of attacks to capture the city of Cambrai. It was in the aftermath, on 8th October that Private Abell was killed.

Private Abell was originally buried near where he fell but, after the Armistice, his body was exhumed, along with others, and reburied in the Marcoing British Cemetery9. Marcoing is a village 7 kilometres south-west of Cambrai and, along with Masnieres, was captured by the 29th Division on the 20th November 1917, the first day of the Battle of Cambrai. On the 30th November and the 1st December, Masnieres was held by the same Division against repeated attacks, but it was evacuated, under orders, on the night of the 1st-2nd; and Marcoing was left a few days later. Marcoing was retaken on the 28th September 1918, and Masnieres on the following day, by the 62nd (West Riding) Division. Marcoing British Cemetery was made after the Armistice, by the concentration of graves (almost all of November 1917 or September-October 1918) from Rumilly German Cemetery and from the local battlefields. There are now nearly 400, 1914-18 war casualties commemorated in this site. Of these, over half are unidentified and special memorials are erected to 19 soldiers from the United Kingdom, four from Canada and one from New Zealand, known or believed to be buried among them. The Cemetery covers an area of 1,404 square metres and is enclosed by a low stone rubble wall10.

Private Abell was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal11. His financial effects of 5 3s 4d were paid to his father on 15 March 1919 and he also received his War Gratuity of 7 on 23 December 191912.

Thomas Abell, John Philip's grandfather had died early in 1917, aged 85. With his father George, death in 1926, age 55, the family involvement in the butchery and similar trades appears to have come to an end. by 1930, His brother, Thomas Mottram Abell and his mother were living at 66 Clifford Avenue, Beeston. His mother died in Nottingham in 1936 and his brother, Thomas Mottram Abell who by then was working as a Council road sweeper, died in 1943, having married Maria M Fitzgibbon in 193813.

1The photograph of Marcoing British Cemetery is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
2His birth was registered in Basford Registration District (of which Beeston was part) in Q3/1896 (Ref 7b 220). He was baptised at Beeston Parish Church on 30 August 1896.
3A more complete account of Abell's butchery business at and around what is now 62 High Road, Beeston can be seen here.
4Beeston, Notts: 1901 Census, Piece 3153 Folio 173. His brother, Thomas Mottram Abell (b. 1893, Beeston) was also present.
5Beeston, Notts: 1911 Census, Piece 20432 RD429 SD3 ED7 Schedule 178.
6Beeston, Notts: 1911 Census, Piece 20431 RD429 SD3 ED6 Schedule 124.
7As his Army Service Record has not survived his date of enlistment has been calculated based on the amount of his War Gratuity, His entry in 'Soldiers Died in the Great War' indicates that he first joined the Royal Army Service Corps (Service Number T/36492)
8The dates of his deployment to these two battalions are recorded in his entry in the Medal Rolls.
9The position and other details of his original burial are recorded on the 'Concentration of Graves - Burial Return' which can be seen on his Commonwealth War Graves Commission memorial page.
10This description of the Marcoing British Cemetery is based on that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
11Details from John Philip's Medal Roll entry and his Medal Card - available on ancestry.com.
12Details from his entry in the Army Register of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929 - available on ancestry.com.
13Details of the family in the post-war period are derived from standard genealogical sources, including Probate Calendars, Electoral Rolls and the 1939 Registration.

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