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War Memorials

In Memory of
Private 71804
11th Battn/Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby) Regiment
Who was Killed in Action on Thursday, 7th June 1917
Age 29

No Known Grave - Panel 39 & 41
Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium

Commemorated in Perpetuity
by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Remembered with Honour
Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial

Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium1

John Francis (often known as 'Frank') Scott was born in Chard, Somerset in 18882, the third son of John and Sarah (née White) Scott. Chard had developed a lace industry, as did Tiverton in Devon after some of the manufacturers had started to leave the Nottingham area following the machine-breaking incidents during the Luddite riots in 1816. The lace industry in Chard began to develop in the 1820s, originally influenced by incomers from Nottingham and its surrounding areas - notably John Riste from East Leake who, in partnership with others, was employing nearly 300 hands - almost half of those working in the trade in the town - by 1851, in one of the four major lace mills in Chard. John Scott senior, born in about 1861, was just one from several generations of Chard men and women who made a living from the local lace making trade in the latter decades of the 19th century3. In 1884, he had married Sarah White4 and they had three sons, including John Francis who was only two when his mother died in 18905. The three boys went to live for a while with their maternal grandparents while John boarded close to his job but, after John married Kate Hurford in 18916, the family was able to get back together. By 1901, the family had grown by another five children and the older of the children had joined their father in the lace trade7. Later, they were joined by John Francis who had, by 1911, moved away from the family home and was lodging in Tatworth, part of Chard, and working as a machine lace hand8.

In 1913, John Francis married Rosalind Beasley9 and together they moved to live and find work in Beeston. Movement of lace trade workers from Chard to the Nottingham area had occurred over the years as the relative prosperity of the two areas ebbed and flowed. Those who made the transition would, no doubt, advise relatives and friends, encouraging a move when conditions were favourable and, it is likely that John Francis and his wife were able to take advantage of this advice from those they knew10. Although nothing definite is known about where they lived or worked when they arrived, if they lived at 25 Hawthorne Grove, Beeston - where Rosalind was living at the end of the war - it is quite likely that John Francis had found work at Arthur William Black factory at the nearby ex-Humber Company factory on Humber Road. By March 1909 he had started to make plain lace net on a huge scale, an operation that would have required a comprehensive recruitment drive in a wide area.

Although his Army Service Record has not survived, it appears that John Francis enlisted towards the end of 1916 with the Sherwood Foresters, becoming part of the 11th (Service) Battalion 9. The 11th had been raised at Derby in September 1914 as part of Kitchener's New Army and had landed in France in August 1915 as part of 70th Brigade in 23rd Division and saw action on the Somme during 1916. Private Scott is likely to have joined the battalion, after initial training. when it was preparing for action south of Ypres in Belgium in the spring or early summer of 1917. In the first few days of June it prepared to take part in the Battle of Messines, an offensive designed to take the Messines Ridge, a natural stronghold, southeast of Ypres that had been held by the enemy since the early months of the war. The attack had been meticulously planned for over a year and was to turn out to be a considerable success - some say, the most successful local operation of the war. In preparation, 22 mine shafts had been dug under the German lines, along the length of the ridge and heavy preliminary bombardment - involving some 2300 guns and 300 heavy mortars - had begun towards the end of May. Zero-hour was 3.10am on 7th June 1917, when, after the bombardment had been silent for twenty minutes, 19 of the 21 undiscovered mines were detonated - a total of 600 tons of explosive, still one of the largest non-nuclear explosions ever, which was heard in London and in Dublin. The effect on the enemy was devastating. The explosion alone killed 10,000 men and the infantry advances that followed, protected by a creeping artillery barrage, tanks and gas attacks achieved their objectives within three hours.

Private Scott was among those killed in this action on the 7th June 1917. With no known grave, his name is listed on Panel 39 & 41 at Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in Belgium He was posthumously awarded the British War and Victory medals14.

John Francis's Army financial effects of 2 6s 2d were paid to his widow on 11 May 1918 and she received his War Gratuity of 3 in February 192015. In 1919. she had married Herbert Owen Blackwell16 and they are believed to have lived out their lives in the Beeston area and Herbert worked as a labourer at Beeston Foundry between 1922 and 1930 while they lived at 25 Hawthorne Grove. Rosalind died in 1950 and Herbert in 1979, while living at 3 The Crescent, Attenborough Lane, Chilwell17.

1The photograph of the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
2His birth was registered, as 'John Frank', in Chard Registration District in Q2/1888 (Ref 5c 397).
He was baptised at Chard Parish Church as 'John Francis' on 26 May 1888. The register records his birthday as 20 April 1888.
3This synopsis of the story of the lace industry in Chard is derived from a paper accessible as a gallery of images attached to John Riste in a family tree published by 'Ritamoffat' on ancestry.com
4Their marriage was registered in Chard Registration District in Q1/1884 (Ref 5c 623)
5Her death was recorded in Chard Registration District in Q3/1890 (Ref 5c 245). She was aged 28. As this quarter was the same as that for her daughter's birth, it seems likely that she died in childbirth or following it.
6Their marriage was registered in Chard Registration District in Q4/1891 (Ref 5c 744). Kate (or Kitty or Betty) was born in Tiverton Registration District in Q1/1872, apparently the daughter of Ellen Hurford. By 1891, Ellen had married Eli Hayball and was living in Perry Street, Chard with 'Betty Hurford' recorded as a step-daughter of Eli. John Scott, then a widower, was lodging a few doors away (1891 Census)
71901 Census, Piece 2294 Folio 29 : Southchurch, Chard, Somerset. John William's siblings were Charles (b, c1884, Thomas (b. 1874) and Sarah (b. 1890). His half-siblings were Fred (b. c1893), Ethel (b. c1894), Leonard (b. c1897), Gladys (b. c1899) and George (b. 1901).
81911 Census, Piece 14364 RD308 SD3 ED6 Sched 60.
9Their marriage was at Chard Parish Church on 7 June 1913. Rosalind had been baptised there on 16 May 1889, the daughter of William & Harriett. Her birth was registered in Chard Registration District in Q2/1889 (Ref 5c 401)
10This may have included members of the wider Hayball family who had moved to Beeston from Chard earlier in the 19th Century.
11His service is calculated as less than 12 months based on the amount of his War Gratuity. His service number was allocated consecutively, by the same regiment, to another Beeston lace maker, Arthur Matthew Smedley who died on the same day, alongside John Francis Scott.
12Details of 11th Battalion's formation and deployment is from the Wartime Memories Project website : www.wartimememoriesproject.com/greatwar/allied/alliedarmy-view.php?pid=7070 and from its war diaries.
13This account of the Battle of Messines is summarised from a more complete account on the firstworldwar.com website at www.firstworldwar.com/battles/messines.htm .
14John Francis's medal awards are recorded on his Medal Card, available on ancestry.com.
15Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929, available on ancestry.com.
16Rosalind Scott married Herbert Owen Blackwell (b 1897 the son of William Joseph & Sarah Ann Blackwell) in Basford Registration District (of which Beeston was part) in Q4/1819 (Ref 7b 689).
She is recorded as living at 25 Hawthorne Grove, Beeston on John Francis's memorial page on the Commonwealth War Graves website.
17Rosalind Blackwell's death was registered in Basford Registration District (of which Beeston was part) in Q2/1959, age 70 years
Herbert Owen Blackwell died on 11 October 1979 (Probate Calendar)

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