John McGee was born in Workington Cumberland in 1897, his parents were Thomas McGee and Elizabeth (Methven) McGee. John had two older brothers and a sister.
In 1901 John was living with his mother, brothers and sister at his grandparent’s house in Old Road New Yard Workington. The reason for this may have been that Johns father, Thomas, was in the army.
The family suffered a very sad loss in 1910 when Johns mother died.
The 1911 census shows that the family were still living in Workington at New Yard and John and his older brother William were working as labourers at the steel works with their father.
At some point between 1911 and 1912 Thomas McGee decided to relocate his family to Holland Road Old Whittington. Thomas remarried in 1912, his new wife was Eliza Knight and they married in Chesterfield.
On 2nd September 1914 at the outbreak of the war Thomas, at the age of nearly 34, tried to enlist in Chesterfield. He applied for the Leicester regiment, his previous regiment was the 3rd Borderers. However, on the 26th November 1914 he was declared medically unfit to fight and was discharged.
This might have spurred Thomas’s sons to enlist. John enlisted in Chesterfield in the 8th Battalion Sherwoods on 26th January 1915 and his older brother William enlisted in the 6th Border regiment.
Johns Service record, or part of, survived. He enlisted in Chesterfield and his physical description sheet records him as 5ft 7” tall, with blue eyes, light brown hair and a fair complexion with an anchor tattoo on his left forearm. On his military history sheet his next of kin is recorded as Thomas McGee 92 Holland Road Old Whittington.
However, Johns time in the Sherwoods didn’t last long. Firstly he was transferred to the 2/6th Battalion and on the 13th May he was discharged.
He was discharged on health grounds, his discharge report below shows that he was suffering from a heart condition and was unable to keep up at drill.
John returned to Whittington and his job at the Iron works at Sheepbridge, I would imagine his work as a labourer at the Iron Works would be very heavy work for someone with a heart condition!
Sadly for the family not long after John was discharged, his older brother William was killed at Gallipoli on 9th August 1915. This may have convinced John that he must get involved. According to his obituary John managed to re-join the army in June 1918 and ended up serving with the 11th Battalion Essex Regiment, there are no service records for John this time. His regimental number was 50150 and the reason I am convinced it is the correct John McGee is the pension record card :
Which lists Thomas McGee of Holland Road as his next of kin.
Also the register of Personal effects lists Thomas as his next of kin. There is also an obituary in the Derbyshire Times confirming it is the correct John McGee.
Again, according to the obituary in the Derbyshire Times, John crossed to France at the end of September. 11th Battalion was attached to 18th Brigade in 6th Division and in September/October 1918 they took part in several actions, including:
The Battle of St Quentin Canal 29th September – 10th October 1918
The Battle of Beaurevoir 3rd October 1918
The Battle of Cambrai 8th-10th October 1918
These Battles were all phases of the Battles of the Hindenburg Line and as far as I can tell John would have been based around the area shown on the map below.
Original map courtesy of the Long Long Trail
John didn’t serve for long in France and very sadly died from his wounds on 12th October 1918, he is buried at Vaux-Andigny British cemetery, right in the middle of the area marked above. More information on Vaux-Andigny can be found at https://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/33105/vaux-andigny-british-cemetery/
Picture Derbyshire Times 7th December 1918.
Picture WW1Cemeteries.com Picture TWGPP
John was awarded The British War and Victory medals.
John McGee is commemorated on Old Whittington and the Brushes War memorials. As William McGee is not listed at Old Whittington I had a look online at the Workington War Memorial, and there is a William McGee and John McGee listed there, quite possibly the two boys who moved to Old Whittington.
According to the obituary Thomas sadly lost three sons in WW1, I have only traced two of them for this research.
Thomas McGee continued to live in Old Whittington and died in 1934.
John McGee obituary Derbyshire Times 7th December 1918