This is the fourth in my biographies about the lives of my eight great-grandparents, next up is John Edwin Barnes.
John Edwin Barnes was one of the first Ancestors that I researched, in real detail and he is someone who will always hold a special place in my heart, due to the fact he was sadly killed in action at Gallipoli in WW1.
After my Nan died, I was the humbled recipient of his WW1 medals and it was these very medals, that inspired me to trace my family history in my early years of research.
Are we allowed “Favourite Ancestor’s?” Of course we are, so apologies if there is a lot of info in this blog, I have managed to uncover a lot about John Edwin’s military career, in what was actually, an extremely short life.
So sit back and take a glimpse into the life of my Great-Grandfather John Edwin Barnes.
John Edwin Barnes was born on 17th March 1890 at 49, Benledi Street, Bromley-By-Bow, Poplar, he was the fourth child of eight, born to Henry Barnes and Martha Barnes nee Harvey.
Within a year, we find John Edwin Barnes counted in the 1891 Census, still living at 49, Benledi Street, with his parents and three older Brothers.
By the time of the 1901 Census, the family home had moved to 50, Burke Street, West Ham and young John Edwin is still living at home with his parents and six siblings, Henry aged 17, Walter aged 13, Arthur aged 8, Edward aged 6, Martha aged 2 and baby Ethel aged just 5 Months.
Whether he was inspired by his older Brother Harry Barnes, who joined the East Surrey Regiment, I can’t say for certain, but the next record we find for our young John Edwin Barnes is his Army attestation papers detailing his enlistment to the Essex Militia, Army Number 9431;
The following information is taken from John Edwin Barnes Army enlisting documentation dated 19th October 1906. He was recruited into the Essex Regiment at the Frances Street Office, Woolwich, London. On the day he enlisted, he was 17 years and 7 months old, his height was 5ft 6 1/2″ and his weight 12st 3lbs. His chest measurement was 35″ and his complexion listed as Sallow. He had brown eyes and auburn hair and his religion is listed as C of E. His occupation is listed as a Carman and he is listed as single.
He had the following distinguishing marks:
Scar left side of forehead
Scar between shoulder blades
Tattoo I Love F.Bevens front of left forearm
(I have no idea who F. Bevens was, but she obviously made an impact!)
His address on enlisting is: 66, Hansworth Street, Canning Town, London.
His next of kin are listed as follows:
Father Harry, 66, Hansworth St. Canning Town Essex
Elder Bros Harry, Pte East Surrey Regt, Walter Jnr, Bros Arthur and Edward Sisters Martha & Ethel, all with father.
He enlists into the 3rd Militia Battalion Essex Regiment, Number 9431, on 19th October 1906 and shortly after receives the Army Recruiting Office seal of approval on 22nd October 1906. Exactly one month later, on 19th November 1906, he attested for Regular Service with the 3rd Battalion, Essex Regiment.
After completing basic training at the Warley Depot, at the end of 1907, he was posted to 2nd Battalion Essex Regiment, with the Army Number 8987. He was posted from the 2nd Battalion to the 1st Battalion and is stationed at Quetta, Baluhistan, India on the 5th January 1911 and is counted in the 1911 Census in India.
He is stationed here in “C” Company and later in 1913 “C” Company was merged to form part of the new “Y” Company when the Battalion moved to a four Company structure in 1913.
A helpful link to understanding Essex Regiment Service Numbers can be found here
It’s during this period in Ireland and specifically Dublin, that John Edwin Barnes meets and marries his sweetheart, Elizabeth (Lizzie) Daniels.
They were married on 27th October 1909 at The Registrar’s Office in The City of Dublin and John Edwin Barnes was living at 6, Madeline Terrace, Golden Bridge, Dublin at the time and Lizzie’s address was 3, Woodroffe Cottages, Island Bridge. His occupation was listed as Private, Essex Regiment.
Between John Edwin Barnes enlistment and before he was sent to India, the Essex Regiment were stationed at The Island Bridge Army Barracks, in Dublin, the exact dates I can’t be sure. During this period there is also evidence of a Court Martial for a John E Barnes, of the 2nd Battalion, at The Curragh Army Barracks, Ireland. The date of the trial was 5th December 1910 and the Court Martial took place on 20th December 1910, the outcome of the trial was a Court Martial for desertion and he was sentenced to 112 days. I would like to think that he was deserting for good reasons, to go and meet his Wife, Lizzie, who would have been pregnant at the time with their only child Martha Annie Barnes. I will never know for certain the reason for his desertion, but the sentimental part of me would like it to be for this reason.
John Edwin Barnes and Lizzie Barnes only had the one child, Martha Annie Barnes (My Nan), who was born 21st April 1911, at The Stevens Hospital Dublin.
Sadly John Edwin Barnes died at Gallipoli on this ill-fated campaign, on the very first day of battle, 25th April 1915. Whether he was able to see his only child, Martha Annie Barnes or not, between his service in India, with the Essex Regiment and the outbreak of WW1, I am unable to say for sure.
You might think that there is where the story ends for John Edwin Barnes, but far from it, over the years I have been able to piece together more and more information about his time at Gallipoli thanks to the wonderful help of sites such as The Long Long Trail, The Great War Forum and The Gallipoli Association.
So I have included some more detailed information regarding the Gallipoli Campaign, the part the Essex Regiment played and the part my Ancestor John Edwin Barnes played.
There is a whole wealth of well documented books, blogs and research into the Gallipoli Campaign which would be far too lengthy to be included with this blog, but a very brief note of why the Allied Forces chose to attack the Dardanelles Peninsula is included here;
The eight month campaign in Gallipoli was fought by Allied forces in an attempt to force Turkey out of the war, to relieve the deadlock of the Western Front in France and Belgium, and to open a supply route to Russia through the Dardanelles and the Black Sea. The Allies landed on the peninsula on 25-26 April 1915; the 29th Division at Cape Helles in the south and the Australian and New Zealand Corps north of Gaba Tepe on the west coast, an area soon known as Anzac.
From now on, we will concentrate on the 29th Division, which consisted of 12 Battalions: Border Regiment, 1st Battalion Essex Regiment, Hampshire Regiment, King’s Own Scottish Borderers, 1st Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers, Royal Dublin Fusiliers, Royal Fusiliers – City of London Regiment, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, Royal Munster Fusiliers, 1/5th Royal Scots – Lothian Regiment, South Wales Borderers and the Worcestershire Regiment. John Edwin Barnes was part of The Essex Regiment that landed at “W” beach on 25th April 1915.
The following is the actual transcript of the 1st Battalion Essex Regiment War Diary in the run up to the landings on 25th April 1915 and the days after;
12th March 1915
His Majesty’s Inspection
Battalion entrains at Milverton Station, Warwick:
“A” & “B” Companies 8-25 am.
“C” & “D” Companies 8-45 am.
Inspection by His Majesty on main Coventry – Rugby Road.
21st March 1915
Warwick, Warwickshire. Part of the 88th Brigade, 29th Division.
To Avonmouth and embarked Caledonia.
April 2nd 1915
Arrived Alexandria, Egypt.
April 6th 1915
Disembarked and to Mustapha Camp.
April 11th 1915
Embarked DONGOLA and sailed for Lemnos.
April 13th 1915
Arrived Mudros Harbour.
April 24th 1915
Set sail to Cape Helles.
April 25th 1915 09:00 hrs
The Battalion less Z Company transhipped from H.T. DONGOLA to a minesweeper and was conveyed as close to the shore as possible, when they were transferred to boats. The landing was carried out under fire and there were several casualties in the boats that took place on W. beach about 9.30 am.
April 25th 1915 09:30 hrs
As soon as the first boats were beached, we received orders to connect between the Royal Fusiliers on right and Lancashire Fusiliers on left and as many as were available were sent to fill this gap, reinforcing as men arrived on the beach. On reaching the crest it was found that no one was on our right.
April 25th 1915 11:35 hrs
A message was received from G.H.Q. to report progress and reasons for not pushing on. Reply was sent, that we were waiting for our left to come up and would then advance. This was attempted but the advance was held up by very heavy fire and many casualties occurred.
April 25th 1915 12:30 hrs
Supported by 4th Worcester’s and after bombardment by Navy, which drove out the enemy, the Battalion took Hill 138 and redoubt beyond.
April 25h 1915 19:00 hrs
Received orders to connect with Worcester’s on right & Hampshire’s on left and entrench position.
Enemy attacked at night & came to close range with a Machine Gun, but inflicted no loss and were driven off.
Casualties during day
2 Officers – Killed
4 Officers – Wounded 1 since dead.
Other Ranks 15 killed 87 wounded.
April 26th 1915
Continued to hold same position.
April 27th 1915 16:00 hrs
Advanced in Line 3 Brigades with 175th French Regiment on right and entrenched new position.
April 28th 1915 08:00 hrs
Advanced in same formation to take up a new position Pt. 236 – Knoll about 700 yds. N.E. of KRITHEA – Pt. 472 – X Coast Line in Sq. 184.R.8
April 28th 1915 09:00 hrs
Met with considerable opposition. The Battalion on the left of the 88th Brigade on reaching a point beyond which they could not advance owing to the right & left of the line being held up entrenched and held till 6 P.M. when it retired to another position in the line with the remainder of the Brigades the right of the line having retired. The enemy made very good use of their Machine Guns causing heavy casualties.
Casualties Officers Other Ranks
Killed 2 12
Wounded 1 75
April 29th 1915
Remained in position.
April 30th 1915
Remained in position, shelled by enemy causing little damage.
May 1st 1915
Remained in same position, Battalion relieved by 2nd Hants. Regt. in trenches and went into reserve.
May 1st 1915 22:30 hrs
Enemy attacked trenches in force. The Battalion was called out and ordered to retake trenches which has been evacuated and were held by the enemy. During the advance the Battalion was subjected to heavy fire from the front and also from the rear by parties of the enemy who had broken through 1 Officer and about 40 Turkish prisoners were taken during the advance. X Company under Capt. Pepys found one trench occupied by the enemy and retook it with the bayonet. The remainder of the Battalion remained in support ready to strengthen any portion of the line.
May 2nd 1915 04:30 hrs
A Counter attack was ordered. This consisted of three companies under Captain Bowen they took a small redoubt killing and capturing some of the enemy, ordered to advance and entrench new position.
This was found impracticable owing to enemy’s heavy shell fire. The old trenches were occupied.
Casualties Officers. O.R.
Killed 2 12
Wounded 3 28
The Essex Regiment Diaries can be found on Ancestry and the links are attached here;
John Edwin Barnes is commemorated on the Helles Memorial alongside the names of his own Essex Regiment comrades and the other 20,000 plus soldiers, who sadly lost their life here at Gallipoli.
He was awarded The Victory Medal, The British Medal, The 1914-15 Star as well as The Memorial Plaque (knows as “The Death Penny”).
There are numerous Newspaper reports listing the wounding and death of John Edwin Barnes in various newspapers, these can be found on Find My past and The British Newspaper Archive websites, the links are included here;
I am very fortunate, over the years, I have accumulated a large amount of Photographs from Gallipoli. I am eternally grateful to those that have allowed me to use their own pictures within my Family History Research. Credits to the images are listed below.
(Images kindly supplied by Sean Ryan)
(Images kindly supplied by Robert Pike)
(Images kindly supplied by Bob Cumberbatch)
After his death, John Edwin Barnes widow, Lizzie Barnes, was entitled to a War Gratuity benefit from the Army, which was duly paid to her on 15th July 1919 for the sum of £5. The payment sheet recording this, is shown here;
A detailed explanation of how the War Gratuity was calculated and paid can be found here on a blog written by Craig from The Great War Forum. War Gratuity
John Edwin Barnes even managed to get a mention in a book by Trevor Royle entitled “Britain’s Lost Regiment’s, you can view the extract here;
My one lasting regret is that I don’t have a picture of my hero John Edwin Barnes……………..if only.
Special thanks to all those that have helped with contributions and images and have kindly allowed me to include them here. I hope you managed to reach the end………
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