Serjeant 240147 John Aston

Aston John 240147 hs 96 444x600 Aston John 96 407x600
Picture courtesy of Toni Hickman who believes this to be John Aston although he is in the uniform of the Royal Artillery. Further pictures at the bottom.

Died of Wounds on Sunday, 2nd June 1918, age 25.
Buried in Grave LXVII. E. 36. at Etaples Military Cemetery, Pas De Calais, France.

1st/6th Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment. 137th Brigade of 46th Division.
Formerly 1811 South Staffs Regiment.

Son of Francis and Sarah Jane Aston, of 3, Boat Row, Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Tipton, Resident: Unknown.

First landed France & Flanders, 5th March 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library, and St. Matthew's memorials.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/498638/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
1 Court 1 House Boat Row, Tipton
Frank Aston (34, Labourer, born Tipton), his wife Sarah J. (29, born Bristol), and their 5 children: Francis (14, Carpenter, born Stafford), John (7, born Tipton), May (6, born Tipton), Sam (4, born Tipton), and Joseph (5 months, born Tipton).

1911 Census
3 Boat Row, Tipton
Frank Aston (43, Labourer at Oil Works, born Tipton), his wife Sarah Jane (41, born Tipton), and 7 of their 8 surviving children of 11: John (17, Farm Labourer -out of work, born Tipton), May (16, at home, born Tipton), Samuel (13, on Bank at Coal Mine, born Tipton), Joseph (9, at School, born Tipton), Christopher (8, at School, born Tipton), Emma (5, at School, born Tipton), and Lily (3, at Home, born Tipton).

Personal Data

John Aston's Soldier's Effects (from ancestry.co.uk) shows that his outstanding army pay was distributed according to his Soldier's Will: £5 to his father Frank Aston, £5 to his brother Frank Keeling, and £5 to Maria Humphries (his sweetheart), with the balance of £12/3/3d (12 pounds 3 shillings and 3 pence) to his mother Sarah Jane Aston. His War Gratuity payment of £21 was paid to his mother in 1919.

The value of the War Gratuity, his rank (Sgt), and his date of death can be calculated backwards to give an enlistment date of approximately September 1914.

Action resulting in his death

From: "War History of the 6th South Staffs"
Towards the end of April 1918, the 1/6th South Staffs moved to the Loisne sector in French Flanders. The battalion's sector stretched from Festubert to Locon, with the villages of Gorre and Essar as support posts and Verquin and Vuadricourt as reserve areas. This area was held constantly until August 1918. There were no trenches, merely an irregular series of disconnected holes. Their occupants reached them by marching up the main road and doing the best they could in spite of enemy shelling and machine-gun fire. At this time there was constant night bombing by aircraft, and the rest-disturbing bombardment of back lines by long range guns.

On the early morning of May 1st 1918, the 1/6th South Staffs suffered an intense deluge of gas shells whilst in support at Gorre. This inflicted heavy casualties at once and also resulted in conditions painful in the extreme for long hours afterwards. In the full light and heat of the sun on the following day, gas vapours rose from the ground and made victims of many who had survived the bombardment itself. Casualties reached such a proportion that the battalion was moved to reserve on May 2nd.

After a brief rest, the 1/6th returned to duty, immediately to suffer a still more intense bombardment, the number of shells being put at ten thousand, of which five hundred were "eight inch" and the larger part carried gas. The casualties of this raid were 6 Officers and 134 Other Ranks. Another short rest on May 22nd was imperative, but another tour resulted in many casualties before the month of May was over.

In May 1918, 1 Officer was killed in action and 2 died of wounds, 8 Other Ranks were killed in action and 39 died of wounds.

John's father, Mr Frank Aston, received Army Form B.104 (pictured below courtesy Toni Hickman) informing him of his son's death. It stated that John had died at No. 4 General Hospital at Camiers from Gas Poisoning. We do not know which action in May caused the gas poisoning, but we can be fairly sure it would have been one of the incidents mentioned above.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald 10th July 1915
Home from the trenches.
Private John Aston of Dog Yard, Park Lane West, Tipton, a member of the 6th South Staffs Territorial Battalion, who volunteered for the front at the outbreak of hostilities, left the trenches at 11.30am on Sunday morning, and arrived at Wolverhampton about 10.30 on Monday morning, and was soon at his parent's house. He has five days furlough. He brought with him his rifle, bayonet, ammunition and entrenching tool. Before the war he was employed at the Park Lane Colliery. He has seen a great deal of fighting.

Birmingham Daily Post 18th May 1917
The following casualties amongst warrant officers, non-commissioned officers, and men are reported under various dates:
SOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENT- Aston, 240147, Sgt., J., (Tipton).

Birmingham Daily Post 5th July 1918
SOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENT- Aston, 240147, Sgt., J., (Tipton).

Aston John Death Notification 700

Aston John Death Plaque Scroll 700

Aston John 240147

Photographs courtesy Toni Hickman