Company Serjeant Major 19141 John Eli Wright, MM

Died of Wounds on Tuesday, 6th November 1917, age 27.
Commemorated on Panel 154 to 159 and 163A of Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

Machine Gun Corps (Infantry), 220th Company. 7th Division.
Formerly 8112 1st Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment, WO Class 2.

Husband of Mrs Alice Wright, of May Villa, Leabrook Rd, Wednesbury, Staffs.
Born: Great Bridge, Enlisted: Wednesbury, Resident: Great Bridge.

First landed France & Flanders, 20th October 1914.
Medal entitlement: Military Medal, 1914 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

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

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/875967/

Genealogical Data

Birth of John Eli Wright registered June quarter 1890 in Dudley.

1891 Census
2 House, 12 Court, Dudley Port, Tipton, Staffs.
John Wright (32, Iron Worker, born Tipton), his wife Mary Jane (25, born Tipton), and their 3 children: Jane E. (5, Scholar, born Tipton), James (3, born Tipton), and John (9 months, born Tipton).

1901 Census
Cannot trace Wright family.

1911 Census
South Barracks, Gibraltar.
John Ely Wright (21, Private in 1st Bn., South Staffords, born Great Bridge).

Marriage of John E. Wright and Alice Wilcox registered September quarter 1916 in Dudley. << This is probably the marriage of John and Alice, if so there is no evidence of any resulting children.

Personal Data

John Wright had a brother killed in action just prior to his own death, he is not recorded on any Tipton information source.

After John's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £21/3/9d (21 pounds, 3 shillings and 9 pence); this was paid to his widow and sole legatee, Alice, in a number of payments between June 1918 and January 1919. His War Gratuity was £26/0/0d (26 pounds exactly), this was also paid to Alice in November 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that John had enlisted in August 1914.

Action resulting in his death

The 220th Machine Gun Company was formed on 25th March 1917. It was the Divisional Machine Gun Company for 7th Division, each of the Division's 3 Brigades having its own Machine Gun Company.

The 7th Division fought during the 3rd Battle of Ypres in the following actions:
Battle of Polygon Wood.......: 01 to 03 October
Battle of Broodseinde..........: 04 October
Battle of Poelcappelle.........: 09 October
2nd Battle of Passchendale: 26 October

The Soldier's Effects document for John Wright says that he died of wounds at 63rd Field Ambulance on 6th November. This is a little confusing as the 220 MGC were relieved from the front line on 29th October, and moved well to the rear on the next day. Field Ambulances are generally a few miles behind the front line being a mid-point in the casualty evacuation chain. Generally you would not expect a casualty to remain at a Field Ambulance for any great length of time before being moved further back in the chain. It is a little confusing why CSM Wright would die of wounds in 63 Field Ambulance on 6th November when his unit had left the area a week before.

It is possible that John Wright was wounded on 26th October (2nd Passchendaele) as his unit were under considerable fire, but it could also have been just one of the daily injuries which occurred. Despite dying at the 63rd Field Ambulance, he has no known grave and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald January 5th 1918
Died of Wounds.
Company Sergeant-Major J. Wright, M.M.
Official intimation has been received of the death from wounds received in action of Company Sergeant-Major J. Wright. He was an old soldier, having served seven years before the war broke out. He was with his regiment, the South Staffords, in South Africa at the time, and was drafted to the front, where he had served three years without receiving wounds at the time of his fatal injury.
Deceased had but recently been promoted to the rank named, and was decorated with the Military Medal earlier in this year. He had a brother killed in action recently, and much sympathy is extended to the parents, who reside in Darlaston Road, Wednesbury, at their double loss.
Sergeant-Major Wright's widow lives at May Villa, Leabrook Road, Wednesbury, and has received a sympathetic letter from her husband's Lieutenant, who writes: "I need not say how deeply grieved I am to have to tell you that your husband was severly wounded ... and has died from his wounds. The whole company was in action at the time, and although he has not been very long in this company he has worked wonders with it, and their splendid work in the recent heavy fighting I attribute largely to his efforts and influence. I can assure you the whole company and myself feel his loss greatly, and extend sympathy to you in your great loss."