( 4) John Jennings

Dies at Ypres

Lance Corporal John Jennings (4) was born in Rayleigh where his family lived. In the 1911 census aged 17 he was a greengrocer’s assistant at 469 Romford Road, Forestgate. He enlisted at Warley in Essex, but we do not know when but it was most likely to have been early 1913 when he was 18. He joined the 2nd Battalion Essex Regiment.

He was one of the original B.E.F. and entered France on 22nd August 1914. As a result he was entitled to the 1914 Star (Mons Star). Soon after getting to the front he was injured in the right foot but he made a recovery and returned to the front.

He was attached to the machine gun section and took part in the 2nd Battle of Ypres. It is most likely that he lost his life at the Battle of Frezenberg Ridge (8th to 13th May) in the region of Shell Trap Farm. He was killed in action on the 13th May. He was 20 years old.

After his death the following news articles appeared:

CHARGED THROUGH POISON FUMES
Lance-Corporal J. Jennings, Essex regiment, writes:- We are at a place now where the Germans are using poisonous gas, and it is impossible to do anything when that is about. The Germans gave our regiment a good dose of it the other day, and made them retire from their trenches, but our company in reserve charged through it with pads over their mouths, and managed to save the trenches.
Evening Telegraph and Post – 24th May 1915

And:

Lance Corpl. John Jennings, 2nd Essex, aged 20 years, who belonged to Rayleigh fell in action on May 13. He was attached to a machine gun section. Deceased had previously been wounded.
Essex newsman – 5th June 1915

Even though he is on the Benfleet War Memorial the records do not show an obvious Benfleet connection. However on the 27th June 1915 a service is given in his memory at St Mary’s Church. So he must have had family in the area. He also appears on the Rayleigh War Memorial, which was dedicated after Benfleet’s. It appears his family wished his name to be remembered.

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