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Battle of Somme: The story of John James Bennett

John James Bennett Photo: Anne Varley

In the lead up to the Centenary of The Battle of the Somme, a Granada Reports viewer got in touch to tell us her grandfather's story.

Anne Varley's beloved grandfather John James Bennett survived The Great War and the Somme and has not been far from her thoughts as the commemorations unfold.

John James Bennett and his wife Martha Ann in their older years Credit: Anne Varley

In 1915 John James joined The Manchester Regiment and the following year was transferred to The Northumberland Fusiliers with whom he served as a Sgt until 1919.

He was awarded the Military Medal in 1917 and a year later the Bar to the Medal, for 'Bravery in the Field’ during the Battle of The Somme.

John James Bennett and his wife Martha Ann Credit: Anne Varley

John, known as Jack, lived in Battersby Street, Ince in Makerfield near Wigan and was married to Martha. They had three daughters and two sons. It was only during celebration preparations for Jack and Martha's Golden Wedding in 1964 that the secret of his medals came to light.

Jack never discussed the war and try as hard as they could, no one managed to extract the background story as to why he was awarded the medals. The only thing he did talk about was the football game between themselves and the Germans at Christmas.

'Jack's' his mention in dispatches Credit: London Gazette

Jack was presented with his medals at Ripon and along with other recipients stood on duty all day waiting for King George V to present them. He never arrived due to Armistice talks that stopped the ceremony from taking place.

Jack was recommended to be an officer and had passed the necessary examinations but war finished before he was commissioned.

He died in 1968 in Wigan and is survived by his youngest daughter, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

After the war, Jack worked as an Overman at the Albert Colliery in Bickershaw, near Wigan, until he retired.

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