Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me54

But for the emergence of red and yellow hues among the masses of foliage42, the warm temperatures of late September 189431 might have been mistaken for midsummer.  All things considered, the harvest was bountiful and for those labourers fortunate enough to have work during the ongoing agricultural depression, it was a busy time9.

For waggoner2 Samuel Hanmer and his wife Agnes1 there was much to celebrate; the birth of their second son John2 and his forthcoming baptism, in the Parish Church of St. Michael & All Angels, Loppington8.

For the growing family, life in the small tithe cottage in English Frankton2 would have been hard as it struggled to survive on Samuel’s meagre and irregular wages57.  As he grew up, John would have been expected to share the burden of work, albeit for little pay56.  Many long days would have been spent scaring birds from the crops, sowing potatoes, and filling sacks with grain29.

John’s schooldays were spent firstly at Loppington30 and then Cockshutt, after the family moved into the village30, presumably as his Father pursued work7.  Afterwards, he made his home in Brown Heath35 whilst working as a Cowman at Church Farm, Loppington3.

As war was declared and Church bells stopped ringing19, the news filtering in from the Western Front was grim as the elite but small BEF fought valiantly at Mons and Marne, but at great cost50.  As 1914 ground to an end with the deadlock of trench warfare50 and voluntary enlistment fell, Cockshutt found itself coming to terms with the death of one of its own….

Against this backdrop, John enlisted with the 1st Battalion KSLI16, entering the Western European Theatre of War on 2nd June 191511.  For the next three and a half years, Private J Hanmer 1119416 fought a long and brutal war, during which it is likely he experienced the first flamethrower attack by the Germans in the 1915 Battle of Hooge51.  Over the next couple of years, he would have encountered considerable action with his Battalion which saw service in the Somme 1916, Arras 1917 (where he was wounded59) and Cambrai32.   On countless occasions, he would have witnessed relentless “heavy casualties”58 and still found the strength and courage to move against the persistent “heavy resistance (and) constant heavy shelling throughout the day … and sniping at night” 58.

By early 1918 John had been promoted to Lance Corporal16 and in all likelihood saw action on the Hindenberg Line32 during the German Spring Offensive.  Afterwards, the Battalion moved to Lagnicourt, Northern France58 where the fighting was so ferocious it was later labelled “one of the worst episodes in German History28”.  In the resulting carnage and chaos, Lance Corporal J Hanmer was captured by the Germans on 21st March 1918 and taken to Kassel Niederzwehren Prisoner of War Camp, Germany16/35.

Having served his country in the most appalling circumstances for nearly three and a half years, Lance Corporal J Hanmer 11194 died as a Prisoner of War on 23rd November 191816.

Medal Index Card
WW1 Medals, 1914 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal

Posthumously awarded the 1914/15 Star, The British War Medal and the Victory Medal11, his final resting place is at Niederzwehren Cemetery, Kassel, Germany16.

Now at peace, John Hanmer was the last of “Our Boys” to be killed in the Great War 1914-1918.

We Will Remember Him.





Lance Corporal John Hanmer, 11194, 1st Bn. King’s Shropshire Light Infantry.

Died in Germany on 23rd November 1918

Buried at Niederzwehren Cemetery, Germany. Grave VII. B. 10.



Here dead we lie
Because we did not choose
To live and shame the land
From which we sprung.

Life, to be sure,
Is nothing much to lose,
But young men think it is,
And we were young25.


11892 England & Wales Marriages, Wem, Shropshire, Volume 6A, Pg. 1446
21901 England, Wales & Scotland Census, Ellesmere, RG13, Piece No 2550, Folio 12, Page 15
31911 England, Wales & Scotland Census, Ellesmere, RG14PN16180 RG78PN1001 RD351 SD3 ED3 SN127
41911 England, Wales & Scotland Census, Wem, RG14PN16205 RG78PN1003 RD352 ED9 SN25

1st Battalion, King’s Shropshire Light Infantry During the Great War, https://wartimememoriesproject.com/greatwar/allied/regiment.php?pid=17676

624 Hrs at The Somme 1 July 1916, Robert Kershaw, 2016, WH Allen, Penguin Random House, ISBN: 9780753555484
7A History of the English Agricultural Labourer, 1870-1920, FE Green, 1920, PS King & Son Ltd, Orchard House, Copyright-evidence-date 20070823134915, Openlibrary_edition OL7132216M, Openlibrary work OL7890258W, Possible Copyright Status: not in copyright
8Baptism Register, Shropshire Baptisms, 1859-1900, Pg. 49. DC Thomson Family History, Archive Ref: P173/A/2/2, Shropshire Archives
9Bringing the Harvest Home, Dr. Alan Crosby, 2018, Who Do You Think You Are? Immediate Media
10British Agriculture 1875-1914, PJ Perry, Editor’s Introduction, 1914 , London, Methuen, 1973, pp. xi-xliv
11British Army Medal Index Cards 1914-1920, WO/372/8/246840, Archive Reference WO372/8, National Archives
12Causes of the Fall of Agricultural Prices between 1875 and 1895, HM Conacher, in PJ Perry (ed.), British Agriculture 1875-1914, London, Methuen, 1973, pp. 8-29
13Churchwardens’ Account Book for Cockshutt from 1794 to 1926, Milestones in the History of a North Shropshire Rural Parish, August 1956, Shropshire Magazine, Parish Pack 2, Shropshire Archives
14Cockshutt War Memorial, The Churchyard, SS Simon & Jude, Cockshutt, Shropshire, SY12 0JH

Combat and the Soldier’s Experience in the First World War, Vanda Wilcox, 29th January 2014, British Library, https://www.bl.uk/world-war-one/articles/combat-and-soldiers-experiences


Commonwealth War Graves, https://www.cwgc.org/find

17England 1870-1914, RCK Ensor, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1936

Farming Depression in Late Victorian Box, Alan Payne (& Shirley & Ainslie Goulstone), July 2015, http://www.boxpeopleandplaces.co.uk/victorian-farming.html


Defence of the Realm Act, The Gazette, https://www.thegazette.co.uk/all-notices/content/217


Farming in the First World War, Julie Moore, 23rd March 2015, https://everydaylivesinwar.herts.ac.uk/2015/03/farming-in-the-first-world-war/

21Feeding the war effort: agricultural experiences in First World War Devon 1914-17, Bonnie White, 2010. Agricultural History Review
22GRO Index England & Wales Births 1837-2006, Wem, Shropshire, England, Vol 6A, pg. 665
23GRO Index England & Wales Deaths 1837-1007, Oswestry, Shropshire, Q3, 1941, Vol 6A, pg. 1351
24GRO Index England & Wales Deaths 1837-1007, Oswestry, Shropshire, Q3, 1943, Vol 6A, pg. 645
25Here Dead We Lie, AE Housman, 1914
26King’s Shropshire Light Infantry Badge & Motto

KSLI Battlefields Tours, www.facebook.com/KSLI.Battlefields.tours


Lagnicourt a Black Day for Germany, 10th March 2017  http://anzaccentenary.sa.gov.au/story/lagnicourt-a-black-day-for-germany/


Life on a Victorian Farm, http://www.aboutbritain.com/articles/life-on-a-victorian-farm.asp

30Loppington National Church of England School, Loppington, Shropshire, 1900, National School Admission Registers & Log Books 1970-1914, DC Thomson Family History, Archive Ref: ED4407/1/5

Monthly Weather Report of the Meteorological Office, September 1894, 1918, https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/learning/library/archive-hidden-treasures/monthly-weather-report-1890s

32Notes on the Shropshire Regiments, 2007, Shropshire Regimental Museum

On This Day 23 November 1918, https://www.firstworldwar.com/onthisday/november.htm


Photograph of the Final Resting Place of Lance Cpl. J Hanmer, The War Graves Photographic Project, www.twgpp.org


Prisoner of War Lists, Prisoners of the First World War ICRC Historical Archives, https://grandeguerre.icrc.org

36Roll of Honour, 4th August 1914 -28th June 1919, The Church of SS Simon & Jude, Cockshutt, Shropshire, SY12 0JH
37Roll of Honour, Lest We Forget, Shropshire, Cockshutt War Memorial, Martin Edwards 2017
38Shropshire Pack 1, Shropshire Archives
39Shropshire’s Sacrifice in the Great War, Neil Evans & Phil Morris, 12th October 2014, Bluprint, ISBN 978 0 9931233 1 3
40Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914-1919, Naval and Military Press Ltd 2010
41St Aidan’s Chapel, St Chad’s, St Chad’s Terrace, Shrewsbury, SY1 1JX
42The Boy’s Autumn Book, Descriptive of the Season, Scenery, Rural Life, and Country Amusements, Thomas Miller, 1847, New York, Harper
43The Boy’s Summer Book, Descriptive of the Season, Scenery, Rural Life, and Country Amusements, Thomas Miller, 1846, London, Chapman & Hall, 186 Strand
44The Churchyard, SS Simon & Jude, Cockshutt, Shropshire, SY12 0JH
45The County Around Ellesmere is Full of Charm and Interest, H. Clayton Jones, Shropshire Magazine, March 1959, Shropshire Archives

The Few That Fed the Many: Loss of Labour, A New Era, https://www.nfuonline.com/assets/33538


The German Spring Offensive of 1918, CN Trueman, 17th April 2015, The History Learning Site, https://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/world-war-one/battles-of-world-war-one/the-german-spring-offensive-of-1918/


The Grass is Greener – The Plight of UK Dairy Cows, 22nd April 2016, www.ciwf.org.uk


The Great War 1914-1918, The Second Battle of Ypres, 1915, www.greatwar.co.uk

50The Guns of August, Barbara Tuchman, 1962, Penguin Books, ISBN 978-0241-96821-5, pgs. 284, 478, 481- 482

The King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, 1914-1918, The KSLI During the Great War, www.shropshireregimentalmuseum.co.uk


The Ramsdale Family Register, www.ramsdale.org


The War Battles, The Battle for Hooge, www.ww1remembrance.com/hooge

54Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me, Holy Bible, Psalm 138 v. 7

Victorian Children in Victorian Times, Baxton Price, 11 December 2012, www.victorianchildren.org


Victorian History, Income vs Expenditure in Working Class Victorian England, Dr Bruce Rosen, 19th June, 2014, http://vichist.blogspot.com/2014/05/income-vs-expenditure-in-working-class.html


Wages Through History: Agricultural Labourers’ Wages –1850-1914, February 2011, https://historyofwages.blogspot.com/2011/02/agricultural-labourers-wages-1850-1914.html

58War Diary: 1 KSLI, 4th August 1914 to November 1918, 1914-1918, Ref: 6005/SHYKS/10/0145, Shropshire Archives

Wellington Journal 19th May 1917, Wounded Lists, Column 7, Ref: X8936/1917/5/3/349147

60World War One, Rupert Colley, 2012, William Collins, ISBN: 978 0 00 753911 6
61WW1 A Layman’s Guide, Scott Addington, 2012, Amazon, ISBN: 9 781495 911569
%d bloggers like this: