Published By John Davies
John W Peate was born in 1886 in Oswestry. His parents were John Peate (1855 Llanymynech), a miller, and Elizabeth Jones (1854, Selattyn). He was the third of 7 children with siblings Elizabeth (1881) Gertrude (1884), Edwin (1889), Albert (1891), William (1893) and Sarah (1897). In 1881 his parents were living at Barretts Cottages on Willow Street but by 1891 had moved to live at Nant y Caws and by 1911 his mother was living at Verniew House, Llanymynech. John went to work as an agricultural labourer at Calcutt Hall, Llandysilio and then, probably around 1903/04, he joined the army enlisting in 2 Bn Royal Welsh Fusiliers.
He went over to France with the battalion in November 1914. In a letter to his sisters, written shortly after he had arrived at the front, he wrote of his experiences. ‘We have been well in it this time and have given the Germans more than they asked for’ he goes on to say that they ‘are as happy as mud larks, take it all and say nothing, We get plenty to eat and every man has one of the blankets that were sent out to us’. He then describes the fighting recounting on how the Germans ‘are driven onto our fire and bayonet at the point of the revolver of their officers, death facing them before and behind. They come on to our trenches and shout ‘Hurrahs’. Very often they are mown down by our fire…the Brigade can account for their number of Germans already and we have had very small losses ourselves’. John also recounts conversations with German PoWs – ‘they are told such a lot of lies that they are under the belief that they are winning easily, but it is a poor chance for them. My opinion is that they won’t last much longer’.
John served throughout the war until November 1918 when he was wounded by gas. He was returned to England and admitted to No 2 General Hospital in Manchester, suffering from his wounds and complicated by bronchitis and asthma. He would die of his wounds on 1 February 1919. He was buried on 7 February at Oswestry Cemetery. His headstone reads ‘We miss him and mourn him in silence unseen and dwell on the memories of days that have been’. He is also commemorated at St Oswald’s Church, Oswestry.
John’s brother William also served, in 7 Bn KSLI. He was killed in action in November 1916 on the Somme. Another brother, Albert, also served in, KSLI Cycle Corps. He served in Salonika and France and survived the war.